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, December 03, 2014

Covenant Park - Turkey Day Surprise?

Our blog has developed a tradition of having an annual Thanksgiving week match.   Most years we have been surprised with surprisingly warm weather.    This year that was not the case as the temperature hovered just above 30 degrees at game time.   Our court of choice was Covenant Park in St. Peters thanks to a suggestion by blog reader Austin Diehl.

St. Peters was originally occupied by the Mississippian Mound Builders and as recently as 1970 was a small farming community of less than 500.  In the last forty years St. Peters population has grown to over 52,000 making it the 10th largest city in the state of Missouri.  Covenant Park was convenient as Stan has a listing just down the street that he and his Remax Select team are in the process of selling for a client.  You can view Stan's listing right here if you are so inclined.

 Stan's listing

Covenant Park is located west of the Missouri River in St. Peters, Missouri. The Park offers two tennis courts with a synthetic grass surface. We have played on these types of courts many times and they are usually a slow surface.   

There were no bathrooms available but the park featured a king sized porta potty which proved perfect for Scott to use to change his clothes. The courts are in good condition with the exception of a slight accumulation of sand in one corner.

As we began to warm up we noticed that these courts were a little faster than normal and the balls stayed pretty low. That may be attributed to the near 30 degree temperature making the surface a little harder and the balls less bouncy.  

Stan won the toss and elected to serve and held his serve easily. Scott had a more difficult time fighting through a couple of deuces before finally holding.    Stan again held easily to go up 2-1. On Scott's next serve Stan was able to break and then continued out to a 5-1 lead. Back against the wall Scott finally broke Stan by hitting a lob over his head which landed right on the baseline.     He held his serve to get back to 3-5 and then Stan closed it out with an excellent service game punctuated with an overhead winner.   

The next set started out well for Scott as he held his service game and won a fantastic point of hard hitting tennis. The point was complimented by a jogger who stopped to say that he enjoyed watching it. Unfortunately that was the highlight of the set for Scott as Stan rolled the rest of the set to take the match 6-3, 6-1. Outside of Stan slipping a couple times in the sand these courts were a fun place to play.  We decided to go nearby and enjoy some nourishment from the nearby Great Harvest Bread Company which also happens to be for sale if you are in the mood to be a baker.   Court ratings are a 10 for location and a 9 for the court condition for an overall 9.5

Match postscript - Scott had his singles league match later that evening at Frontenac Racquet Club and recovered thrashing his opponent 6-1,6-0.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bridgeway Park - The Battle in Bridgeton

After what seemed like 10 straight days of rain, we finally received a break in the weather so Scott and Stan took a midday break from Central Realty and ReMax Select to head to Bridgeway Park in Bridgeton for their first match in over a month.  Bridgeton is a St. Louis community with a long history, but grew to be a significant suburban city in the last 40 years.  Bridgeton was first platted in 1794 as part of a Spanish Land Grant to Robert Owen, a utopian socialist.

Its location was on the primary road between St. Louis and St. Charles, Missouri.   The population waned over time and in 1950 was only 276.  As suburbanization began, the population exploded with over 8,000 single family homes being built in the 1960's.   It is during this period that Bridgeway park was built.  The park is difficult to find as it is located in the middle of a neighborhood.  It is really a nice and quiet park with bathrooms, ball field, volleyball, tennis courts and a shelter/bbq area.  The courts have seen better days and are missing most of the surface on the outer edges.  One court was playable while the other was not.

Stan is physically in the best shape of his life completing an 11 mile Tough Mudder 6 days prior to the match.   Scott knew this was going to be tough and selected his lower tension racquet to give him a little more firepower since he knew outrunning the Bulgarian was not an option.

Both players held serve until 3 all with Scott winning 12 of his first 13 service points.   Stan's serves were a little tougher for him but he managed to hold on by striking winners repeatedly to Scott's forehand side.   On Scott's next serve he went down 0-40 but managed to come back and win to go up 4-3.  Scott was doing a great job mixing up his serves and keeping Stan a little off balance, but Stan held and then a 4-4 Scott was derailed when Stan ripped an inside out forehand winner off a serve up the middle to break Scott.   Stan held his serve easily and the first set was in the bag, 6-4 Stan over Scott.

