A word that could ruin your day is traffic.
T-R-A-F-F-I-C…. (To Recollect A Furious Feeling of road rage. In essence, Check-In time FAIL)
T – To
R – Recollect
A – A
F – Furious
F – Feeling of road rage.
I – In essence,
C – Check-in time FAIL
This past Thanksgiving weekend I traveled to La Habra, California, to play Mixed Open Doubles in the La Habra Fall Tournament with my friend Noah Newman. I was especially excited to play with Noah who’s known in the Southern California tennis community as one of the Open elite. With him as my partner, we were seeded No. 1. To my surprise, the man I lost to in the mixed doubles of the Tracy Austin Tournament with Andy Gerst was seeded No. 2 with a different partner. I wanted another chance against him and celebrate Newman’s and Ribultan’s first tournament win together.
I drove down the day of the match, a trip that should take me no more than three and a half hours. To my stupidity, I forgot to calculate the possibility of that lovely word traffic. That’s right. You probably guessed what happened right from the intro.
Check-in time was 3 o’clock, and I didn’t make it. There was an accident on the freeway and I was late. 24 minutes to be exact. I was so embarrassed as I believe punctuality is a show of someone’s character. Nonetheless, Noah met me at the front desk and we ran straight onto our designated court. Oops! My sandals were still on! The official told the players to start warming up while I scrambled to put my shoes on. I felt even more embarrassed as the official looked like she’d rather walk me off a plank than let me play on her court. I apologized many times for my tardiness, and the match began.
We started the match 0-3, which we were thankful for because the official wanted the score to be 0-5, but our opponents allowed the score to stay at 0-3. Our main focus was to charge back, and that’s what we did. We came back on fire taking the first set 7-5. I have to admit that I was extremely confident we were going to sail through the second set, but the winds took a turn and we ended up losing the second set 6-2. Our opponents had stepped it up and showed they wouldn’t go down without a battle.
The third set was our time to reign. Noah started us off by holding serve, but they came back strong, also holding for 1-1. I held serve, we broke our female opponent’s serve, Noah held his, and boom, we were up 4-1. We were ready for the winds to take us home, and then a storm came. The other team got it together to take the lead. 4-5. Really? We just lost four straight games. We needed to concentrate again and that’s what we did, taking the lead again. Now the score was Newman and Ribultan, 6-5, 40-love, on the female’s serve. We were going to eat lobster for dinner!
Our taste of victory was premature. We became trigger-happy trying to blast away returns. Missed returns brought the score back to deuce. From there we ended up losing the game. Into a tiebreaker we went.
At the end our sails were down and the wind was blowing the other way.
Final score: 7-5, 2-6, 6-7 (6-8). We, the No. 1 seeds, were knocked out.
Mental toughness is a crucial part of tennis. We thought we had it, but our opponents battled back until the last point and took the win. I learned again to never underestimate an opponent, and inevitably, it’s not over until it’s over.
Please share your incredible comebacks or unbelievable defeats.