Tennis Reloaded

This will be my first post in almost 2 months! I couldn’t find anything relevant to post here all these days. Watched plenty of movies but didn’t find the creativity to write a good review on them.

Since last two weeks or so I, together with my fellow friends have been organizing tennis tournaments amongst ourselves at the campus. Initially we started with one between us 6 regular tennis players. It was spread out for almost 10 days thanks to the multiple rain interruptions we had in between. After finishing the first one we planned on organizing a bigger event. We pooled in 16 tennis players and made a proper draw of 16. This tournament started 5 days back. We’ve been able to finish seven 1st round matches so far. We couldn’t conduct any matches in the last 2 days thanks once again to the rain which finds time to fall only in the evening when our classes get over. This is very typical of Bhubaneswar. The entire day would be sunny and bright but as soon as the clock strikes 3 pm the clouds start gathering in the sky and by the time the evening approaches it starts to rain. Once it rains it gets very difficult to play. Although we did find a way out. We let the courts dry out naturally and then mop up the small puddles on the court and somehow make it playable. This we have followed only a couple of times but it has been effective. Getting back to the tournament, the quarterfinals have been lined up. With only 1 more 1st round match remaining, we expect to start our quarters from tomorrow coinciding with the start of the U.S Open championships.

Today we managed to play tennis early in the morning. We started playing at 05:30. We managed to wake up at 06:00 yesterday as well but found that the courts were wet. This is the first time in my life that I’ve played tennis so early. The earliest I remember back in Ahmedabad was 7 am. Although, 05:30 in Bhubaneswar is almost equivalent to 06:30 in Ahmedabad, still it is earlier than my previous record. The best thing about today’s session was, despite having gone to sleep at 02:30 last night, I was able to get up comfortably and play energetically. Probably this has got to do with my 12 hr sleeping sessions since last 3 weeks. My body has found enough rest to compensate for a couple of days. I rolled on a new grip on my racquet yesterday. I had been playing with a 2 month old grip before that and had been serving treacherously since last couple of weeks. Also, I altered my serving stance quite a bit. Till a few days back, while serving, my back foot used to stay away at the back from the front foot even while hitting the ball. This I had been practising since almost 8 years. These days I’ve started moving my back foot forward and placing it beside the front foot while tossing the ball on serve. Today I noticed that it is giving me additional boost to my serve. It has become more powerful & accurate and I made only a handful of double faults in the match. My first service percentage would have been almost 75%-80% today. Lets see how I fare in the times to come. I hope to make my service more accurate than ever with this new posture.

I have finally found a tennis player at the campus who is as excited about playing the game as I am. The fact that I played tennis 5:30 in the morning is the proof of that. I can’t even think of playing in the morning let alone at dawn at XIMB given the fact that five thirty is close to the sleeping time of most of the students residing here. Also, Vikas is a terrific player. He is the only player at the campus with whom I can expect to play at an equal level, something which I had been missing in the first year. Its sad to realise that we now have only 6 more months left at the campus. Had we started playing in the first year itself it would have been awesome. Nevertheless, better late than never! We played a best of 5 sets today after warming up for close to 45 min. In the match today and also in the finals of the first tournament we played, both of whom being best of 5 setters, I found that the longer the match runs the better my game becomes. I could be erroneous and spray shots here and there in the first set. But once I have started running around here and there a lot I get into a groove which suddenly increases my energy levels. You can make me run here and there through the course of the match and I would find joy in running and reaching for the ball. The scoreline of the best of five setter I played in the finals was 6-2, 6-1, 6-0. The scoreline in today’s match was 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. One reason might also be that my opponents do not posses the endurance to play a longer game. Another reason can be I’ve been breathing right while playing. I remember when I used to compete as a junior I used to get tired soon. These days I’ve found a method of breathing which makes it easier when the going gets tough and I’m able to reach the ball pretty fast without tiring. But whatever it is, playing a five setter or even a three setter is fun. The players get more time to reflect on their game, learn from the mistakes they made in the first set and start with an all new approach to the game in the new set. This is something which was missing in the tournaments which we used to play in the first year which were one setter only.

I had almost quit the game of tennis last year when I couldn’t find players to play regularly and also not of a level which would help me bring out my best in the game. Going to the court became more of a work and less fun. I had lost all the interest in the game. This was another reason why I lost the X-Open tournament which was held in late Feb. I was not only practising once in 15 days but was also playing with players who were several levels below my game (no offence to anyone). This happened for a long long time. If you make the current Mudit play tennis with the first year waala Mudit, the former me will win the match 6-0, 6-0 against the latter. I would like to thank all the guys who stirred up this new excitement into the game of tennis at XIMB – Karan, Vikas, Rahul, Rakesh, Braj. Without their enthusiasm this game would have been burried in the cement of the court like it has been since many many years at the campus.

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