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, 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.