Mike Drain def Al Warwick 6-0, 1-6, 6-3
On a balmy Sunday morn in October an age old rivalry finally regained some sparkle and swagger that has made it so enduring.
In perfect conditions, things started in much the same manner of our recent ‘contests’. Mike started off solid and flirting with spectacular, alas he never needed to reach such levels. I struggled to find any rhythm and simply failed to do the basics, taking my eye of the ball and/or trying ridiculous shots with either no conviction or the incorrect grip.
Mike had to just keep the ball in play, strangely if things developed into a tougher rally things would get interesting, but if Mike kept the points short and executed his gameplan crisply and swiftly, he would prevail.
So, after that first set bagel still warming in that Autumnal glow, I remembered my glasses.
I wasn’t really sure how much of a difference they’d make, and maybe it was mind over matter but once I donned the geek chic (a bulletproof pair from the remarkable Selectspecs) my game came flooding back and with it confidence and clarity.
My solidity and sharpness with serve and slice had understandably caught my opponent off guard. Mike had little time to adjust from breezing through point by point to having to produce his very best. Momentum and mentality took its toll as Mike tried to force the issue things just didn’t materialise.
A breadstick joined the bagel in this petit dejeuner and a third set decider loomed.
Both players remained solid on serve in a set which at last felt equal, true things were cagey and the free-hitting epic baseline rallies remained elusive, replaced instead with a chess-like tactical war.
With me serving at 3-3 all it took was a lapse in concentration and some loose shots to suddenly undo all the hard work.
Mike began to stride onwards but I managed to peg him back and force multiple break points – had I taken one of them I’m fairly certain things would’ve been destined for the breaker. But no, Mike stepped things up and I faded ever so slightly below the second set heroics.
Still, this was an important milestone in my renaissance – next time I won’t have the element of surprise to aid me. Mike will be ready, but with my sight back so too will I.