The second set started out all Scott as he went up 3-0 with great defense turning Stan's winners into defensive lobs.    Scott extended the lead to 4-2 and then Stan went on a tear winning 3 games in a row to go up 5-4 and put himself in position for a two set victory.    After losing a 25 stroke rally, Scott held his serve on the next point by hitting  a delicate lob over Stan's head for a winner.   Scott then followed that up with another perfect lob on Stan's serve to break him and finally held his own serve by hitting 4 volleys in a row at the net culminating with a drop volley that the speedy Bulgarian could not quite get his racket on.   Second set to Scott at 7-5.

At this point, it was decided to play a full third set to decide the match rather than the traditional tie breaker.   Stan started out by breaking Scott to go up 2-1, but Scott broke back with a vicious down the line return of Stan's serve.    Scott; now playing with confidence, won the next three games to get to a 5-2 lead.   Stan held for 5-3 punctuated with the only ace of the match and then probably the best game of the match was played.   Scott went up 40-0 with some good serving.  With the match on the line Stan played two amazing points.  The first was a point where Scott had Stan running from corner to corner with heavy forehand balls that Stan somehow kept getting back.   After about 10 balls, Scott tried to rip a ball down the line over the high part of the net which ended with the ball on Scott's side of the net.   The next point, Scott came to the net volleyed three times and finally caught Stan going the wrong way but Stan somehow reached back and flicked a lob over Scott's head into the backhand corner for a winner.   Scott decided to go for it on his next serve and went up the "T" to Stan's forehand.   Stan pushed his return about 6 inches wide and the match belonged to Scott.   4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Location is a 10 as this is a quiet secluded place to play but court conditions at this point are only a 4 for a combined rating of 6.  A great nearby place to eat after you play here is the India Palace which has a great lunch buffet and an awesome view of Lambert Airport.   A nearby tourist attraction is North County's most haunted house, the Payne-Gentry House.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rock Spring Park - When in doubt change your racket?

Finally we are starting to get some summer heat.   St. Louis has enjoyed a spectacular summer from a weather perspective.    This match was our first of the year in the heat.   We decided to head over to Alton, Illinois to find a forgotten court.    Alton is located just across the river from St. Louis and to the north.  It is a city full of history dating back to the early 1800's.

We found a park called Rock Spring Park.   The Park is famous for giving the upper Alton area the name Pie Town.   During the 1840's an encampment was located on the park site for soldiers departing for the Mexican-American War.

Local ladies would deliver pies to the soldiers hence the name.  The park is rather large and slightly worn.   It features golf course, disc golf, baseball, tennis and is home to Alton's annual Christmas Wonderland.   

There are six tennis courts of which two are totally unplayable or forgotten as we like to say.   The remaining four have been recently refurbished thanks to a Pepsi Refresh Grant.    On first appearance the courts are in good shape.  As we walked up four ladies were finishing a match so the courts appear to be used regularly.

We broke out the X-Balls and started to warm up.   As the match started Stan immediately took a 2-0 lead.   Then Scott held serve and Stan changed rackets.  Scott broke Stan and Stan changed rackets.

Scott held serve and Stan changed rackets.  Now up 3-2 Scott Broke Stan again and he again changed rackets.   Scott was now up 4-2 and Stan was on his fifth and last racket.  Unbelievably it worked Stan won four games in a row to win the set 6-4.

The best point of the set was a great corner to corner lob at full stretch by the Bulgarian for a clean winner.   Both players were having trouble with a mysterious wind.   No wind was visible or apparent but yet it appeared wind was affecting our shots.   Our best guess was the courts are in a valley that forms a wind tunnel.    

Scott decided to change rackets to one with looser strings.  Heck if it worked for Stan maybe it would work for him.  By now both players were warm and the points were better and longer.   Scott started out using the looser strings to overpower Stan for a 2-0 lead.

Unfortunately the heat and the effort to get there were starting to take a toll on Scott.   Stan won another four games in a row to go up 4-2.  Scott won a game for 3-4 and Stan held to go to 5-3.  On Scott's serve he hit a tough first serve that knocked Stan's racket out of his hand but the return went over the net.  Scott had an easy sitter and an open court but still managed to dump the shot in the net.

