High School Tennis challenge matches
The challenge was issued last week. Lenny and his friend Dave want to play myself and Pete. Me and Pete are the top team over at Leonia’s Overpeck Park. We win about 90% of our matches. I’m a top 10 USTA Eastern 35s player and Pete is a former high school wrestler and mixed martial arts fighter who took up tennis three or four years ago. He shows up to the court with one racquet, and wears Asics running shoes, and sometimes an “Italian Stallion” black sleeveless t-shirt.
Pete’s strokes aren’t textbook but he is a smart, consistent player. Most people, young or old, see his unorthodox game and instantly think he’s a pushover – but he has proven time and time again that he can play doubles with anyone locally, including some of the very best, most renowned players in Bergen County. I love playing with Pete because he has the heart of a lion, he’s mentally strong, super-quick, chases every ball, is steady from the baseline and can make some miraculous reflex volleys. Pete’s basic strategy is just get the ball back – and he does that extremely well.
Lenny and Dave want a piece of us. They are experienced, solid, technically sound players. The kind of guys who show up to the courts with big, colorful racquet bags and the latest styles in designer attire. Lenny is good but Dave is VERY good. Dave supposedly developed as a player in Russia and has the form and mannerisms of an excellent, distinguished player. Dave, like Lenny, has to be around or over 50. He he is clearly in top shape, quick and instinctive on the court.
Dave is very picky about who he plays and where he plays. He doesn’t usually play at Overpeck but evidently Lenny has convinced him to play this challenge match. Lenny brought Dave around last week to Overpeck, no doubt to scout Pete’s game. Dave remembers my game, we played singles about ten years ago at the Fairlawn Indoor Racquet Club and had some heated battles, but he won every set, some, to my distress, easily. He’s the kind of guy that doesn’t make any conversation before, during or after the match, he just wants to beat your brains in and then go home. Not the most likable guy I’ve met in tennis, put it that way.