4/14 U1900 Classic Hardbats at Cupertino Y Exige

(Left to right: Xiaohan Huang, Chew Wong, George Zhao, Michael Marinas, John Lam, Bob Palgon)

Writeup by Bob Palgon:

Yesterday, April 14th, at the Cupertino YMCA, a facility just three short minutes from the fabled Cupertino Sports Center (and its hardbat-hallowed Multi-Purpose Room), your Classic Hardbats took on the Cupertino Y Exige in their spacious and air-conditioned Family Pavilion.

This was the return engagement for the two teams. George Zhao, Xiaohan Huang, and Chew Wong were once again representing Cupertino, while our team, this time, consisted of John Lam, Mike Marinas – and a fill-in for the scheduled Dan Marinas (who unfortunately had to work overtime) – Bob Palgon.

You will recall that when the two teams met before, Al Papp heroically rallyed back from 5-9 down in the fifth game of the fifth and deciding match of the tie to beat George Zhao and the Cupertino team 3-2.

This time, the tie outcome was the same, that is, 3-2 in favor of us, however I regret to report that George Zhao – hell-bent on getting revenge, but relieved to see that Al did not show-up – turned his avenging-soul in my direction – inappropriately I believe, beating me soundly in the opening singles match 3-1, (12,8,-4,6). Damn you, Al.

In the second singles match, John mainly cruised to a 3-1, (4,4,-7,7) win, although the 3rd game got away from him as Xiaohan became more patient and out-steadied John in a pushing contest. But John returned to form in the 4th game and though some of us were worried, John later said that, as far as he was concerned, the 4th game and match were “never in doubt”.

In the doubles that followed, Mike and I battled the two Georges, however when the smoke cleared, the two Georges prevailed 3-1, (9,-7,7,8). It must have been a funny sight to watch us play doubles with Mike playing so far from the table, and me on top of it, switching in and out. Anyway we had fun and had a few good points, although I remember my poor choices a lot more than my winning ones.

At this point, Cupertino was up 2-1, and things looked bleak for our side, but Michael was up to the task. In the third singles, he beat Xiaohan 3-0,
(10,9,9). Though Michael won in three straight, this hardly reflects the kind of match it was. In truth, the game-scores rather than the match-score, more accurately portray the real nip-and-tuck, hard-fought battle this was. Indeed, the lead changed hands on virtually every service change-over of every game.

Most of the points were long, with Mike under-spinning, side-spinning & pick-hitting with his lefthanded-forehand and righthanded-backhand – I think. (It’s really tough to remember his hand-switches even two points after he made them.) Many times Mike worked himself into a position to hit a righty forehand slam but he repeatedly refrained because he had lost confidence in it earlier. Not knowing this, I kept thinking to myself – as Hermann often does about my play, “Why doesn’t he just hit it?”.

But sticking to his game-plan turned out to be a winning strategy for Mike. It was a tough, tough fight and a helluva win. In my opinion – and I found out later, in Mike’s opinion as well -- this was a match that he could easily have lost had he played with even an ounce less fortitude or even a little less intelligence. Nicely done, Michael!

(I think I would be remiss if I didn’t at this point take the opportunity to add parenthetically that not all great matches, Al, have to go five games.)
So, after Mike’s terrific match, the tie was knotted at 2-2, with just one more singles match to play: John Lam vs Chew Wong.

John did not fail us. He played again with confidence and won 3-0 (4,8,11). It seemed to me that had it been a 4 out of 7 series, perhaps Chew would have taken a few games because – as the scores show – Chew was increasingly making effective adjustments as the match wore on. To hear John tell it, of course, John just let the last game go to deuce to make the match more interesting. We believe you, John.

So, in the end as I said at the beginning, the Classic Hardbats won the tie 3-2. And while it is true that John won his two singles and therefore probably deserves some major part of the credit for our winning the tie, I believe the lion’s share of the credit should rightfully go to
Michael – first, for winning his match and second, for insisting – as David Su once advised – that we put our strongest player in the number 2 slot, which we
did. As a consequence, John wound up playing their second and third rated players rather than their first, plus he got to play the fifth and deciding match.

As you can no doubt tell, my personal contribution was to lose both my matches to enable others the opportunity to be heroic. Alas, I too often function in this capacity -- but at least I can honestly say when people ask about my contribution, “Oh, it was nothing.”

The Classic Hardbats over Cupertino Y Exige 3-2

  • George Zhao over Bob Palgon 3:1 (12,8,-4,6)
  • Xiaohan Huang lost to John Lam 1:3 (-4,-4,7,-7)
  • George Zhao/Chew Wong over Bob Palgon/Michael Marinas 3:1 (9,-7,7,8)
  • Xiaohan Huang lost to Michael Marinas 0:3 (-10,-9,-9)
  • Chew Wong lost to John Lam 0:3 (-4,-8,-11)

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