The City of Fremantle Junior Championships in 1984 was a chance to right some wrongs, to try to put the finishing touches on a match. It had been something that I had difficulty doing against the State's best players.
Unbeknown to me I had gained some ranking points in enough tournaments and came into the Fremantle Championship with a seeding in the boys 16's. I finally felt as though I belonged on court with the City's best juniors, after all my ranking supposedly confirmed this.
I had gone to the board to check the draw after the long drive from Albany with Dad and much to my surprise I saw my name with a Number 7 next to it.
I did the sums; 'Ok i have a good draw, I can get to the last 8, that will look good on my resume'. I also entered the boys 18 and under for a bit of match practice, nothing more, nothing less. I would be cannon fodder, no risk.
The grass courts at the Fremantle Tennis Club were surprisingly hard however, I noticed the even bounce after a short hit with a mate. Perhaps it would be kind to my predominantly base line game, I could only hope. I do not remember who I beat in my first two matches of the 16's but I was in the Quarter's, the spot I had hoped I would make it to, I was to play Tim Scott.
Now I had met Tim at a Tennis Camp at a College in Perth where many of the State's junior players from both the country and city were invited to rub shoulders, great concept. I remember meeting Tim and his best buddy, doubles partner Andrew Sanders, great blokes. I got to know these two pretty well over the course of the five day live in camp at a Perth College. I hit with them each day and got to know their games'.
Both had a serve and volley game and were a good doubles unit, tough to pass once they got to the net. I remember they were seeded number 1 for doubles, Tim 5 for singles and Andrew 3, both on my side of the draw. I knew I would have to get past both if I wanted a crack at the title.
Now to cut a long story short, I trailed Tim 4-6, 4-5, 30-40, I wasn't playing bad, just getting outplayed by someone who was exploiting my base line game on a surface that suited a good volleyer. I saved the match point, won the second in a tie break and belted him 6-1 in the third. Good match and good come back.
My effort in the 18's singles was rather crazy though as I made it to the last 8 as an unseeded player, I was playing with a never before experienced confidence, I don't know why.
My Quarter Final against the number 3 seed Tim Burrows was a match I will remember for two things, my confidence and my reluctance to call a line. At 6-3, 5-1 and match point to me I received a shot from Tim that was a foot out, I didn't call it, I played it and lost the point. It rattled me and Tim came back to 4-5 but I managed to serve it out. I believe that to this day I wanted to win on match point, not call a ball out for the right to shake hands as the winner.
I respected Burrows and his high ranking, I almost felt embarrassed to be leading him so comfortably. After all I was just a country kid who probably was hitting against a wall while the city players were learning strategies against one another. Strange feeling. I earned the right to play the number 1 ranked player in Western Australia for 18's , Dean Danzi.
Now Dean could play, he in fact once beat Darren Cahill, Coach of Andre Agassi, our match would be a massacre of epic proportions, I just knew it.
I played my semi of the 16's first though and saved a set point against Sanders at 4-5 in the first before winning in straight sets 5 and 3. Confidence ? Oozing with it, coming out of my sweat glands. My next match against Danzi was one I will remember for two different reasons, my lack of confidence against a guy with a big reputation and my 'other self'.
At 0-6, 0-2 I asked myself the question " What is your problem Glenn? Are you playing the ball or are you playing a reputation" ? Three all. Dean served , 4-3 , he broke me then served it out. Happy with my second set, livid at my first. The mind was overawed by a reputation and ranking at the beginning of the match. Is this how the big name players of today put a set in their pocket during the hit up ? I imagine so.
I shook Dean's hand, "Well played" , he said the same, nice bloke. I would loved to have played that second set first though, hind sight is a wonderful thing in tennis.
I lost the final of the 16's to the number 1 seed Marcus Keizer who I went on to beat the following year in another State Championship. His 4 and 1 demolition of me at Fremantle however left me with more questions than answers. Was I an early round player ? Was I not capable of winning a Championship ? Was I overawed at playing guys with many more ranking points than me ?
I went home with a head full of thought plus a semi final performance in an age division that I simply entered for a bit of practice. I made a final in my age division plus a quarter final doubles showing with Jonesey. Many ranking points gained, many questions unanswered, was this a sport I actually loved playing ?
Perhaps this chapter typifies the reasons why when I spend time with my kids we go to the beach, ride our bikes and kick a football. Teaching them tennis would be silly.....
Chapter 12 to follow