They brought home the trophies!

the ballSitting pretty, very pretty, the crystal ball.
The USTA League’s Eastern Section Championship was held at Syracuse, August 7-9, with six teams:
Metro (us)
New Jersey
Long Island
Northern
Southern
Western

And our 3.5 boys captured the title. Yap, they’re the champions.

We’re the champions. I told the boys with a poker face, that without the groupies, they won’t win.. .. ha ha ha ha .. .. My partner Tom Liu seconded that. Good partner.

They played with lots of hearts and souls, with drama queen and king during the two play offs. It’s a virgin voyage for most players.

CIMG7325Match 1: Friday 8am, against the the Jersey Boys. Result: 3:2
First singles: Peter Zhuang, 1:6, 5:7 (opponent Michael W. Alexander got DQ’d)
Second singles: Jim Wang, 3:6, 6:3, tiebreak ?:10
First doubles: Charles Zhang/Henry Tian, 2:6, 6:3, tiebreak ?:10
Second doubles: Don Wang /Tom Tseng, 7:6, 5:7, tiebreak 10:?
Third doubles: Louis Chan/Ken Zhang, 7:5, 6:1

Peter is a great player and team player; down to earth, earnest and always helpful. His family vacation to Florida was August 8-15, but he stayed and went up north to play, sending his wife alone with the kids down south.
“I negotiated with her.” He said.
“What did you promise her your arm or leg, or a 5-carat diamond?” Irene should stop making sick jokes.
His wife is a 4.0 player and very nice and down to earth.
“I spent 2 hours clean the house.” He confessed.
See, I told you his wife is nice. We’re all very grateful Yan!

Peter has few nice words to say about Capital One. During its promotion, the credit card is giving 4 points for each dollar one spends. So he suggests that to raise 8 free tickets to the National isn’t a dream if we spend $50,000 between now and end of December. Jonathan raised his hand to say that’s easy, because he’s renovating his new house. The tennis court alone would cost $60k or so.

William Chan is well known among our boys (he called to congratulate the team upon hearing the news at the end). The boys know how he plays, his strength and weakness. He and Jimmy were deadly even after one set each. Unfortunately in the tiebreak, Jimmy suffer cramp, lost to him in tiebreak.

John was initially asked to play the second singles. But Sir John decided to hold on to his dear pillow, refused to get up in the morning.

Jim/JohnMatch 2: Friday 2pm, against Northern; Result: 3:2
First singles: Peter, 6:0, 6:2
Second singles: Charlie 6:3, 5:7, tiebreak ?:10
First doubles: Jimmy/John Jiang, 6:4, 6:4
Second doubles: Don/Tom, 7:6, 6:4
Third doubles: Louis/Ken, 6:2, 3:6, tiebreak ?:10

At 2 PM meet, John Jiang woke up and team up with Jimmy who suffered from a cramp in morning meet. They won but at a cost the Jimmy’s cramping recurred. He had to call trainer in between match to work on his foot. The same scene you saw Nadal receiving treatment at court.

With shortage of players, Charlie Zhang had to take up 1st single position so Peter can enhance his chance to win 2nd single. The strategy worked. Peter won and Charlie, yes Charlie put up an unbelievable fight against his opponent in a match that lasted 3 hours. Yes, 3 hours my friend. He ended up losing in tie-breaker.
Everyone was moved by his resilience, fighting spirit and stamina.

Don/Tom
Match 3: Saturday 8am, against Southern, Result: 3:2
First singles: Steve Hu, 3:6, 5:7
Second singles: Peter, 6:4, 6:1
First doubles: Jimmy/John, 0:6, 6:4, tiebreak ?:10
Second doubles: Don/Tom, 2:6, 6:4, tiebreak 10:?
Third doubles: Andy Lin/Louis, 6:2, 3:6, tiebreak 10:?

