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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Losing a 'Tweener

A few times in a professional tennis match I have seen a player win a point on a between the legs shot. It seems to happen more often now, but how can you not help but feel embarrassed for the guy losing the point? I felt sympathy for Djokovic when Federer hit this amazing 'tweener at the 2009 US Open.

Fed 'Tweener 2009 US Open

Well guess what? As of Sunday when I was age 38 (now I am 39 and a lot wiser) I also lost a point off of a 'tweener. I was a little bit embarrassed especially since I know my friend Brad will never let me forget it. I can see reenactments coming at practice of Brad's 'tweener. Unfortunately (actually I am very happy no one recorded it)  I do not have video evidence to show you the carnage, but trust me it happened. Just ask Brad...

Now you might be thinking "Larry, you lost that point because you thought you had it won." I would agree with you, but I did not stand at the baseline as many players, at least recreational players, do. I charged the net, was in perfect position, and was ready, sort of.

What happened? I lobbed Brad who was at the net. As Brad ran back I am thinking "he is going to try a 'tweener". Brad did just that and hit the 'tweener with some stick. I was ready for a weak shot at best, but not a line drive! When he ripped the 'tweener to at my backhand I attempted a high backhand volley and hit it well, but in the net. I was ready but I was not really ready. Not for a high backhand volley off a ball that was coming hard from a "maginficent 'tweener" (Brad's addition to my perspective on the point). I remember thinking "you have got to be kidding me". "How did I miss that? How was he able to hit that over?" I think I also remember Brad laughing after he won the point. I knew I was not going to be able live it down (why I am writing about in my blog I am still not quite sure other than Brad wants this in recorded history for all to read).

Losing the 'tweener is a good reminder, as Brad pointed out to me in a text, that you have to be ready to play every ball even if your opponent clearly would have to "tree" to make it (hey Brad I know your practice that shot but, come on, that well?). Do not assume your opponent will miss the shot or even hit a weak shot. Be ready at all times. Even at age 39 you can relearn some old lessons. I am not the only one who needs to take something from this situation. Brad had this to say about what he could learn, 

“When I’ve managed to pull off the impossible and hit a ‘tweener, it’s never been a clean winner. All three times (That’s right, I’ve done it three times in match play), my opponent had a makeable volley that was blown due to being star struck by my glorious ‘tweener. Even I will admit that at the point of actually trying to hit a ‘tweener its all or nothing time, but I assume the ball isn’t coming back and never prepare for the next shot. It will happen eventually and I won’t be ready.”

Novak Djokovic, Brian Dabul and others that have been tortured by Roger Federer's 'tweener I can empathize with you now.  Losing that point reminded to be ready at all times. Good news is that losing the 'tweener point did not cost me a match. Lesson learned and I won't forget it, trust me!