April 2016: Rob Field def Al Warwick 6-2, 7-5
It was an overdue start to the 2016 season (I had played some exhibitions against Sophie which were both fun and rewarding – for the record, she genuinely came close to beating me in both).
Myself and Rob were somewhat tentative here, owing both to the comparative rustiness of our games and the less than stable conditions underfoot; there were a lot of short balls and shall we say ‘safe’ second serves.
The first set started evenly enough, if lacking in quality and gusto, all the stranger after a promising standard of play and rhythm in the lengthy warm-up. Ultimately, with things tied at 2-2 (after four consecutive breaks of serve) it was Rob who clicked into gear quicker and found his range. For my part? well the serve never really got going and my movement even less so.
A change of court around the start of the second set suddenly saw the shot-making and the overall confidence rise, subsequently so did the overall standard. Whether experimenting with some volleys or merely going for his shots a bit more, Rob started to falter and I soon raced into a 5-2 lead; the first serve percentage now healthier once I took some pace off.
Here in lies the most frustrating part of the match for me, my mental frailty really showed itself. True, Rob found his A-game too and was hitting the ball crisply and with good technique and crucial variation I so lacked, and – although his second serve remained at times attackable – it was almost too good an opportunity to know what to di with.
The tide all-too quickly turned and I just couldn’t find any sort of form.
Things were over pretty soon, but; given a decent surface from the outset and some form transferred from warm-up to matchplay and the signs were there for a better contest next time.