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

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a short period in the 1870's.   The Social Evil Hospital changed to a women's hospital after the prostitution law was repealed.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.
of the

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Wapelhorst Park - The Wimbledon 2014 Edition

St. Louis has been experiencing some unseasonably cool July weather.   This great weather plus watching Wimbledon which has increased our appetite to play tennis.   Last week we headed to Wapelhorst Park in St. Charles for our fourth match on the west side of the longest tributary in the United States, the Missouri river.

The courts sit in a small corner of a larger park which features a water park and baseball fields.   The courts are in excellent shape with one small exception.   The court is striped with bright yellow pickleball lines which make it very difficult to accurately call serves because the two lines are very close to one another.

If you are not familiar with pickleball get acquainted because it is apparently a craze among seniors.  The Villages in Florida have installed over 100 pickleball courts for their seniors.   Here is a short video on the phenomenon - Introduction to Pickleball.

The courts are lighted but do not have a restroom facility close to them.     As we began to warm up with the X-Balls it was apparent that not much sand was in the surface coating resulting in a fast court with very low bounces.   The match finally began and started out 2-2 from there it went downhill for Scott as Stan began really dialing in his backhand.

Stan hit winners off the backhand of every variety including passing Scott down the line on a serve and volley, cross court and down the line winners.   Accordingly he reeled off the next four games to win the first set 6-2 and Scott's dream of a threepeat began to fade.

However, the second set started out well for Scott as he began focusing on Stan's forehand and hitting lots of winners off of his own forehand.   Scott rolled out to a 3-1 lead.   The fifth game of the set was epic.   Stan served and Scott worked his way to a break point.

On the first break point a 20 shot rally ended with Scott pushing Stan in the forehand corner and coming to the net, as Scott stood stunned, Stan hit a beautiful topspin lob that landed on both lines in Scott's backhand corner.   Both players had multiple chances to win the game and finally Scott won it with two consecutive forehand winners for a 4-1 lead.  Not to be outdone Stan won 8 of the next 9 points to get back to 3-4.   Scott held on though and closed out the set 6-3 on a serve and volley winner.  We spun the racket to decide 10 point tiebreak or full set.  The tiebreaker won.  

Stan reclaimed the momentum by winning six points in a row to get to a 6-0 lead.   Scott stayed focused and fought back to a 6-9 score.  Then he stayed in the match by drop shotting Stan, then lobbing over his head and knowing Stan would retrieve what should have been a winner Scott went to the net and volley it away to get to 7-9.  Alas this was as far as Scott would go as Stan hit an unreturnable serve to finish it.   6-2, 3-6, 1-0 .  This now makes Scott 0 for 4 West of the Missouri River.

Court location is a 10 and court condition would be an 8 primarily because of the pickleball lines which really cause problems calling serves.   Average Score a 9.    An old north county favorite Saullo's Pizza is nearby for an after match meal.