Gold in the Louisiana Delta 9


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I often write that I have redefined winning in a way that almost every match has wins. The sweetest of wins is when all that is important to me comes through in the big matches, the finals of the National Championships.

When I play at the high end of my skill and talent; love the competition; accept whatever the outcome with dignity and class; compete in the moment, avoiding past and future tripping; compete for each point regardless of the score; compete with effortless effort; am non judgmental of myself; that I enjoy myself; am enthusiastic; am forgiving of myself for my inability to achieve perfection; to feel the perceived pressure moments as the sweetest moments and to have every match be an experience where I grow as a player and a person.

AND I WIN THE GOLD BALL!

I have been fortunate to have some successes in winning the Gold Ball, but it is not typical to have all of the personal wins there on those days. I aspire to these days and, if I fall short in some parts I just make it my intention to work hard and to find what was missing if and when the opportunity arises again.

The finals of the doubles on Friday was a day where it all came together.

I was teamed with the cool, calm, quiet and capable Les Buck. It was our first tournament together. By the time we reached the finals I had come to understand why he is a superlative partner. His demeanor creates a team environment that is free of stress or worry. He is all about just working hard for the present point, putting good and bad in the past quickly. A master of amnesia.

I have a a tendency to be critical of myself for missing a shot that I think I “shouldn’t.” (You would think I have played and watched enough tennis to know better.) In my desire to play at the highest end of my skill and talent, I sometimes forget that perfection is reserved for the universe and is not available for us humans. With Les on the deuce side, demonstrating a letting go of the past and starting over, I learned and moved one step closer to one of my wins: to be forgiving of my inability to be perfect.

We played a near perfect match.

With the clouds coming in and a concern that the match would be postponed we knew that we wanted to get on the scoreboard early. Any lead, if the rains came, would be an advantage. So our focus was deep. We played with a sense of urgency each point, each shot. First set to us 6-0.

One of our opponents, Mike Barnes, was limited in his movement by an injury and he was a warrior for playing. Despite his injury, he was a danger whenever the ball was near him. The doubles court is not so big so he was still a factor. The tendency is to play to the wounded partner but that can often backfire, so we played straight up, high percentage tennis.

On the break between the first and second set, we talked about the need to create a sense of urgency even though we had made it through the first six games playing so well. Sometimes this urgency needs to be created artificially.

Our opponents raised their games in the second set, winning the first game and pressured us throughout the set, but we played with the urgency and focus that we needed to close it out 6-1.

Les and I had struggled to win our opening match on Tuesday but kept improving as a team to one of the most perfect gold ball matches I have ever played in.

And I am so happy for Les, winning his first gold ball. Well deserved and about time.

A few nice takeaways for me this week:

Living so happily in Boulder, I find that everything I am doing feels good. So it is with my tennis. Even though it was a National, which is a big deal, I felt as if it was all just another day in paradise. Nice to be in a perceived pressure situation and to feel free of the stress of it all.

I played more aggressively in the doubles that my usual. This was clearly a choice I was able to follow through on as I had not done it in my singles loss. It felt like an improvement to be able to quickly turn around something that has been difficult to do in the past. Getting out of my comfort zone and taking the chance. I am happy to have seen that I can do that.

I once again have seen the restorative benefits of doing the Phil Wharton Health stretching regimen. Each day I got up feeling stiff and sore. After doing the stretches, even for just ten minutes, I felt flexible and ready to go. So this ritual will continue to be part of my daily life.

Thanks for following along and for all your comments.

And huge appreciation to Jo Ann for being there for every point, supporting me, loving me and always encouraging me to play one more tournament. I am lucky to have you as my doubles partner for life.


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9 thoughts on “Gold in the Louisiana Delta

  • ed schroback

    So happy for my friend. After 2 years without serious tournament play and many changes in his life, Bob jumped in and garnered another Gold Ball with a wonderful partner and lifelong friend Les Buck..A National Championship is very special in that it’s really the best players in the world..It is difficult to fathom how technically and physically sound these top players are until you see them in person..The grueling rallies on clay and strategy are far more entertaining than the mostly mindless ball bashing in the pros..Let’s take 2 examples; John MCenroe is often hailed as the greatest senior player in the world..However his matches are usually only 1 or 2 sets indoors and spaced out days..The top players like Federer, Nadal,and Djokovic are often lauded for their endurance; BUT THEY SELDOM PLAY 2 DAYS IN A ROW OR PLAY DOUBLES IN GRAND SLAMS AND ARE ONE THIRD THE AGE OF BOB..I know Bob will never ever say this but his quarterfinal opponent did not play doubles and played only 4 sets prior to meeting Bob who played 13 sets..Out of 60 players in his division went to New Orleans, only 3 left with a Gold Ball..Bob was one of them..Go back and read Bob’s Serena post again “The Princess and the Pea” and you see why Bob won regardless of the score.

  • Len Dugow

    I continue to read your blog Bobby and take away much more than your well deserved accomplishments (I take great pleasure in knowing you for more than 50 years as a young determined competitive athlete ) but the real gratification (for me) is hearing the joy in which each episode reveals something very real and profound in living your life in balance. Something I hope one day I can achieve.
    Congratulations
    I truly hope to see you and Jo Ann again soon
    Lenny

  • Ted Murray

    Wow, Bob. What a wonderful accomplishment, to be successful in each and every category in which you choose to judge your success. I have learned so much just knowing you and hearing how you approach competition. I look forward to getting together in Boulder very soon. You are giving me the urge to join competition again but with a different story and different outlook on what it means to compete. You are truly an inspiration, and a blessing to have as a friend.

  • Michael Smolens

    Bob – your accomplishment was great is so many different ways, or methods of measuring – of which you have created new metrics over the past few years as you have gone through ups & down of life. Congrats to reaching your gold ball.

  • Harriet Werner

    Always so proud of you, Bob. Two great wins. You’re a winner on and off the court!!
    As always, thanks for the vivid writing. Your words come to life!