Ah yes. Vegas.
It was 108 degrees when we got here, but the weather forecast has been toned down to a more reasonable high 90's. Almost feels like a cooling rain has drenched the city.
Although it doesn't matter much, because, as you can imagine, I'm spending a lot of time inside the Riviera Casino. Its amazing how fast a year goes. I almost feel like we never left.
Anyway, Day 1 of the scotch doubles was pretty much a repeat of last year. We made it to the third round undefeated and then lost. Which, if you're going to lose, is the best time to do it. Its the last round before single elimination kicks in anyway, and you only need one more match to make it back to the winner's side. If you make it to the winner's side, you're coming off of a one-loss side win, and your opponents haven't played for almost 24 hours. (That's a long wait) And from there its a marathon.
Up to the third round we played well. Starting the tournament, I was a little uncertain how it would go, because I had been playing horribly in practice. I mean horribly. And while I tried to tell myself that, its only practice and I know that its not a predictor of how I'll play in a match, I just kept sucking, and I started to be a little concern.
Once we got into real competition though, it was like I was a different player. My heart started pounding, the adrenaline started flowing, and thank god, the balls started finding their way into pockets again. We had a good rhythm. We played good safes. We made nice outs.
It is amazing to me how much the time I've spent on working with the mental side has changed things. When I first started playing, my heart pounding was such a bad sign. It meant that I was too nervous and wouldn't be able to perform my best. And now, it doesn't bother me at all. In fact, it can be a good thing. I've found that when I don't let it bother me, it actually means that I'm really in the game, and I can actually play some of my best pool at these times.
Going into match #3, I felt good. I was excited to play and feeling confident. I usually try to meditate before a match, but I felt very calm and present, so I decided to skip it. At the time, I wondered if it was a mistake, but I really felt good. The match started out okay, but in the middle I started to get tired, think too much, and was getting a little tired. And all of these things are actually okay. They are pretty much bound to happen at some point in the tournament. The problem was that I wasn't monitoring my state of mind so these things continued unchecked. Even though the results should have clued me in to step back, breathe, and change course.
I think the truly low point of the match for me was when the other team was on the hill and I went to play safe. The shot was a simple stop shot to hide behind another ball. But in my over-thinking mode, I decided that I needed to hide the ball completely, and needed to replace the ball, or I'd miss the hook. Of course I over hit it, and sold out. In hindsight, that was incredibly stupid, because a partial hook was all I needed.
But its a good lesson. Mostly about trying to train myself that when things aren't going right on the table, I need to stop and look inside and what's going on mentally. If I'm tired, thinking too much, being indecisive, I need to just stop. Remind myself to keep it simple and not exceed my abilities, and remember that its only a game, even if its a game I really want to win.
So, our next shot is this afternoon. Wish me luck.