Yesterday I played in a King of the Beach tournament at Third Coast Volleyball. This means that, instead of showing up with a partner, each player shows up individually. Each player plays several games, each with a different partner. At the end, the results are tallied and the player with the most wins is the King of the Beach. This is pretty cool because it tests not only your skill but also your adaptability.
There were seven players in the A/BB division in which I was entered. We arrived early and prepared for a long day on the courts. It was clear from the outset that the long spell of temperate Spring weather we had enjoyed for an unseasonably long time was over. Although things didn’t get too hot (mid-80s F), humidity was very high and you could feel it.
My goal for the tournament was to improve on my last performance, 6th of 7 teams in a men’s 2s tournament in March. As in that tournament I had a slow start but improved as the day wore on. I hadn’t played doubles with any of the players in this tournament but I knew a couple of them for 4s back in the day.
My first partner, Tim, and I lost my first game 21-16. We both played pretty well but didn’t really connect much. My second partner, Brian, and I connected much better and, after dropping some stupid points, we staged a great comeback to deuce it up but ultimately lost 24-22. I’ve known my third partner, Ricky, for years so it was fun to play with him. Although we lost by a LOT (I can’t remember but we may not have even hit double digits), he gave me some beautiful sets that I was able to slam down pretty hard. He played differently than I was used to so I fear I didn’t support him as well as I could have.
So yikes, there I was halfway through my games and winless so far. I was feeling great after the third game, though, so optimistic about the next three. My fourth partner, Matt, was a great player but, again, we just didn’t connect very often and dropped that game. My fifth partner, Niel, had outstanding defense but it was clear that, by this point in the day, the heat and humidity were really getting to him. Some balls got by him that I think he would have had earlier in the day and we narrowly lost game five.
So even bigger yikes, as we began the very last game of the day, I was fighting for honor–I needed to win at least one! My partner was Rod, whom I had known for awhile and whom I liked so I was hoping we could connect better. The game right before ours, though, wasn’t very encouraging. Rod and his partner gave away their 14-7 lead and wound up losing 21-15! They both looked very tired so I was just hoping that Rod would still be able to bring it in our game. I knew he would pick up if we could get rolling with a little momentum.
Instead of giving Rod “safe” sets off the net, I intentionally set him very tight. A couple of them were bad sets and went over but a couple of them were dimes and Rod slammed them down. This pumped us both up and created that momentum we were looking for. Rod gave me some great sets too and, although I didn’t really kill anything, we were able to keep our opponents on the defensive. It helped that one of them was hurting in the heat but I intentionally tried not to pick on him and distributed the ball evenly.
We won the last game 21-11 and, despite coming in dead last in the tournament, I felt really great about it. My challenge in subsequent tournaments will be to reach that state of peak performance before the last game! Even though I failed to meet my tournament goal by a long shot, I had a lot of fun out there and still felt pretty good about my play.
May and June tournaments are going to be even hotter so conditioning–one of my stronger suits–will become even more key. Still, I can’t wait to play again in Switzerland this summer–nothing beats the weather and the lake!