“This Time Next Year You’ll be a Gaoshou”

I have more than 30 blog posts I wrote but never published for some reason or another. Some are half written or just have keywords, some are finished but circumstances changed so I didn’t feel right publishing them, some are just rants better left unread. And some, like this one, was just a title.

“This time next year you’ll be a gaoshou.” (expert.)

I wrote it in quotes, so obviously someone said it about me but I don’t know who. Either my coach or someone at a high level. Someone who’s opinion mattered anyway. I don’t remember what prompted them to say it, and I don’t know what I was intending on writing the post about, because there was nothing written, no beginning paragraph, no keyword.

I do know one thing though, the date I wrote it. November 15th, 2016. About a year and a half ago. So I now know whoever said it was wrong. This time next year I was not a gaoshou.

But damn I’m close. Recently I’ve been playing much better. I’ve clearly leveled up in people’s minds because now not only are the top players in my club willing to play with me, they want to play with me. And when we do play they no longer take it easy because I’m a girl. They can’t because I will win too easily. And my partner and I are no longer necessarily weaker because we are playing mixed doubles against men’s doubles. (I’ve learned to use the men’s doubles positioning and preference of speed and strength against them.)

Everyone has said I’ve improved a lot, including my toughest critic: my coach. That guy barely hands out compliments to me but the past week he hasn’t been able to keep quiet. “That’s my tudi!” (apprentcie) he kept yelling out to passerby’s and people watching when I was playing a really good game this week. It takes a lot to impress him, but when he is impressed, he can’t keep quiet.

But it’s like that dolly shot in Jaws, the closer I am to a gaoshou, the further away it seems.

I used to think there were three levels, each with three levels: basic intermediate and advanced in beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. I mean, with beginning and intermediate level that’s how I felt moving through them. One day I was a basic beginner and soon after I was an intermediate beginner and finally I was a top level beginner before I moved to intermediate. I knew, it, everyone knew it.

But when you get to the higher level you realize there aren’t just three levels, there are many smaller levels in between. It’s like before I thought there were three shades of red, light red, red and dark red. Now I realize there are 40 shades of red between me and the dark red I’m trying to get to. And when I get there for real I know it won’t be one moment when I feel it but rather it will be some time playing at the higher level before I realize it. Sigh….someday…..

 

In other news my coach and I finally, finally started training again. It was our first time in three months.

“Last time we trained I almost passed out,” I reminded him.

“Don’t do that again,” he said.

“I’ll try not.”

Our training session was great. I was sweaty and out of breath within minutes. My other coaches never work me as hard as my coach does and I really appreciate how much he pushes me. We focused on net shots, especially net kills. Recently when my coach and I play, he no longer criticizes my shot choices as much as he used to. (I even got him to admit that I was “smart” a few times.) Instead my biggest consistent problem is I drop my racket too much. So he kept the shots coming fast and furious to different spots to make sure I wouldn’t have time to hit it unless my racket was already up.

He also pointed out that if I meet a net shot with a high racket I not only have a variety of shots to chose from but an opportunity to deceive my opponent over which shot I’m gonna play. Whereas if I wait and take the shot lower I lost my opportunity to trick my partner. It’s weird but it’s advice like that that works for me. I care less about my shot choices and care more about being able to trick my opponent. Guess that shows you what kind of player I am, mwahahaha.

And last night I took a tumble on the court due to poor footwork. The first time ever I’ve fallen. (I am not the kind of person who dives for shots–too old and scared for that.) I thought the point was over but my coach kept it going so I scrambled up and hit it and we ended up getting the point! It was super funny and exciting at the moment and I felt really cool. After all, I see the pro’s dive all the time, then get up quick for the next shot and I felt like I was elite like them.

Then I watched the security camera footage and couldn’t stop laughing. Turns out my body is not like the sleek pro player leaping up I imagined in my mind. It’s more like a baby elephant wallowing around in a mud pile. But I’m still happy I got back into it, even if I looked like a the swamp monster. Please enjoy. (I’m the one all in black and my coach–wearing pink–is my partner.) I left in the serve after I fell just because I hit the guy in the face and that was fun, heh heh….

 

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