I'm in the middle of a tournament blitz right now. I know this is normal for many of you pool nuts out there, but normally I play a tournament only every few months. But I did make it a goal to play more tournaments, so I started "throwing my hat over the wall", and just signing up. But, because I don't keep a calendar, I never realized that I had committed to a tournament almost every weekend. I'm in the home stretch, with the final four having started last weekend. I get three weekends tournament-free after that.
I thought about canceling a couple, for the sake of sanity and to avoid burn out. But something told me, that even if I wasn't exactly looking forward to it that I should just push through it. I've never done this before. Maybe something unexpected will come of it.
The competition is so much tougher at these events. Most of them are not handicapped. Doing well means winning at least one match by getting a lucky draw, and an unusually high number of nine-ball combos. I have worried how this was affecting my confidence. I've made the mistake many times of comparing my own level to others around me, wondered if all my efforts were paying off, thinking, "Shouldn't I be playing better by now?" "Am I stuck at this level?" "What if this is as good as I can get?"
I go. I play. I get my single win. Then I kinda want to go home. There is no hope, no belief that I could win this tournament. And this might be okay, even healthy, if it weren't for the fact that it means that in that last match of the day, I'm not fighting. Losing is not a good feeling, but losing after having given up, is far, far worse.
Last weekend, that's where I was.
My first match: I drew one of the top 4 players. I started off okay. And while I did try, I didn't really feel much pressure to do my best.
Second match: I played a newcomer to the tour. I got up 6-3, and then my opponent said that she didn't feel well, couldn't come back anyway, and con
ceded the final game. (Okay, well at least I got my one win).
Third match: Again, I came out pretty strong, and was actually playing pretty well. I was indifferent to the outcome, and found myself down 6-1. Then my opponent missed and left me a straight in 9-ball. Okay, 7-2. That's less embarrassing. Next rack I got to the 9 first and missed, and left her a very make-able shot. She missed leaving the 9 just of the rail next to the side pocket. Now something started to happen. I started to wake up. I couldn't cut it down the rail for fear of a scratch. The angle for the bank was a little wide. But I got down and committed a full, power stroke and the 9-ball zoomed straight into the opposite corner. My opponent was clearly rattled and started missing. I started playing well, and had two outs I'm really happy with. I got to 6-5, when my opponent got a lucky roll after missing an 8-ball, hooking me just enough to make it difficult to do much. I actually made a decent safe at least leaving her long, but she got out anyway. But I was down Hill-6, and had a shot to win.
A top player on the tour came up to me and said to me,"You fought HARD." Yes I did. It was a good reminder. Who cares if they're better than me? Its not the win. Its the fight. That's what I'm here for.