I woke up at 4:05am, from a dream that I was running away from something or someone. The gang of four set out in the dark. Except for the driver Simon who’s bit late – needing time to put on his make up, all girls were on time. I volunteered to drive, thinking once past GW bridge, it’s all highway, 80 to 81. But DQ used her GPS, going local. No local local, but secondary highway, route 17. I gave up. It’s too early to have to deal with instructions. We got there smoothly. As we were looking for the courts, we came up on some nice courts. Mary who’s veteran told us,
“Keep looking. Those aren’t.”
She’s right.
USTA runs their leagues on less desirable facilities, at Lois Good Tennis Pavilion at the Syracuse University campus. The staff is paid but the courts might be free. They do men and women 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5 at one weekend, and 3.0,4.0 and 5.0 at other time. Every player is registered on their system with detailed scores and his/her opponents.

tent, photographer, etc. the board game

Few teams set up their canopies or tents with coolers of drinks andfood, making it grand and united. John Dowling, the photographer was there to capture some shots and hoping to sell them.
P.S. .. DQ downloaded his pictures anyway. How did you do it??? Geeeeee.. going out with her is really nice, she takes care of everything. I meant eeeeeeverything. I call her when I need/want to change my phone, I call when I need direction, I call when my computer acts funny … I won’t go to bathroom without consulting her.

the apron lady Good she can play

This girl’s skirt looks like an apron, she a French maid or what? The girl to the left in the picture on the right (in dark pink or purple with black skirt with white trimming), although out of shape, but boy can she play. Those are 4.5 girls. No joking. They mean business.

When we arrived, found our team staking out on the hilly grass with a hole on the slop. They were about to finish the first match, waiting for the second one to start in 50 minutes.

the groupies the waiting game

Match 4: Saturday 11am, against Islanders. Result: 4:1
First singles: Steve 6:4, 6:4
Second singles: Peter 6:1, 6:1
First doubles: Louis/Ken 7:6, 5:7, tiebreak 10:8
Second doubles: Jimmy/John, 6:3, 2:6, tiebreak 10:??
Third doubles: Don/Tom 2:6, 2:6

The Islanders are the strongest among 6 teams.
The first singles, Bobby Callaghan and Steve were generous on line calls with each other. Bob’s serve was good but he didn’t have the goods to back them up.
The first doubles, Lou and Ken played Luis Javier Osorio and Martin Marmorale. Osorio is the first singles player but he’s tired and assigned to play doubles. His serve was lethal.

Ken and I were assigned to play 1st double by guessing that L.I. team would do the same.
We ended up with their 1st double leaded by Ossario, their 1st single player.

Guess what, we won 1st set tie-breaker. Then lost 5-7 the second set. We won against with 10-3 tie-breaker in a 3 hours marathon match. I still have no idea how we pulled through with the win.

Our team spirit is high and trying to recopperate from 2 long competition the same day.

We are looking forward to another victory tomorrow.

.. till the captain signs .. casualty

When all four matches were done, the tally was 3:1. The mood of the team was light and giddy. Someone wanted to go to tell the pair just fold it to save energy. As the game dragged on, teammates began to good-natured wondering out loud,
“Smoke, I think they really believe they are the first doubles.”

the team .. after Match 4It’s a gutsy fight. Lou was under the gun to serve at tiebreak 8:9.
The tiebreak plays at the league is first to reach 10 points by leading 2, super tiebreak as they call it. At 9:9, Lou bang out his first serve.
“Foot fault.” The referee called out.
Some were happy and some were not.
Bang, Lou dished out a shaky second serve.
The opponent reacted even shakier: he netted the return.
The price for this agonizing but ultimately exhilarating experience had pushed Ken to the brink of serious cramp. He sat on the court for a long time. Lou waited then came off. Byron and Don went in trying to retrieve our cap, first tried to be his Crutches. When that failed after few steps, Don piggy bag the cap. Ken was In the Mood for Love TLC.. .. JK .. .. we all love you!
Later when we gathered for a group picture, Ken was still sitting on the grass. Don went back and carried him over again. So Captain Skipper is sitting pretty, with us in the picture. All thanks to Don.
IF this wasn’t the winning touch – the team spirit and unity – then I don’t what else would or could carry a team.

Daddy and me Mommy and me

Dad Jimbo said he plans to play doubles with his little princess in about few years. Guess poor me has to look for a new partner.

Simon and DQ left early for their golf.
We high-fived and took group pictures. There were lots talking, about the games, arrangements and plays, and also talks if they had won. I felt the team spirit, the unity and the drive to win.
We went to buffet. $7.99.
The sour and spicy soup was way too sweet.
The clams were ok, but tasted like over cooked or reheated, not fresh.

