We continue into the second set after Eiichiro’s first set victory! It was extremely entertaining to watch because of the quick plays and decisions both players were making. The two were neck to neck throughout the rounds of Set 3, always requiring a tie-breaker until someone finally achieved the last hit. Alex caught onto Eiichiro’s strategy of attacking his backhand (which he had purposely focused on warming up in the last rounds of the first set), and countered it by surprising him by quickly switching it up to final hit with his forehand. Eiichiro had also gained new experiences, such as seeing the first time what his instincts can do. He didn’t come up with the decision to move forward, his body it for him, making it harder to predict. It was funny how he tried to react that moment again, but what he failed to catch on is how instincts work. If you’re too busy thinking or your mind is blank, sometimes it tends to interfere with the instincts order. Eiichiro was in the zone when it happened, once you’re in the zone, you want to stay there. Anyhow, he will get the gist of it eventually as he gains more and more experience! The biggest improvement we have seen from him in this match was without a doubt his Control. It’s the challenge he had readily accepted as his primary focus as oppose to strength and agility.
During the match, Eiichiro got a leg cramp and because he was so dead set to win that match point, he decided he was going to try and make it a one-shot score. Fortunately for him, even though Alex had managed to catch it, he ended up lobbing it to far and it went out. Thank goodness really because had he scored, it would have forced him to move around a bit more, but it wouldn’t had been long anyways since the coach supervisor seriously scolded him for his reckless actions. Want to be a pro athlete? Take care of your body first, because without it, you won’t be able to do it.
I really enjoyed Alex’s development as a player, and I also appreciate the friendship he shares with Eiichiro. Despite already being a pro, Alex has learned a lot from him, such as to reduce his reliance on his forehand and work on his back-hand and understand the value and importance of being able to look at past experiences, face the person who he used to be and learn from it. It appears as though Eiichiro’s passionate studying/analysis has finally rubbed onto him. I hope that sometime in the future they will meet again, perhaps on the court of the pro levels.
Not going ot lie, is it sad to see Eiichiro exchange program end so quickly. I have enjoyed watching him train at the center, and enjoy himself. BEST VACATION EVER. His fellow new friends all scribbled some messages into his notebook, along with Alex’s who is the one responsible for writing the note: Baby Steps to Giant Strides.
Next week Eiichiro will be asking Takuma for a practice match! I look forward to seeing how much further both have improved, and see how well Eiichiro will his hold his ground now that he has experiences of playing against some pro players.
A/N: As soon as Sidekick is ready to step back in (in approximately a week or two from now), I will be stepping down from the joint coverage and she will take over covering Baby Steps solo. I am choosing to do this for the sake of my health condition since I am aware after the three weeks trial that covering six shows are too much for me to juggle. As Sidekick was part of the first season coverage, look forward to her return!