Tag Archive: Tennis


Al Fatah!


Those words will stick to me for a long time, like a chewing gum to the sole of a shoe. Annoying and difficult to pick off. That by the way also happened to be the answer to the final question at a quiz contest I participated on at school. What was the name of the party founded by Yasser Arafat, the Palestine leader? As I strained hard, I was miffed that the question could have been around a dozen other things that I knew about Arafat. Not many would know that Arafat was born Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini. Or that he was born inCairo.

As I mulled afterwards on the irony, Al Fatah or Victory was what did me in on that last question. Also it didn’t fail to dawn on me that my name translates to invincible. This somewhat grounding experience has stuck with me ever since.

As I grew up watching sport of all sorts, I realized it was one thing to be victorious but it was more important to be hungry no matter what the result is. Now there’s a fine line between that wont and being a fine sport. This edict has been instrumental in me picking my favorite players. I don’t go by the rankings or the number of wins, but will root for someone with a big ticker and a never say never attitude even in the face of defeat.

Below are three of my favorite picks from tennis that I keep revisiting often to find some inspiration for my own Tuesday night hits.

1)      Pistol Pete battles an old nemesis in Jim Courier and doesn’t belie emotions on the court as his coach and good mate Tim Gulkinson was diagnosed with cancer.

Pete Sampras Vs Jim Courier

2)      Another ageing warhorse Andre Agassi in his swansong year comes up against a young portly happy go lucky Cypriot that answered to the name of Marcos Baghdatis. Full marks to both the players for giving it their all even when it looked like the wheels had come off.

Andre Agassi Vs Marcos Baghdatis

3)      Rafael Nadal came up against his good friend and fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco at the 2009 Australian Open Semi Finals. Rafa was expected to make short work of Verdasco and all eyes were already trained on his final showdown with Roger Federer, but Verdasco had other plans. Staring down the barrel at the end of the third set, Nadal knew it wouldn’t be an early night and he was locked into a mortal combat. All credit to Verdasco for going full tilt for five sets. At the end the only thing that separated the two was the will to hang in – barely.

Rafael Nadal Vs Fernando Verdasco

PS : I cleaned up a few quiz contests post the ‘Al Fatah’ episode and never did I rue a loss to a good opponent since.

First hit.


There are a few times I indulge in my alter ego and let him have a free run. A sporting arena is one such place.

Context : Inter club tennis, season opener for the year. Abs has just come back from a 5 week holiday at home, undoubtedly a few pounds heavier and slightly frustrated at the turn of events and no sporting action.

Abs : Fish! why is the traffic banked up this far on the freeway? for gods-sake it is a freeway. I think I’ll be late to the courts by at least 10 mins.

AE: You should’ve know better to leave earlier. You never keep the ladies waiting, but are perpetually late to the courts.

Abs: Whateva! I think I should text the blokes and let em know I’ll be late.

****

7.40 PM serving to save the game at 30-40, 2-3.

AE: Come on champ, you can do this. One more. One more.

I take my time, watch the opponent standing at the far receiving corner. Do the bouncing the ball routine….. twice over.

Abs: I’m going to go for broke, down the T.

BOOM. Nobody moves. That’s the first ace of the season out of the way, and what a time to bring it out.

Abs: A massive “C’MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON”

AE: Average! I could do that all night.

*****

8.25 PM, First set lost 4-6 in a close affair. Up 5-0 in the second.

Abs: Now we’re talking. Looks like the serves are back. nearly 10 weeks of no action, I was bound to have a rusty opening set.

AE: Meh! If only you played smart tennis.

Abs: What do you think I’m trying to do?

AE: So stop whacking the first serves into the net. Didn’t you hear your partner ask you to cut down a few clicks on the first serve and focus on getting it in?

Abs: Meh!

*****

8.32 PM, Abs dumps an easy overhead volley into the net. 5-0 has suddenly turned into 5-2.

AE: You bloody fool. That was a sitter.

Abs: (slightly embarrassed) I know.

AE: If you would’ve moved your fat ass around to get into position, you would’ve probably made the volley.

Abs: Agree.

*****
8.37 PM, up a break point and a set point. Abs at the net opponent let one rip straight back. Almost a sitting duck there. Quick reflexes, deft touch and a cross court winner to wrap up the set 6-2. Another massive roar. A big Hi-5 to the partner.

Abs: C’MOOOOOOON. Bring it!

AE: Got lucky there champ. Do you realise, if your C’mons really translated into you playing better, you wouldn’t be loosing as many service games and not have to bank on breaking the opponents serve to win sets?

Abs: Hey! cut me some slack will you?

******
9.15 the body’s gone cold between sets. Staring down the barrel at 3-5, 0-40. Just going through the motions now. More interested in the Netball games the girls on the adjacent court are having a go at.

AE: If only you could fix your service games. And what sort of second serves are those.

Abs: yeah.

AE: It’s about playing smart tennis. Keep the ball in play, let the opponent make the mistakes.

Abs: yeah.

AE: You’re exactly where you were last season. Absolutely no improvement.

Abs: yeah.

AE: Now shut up and stop stealing glances at the netball action and get on with your game.

Abs: yeah.

******
9.45  End of a disappointing night 4-6, 6-2, 3-6. A few positives. The first hit in eons. The first ace out of the way. Hopefully the rust will be off in time for next week. Onto the social BBQ now to round off playing host to Eaglemont club.

Abs: Thanks gents, that was a good hit. worked up a good sweat tonight.

tuck into another quiche, while following the cricket scores on the mobile.

AE: One more of those quiches and all those calories burnt on the court, down the drain.

Abs: Awrite. I get it. It’s pack up time.