Somehow he recovered and won the game to get to 4-5.   Stan saw the finish line and served a great next game to win the match 6-4,6-4.   These were some nice courts in a quiet location.    

Location was a 9 and courts a 9 for an average of 9.  We did not count the two unplayable courts in our rating.  Afterwards Alton's one and only Fast Eddies was visited for lunch and cold beer.   If we had wanted to sample PieTown we could have gone to My Just Desserts or to Elsah for The Cultured Table Bistro

On our way home we drove through the town of Ferguson which was in its 5th day of unrest.   We saw quite a few boarded up buildings, peaceful protesters and some law enforcement.   Little did we know how big an event this was going to be for St. Louis and our national conversation.   

Friday, August 15, 2014

Spartan vs Spartan - The Brentwood Swim Club

This lovely August weather has been great for tennis.   Unfortunately Stan was out of town after working very hard to get Scott's father in law's house under contract he took a much needed vacation to Florida.   While he was away we brought in a USTA 4.5 sub, Dan Wyland who happened to not only be from North County but was a Hazelwood East Spartan along with Scott and local pro Steve Wall who hangs his hat at Creve Coeur Racquet Club.

The Brentwood Swim Club is a hidden gem located in of all places Brentwood.   It is an old style swim and tennis club with two tennis courts.   It is a membership only club which Scott has belonged to for many years.  Memberships are available here.

The courts sit behind the swimming pool and are secluded and surrounded on three sides by trees. For our third blog in a row mixed doubles was the format.  Dan played with Toni and Scott with Laura.   Scott and Laura won the racquet spin and elected to have Dan and Toni serve.   Dan broke out the X-Balls and immediately won his service game.  So much for strategy.

Dan and Toni were on fire.  Dan was poaching at net and Toni was taking any ball in the air and putting it just out of Scott and Laura's reach.  Toni hit a great lob that found a crack just as Laura thought she had tracked it down.   Down 0-4 Scott was finally able to hold his serve to eliminate the bagel.

New strategy was formulated to keep Dan and Toni off balance with loopy, slow shots mixed with good lobs.  This seemed to work as the score went quickly to 5-5 as Scott held his serve again.   Laura was able to hold for a 6-5 lead and after a tough game they finally broke Dan to win the set 7-5

The second set started out with a circus point that lasted about 10 shots with Laura and Scott finally winning the point when Toni made a rare miss and hit a sitter into the net.   This set stayed very close with really good points.

At 4-3 Scott served and after several deuce points finally won a point by chasing down a great Dan drop shot and ripping a winner up the middle.  At 5-4 Laura and Scott finally won the match when Laura who is not known for mobility chased down a ball over Scott's head and took it in the air saving a sure winner.

The courts are in pretty good shape with a few cracks that did come into play.   A basketball net is placed on one court which really could impede play and cause a potential injury.   Court condition is an 8 and location is a 10 for an average of 9.

A great local place nearby to grab a bite to eat is OB Clark's a Brentwood favorite.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sublette Park aka The Social Evil Hospital - Revenge is sweet!

One week to the day from our Benton Park mixed doubles match we decided to hold a rematch at the courts at Sublette Park located near The Hill in the City of St. Louis.   Before the match Scott, Toni and Laura decided to meet at Park Avenue Coffee and not go to the courts until Stan arrived and called wondering where they were.    As a realtor Stan is usually rushed on weekends and is often late so it was time to turn the tables.  At 10 minutes past the appointed time a text was received from Stan who knew instantly he'd been tricked.

A few minutes later all were at the park.   Sublette Park was originally the site of the Social Evil Hospital constructed to serve St. Louis legal prostitutes!  Yes prostitution was legal in St. Louis for a short period in the 1870's.   The Social Evil Hospital changed to a women's hospital after the prostitution law was repealed.  In 1906 a young woman named Josephine Baker was born on this site.   Josephine is one of the most famous St. Louisans of all time.  After the building was demolished a park was constructed and named for William Sublette who was a prominent fur trader.

