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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A Tribute to John Good - Francis R. Slay Park.

This week's blog is played in celebration of the life of John Good.   John is Scott's father in law and recently deceased after a battling cancer and cirrhosis.     John was an avid golfer and sports fan in addition to his regular duties as an Episcopal Priest.   Sports highlights for John included two hole in ones, at Rochester Country Club when he was 11 and in Bay City, Michigan in his early 60's.  He was an avid St. Louis Cardinal Fan and delighted in moments like the 2011 World Series Game 6.  

Although tennis was not his favorite sport he was a devoted follower of our blog and had several times suggested that we play at Francis R. Slay park located near his house on the border of St. Louis City and Maplewood.

Francis R. Slay Park is named for the father of the mayor of St. Louis who passed away in 2011.   He was a long time restaurant owner and Democratic party activist in city politics.    The park that bears his name is located just south of the Arsenal Bridge over the River Des Peres on McCausland.    It contains a couple softball fields, a restroom and a solitary tennis court.

The court itself looks lonely and unused.   Upon inspection it had a large crack running down the sideline and was missing a netstrap.   Other than that the surface was in real good shape.    Stan was suspicious of the net and got out his measuring tape.... the net was perfect at 36 inches center and 42 on the sides.   At this point we noticed a key structural component holding the net up was a piece of an eyeglass frame carefully wedged into the net cable..  

The racquet was spun and Scott won and chose the side hoping he could benefit from the sun.   Stan promptly shattered that strategy by blasting an Ace by Scott for the first serve of the match.  As the set went on a couple things became very clear.

First, after such pleasant summer this day was what we would expect for St. Louis in August.  76% humidity and 86 degrees.   Second, Stan's backhand was on fire and he could hit a winner from any position.   Scott watched as topspin, slice, cross court and down the line backhands sailed by him for winners.    Stan closed out the first set easily at 6-1 with at least 15-20 backhand winners.

This match was not going the way Scott intended.   He decided as the second set started to just keep the ball away from Stan's backhand at all costs.   This strategy did not seem to work very well as Stan went up 2-0 and then 4-2.   At this point the humidity was really taking its toll on Scott and he was ready for the match to just end quickly.

Alas no,  the strategy began to work and the match began to get interesting.    At 5-3 Stan served for the match and went up 40-15 for his first two match points.     Scott got back to deuce by showing off his own down the line backhand shot and then wins the game to serve at 4-5.   This next game was really tough and featured about six deuces.   Again Scott saved a couple match points and held on to tie the match.    At 5-5 Stan started the game with a great wide serve to Scott's forehand which Scott ripped at a sharp cross court angle for a rare winner against the agile Bulgarian.

Scott wins the game for a 6-5 lead and a chance to win the second set.   At this point the humidity took its toll and one of the most stunning collapses in sports history occurred.    Scott lost his serve at love and the tiebreaker that followed 7-1.

Stan's physical conditioning and his strategy to reduce his unforced errors prevailed.   As we both collapsed exhausted St. Louis City Park workers cajoled us to get back out there!

Scott wished he had followed the heat preparation instructions we advised in our blog post Shootout at the Ok Corral.    The conclusion on this court is we were very pleased.   The large sideline crack did not come into play and the surface was consistent.   Court surface a 9 and location a 9 for a rating average of 9.    Nearby is the fabulous Southwest Diner run by the daughter of a fellow tennis player!  

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