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A Real Team Player

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A Real Team Player

The day started off as cool and moist. As we arrived in Allen Park for the tennis MEGA White League tournament, the imminent heat set in and the dew was sprinkled throughout the grass and sparkled in the early sun. When the bus stopped, coach Furkas, our head coach, told us what needed to happen for us to become champs. Furkas continued, stating because we struggled at one point during the season, we needed to take first place in the tournament today, as well as somehow try to prohibit Allen Park from receiving second place. Edsel Ford would have to be the team to take second place since no one else was good enough to come in ahead of Allen Park, and we were pretty confident in our tennis ability to take first place. As I sat there I could sense the urgency for victory looming around and I could see that everyone was anxious to get on the tennis court and begin the battle. As a team captain I brought everyone in and told them to leave it on the court, and then we broke to the chant of Three Titan Pride's and headed out. During the season Allen Park had beaten and tied Edsel Ford and we had tied Edsel Ford and Allen Park, but also lost once to both of them. So this was it, our final shot; we decided to hope for Edsel Ford to place second, and focus on the one thing we could control: playing great tennis and taking first. It was at that time I realized that victory was worth all the sweat and hard work. We had worked so hard for so long that anything but a victory would be a disappointment.

During the season the team as a whole had gotten better and stronger with the conditioning we had gotten during all of our practices. It was time to put all that work to the test. My first match was against Wyandotte's number two singles, and I treated this match as a warm up match because I had already beaten him easily during the season. Before my match however coach Furkas can up to me and said, "Do not take this match lightly because everyone can have good days." When he said this I did not think much about it and responded in a sarcastic way, "Yes coach I know how to play tennis." Now in my mind no one at this tournament worked anywhere near as hard as I worked and I was seeing gold as I stepped off the bus, but when my coach told me that I could still be beaten I got a little angry. So in an act to prove my coach wrong I went out and played my hardest, and beat my opponent from Wyandotte with ease. I could see that my hard work in practice was paying off because I was not tired and my muscles were not sore, but did I get a congratulations or a good job from my coach, no. Instead he told me to stay warm and focused for the next match. Even though he did not say it I knew he was proud of my victory but he kept me thinking about tennis instead of enjoying my victory for too long and forgetting about my next match. My next match would seem to be the most important one of the day for me because it was against Allen Park, the team that we needed to beat as early in the tournament as possible.

So as I waited for it to be time to face my opponent from Allen Park I watched some of the other matches that were taking place during my break I could see how the hard work at practice really affected everyone's abilities as well as how much better conditioned everyone was. No one was winded or moving slowly, we were a completely different team than we started the season as. However, I was about to see how good I had really become because my next match would be no walk in the park. It would be against the number two singles from Allen Park, whom I had faced twice and lost one of the matches. His only loss of the season was to me and I was looking to knock him out of the tournament as soon as possible so he could not accumulate any points for his team. Know my opponent was not the most intimidating person that one would meet. He was a heavier set guy with thick curly hair and had no agility at his disposal. However, even though he was not the fastest guy ever he could place his shots very well and with a lot of velocity on each shot. It was this way that he had beaten me in the past, but today would be different.

As we walked out onto the tennis court my coach told me to stay away from short shots to his forehand and to play with as few unforced errors as possible. The first set of the match seemed like an eternity to me. Sweat was pouring from my head and my hat had absorbed so much perspiration that it started dripping from the brim. The day had definitely gotten hotter and I could see that it was taking its toll on my opponent, as he was tiring and getting easily frustrated when I won points. Rally after rally ensued and some how I was coming up with the better shots to win the points. In one particular game we went back and forth between deuce, a score of forty all, and advantage me, meaning if I win the next point I would win the game, at least ten times. By time the sun had reached its highest part in the sky I had won the first set and I was honing in on the next set. The second set felt like a breeze compared to first one with my opponents lack of good play and my ability to not make bad, costly errors. If he hit a good shot I would take some speed off it and just try to get it into play to keep the point alive. In the end I was victorious over my Allen Park opponent mainly because I kept a clear head and the fact that I was in much better shape physically than my opponent. Finally, I got a congratulations from my coach and I had made it to the finals so my day was going well as was the teams because by the end of my match we were in first and Edsel Ford was ahead of Allen Park by only a half of a point. This would turn up to be huge, as the day would progress.

As Edsel Ford was barely ahead of Allen Park, and our team was sitting pretty in first, I took a little nap. It had been a long day and I was exhausted from my last match against the Allen Park kid, but I could not sleep too long for the finals were coming up and I needed to be ready for the match ahead of time. Since it was during a school day, there were not many people there. For our team one loyal parent had shown up and she was the mother of Matt Boley, half of our number two doubles team. So after she woke me up from my nap she said, "Hey Steve I think they called your name for next available court." I told her thanks for waking me up and started to stretch out. Now for some reason with the scheduling I was the last match to go out onto the court so it was beginning to become clean where teams were going to end up at the end of the day. We were not in the clear yet however, because Edsel Ford and Allen Park were still only one and a half points apart with Allen Park being in second. I would have a match against the number two singles from Edsel Ford in the finals and I had lost to him once



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