On first appearance the courts were really rough.  Large cracks were visible and the entire surface is almost totally gone.   The park does have some bathrooms which were open.   The X-Balls were opened and Scott/Laura won the toss and elected to receive.  Right of the bat Stan aced Laura with a serve that took a funky crack bounce.

Eventually Stan and everybody else lost their serve for the first five games.   At 3-2 Scott finally became the first person to hold for a 4-2 lead.   Laura was hitting strong forehands up the middle and Scott successfully beat Toni down the line for a 6-4 1st set win.

The second set was a disaster for Scott/Laura.   Toni began placing her volleys perfectly and also pounded Laura in the thigh with a high volley (see pic above).  Now this was War!  But she continued and  took a really high lob and hit a one bounce overhead winner to negate a great Scott defensive retrieval.   Stan was serving well in the second set hitting at least 4 aces.   Stan and Toni rolled to a 6-1 victory.

As it was a hot day it was decided to play a USTA 10 point tiebreaker to finish.   Scott/Laura won a comical first point at the net finally getting Toni to hit into the net.   They continued to win points and got out to a 9-4 lead.

On match point Toni served to Scott's forehand and Scott hit a short chip wide to Toni's backhand.  She hit a short ball up the middle and Scott seeing the hole left when Toni moved wide ripped a winner up the middle to seal the match.  6-4, 1-6,1-0

Location is a 10 and court condition is 4 for an average of 7.  In 2009 the Riverfront Times named these courts some of the best in the city.  A lot of wear and tear has obviously occurred.

The courts location close to the Hill leads to an abundance of great places to eat.  Some of our favorites which could accommodate  sweaty tennis players are Gioias Deli, Steve's Hot Dogs and Milo's Bocce Garden.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Battle of Benton - Mixed Doubles at Benton Park

Stan and Scott have a regular mixed doubles game with two of their good friends Laura and Toni, both USTA rated 4.5 players.  Instead of watching the Wimbledon mens final we decided to bring that rivalry to Benton Park in the City of St. Louis and record it on Stlforgottencourts.    Benton Park is located south and west of the Soulard Neighborhood.

Two tennis courts are located at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Arsenal Street.   The park features several ponds, a bridge, walking paths, a monument to German-American Hero Friedrich Hecker and frequently hosts summer concerts.   The Benton Park neighborhood and the park are full of history and great architecture.  The area is takes its name from Senator Thomas Hart Benton who is famous amongst other things for participating in two duels on Bloody Island.

We inspected the courts and noticed several cracks, missing netstraps, average surface and lights that no longer function.   The remainder of the park appears to be well maintained. The city generally has done a good job maintaining their public courts but these are definitely in need of some work.   We opened a can of X-Balls and began our warm up.

Toni and Stan won the toss and elected to serve.  Stan served a tremendous game that went to several deuces and finally held on with a tough cross court shot.   At 4-4 Stan and Toni broke Scott after he drilled several balls right at Toni down the line and Toni
volleyed each one back finally picking off a low dipper and hitting a drop shot volley winner.   Toni held her serve to take the set 6-4.   

The first set loss was motivating to Scott and Laura and they came out firing.   Laura held her serve by hitting a great cross court volley past Stan's outstretched racket.   Scott and Laura decided to use the unusual tactic of hitting to Stan because Toni was making great shots from everywhere on the court.

The strategy picked up some steam and Scott/Laura rolled out to a 3-1 lead.   At 4-3 Scott served and after a tough rally Laura pushed Stan deep in the forehand corner and Stan unleashed an amazing topspin corner to corner winner to seal the break.

On Toni's serve a break point was earned and during a rally with Scott, Toni hit a short
high ball that Scott was ready to put away..... The ball bounced on a crack and kicked left forcing Scott to make an error.   Toni held on for a 5-4 lead and then Laura was broken for a 6-4, 6-4 victory for the feisty Bulgarian and his partner.  

Generally the ball bounces were consistent.  Location and setting in historic Benton Park are a 10 but court condition is closer to a 5 for a 7.5 rating.   These courts would get a lot of use if they were renovated.   There are some great nearby St. Louis standbys such as Gus' Pretzels and Hodaks.  However you can't beat the convenience Luvy Duvy's Cafe right across the street.
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