Sunday, April 27, 2014

Reading Others …. Maybe 4 The Birds

Saturday morning began w/a relaxing early session of Boy Dog Belly Rubs. Stretching was followed  by the grinding of the beans. Set myself up w/H2o, finished my morning routine, off to the Pickle Ball Tournament here in Grand Junction Colorado. Little did I know, there is a whole schedule of tournaments across the western slope. Little did I know, these folk take this sport SERIOUSLY. Little did I know, I was one of the youngest players.

Our warm up time started at 9:30am. However, by the smell of that place, players started "playing" at sunrise. SO my warm up wasn't worth writing about. More of a deer in headlights as I wondered around in search of my neighbor. After the usual check in & hand shakes & hellos, I was informed that we were in a double elimination. So 2 games. Right off the bat, I didn't say a word about my shoulder. Still painful to hold or extend my left arm but I was able to take in a full breath w/o pain today. Now, our 1st game, both of these guys tell us that they have been playing for over a year & still in the beginners bracket. But I do like these guys for some reason. My neighbor & I, well, we have played 3 nights…… TOTAL…… so we didn't score a point in the best of 3. Also, the indoor ball is much different then the outdoor whiffle ball. And the windows created a glare in which I would lose sight of the ball before it came off of their paddles. Some shots were short & I had no reaction time. So off to the consolation bracket we go.

Our second game was a one match to 15 points & win by 2. I decided to use the sideline to my advantage & keep the game in front of me. No rushing the net, not fancy returns, just react & relax. This was my game & I finally warmed up. This game was my full on learning curve. Things I Learned: 1) They will make simple mistakes SO LET THEM. 2) Reminding my neighbor to hit the ball w/a lot less gotta KILL IT mentality as we watched his shots go long every time. 3) Complement & point out awesome shots to everyone. 4) Its a game people RELAX.

Yes, we won that game, the next game, and the next game. We won & we sat a lot. I kept the game in front of me & allowed the other team to crush the ball into the net. We drank water & watch the other team return them long. I kept the game fun & my neighbor pulled off some shots. Each shot was rewarded vocally & not with just a knuckle bump. We sat & we won. All the way to the finals.

We were matched up against the 2 guys that killed us in the 1st game of 3. We had to beat them twice because they had yet to chalk up a lose. But….. my neighbor & had only been playing up to 15 the last few games & didn't even think about best of 3 series because they were still undefeated. So my neighbor & I score 15 to their 9 & we were stoked. Drinking more water & watching some other matches, its forced on me that the other team wasn't happy that we only played 1 game to 15 & we weren't done. My only question was if the 1st game to 15 count towards our best of 3??? They said yes but signs indicated they were pretty sore about it. More upset about the lack of the refs & directors professionalism then us. Whatever, I was stoke that we won, that I was enjoying myself, & that I really didn't care too much.

Just before our match to finish the best of 3, one the the players walks in from having a cig. Right then & there I knew it was over. That was his weakness. His mind was shot because he felt cheated loosing to us & we didn't know the rules, right? Maybe Yes?? Maybe No??? But now, his body is toxic & I am going to run him. Our second game wasn't even close. Each shot that came my way, I took aim at his feet. My neighbor & I crushed them. We took 2 straight. And I continued to complement sweet shots that really pisses of a loosing team for some reason. Actually, they really made some nice shots & acknowledge my acknowledgment. So then, they say we have to play a game to 15 now because they officially lost their 1st game. Made sense.  NOW, I still haven't used my left side, my neighbor runs to the net after every serve, & nobody read this because they were so caught up in rules, ref's, 100 dollar Paddles, outfits, etc. I was ready to watch them guys run. I mean really run this game. My neighbor & I brought out more drama & the ref informed us that if him & I don't get who's who serve down then he will deduct points from us. "Learn the rules." he told me. So we won that game w/even more drama as we won by 2. Final score was 16-14. I laughed so hard inside & my neighbor was stoked. His dream came true!! He got all fired up over our 3 days of "practicing" & signed us up for this tournament & envisioned us winning the whole thing. He was on top of the world. And then, they gave us the medal. " We got a gold medal. " My neighbor squealed w/joy.

Pretty Proud 
They supplied all the teams w/pork pulled sandwiches about 11:30am w/chips & oranges & snickers & random treats. About that time, the Men's Open started warming up. HOLY SH*T folks. They flipping rock & no way could I even think about returning a serve. No Way. These guys rip that ball & if we were outdoors…….. wouldn't be fun.

Walking out w/my neighbor, reflecting on the day, watching him walk w/a little skip, I told him that I would play w/just him again but never in another tournament. I am going to retire on top. Classic A???  After I pointed out my concerns & observations, I made sure to explain that I enjoyed myself, its just that I am not taking it so seriously & just wanna play to play. At this point, Phuc the score, lets rally. Lets play outdoors & play to play. And I would totally play the same guys again but w/o the tournament vibe. We agreed, bring back the fun. I'll prefer to play Pickle Ball for the GAME of it...

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