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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Scott and Stan's Excellent Tennis Adventure - Alton High School

Finally the rain that has enveloped the St. Louis region all summer has abated and the forecast has called for a bright, clear, hot and humid day. We met at the Central Realty HQ and headed to one of our favorite breakfast spots the Kolache Factory before we headed to Illinois to begin our tennis odyssey.

As we crossed over the Clark Bridge into Alton we noted the passing of Eddie Sholar founder of the legendary Fast Eddie's Bon Air which had occurred two days earlier.  We headed up to Lewis and Clark Community College to take in a slice of the $15K Futures tournament.   This tournament is in its 18th year and is a great free way to see some high level tennis in our area.

We got to see a great match between University of Illinois Jared Hiltzik and Vanderbilt's  Gonzales Austin which Hiltzik won.  Hiltzik ultimately went on to the final of this tournament and lost in a three set thriller to Michael Mmoh. Mmoh is a Saudi Arabian born player who lives in the U.S. and is a student athlete at the IMG Tennis Academy. He competed in the 2014 US Open doubles
with up and comer Frances Tiafoe.

We then headed north to Betsy Ann Park in Brighton where it appeared there were two courts we could play on.Betsy Ann Park is home of an annual picnic where they feature a curious Midwestern dish called Burgoo.  When we arrived at the park we saw no courts. We kept driving around until finally we realized the remains of the courts were right next to our car..... they were truly forgotten and slowly returning to nature.

We headed back south and ended up at Alton High School.   The home of the Redbirds has a nice facility in the rear of the school painted in a red and gray scheme which is unusual and represents the school colors.  By this time it was 12:30 pm and we knew the heat was going to be a factor.   A quick warm-up was had and the match began with Scott winning the racket spin and choosing to serve.

Boom! Scott started off with an ace out wide to win the first point. Stan won the next four points to get a break right away.  The balls really had a serious bite on this court and Scott was having trouble with Stan's deep high bouncing returns. Stan served to start the second game and again Scott started off with a winner down the line.

This game was closer with Scott having a break point which Stan denied and then won the game with a drop shot.  The set continued on this way with Stan ultimately winning 6-0 but Scott having game points in 4 of 6 games. Stan was dialed in and his defense was amazing.

Set #2 started out with Stan serving to win his 7th game in a row. The next game Scott went up 40-love on his serve and then missed an overhead by about an inch. Determined, he served and volleyed out wide to Stan's forehand and nailed a perfect cross-court backhand volley.

He was on the board! Back and forth to 4-3 Stan on serve and then Stan was able to break Scott for a 5-3 lead with a series of shots that included a lob, a deep ball in the corner, and a forehand angled slice impossible looking winner. Scott broke right back to get to 5-4 and then served to stay in the set.   Stan was not having it and broke right back to win the match 6-0, 6-4.

At this point we had each gone through about 64 oz of water and were famished.   We emerged from the courts to the sound of the Alton High School Drumline rehearsing near our car.  As we headed to St. Louis we noticed an establishment called the Regal Beagle and turned around for some beer and sustenance.

The Regal Beagle turned out to be an excellent choice!  Great craft beer selection along with wood fired pizza's and chicken wings.   After a short discussion with a local about politics we decided to leave before things got weird...

We weren't done yet - we made a short drive up the Great River Road to Elsah where we stopped by the Elsah General Store and had some nice conversation with the owner and we both bought some of his selection of fresh vegetables, coffee, local breads and craft sodas.

Alton High School courts are a 10 for location and a 10 for condition. They are in great shape, secluded and have a nice shaded area for seating.   A porta-potty is also nearby in case the need arises.

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