Thursday, May 1, 2014

44 Reasons

I got 44 reasons to hate "spring" in Chicago. 

It's May 1st, and it's 44 degrees out.

Meanwhile, in my old home of Champaign, it was 70 degrees last weekend.  Here, it was 44.

Katherine warned me that there was no spring in Chicago.  She told me that every year when she visits Champaign for the state math meet (she's the math team coach) in early May, it would already be warm and springy there, while Chicago was still cold and dreary.

You wouldn't think that 150 miles further north would make much of a difference, but when the radio people in Chicago talk about a beautiful spring day being in the 40's & 50's, I yell at them, "THAT IS NOT SPRING!!!"  Spring is in the 60's and 70's.  Anything below 60 degrees is just an addendum to winter.  


I bring up the weather because I think it may be one of the...

44 reasons why I suck at tennis.

I know I'm supposed to be a big tennis stud champion, but the truth is that I'm average.  In my 7-year tennis career I've had moments of supreme triumph and moments of utter humiliation.  And everything in between.  In 2011/2012, I had a stretch where I lost 21 out of 24 matches, including 10 in a row.  Last year, after losing three straight matches, I went on the longest winning streak of my life, with 18 straight victories, including winning the playoffs in my new league.  That was the pinnacle of my career.

My winning streak ended, and since that time I've lost 7 matches and won 6.  But the wins have been hard to come by, and the losses have been humiliating.  I've been "bageled" (lost a set 6-0) four times.

Lately, in particular, I've been in a bad streak.  Those four bagels I've suffered were all in the past 2 months.  I play the same people I've been playing, but with worse results.  I've been playing poorly, it feels like my rhythm is off, and I don't have the confidence I used to have.  What is wrong with me?

I'm a problem solver and a curious person.  I want to know WHY I don't feel like I'm playing well.  Here are some possible reasons:

Every year near the end of winter I notice that the left side of my abdomen twinges.  I hesitate to even call it pain, but I notice it and sometimes it's uncomfortable.  Maybe it's even more mentally painful than physical, because... what is it?  It doesn't prevent me from doing anything, I still play tennis, do my pushups/situps, and take walks and stuff.  But I wonder if it might have a very subtle effect on my tennis.  And it always shows up around this time of year.  (Actually, it's usually earlier in the year, but since winter lasts longer in Chicago, it's happening later this year.)

So now I'm curious: do I always get in a tennis slump this time of year?  I do remember it was February two years ago that I in a horrible slump that I thought would never end.  So maybe it's just this time of year?

In addition to being a huge tennis stud, I'm also a huge spreadsheet nerd, so I have a record of every (official) match I've ever played in an Excel spreadsheet.  So let me look back and see if my record in February/March is worse than usual...

...and it's not.  There really is no statistical correlation to my winning % in February and March than there is to the warmer months like July and August. I think there are simply too many other factors at play.  Like for, example:       

Tougher Competition
Of course the biggest factor of whether I win or lose a match has to be my opponent.  Certain people will always beat me, because they're just the better player.  That's how it should be.  And some guys I will always beat, because they don't match up well against my style. I play in a lot of different league with a lot of different types of guys, and when I play in the tougher leagues at the tougher levels, I'm going to get my butt kicked.

Of course, there are also people that I match up well against, and we trade wins back and forth.  It is in those cases where I should probably measure how I do this time of year, but frankly I don't have the time or inclination to tease out those numbers.

New Glasses
A few months ago I got my very first pair of bifocals.  They're progressive lenses, and they took some getting used to.  The first few weeks I wore them they felt weird and I didn't like them.  Any time I moved my head my sight was blurry.  And you'd be surprised how often I move my head!  But somehow, I got used to them, so now I don't notice it.

My new bifocals: Hipster Nerd.

When I first got my new bifocals I tried to play tennis with them, and it was a disaster.   I move my head around A LOT in tennis.  My far-side vision hadn't changed at all, so I could still use my old glasses to play tennis.  I kind of liked the idea of having my own set of glasses for tennis.  But now that my brain has gotten used to the new bifocals, I wonder if I need to play tennis with them on.  But with so many other factors, it's hard to know...

New Strings
When I lived in Champaign, I had my own racket guy.  He was awesome.  We played together a lot, and I'd ask him what kind of racket to get, and he'd give me a long analysis of which kind of racket matched my style.  He was also my racket stringer.  He would recommend which kind of strings I needed and string my racket for me.  Since moving to Chicago I haven't found a good, personal racket stringer like that.

I recently had my racket restrung here in Chicagoland, and I can't tell if the new strings are good for me or not.  I need my racket guy!

The Baby
I know that once I become a father, my life will be over and my tennis will suck because I'll get no sleep and have no energy and the baby will consume my life.  (It's true, single men have more tennis success.)  But it's worth noting that ever since we even found out we're pregnant, my tennis has gone downhill.  Maybe mentally I've already begun the slow slide toward playing tennis with a baby strapped to my back.      
This could really limit my game

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