11/27/14

Five Hour Window

   
     The wreckage of KOtC4 is just being swept off the pavement.  Traffic was jammed for miles.  But no one gets through before the King.  Re-introducing--King The Todd.  In a test of resolve, faith, and understanding, King The Todd slid the best on the wet surface, King The Todd ignored the wind and hit the most perfect shots, King The Todd broke the will of even the finest competitors.  Cushman The Kid, wanted another shot at him from the morning session but had his own battle in the Duke division, where the tournament administrator, and co-founder of the Isner Scoring Method, became a royal.  That's right, Duke Keck.  The Prince was claimed by the mysterious Mir sub, Victor Coronado.  A seemingly proud man, he'll be an honorable Prince, but he clearly has his eye on the throne.  Prince Coronado will get his chance at King The Todd in the summer KOtC5.  Bulldog Bobby saw his game firsthand as he clawed his way into the Prince division.  His demo days are over.   Vito Nyguyn claimed the Earl from Leo Escario after an epic, and historic, 20 game winner take all mahut.  The Royal Escario no more, his familiar cackle and grit, his marathonian conditioning.  Nope, it's Vito The Earl.  This royal court, in perhaps the finest field ever assembled, on perhaps the severest court conditions possible, endured.  They showed.  King The Todd, Prince Victor Coronado, Duke Keck, and Vito The Earl.  They are royal.

     The early morning hour was dreary, Keck ignoring forecasters predicting 100% chance of rain and trusting Delkus, who foresaw a 5 hour window of dry conditions weirdly aligned directly with our tournament time frame.  All the players must have thought Keck mad when he sent out the prearranged, early morning green light.  A pouring rain was covering the whole metroplex at that point. Frank Friday roddicked, which seemed a reasonable thing to do, but surprising from him.  He was the only one.  Player by player they showed, leery to be sure, but inspired by the faith of the tournament administrator.  When King James instructed everyone to ditch the squeegees and get used to the footing, KOtC4 was bonafide.  The overcast skies lit a bit, the wind picked up and partially dried the courts.  The rain had stopped.  There was trepidation, there was doubt, there was suggestions, there was anxiety.  Puddles were still all over, it was slick!  Reports of massive USTA event cancellations and alterations only added to the whispers and mumbling.  Keck understanding the significance of the moment, called the group together, explained the format for the benefit of new players, and officially started the morning session of KOtC4.  Rain came and went a few times, but progressively the weather improved.  The sun even peeked though briefly.  It was almost muggy as the players shed the pullovers and got down to business.

     Because my morning group had an unsubbed roddick, I had a chance to check out the early action.  Usually, idle time is very minimal during the event, but unavoidable in this scenario.  The players were clearly adjusting to the footing.  Deliberate ground strokes and patient footwork overcame the conditions and points were being wildly contested.  King James was playing Sellers, who had his menacing dog chained to the net post.  King James was dominating, but Sellers was scrappy and took a game as I watched.  He got to everything and kept the pressure on with slicing shots of varying distance.  His dog growled and whined.  King James seemed vulnerable, perhaps a foreshadowing of the events to follow in the afternoon King Division.  New player JD Miles took King James down 6-4 in the afternoon before calling it a day at 1-6 in his mahut with King The Todd.  He then sped off in his sports car, cursing at the King and promising revenge.  New player Huffman rounded out the King Division in the finest field ever assembled for the format.  Incredibly, he went off to play more tennis, indoors of course, after KOtC.  He expressed shock at the 5 hour window.  Later, at the post tournament drinking table, Sellers had incorporated Isner terminology with complete understanding, commoner James predicted we burned 5000 calories, and Duke Keck continued to preach and explain the benefits of the format.  Sellers even had suggestions for improvement.  Almost Prince Bobby moved slower after some idle time and my back and plantar fascia needed a hot tub.  King The Todd, on his own, implemented the even game changeover.  A kaizenian spirit.  He'll go to the Southern Hemisphere early next year and learn from Australians and New Zealanders.  He will leave them with well wishes and peace.  A King for the good times.

   Due to the Frank Friday roddick, my morning group only had 3 players.  The flexibility of the format automatically adjusts to this eventuality by not sending anyone to fight for the Earl in the afternoon.  I was grouped with two former college players, Kirsch and Huffman.  Both new to the format, I felt an obligation to explain some of the nuances and benefits.  They looked at me somewhat strangely, but I knew they would know later.  It must be experienced for true understanding.  I went 3-7 against both. The huge German Kirsch hitting backhands from extreme angles and the relentless Huffman hitting nonreturnable serves.  His game was too much for Kirsch too as he destroyed him 8-2.  As they were playing each other I asked the score.  "0-6," bellowed Kirsch as he pointed at Huffman.  They looked at me strangely again as I explained the moulette.  To remind:  moulette is the French word for skunk and is incorporated as ISM terminology in honor of the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, one of the survivors of the incredible 2010 Wimbledon match that went on for days, when the American John Isner finally won the 5th set 70-68.  Overall, I was pleased with my play and understood my place in the tennis galaxy. The Duke was highly contested.  Up 4-1 on Joe Vita, he came back and been me 6-4 in our mahut.  I fell apart after he complimented my play.  Keck, noticeably motivated, took me down 7-3 and Cushman The Kid made me feel my age in front of his mom.  Keck's destruction of Joe and the Kid made it official--Keck was royal.  His early morning leadership and optimism only solidified his worthiness.  As he sat drinking Newcastles at the post tournament gathering he was beaming.  By that time the skies released the promised heavy rain.  It was like God had affirmed our influence on the tennis culture.  First time players were amazed.  And understood.  Mardy Feldman, who roddicked for unavoidable reasons, had clearly succumbed to the pressure of USTA sanctioned play. But 'cancelled play due to the treat of rain' was what he got.  His feeble last minute offer to step in for Frank Friday was too late.