Starting the first of our final three games of the tournament, we are up against the powerhouse Ellen and Mark duo. We know Ellen from our weekly game in Westbrook. She’s effervescent while he’s immediately likable with an easy-going manner. As strong players, they are versed in the winning strategy for mixed doubles pickleball. Ah, but we are up to the challenge with our third shot drops, reasonably reliable forehands, bountiful good luck, and Hannah’s lobs. In our best match of the evening, we prevail in a tight one.
With our fifth win, Hannah and I are looking at being in the money. I mean, literally, being in the money. Each player paid $10 to play tonight with the winning team splitting $80, second place divvying up $60, and third dividing $40. We are now looking at the possibility of a third place finish as we have only lost to Carolee and Tim and have yet to play the still undefeated, odds-on favorite team of Patty and Steve.
Up next are the athletic pair of Shannon and Gordie. Shannon is a racquet ball player of the first order and Gordie is reliable and affable. Being our seventh game after three hours of play at 9P, Hannah and I are riding high. Shannon and Gordie wake us up as they knock us down a peg or two by taking charge immediately; all of sudden they are serving for the match at 14-8.
While Hannah and I figure what the hell, we’ve had a helluva run this evening, we do work our way back to 14-10, and finally down just 14-13, my serve. Usually steady Eddy with my serve, I hit my serve long to lose the chance to tie! My bad. Perhaps, we are not meant to win. Now Shannon and Gordie each have a serve to win the game. Holding them scoreless, we quickly run off three points to win 16-14 in a comeback most would agree that is comparable to the Patriots 28-3 return from the dead to defeat the Falcons in the Super Bowl.
Third place is ours, no matter what happens v. Steve and Patty, our final opponent. We are 6-1, and they are 7-0. As savvy tournament-tested players, they have a winning strategy as well as our powerful players. We make them only slightly uncomfortable and we fall quietly 15-7.
Having only two losses, Hannah and I are looking at a sweet third place pay day. And then…
…we see Norm and Leesa still on the court v. Carolee and Tim, the team that crushed us. Learning that Norm and Leesa are up 14-12, I am not surprised that any team with Norm has a chance. After giving up a 13th point, they close out the match 15-13.
Immediately, I do the math [i.e. we are now second at 6-2 as Carolee and Tim have fallen to 5-3]. No lie, it was cool to win. We are all humble on the outside and about to shit on the inside.
So what did I learn:
- Social pickleball works for me. How can you beat the combination with delectable hors d’oeurvres with non-stop pickleball?
- Round robin play is my idea of a good time. No waiting. My pickleball-induced ADHD is satisfied with lots of play – eight games in nearly four hours.
- Even social tournament pickleball is about targeting the weaker player. That’s life. There were times I played the role of the coat rack. There’s no crying in baseball or pickleball. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.
- Bangers bang. I could (and often do) look at the bangers banging as an opportunity to improve my soft game. I’m still not a fan of banger-topia!
- We were so damn lucky tonight to come in second. (1), we could have easily lost our first game [we won 15-13 after being behind], (2) and we could have easily lost our second game v. the top player, Norm and Leesa, and (3) we could have easily lost the game we were down 14-8 to Gordie and Shannon. And then, (4), even if we squeak out W’s in all those games, we still needed Leesa and Norm to beat the team that beat us. We were the long shot that left the ball with the silver slipper.