The Longest Point

August 22, 2003 02:36 PM

Diary excerpt from Dela Clark, captain of the Women's 3.5 (Snow Hill, NC) team who competed in the 2003 USA League Tennis Southern Sectional Championships in Columbia, SC...

Dela Clark
Being in Columbia was quite an experience. The last match I played was truly a mental game. I had been up 5-2 in the first set and lost it 7-5. In the second set I was down 3-1 and I remember thinking all other matches are off and no one is cheering. This could only mean that the two teams are split 2-2. I decided that I had to stay on the court until I won regardless of how long that would take. I did win the next game and serving at 2-3 I knew I had to tie the score to win.

This pivotal game was unbelievably long (54 minutes) according to people watching, although my arm was a little tired from serving I really did not know I lasted so long. This was also the game with the 318 stroke point that lasted 14-15 minutes. I was so focused on the ball although I knew people were watching; I did not know that they were counting each time the ball was being hit. All I knew was that I could not miss the ball, and I had to return it in the court any way I could. I credit my husband with the way I play because seven years ago when I was learning he would say "just hit the ball back." Now when I get in trouble I just hit the ball back as many times as I can.

Also Brad Sauls, the husband of one of my players, would always tell me if you get in trouble hit the ball high and deep. When I would see or hear Brad, I would think higher and deeper. My opponent apparently had as much desire as I did because she returned as many balls as I hit. I kept thinking just hit the ball, and I am sure she was thinking the same thing.

Additional information about the 2003 USA League Tennis Southern Sectional Championships can be found online at