Thursday 16th February – Tournament is Hotting Up!

This morning, I had energy to burn so I went for an out-of-character early morning run. I started at the eighteenth hole and worked my way back along the course following the golf cart path, ignoring the many signs that said jogging, cycling and skating were not allowed on the path. These people just make rules for the sake of it. After getting a searing pain through my right side, I eventually got through about 6km and was grateful to be able to have a shower at John’s place.

I head over to the courts and after having breakfast in my comfy chair, found myself a sunny spot out on the deck to read my travel writing book. I was joined by Nick from last night shortly after and John came not too much later. More people joined us as we watched people hitting all over the courts and before we knew it, the tournament was underway. Mackenroe was playing on centre court again so we were excited to see another good match. Unfortunately it wasn’t anything interesting, Mackenroe hardly lost a point and his opponent conceded to “injury” after 6-0, 3-0. I kept my possie on the deck and watched the matches going on around us, with some people we knew playing nearby.

There were some excellent three set matches going on, all on courts far from the centre. The organisers should be shot. The 80s singles final was a brilliant match with absolutely no power shots, lots of strategy and more running than you’d think. After John came back from having lunch, he told me that ponytail man who we’d watched two days ago was having an epic three set match over on a far court, so I was up and off we went to watch. We could tell both players were tired, but they were still playing their shots and getting to most balls. We were both rooting for Ponytail and after saving many match points of his serve, he was eventually bested with a great shot to the rear baseline.

After they finished, we turned our attention to the match on the court right beside them, which was a younger age group with even more intensity and power shots than the other guys. They finished not long after, but were both in good spirits having both played pretty well. This was brilliant tennis to watch! There wasn’t much else of note to watch in the afternoon, so I found a spot in the sun and read my book for a bit, having a proper holiday. After doing that for a while, I realised I hadn’t seen John and figured out he’d be watching his friend Walt play in the double’s consolation tournament. I found them soon enough and they had quite a crowd! I made about five people at the sidelines, all rooting for Walt’s team. I continued chatting to Marilyn in hushed voices and we all enjoyed some bloody good doubles tennis. Even better, Walt’s team had a win.

We disbanded and found more matches to watch. When I found Bernie, he had racquets in hand and was keen for a hit. I went and got his shoes out of my car and changed, ready for some hitting. Unfortunately, the practice court behind the swimming pool was occupied by a young kid’s coaching session, so I entertained myself by hitting off the wall. Nick came over and joined me and tried to teach me his golden strategy of hitting the ball high over the net and I complied. After running myself stupid, the practice court had freed up so we head that way. Nick, Bernie and I started hitting while John and Chester watched. After a few rounds, I offered John my racquet to change out with me, but he declined, so we carried on. Eventually Bernie went to get another racquet from his car so he could join in. John, bless him, is just so timid.

By the time Bernie was back, Nick was done, tired from the play, so he sat and watched as John, Bernie and I played Canadian doubles, where one plays two with exchange of serve and partners after a few games each. It was a cool format. With the sun fading, we managed to each get a go playing as a single and enjoyed some great tennis. I was happy to have my serve back and even my backhand wasn’t letting me down too much. We bantered the whole way through, especially me when I triumphed! Eventually we lost the light and were all hungry. Nick head home, but John, Bernie and I took up our usual spot on the patio. I got straight onto ordering another round of Pizza Hut pizzas for John and I, but Bernie was set on Chinese so he paddled his own canoe.

It was a cold night by Florida standards so when I returned from getting the pizzas, I also brought my warm doona for John since he didn’t have a jacket. Bernie was off getting his dinner but that didn’t stop John and I from digging in. The pizza was just as good second time round and perfectly hit the spot. When Bernie returned with a bag of Chinese and what looked like a two-liter bottle of wine, the groundsman was coming around to turn off all the lights. We pleaded that he leave one on, promising to turn it off when he left. He obliged, but couldn’t get away from Bernie who proceeded to talk his ear off. Some time after the groundsmen left, it became clear that Bernie was partaking in an hour of silence, something he’d been talking about doing for a while. And so, he just sat back and listened to John and I talked as he savoured in his Chinese.

Convinced we weren’t going to have a second sighting of the space station, we called it a night around 9pm and went back to camp. I was asleep not long after, tired from my run, the tennis and the cold.

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