"You could cut the tension with a knife"
Apropos the LOT Tennis final 2010, the above statement best describes the final.
We, B1, were pitted against A(junior section). The format of the tie -three singles( 2 men's and one ladies' singles) followed by men's doubles and mixed doubles. Team winning first three rubbers would win the tie. Each rubber was a best-of-7 -games with a minimum difference of 2 and a tie breaker at 4-4.
Match 1: Akash(A) vs me(B1)
I won the toss and chose to serve. The start was a lousy one for me with a barrage of unforced errors. Akash for his part played well. No errors while I kept making them. Serving too disintegrated and in no time I was 3-0 down staring down the barrel. That is when I decided to chuck plan A and adopt plan B. Plan A was to play my natural game which was just not flowing that day. So, over to plan B which meant I went with the top spin serve for both the serves and deeper ground strokes without going for the lines (which I was missing anyway), even if it meant longer rallies. The ploy worked and I managed to bring the score to 3-3. It was 4-4 and a tiebreaker ensued. The nerves were jangling alright. I got behind in the tie breaker too and had to fight my way back. Serving to save a match point in the tie breaker, my first serve went long. Return error from Akash on my second serve levelled the score and I somehow managed to eke out a couple more points giving me the match. What a relief! Personally for me, the win provides some succour after last year's agonizing loss in the final. That said my game was way below par for best part of the match. Just hung in there and got lucky to scrape through. Phew! Talk about getting out of jail.(i was 3-0 down after a lousy start). It was more of a grinding match, not the free flowing game with winners that you associate in a final. In that sense, I guess I would have disappointed my classmates/friends with a "slow match" interspersed with very few winners(none on the backhand side). Having said that its still a win and I ll take it. Hard luck Akash. You were almost there.
Match 2: Himanshu(B1) and Akarsh(A)
Himanshu was in great form in the semi-finals. However this match presented a different challenge to deal with Akarsh who was adept at chopping and coming to the net very intelligently. Himanshu tried his best to adjust to the lack of pace but could n't. Akarsh's movement to the net and the finishing was too good. Akarsh won this rubber 4-2 and levelled the tie at 1-1.
Match 3: Bhanu(B1) vs Deepti(A)
This was a crucial match for both the sides as the tie was poised at 1-1. Bhanu took the initiative early with penetrating shots and romped to an early lead. Deepti actually played well, quite well. It was just that Bhanu had discovered her A-game (no pun intended). 4-1 the scoreline in favour of Bhanu at the end of this match.
B1 in the lead at 2-1
Match 4: Devesh/Himanshu(B1) vs Akash/Akarsh(A)
Devesh got his booming serves going but returns kept coming from the other end. The unforced errors were coming from B1. A took the lead 3-2 after it was 2-2. Playing with confidence the duo Akash and Akarsh took the match 4-2.
It was level pegging at 2-2 now and the tie would go down to the last rubber - mixed doubles.
Match 5: Devesh/Bhanu (B1) vs Abhishek/Deepti (A)
It would be fair to say that B1 clearly had the edge in this match. Bhanu was playing her best tennis and matching Abhishek shot for shot and even managed to win a few rallies prompting one of the supporters of A to shout out to "target the man". The B1 supporters went delirious with laughter at this interjection. Devesh was solid as ever and we won the match 4-0 and with it the tie and the tournament. It was one humdinger of a tie. It was 4 AM by the time the match finished.
Huge relief after losing last year's match. Well played team - Himanshu, Bhanu, Devesh. The win was a complete team effort.
To my team mates:
To B1 supporters:
To my juniors - Akash, Akarsh,Abhishek and Deepti- you folks will win next year. Hard luck this time around. Well played!
To the chair umpire Baiju and the line judges good job done.
Last and not the least, SportsCom, well you guys rock!