With a mix of new players and old and a modified coaching line up, 16U Red arrived at St. Stephen Catholic Secondary School in Bowmanville for their first tournament of the season.
In the first match of the day Red played 15U Pegasus from Kingston, winning two sets in a row. Between this match and the next the players tried their hands at lining and scoring for the first time. The lack of grumbling indicated that they managed this pretty well. A few parents, however, were seen roaming the halls looking lost, confused and purposeless.
Well … lost and confused because the place is a labyrinth! Doesn’t this corridor lead to the cafeteria? Isn’t that the door we came in? Hey, aren’t those the people I just passed?? How come I’m back where I started???
The parents installed themselves early into court 1, thinking themselves quite clever and happy to find seats in the spacious gym. By and by, rumour started to circulate that the courts had been changed up so we plodded back over to court 2, already complaining about the heat and stagnant air in this venue.
In the corridor we were puzzled to watch our opponent, the hosting team Clarington Grizzlies, stream past in the opposite direction. Nevertheless we sat ourselves down until, after much confusion and tumult, we followed our team out a different door, down another hall and … back into the gym we had just left, the choicest seats now occupied by the Clarington parents. Trickery, I say.
Nevertheless we won this match in three after a hard fought second set to 26-28, taking first place in our pool.
A buffet lunch was had in the luxurious auditorium where there was enough room to spread everything out and places for everyone to eat, though the girls just bunched themselves up in front of the food. Excuse me … don’t mind my elbow … be a dear and pass the macaroni salad.
After lunch we idled away the time while lower ranked teams from pools A and C battled it out for the chance to play us. Our sister – and similarly named! – team 15U White won this right and were waiting for us when, with great reluctance, we filed back into court 2. Court 2 was, at this time, in a rather ripe state and promising only to become riper.
The morning’s matches had us filled with great expectations for what our team can accomplish when they’re relaxed, communicating and the wind is in their sails. The problem with the afternoon’s performance – it seemed to me – is that we may have been a teensy bit cocky going into these next matches.
Things were going well enough until an unwelcome guest appeared on the court. Competition! 15U White started to get points. They had strong serves (howzit that player’s on the white team again?). They could dig and had a pesky knack for hitting the ball hard, down and inside the lines. Finding the morning’s rhythm faltering, the team tensed up, stopped talking and found themselves in the doldrums. A dressy way of saying we lost.
Play against the Ottawa Maverick Gamblers started stronger but our confidence was tattered and a third straight match in an oxygen-deprived environment meant that things didn’t go our way. For the record, court 2 was well on its way to earning sauna status – through no fault of our gracious host – with one player saying that changing out of her jersey was like peeling herself out of a swimsuit. Ick.
There were great moments, mind you. Disastrous serves (for the other guys), new power coming out of both sides and down the middle, plays we didn’t make last year, balls dug up that would have been left on the floor and lots of noise from the players.
I’m all for more of that.