Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Obsessed - Part II

Click  here to read Part I

Surya woke up the next morning eager for revenge -- he got to the courts early and met Roy there.  With a look of determination, he started playing like a man possessed.  He would fight hard for every point and wear Roy down by making him play long, grueling points.  After 2 hours and 15 minutes, Roy was physically spent as Surya won easily 6-2,6-3.  Surya walked home very satisfied that day.  He loved the thrill that that win would give him, but as satisfying as it was, it only made him hungry for more!

He entered for his first tournament at the Midtown Club Championships and defeated his first few opponents quite easily.  He had solid ground-strokes and was consistent enough that he could wear down his opponents with solid defense.  Each win was more satisfying than the next and he wanted more.  He wore one opponent after the other and won the tournament quite easily.  The thrill of this victory gave him a confidence that he never had before.

There was a sudden swagger about Surya now, as he headed into his next tournament, the DuPage World Championships.  This was an international tournament, and as the name suggests, it featured people from different countries.  Surya played his usual safe-and-effective style for the first few rounds and won them quite easily.

But then, in the semifinals came Zhang, a crafty Chinese man with a wacky spin and incredible foot-speed.  Surya's usual safe game didn't work against this old man -- he was forced to play a more aggressive style which was well out of his comfort zone.  Many errors came from his racket as he lost the first set 6-4.  In the second set, Surya was forced to change tactics.  He took the ball on the rise more and went for riskier shots, closer to the lines.  He also came to the net more, a place he wasn't very comfortable in.  The tactic was hit-or-miss but Surya won the set 7-6.  However, there was a certain unease in Surya's gait and movement and Zhang, being a clever tactician, had picked up on it.  Zhang started to play more spins and hit the ball even more aggressively in the third and final set.  At this point, Surya was all out of answers and started to simply go through the motions as he lost the set (as well as the match) 6-2.

This loss was his worst one....and it hurt a lot more than his loss to Roy.  This wasn't a matter of choking; it was a matter or giving up -- he had packed it in and he knew it!  As much as his previous wins boosted his confidence, this one loss devastated him!!  For several weeks, he couldn't eat or sleep right, as he kept playing the match (against Zhang) mentally in his head.

After weeks of mental torture, Surya finally decided to change his game and mindset to win at any cost.  Nothing else in his life mattered at this point except to be a winner.  For many weeks, he would train with a coach and personal trainer to hone his body and mind like never before.  He entered the Midwest Championships and started playing with this new improved style of play and won his matches more easily.  In his matches, he made more errors but also hit more winners too, and overall this new aggressive playing style took less out of him physically.

At last, in the finals, there was his old nemesis Zhang, once again ready and waiting for him.  Surya was nervous as he walked into the court.  Remember the game plan.... controlled aggression is the key, he kept telling himself over and over.  As the two players warmed up, those words kept echoing in his head.  Surprisingly, after a few minutes, Surya's tension started to fade away.  The foe on the other end, while a tough opponent, was after-all a familiar one.  The game plan was clear, and Surya started to believe in the game plan as well as in himself.

As the match progressed, Zhang was playing his usual unpredictable style.  But this time, Surya was up to the task.  He took the ball early and moved Zhang both deeper and wider, thus limiting his nemesis' options.  The match was tight, but Surya's game plan was paying dividends.  Controlled aggression... controlled aggression..., he kept telling himself.  He won a tight straight-setter 7-6 (8-6), 7-6(13-11).  As soon as the umpire uttered the words "Game... set... match...", Surya dropped to his knees, overwhelmed and overcome with joy over his huge victory!

This win was a particularly satisfying one, because he knew it was a match that could have gone either way.  Surya would go on to play many more matches, and in the process he would become a more confident young man.  As his game grew, so did his personality.  He had stretched himself beyond the 78.0 x 36.0 feet rectangle -- he was ready to face any opponent within those four lines as well as anything that the rest of the world could throw at him!