Once we checked into hotel at 4:30, did we realize there wasn’t a plan to go anywhere or do anything. Few who had car asked me if I wanted to go play tennis. Sure I replied.
But they probably had second thought, left with 5 players and took turn to play.
They’re Just Not That Into You, Irene 🙂
We all car pooled up and sole there for the team. No one deserved to be taken for granted.

Lou This little cutie just renders me jobless CIMG7284

After swimming – the pool is small and water is too hot (not complaining, it’s well within my expectation), Mary and I watched Cleaners on A&E. Good lord that I don’t watch TV, so it’s a new episode for me. We both were deflected by the long lonely night ahead, in a 3-star hotel.

Steve and Emily thanked me repeatedly for agreeing to be standby. His handshake was firm. There wasn’t any awkward moment and it’s amusing to see they fitted in with the rest well, on the surface. My earlier assessments were on target and fair.

found this car/license plate in the parking lot .. duhThe pair golfers came back and we decided to go out, even not knowing where to go. In the hallway, we saw Peter. Without hesitation, we invited him and he accepted. In the parking lot, Don saw us from his room and ran down to join us. Then we called Lou.
As the gang of four continuously collecting warm bodies, I suddenly thought about playing baifen. Immediately found 2 willing partners.
“Supermarket please.” I forgot to bring a deck of cards, thinking it’s only one brief night.
The buffet was so bad, few didn’t eat much, anticipating a nice dinner. So our group broke up, few went for noodles, few sat drinking and I went to shopping at Marshalls. Ya, the same store we have at home too.

We came back with a cake for two birthdays. Sat in the lobby and began to drink. Simon had a case of red wines. There was a wedding going on. It ended before we broke off for the night.

DQ and I shared a bed. She asked for extra blanket fearing it’s too small for us. She ended up feeling cold and constantly moving. I was hot and couldn’t sleep 🙂

Match 5: Sunday 8am, against Western; Result: 3:2
First singles: Peter 6:2, 6:2
Second singles: Steve 6:4, 6:4
First doubles: Don/Tom 5:7, 3:6
Second doubles: Jimmy/John, 6:2, 6:3
Third doubles: Louis/Ken, 2:6, 5:7

It rained, so we moved to Eastside Racquet Club at Manlius, a pretty classy one. The Northern team came out in force to cheer on the Western team because they believed that if the Westerners defeat us, the Northerners would go to Tucson Arizona this October instead.
CIMG7445 CIMG7449 CIMG7448 CIMG7447

In fact, this last match was really a formality. Had the boys lost on Sunday, there could have been a two-way tie on paper with the top two teams deadlocked at 4-1 a piece. According to the USTA rules, the next tie break protocol would have been the head-to-head result between the two teams in question. (L.I. and our dragons). Our boys automatically became the winners because they had beaten L.I. on Saturday afternoon (Match 4).

Because the Islanders were fully aware of this, they packed up their A team and departed on Sat night (no point in staying on). On Sunday the tournament director, Darcy Cobb, got PO’d and DQ’d the entire Islander team for not having a full squad left to play. Their tournament records, along with NJ’s Paglia team were totally erased.

we're the champions

Better luck next year I told them.

It’s really a bittersweet victory for this group of boys. Most of them are newbies. USTA might put them on the lousy courts to play, but the rules are pretty stringent and clear. The director has no problem to disqualify a player or a team should they chance it, or challenge the system.

Having the above in mind, in introspect they could have won without Mr. First. But no one could discount the confidence teammates feel with an ace on the team, and our groupies’ cheering.

When the last match was over, the gregarious couple locked in the verb exchange again. The wife insisted (an understatement) him to do some toning in the gym and he wanted to shower. Don and I looked at each other just laughed. He was thinking
“Man .. .. I’ll never get married.”
Irene was thinking,
“Woman .. .. some luck wife.”

Don’t cry for me China. I got what I deserve just like anyone else :). I don’t presume everyone enjoy as much coaching on court as I do, so many might found Simon to be overly talkative. Got the picture?

Ok, got to go to have some real life. See you in Tucson Arizona in October.

I played at Cunningham this AM, and actually saw few old buddies.

~ .. ~

Girls at the tourney .. some outfits are really nice and neat.
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Mingbao Newspaper reporting

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