Map of Courts Played
Bulgarian Wins = ReMax Logo / NOCO Wins = Red Square / Green Dudes = Team Win View NOCO vs Bulgaria in a larger map

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Holloway Park - Return of the NOCO!

Yesterday was a sunny 70 degree day in St. Louis.    After the last couple of matches our blog fans were calling for a better player to step in and challenge the Bulgarian's supremacy.  Four wins in a row by Stan is really taking a toll on Scott's Psyche.   Holloway Park is located in Ballwin at the intersection of Baxter and Holloway  Roads.   It features two lighted tennis courts and is adjacent to the North Pointe Aquatic Center.

So both players came into this weeks match on a roll in their USTA leagues.  Stan has won four matches in a row on his USTA 4.5 level team and Scott has won three in a row on his 4.0 team.    Scott has also been training for a bike ride on the KATY Trail so has ridden his bike over 100 miles in last 10 days.  

Despite all the buildup the match seemed to start in the same familiar pattern.  Stan was taking a lot of mid-court balls and hitting them for winners and quickly built up 4-0 lead.   Scott, smelling another bagel fought hard to win his serve by hitting a netcord winner.    Bagel off the table Stan made quick work of the remaining two games for a 6-1 lead.  
Scott focused hard on hitting his backhand deep with topspin to eliminate the mid-court balls for Stan.   The first two games of set two were very hard fought but Stan won them both and then held serve easily for a 3-0 lead.  The wind started to kick up and this helped Scott win the next two games to get to 2-3.   Scott was really hitting his forehand hard and the points became long and very physical.

Stan made a great play by recovering a drop shot and then rushing back to hit an overhead on Scott's lob volley to make it a 4-4 tie.   Scott was able to hold his serve with another netcord winner and then broke Stan for a 6-4 second set win.  

At this point both players were exhausted and out of water.   The decision was made to play the match out instead of a tiebreaker.  Stan summoned his reserves and stormed out to a quick 5-1 lead.  It looked like the end was near.   Scott made a great "get" on a short forehand ball and was able to rip it cross court and hit the line for a winner.   Somehow Scott kept his momentum and won five games in row to get a 6-5 lead.  Stan served to stay in the match and promptly went down 0-30.

He did not give up and charged the net several times making great volleys to tie the match at 6 all.   The tiebreaker had to be played after all.   It began as a back and forth affair and Stan finally earned a match point a 6-5.  Stan hit a great wide serve and Scott hit a weak forehand that barely went over the net and landed on the line for a winner.   Scott took the next point with a deep cross court sliced backhand earning his first match point.

Stan aggressively tried to defend by coming up to the net on the next point but Scott was able to get a  down the line shot by him to win the match 7-6 in the third! The courts here are really nice, good bounces and clean, crack free surface.  Fences could use a little repair and there is some traffic noise from the nearby roads.  Could be even noiser during swimming season.  Condition is an 8.5 and location is an 8 for an average of 8.25

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tiemeyer Park - St. Ann - A Trip to the Bagel Factory

Spring is in full force this week, trees are blooming and weather topped out above 80 degrees.  Of course a trip to a forgotten court was in order.    This was supposed to be the day Scott stopped Stan's three match streak.  Down 13 pounds and feeling good Scott arrived and was even more encouraged when the nets had no straps.

Stan has a very flat serve and surely these nets were going to give him trouble..Tiemeyer Park in St. Ann  is a large park located off of Ashby Road.   Who was Tiemeyer?  We do not know - a google search failed us.  But we did find this interesting video on St. Ann.   Tiemeyer features indoor/outdoor pool, lake, roller hockey, ball fields, walking paths and two tennis courts.

It was on these courts that some old fashioned tennis justice was administered.   First the courts... surface ok, some major cracks and both nets lacked center straps.    On to the match, The match began with Stan jumping out to a 2-0 lead.   Scott wasn't worried and as usual began to make his move after falling behind.... two break points appeared for Scott and then vanished.

At 4-0 Stan served again and Scott again had two break points.  On each of those break points Scott crushed the returns trying to avoid the bagel and Stan somehow got the returns back and kept himself in the point and finally hit a winner after being on the defensive for the whole point.   A total of 4 break points were available and Scott could not convert on one.

Result for set one - A  big fat bagel 6-0.   Scott was feeling good and encouraged by the many chances in the first set.  Second set was slightly closer but Stan was able to win it 6-3 for an easy victory and now his fourth in a row.

Location was a 10 and court condition a 6.5 for an average of 8.25.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Richard C. Hudlin Courts -

This was a day of firsts for many reasons.  It was our first time playing on these courts, Scott's first time wearing a Martenitsa (Bulgarian Tradition), and Stan's first opportunity to beat Scott within the St. Louis City limits.   Richard C. Hudlin memorial courts are located in the shadow of the BarnesJewish Hospital Complex in the Central West End.

The courts are a part of Forest Park however a lease deal has been made with the city  transferring control to the hospital.  The courts sit atop an underground parking garage which serves the hospital.  It appears the hospital intends to replace these courts with additional hospital buildings in the future.  So the opportunity to play here will not be long term.  

Who is Richard C. Hudlin you ask -  Well it turns out he is not only a very important figure in St. Louis Tennis History but Tennis History in general.  Richard C. Hudlin was Arthur Ashe's coach when he came to St. Louis in his teen years.  A Google search of Hudlin does not turn up much so we turned to Jack Eggman's "The Roots of Tennis" to find some information.  Richard Hudlin coached the Sumner High School Team and was a St. Louis Tennis Civil Rights champion having to file suit to allow his Tandy Park Muny tennis group to play in city-wide Muny Parks tournaments. He won the lawsuit.

Richard Hudlin also coached out the Armory which Ashe credited his winter in the Armory as a major factor in his improved game.  The Armory is a subject for another blog.  Hudlin worked with many famous tennis players including Oscar Johnson and Althea Gibson.   

On to our match. Stan prepared by eating gluten free for 10 days and Scott prepared by drinking Bud Select and eating White Castle the night before! The courts are in beautiful shape and the facility also includes playgrounds and handball courts.   As we began hitting, we noticed the strange sounds the ball made due to the hollow garage space underneath.   The first set was pretty tight with both of us struggling to hold serve.   At 2-2 Stan held serve and then followed up with a break to go to up 4-3.

Scott was struggling as Stan seemed to have all the right answers even for his best shots.   At 5-2, Scott held serve to bring the match to 5-3 before Stan finished out the set at 6-3.  Stan dominated the start of the second set.  Stan ran up a 5-1 lead and then Scott started to fight back.   Stan had two match points on Scott's serve but could not convert.

Scott fought valiantly to win the next game and make it a 5-2 deficit.  Scott then broke Stan's serve in the next game by stabbing at a ball with his racket and forcing it down the line for an amazing passing shot.    Scott tried to keep the momentum going on his serve, but Stan was determined to end the match right then and there.

Scott saved his 3rd and 4th match points, but gave Stan a 5th opportunity to close up shop.  Stan took advantage by hitting a beautiful topspin lob over Scott's head as he approached the net.  Watching that lob go over his head Scott felt like Nancy Kerrigan getting smacked in the knee by Jeff Gillooly.  Match over Stan notches his third win in a row 6-3, 6-3.      

Courts had a couple weird bounces so our rating for the court condition is an 8.  The facility itself is in fantastic shape so it gets a 10 for an overall rating of 9 out of 10.   Play these courts before they go away forever!