Sunday, 23 October 2011

Individual Competition Concludes, Team Competition Begins!

So I've been putting off writing this post for a couple of days now and while I do apologize for the delay I do hope there is some compassion and understanding on the part of those who already know how our semi final match went. For those that don't I'll give you the rundown...

Scoreboard pre-match

We knew the match would be tough and were prepared, following our routine of the previous days; eating, relaxing, getting a quick workout and meal in before leaving for the club. My hip was feeling a little sore but I knew it would go away once I got into the match. Unfortunately it did affect me early on and our team got off to a slow start once again. We battled back and took much of the momentum near the end of the game but they were able to hold us off and take game 1: 15-14.

The second game saw us keep much of the momentum we had taken near the end of the first and propelled us to a large lead right out of the gate. Kris was playing lights out racquetball, very fired up by our tight loss of the opening game and leaving it all out there. It was inspiring. I didn't play nearly as well but I was able to provide solid support by covering balls in the front and finishing the odd set up that came my way. They fought back a little near the end but we simply outplayed them, beating them soundly 15-3 to take the second game and level the match.

In the tiebreaker they made some adjustments, the most crucial was switching sides which rendered the jam serve Kris had hit the majority of the second game much less effective. We switched serve order though so that Kris could serve first and still scored a couple of points to start before being relieved of our first serve possession. They served well to start the tiebreaker and even though we were getting into the rallies they came out on the winning end of the first few and took a small lead.

We got the serve back though and Kris made an adjustment to his serve that brought it back to it's former luster and began scoring points more easily with it. They fought back but we were returning serve well and scoring on ours, which allowed us to retake the lead. At 9-5 we tightened up though, both missing shots we had made earlier on in the tiebreaker and they began to play better, realizing that they had to put it all out there now if they were to have any chance of coming back. They only scored 2 points and we got the serve back at 9-7 but were sided out quickly.

Even the Telcel mascots wanted a seat!  
They tied at 9-9 and feeling the momentum shift their way we got frantic ourselves, taking down their first server. But their second server scored to make it 10-9. Kris stepped up on this serve, being aggressive and hit a great overhead backhand pass down the line. We were still alive. But on our first serve Kris couldn't find the angle that was effective earlier and we were down to our last server. Me. I stepped up, knowing that I needed a great serve and hit one. A great kiss lob to the backhand player that just barely came off the back. I was right up in the front court for the pinch I knew was coming and as it came towards the front wall my heart lifted as it hit the floor first. Skip. 10-10. Now I've hit thousands of kiss lobs since I started playing, it's one of my favourite serves. But any player will tell you that it's different hitting any shot at 10-10 tiebreaker for a berth in the final of a big tournament, let alone an international multisport event. I took 2 deep breaths though and felt calm as I hit the serve. As it came off my racquet, though I could tell the weight was good, the angle was slightly off and I knew it wasn't going to hit the side wall early enough. I stepped up to cover the pinch again but he wouldn't miss again. It rolled straight out in front of me, not literally, but flat enough that there was no chance of me getting the ball. My heart sank, no it fell through the floor as I saw that shot come out. But I was determined not to give up. We still have a chance, just get the serve back. So on their first serve, a solid straight lob down the right side wall, I stepped up to hit an aggressive pinch. I mishit the ball badly, but as luck would have it, the spin created by the mishit caused what could have been a poor down the line pass to curl into the side wall, cracking out for a winner. We were still alive :)

Final Score :(
Kris stepped up again on the serve return, continuing to be aggressive but left his pass a little high, we still got into a rally though, eventually pushing me into the front court. I moved up to cover a pinch I thought was coming but he hit a pass instead. I got my racquet on it but in trying to push the ball back cross court I didn't push hard enough and left it short. I ran up to cover the reverse pinch I'd seen him hit numerous times throughout the match but couldn't get to it in time. It bounced for the second time 2 feet in front of me to give them the point, the game and the match.

So I've been pretty down for the last couple of days.
When you lose a match like that you can't help but replay things in your mind, the way they went down, the numerous things you could have changed to have made the outcome different. Inevitably I get to a place where I tell myself "If someone told you that you would come out of this tournament a Pan Am Games bronze medallist, you would have been happy, so just try to enjoy the fact that you got a medal and not think too harshly about what colour it is." And while this thought process is about as comforting as a t shirt in a Saskatchewan winter, it did take a bit of the sting out. Venezuela would go on to lose in the final to the host nations team and finish with a silver medal.

Mexico would almost sweep the gold medals for racquetball, the only one eluding them being men's singles, where American Rocky Carson would beat Gil Mejia (the Canadian killer as some of you may recall from previous posts) in the final. The only other medal for the Canadian Racquetball Team was also in men's singles as Vincent Gagnon lost in the semi the previous day.

Walking in to receive our medals
The medal ceremony followed the men's doubles final last night and while it was bittersweet, it was still a pretty cool event to be a part of. I have a sinking feeling though that every time I look at that bronze medal I will be remorseful it isn't a different colour...

With our bronze medals
 On a more positive note the Team Competition begins today which is a different format. I'll describe it, and our fist round results in the next post as this one is getting to be a bit long. The women compete this morning and the men in the afternoon/evening. Look for the update later tonight!


1 comment:

  1. Tim

    Sounds like you and Kris gave it your all, if you left everything on the court, you should be proud of yourself.

    It is late Sunday night, just thought I would take a look at the blog.

    Your are awesome at writing. Love that you have posted the photos as well