My First Singles Tournament Adventure: Lessons and Growth at Mercer Bucks Pickleball Club

Yesterday, I thought I was on top of my game and ready to cruise through the tournament at the beautiful Mercer Bucks Pickleball Club in Ewing, New Jersey. This club, which has quickly become my favorite place to play, offers well-maintained courts and a welcoming atmosphere, making each match a delightful experience.

In my first game, I played a 56-year-old man who hustled for a lot of balls and put in a lot of effort, but he didn't have the speed or power to really challenge me. I won both games 11-0 and felt pretty good about that. Singles must be for me, right?

Then, going into my next match, I faced a 16-year-old from Mercer County, just around the corner from where I grew up. I thought I would have the upper hand in the game because I hadn't let up a single point yet. I knew not to take any competition lightly, but I was feeling a little too confident. He managed to gain a small lead, but I came back and won 12-10 even after taking a big spill. My opponent had a really great shot down the line, and as I was going for the ball, I lost my footing, landed on my butt, scraped my shoulder across the floor, and hit my head on one of the poles holding the fence together.

I'm lucky that my backside took most of the impact; otherwise, I might not be able to remember what happened. In the second game, I was ahead for a while, but I just couldn't close it. Again, I got a little too comfortable and started putting pressure on him, and he was able to turn it around. He took that one 12-10.

The third game started as a better battle, but I just didn't have the same energy I had earlier in the day. I was missing easy shots and wasn't putting much pressure on him anyone. I need to be more accurate with my drives. I missed too many forehand drives down the line. I have no accuracy with my backhand drives, and I got lazy with my two-handed backhand. I tried to be fancy with two-handed backhand lobs and drops, but I've never really successfully hit either one of those in a game before, so I don't know why I attempted it.

Overall, I had a great experience playing singles at the Mercer Bucks Pickleball Club. I now know exactly what I need to work on. I have something to work towards again. In singles, I want to be playing at a 4.0 level by the end of the summer after winning a 3.5 singles event.

I have a lot of work to do, but I know I can get there. First and most obvious shot I need to work on is having a slightly-above average backhand drive. I couldn't put it where I wanted it. The next shot I need to lock down to get better at singles is being able to pick spots on the forehand drive. I had chances to go sideline to sideline and I was missing by enough to either send the ball out-of-bounds or give a dead ball such that my opponent barely had to work for his next shot.

I'm envisioning a sideline to sideline drill utilizing my Spinshot ball machine and creating lanes along the sidelines a few feet wide to act as a target. If the court is 20 feet wide, then my initial lane will be able 5 feet wide. After a few practice sessions, I will shrink that lane down to 4 feet and then 3 feet until I am sharp with my placement.

Now it's time to prepare for 4.0 men's today at 2:40PM! I'll have another honest reflection for y'all after that!