Last night I played my heart out in probably one of my best preformanances on the tennis court to date.
I started well in the 1st set and won the first two games. In fact I served a winning gallery railroad to win the 1st game of the first set (first time in my career). After I got out to a 2/0 lead Rob settled into his game and kept the pressure on. I felt good and was sticking to my plan but the set although long in duration was and did get away from me. 3/6 and first set to Rob.
I again started the 2nd set well and although went 1/2 down I was able to play some really consistant tennis and held the service end for more of the set than rob did. I went 5/3 up in games and held what felt like 6-8 set points in the 9th game. Rob was able to pin me down the hazard end and he eventually took the game. Still leading 4/5 we had another long deuce game where I saved a few game points but was able to take the set and my first against Rob in 5 or so matches against the World Champion. 6/4 and 1-1 set all.
I was now serving my giraffe (high dropping serve) really well and was able to stop Rob's dominant return of serves from doing the damage. When getting down to the hazard end I was able to put Rob on the back foot somewhat with my own strong returning game. This set was tight all the way. I went 5/4 up after hitting a winning gallery defending a chase. It was the first emotion I showed on court with the smallest of fist pumps or less a fist clench... Rob levelled at 5/5 and we were at 30 all two chases. I go down to the hazard end and Rob pulls out his best two serves of the match to take (snatch) the set from right under my nose. 5/6 and Rob leading 1-2 in sets.
My serving started to drop away and I served roughly 12 first serves as faults in a row which meant Rob was able to see a lot of 2nd serves. And through this period I went down 1/4. I remember saying to my self at this point not to be satisfied with getting somewhat close. I was able to get back to a frame of mind that saw me play the best tennis I could muster to win 5 games in row to again lead the World Champion 5/4. Rob again levelled at 5/5 and again we were locked at 30 all in the 5 all game. I can remember it well... (shakes head as writing) Rob hit a slightly wild attempt at a main wall dedans force which went high and ricoched around to the service penthouse and gave me a backhand volley that 99 times out of a 100 I whip cross court to the tambour/grille corner with heavy cut and win the point. On this 1 out of the 100 I decide to hit the volley down the line and miss time it and hit back wall on the full of which Rob doesn't need another invitation to finish off a point with an emphatic dedans strike. Match point down yet so close to taking the set myself I chase the ball down the court and norowally miss the grille with a backhand and rob flicks the ball up only for it to be high enough to be awkward and miss time the volley into the net and the match is unfortunately lost 3/6 6/4 5/6 5/6.
It was a bit of a weird feeling at the end of the match. So much to be proud of ie; getting so close and playing so well for 3 whole hours (yes 3 hours) of actual game time and yet be so disappointed to lose the match regardless of who it is in such a close encounter let alone Rob Fahey.
There are so many positives to take away and plenty to learn from and improve on. It is still the 1st match I've played at this level for 10 months and now have to back up again and again. The next tournament being the IRTPA Championships in Manchester starting in mid October.