A 1st place finish, a silver medal, and a frustrating loss | Week 7

Jan 27, 2022

When the ball hit the net, rage filled my body.

I knew it. I’d mishit the ball on game point to end our day — against a strong team we were better than, or so we thought.

I crouched into a deep squat, tapping the handle of my paddle on the ground. My head was down and my heart disappointed.

But I stood back up to shake hands at the net.

Outwardly, I was respectful and congratulatory. On the inside, I was pissed.

The loss reminded me I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. It reminded me how much I hate losing. It reminded me how many good players are in Phoneix alone and this journey to become a pro won’t be easy.

And finally, it revealed weaknesses in my game that need work.

The annoying thing is, I’m at a place where I often know what to do, but don’t always do it in the moment. Only after, do I think, I shoulda coulda woulda. 

Things like staying low in a ready stance to react to a hard-hitting ball coming at my face. Things like shot selection and trusting my partner.

But that’s normal anytime you pursue mastery in a thing. It’s all a part of building habits that stand the test of pressure moments.

So after the tournament, while disappointed in the outcome of Men’s doubles — I remain committed to learning from each match and improving each day.

Now, let’s shift to…

SINGLES

 

After starting 0-5 in the first game of my second-round match, he made a comment.

“Good out call”

…in a seemingly mocking tone that said, “This game’s over.”

It’s a lifelong pet peeve of mine. When an opponent starts being nice or making comments to you when they’re way ahead, saying things they’d never say if they were behind or the match was closer.

As I prepared for the next serve, I thought,

“Nope. This is over. It’s go time.”

A switch flipped and I locked focus. I came back to win handily in two straight games in a best 2 out of 3.

That felt good.

After the win, I moved to the third round, where I lost in a hard-fought 3 game match. My opponent (Xavier, pictured middle) outplayed me, putting me into the losers’ bracket.

I won my next match, which put me back into the championship game to again play Xavier.

But again, through a tough 3 game match, he outplayed me and won the Gold medal.

I’ve now played two singles tournaments, getting 1st and 2nd place. I’ve done well mainly through athleticism and some skill. But for me to move up and compete at even higher levels, I’ll need to refine my skills and overall singles strategy. Which I’ve already started doing this week!

I’m eager to take another crack at it in my next tournament, the PPA Desert ridge!

Mixed Doubles

 

After winning the first two matches in straight games (best 2 out of 3 format), we got down 2-7 and then 4-9 in the first game of the third match.

I didn’t feel like this team was better than us, but they were playing better. We stayed composed, hit the right shots at the right times, and came back to win the first game 12-10.

Then, we went on to win the second game and move on to the final.

We ended up playing that same team in the final (as they worked their way back through the losers’ bracket).

In the final, my partner (Emily) and I didn’t miss a beat. Few unforced errors. Precise communication. Aggressiveness at the right moments. We were on our game and went on to win the gold medal handily in two straight games.

What’s Next?

 

I’ve been back to training all week and am ready for the PPA Desert Ridge tournament— happening in Phoenix this weekend. I’m excited to play, but also eager to see some of the top players in the world (who will be competing at the pro level) in action.

I’ve never seen a pro match in person, so I’ll be watching as a fan, but even more so, as a student of the game.

Until next time,

Kyle

PS: I greatly appreciate all the encouraging replies I’ve received from you all. This is a fun journey to be on, but even more fun sharing it with you.

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