Mike Drain def Al Warwick 7-5, 1-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
Played over two days, this was a triumphant return to form to a rivalry which had gone somewhat cold in recent years.
To be honest, I’d fancied my chances on this one; Mike had struggled in our other recent mini-matches which produced a fair draw on two previous occasions at a set apiece. That, and he was falling short in matches against Rob who I had also pushed much closer recently.
So it almost proved as I had the ascendancy in the first set, coming out of the blocks firing and dictating play – a lapse in concentration and slowly but surely Mike turned the screw and sailed back to take it 7-5. His own concentration then wilted as I kept up the pressure and really entered ‘The Zone’ – proper ‘seeing the ball as a beach ball’ type stuff.
I couldn’t miss.
Then we resumed several weeks later on a sweltering Sunday morning, I was woeful to begin with and was blazing shots out despite my groundstrokes feeling okay as I swung. The serve too was in no rhythm at all.
I’d rescued something near the end of that set, with Mike having to do very little to race to a 4-0 lead and was then splaying winners in confident fashion to stay comfortably ahead until the 6-2 conclusion.
As my game returned so too did our baseline slogs from the history books, some decent hitting and lovely exchanges at the net from both men – Mike ever increasing his repertoire with that two set cushion.
By the fifth, It was anyone’s match but I felt confident and held points for 3-1, but as that slipped away so too did my energy levels which had become completely sapped in the summer sun.
Mike rediscovered his composure and – by the end – suddenly had little to do but to watch me shoot long.
What this match did have though was some rewarding rallies and real tactical battles here and there.
Bodes well for next time.