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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.   

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