Service!Eli 12.8 played in his school's conference tournament last weekend.
Hockey has taken up most of his time, but once the season ended, we started playing tennis again. And he's very good--he has a big, powerful game, and he has an all-court game, too. He hits approach shots and volleys like a high school player.
I thought he had a good chance in the tournament, but he'd never played in one before, and starting out in the conference championships is a steep introduction.
He was in a 32-player draw, but had a bye in the first round, and his opponent in the round of 16 defaulted due to injury. So he had an express train to the quarterfinals, which started on Saturday morning.
He had ideal conditions for his first tournament: 20 MPH winds with 30+ gusts. And it was cold. I needed my damn rink jacket, it was so cold. Man, it was tough, and I was just watching. Having to serve in that kind of wind should be illegal.
This isn't going to be a long story, because it was a very straightforward day. He played lousy in the first match, but beat a kid who was worse. Then he played very well in his second match and beat a much better player easily.
He lost in the finals, but to be fair, it was against a 14-year-old who was 6'1" and the point guard on his basketball team (that must be one hell of a basketball team, and seriously, what are these people feeding their kids?).
Eli didn't play as well as he could have, but the winds were terrible, he'd never played multiple matches in the same day, and the other kid put so much topspin on his forehand that every ball was bouncing up to the level of Eli's face. So he didn't win, but he was the only 7th grader who made the semi-finals.
I was very proud of him, because he battled, and he kept his composure even when things were going against him. Plus, and this was very funny, every kid he played was his best friend during the match. He talked to them on changeovers and congratulated them on good shots and they responded in kind. They were the politest matches I've ever seen.
This weekend, he's playing in an open tournament in Georgetown, but he's playing in Boys 12 division (in the USTA, you can play in an age group until your birthday). So unlike last weekend, he'll probably be the tallest kid in his division. These kids are going to be much better than the kids he played in the school tournament, though. All of the other kids in his draw play on the junior circuit.
I told him he just needs to do his best, and if there's a gap between him and the other kids, we'll figure out how to close it.
He always closes the gap.