God of Tennis - Chapter 8.3
Okuta’s serve was fierce. His serve was fast and sharp, but it was nothing special in the world of pros. At that moment, Han Woo Jin’s body sprang forward like lightning.
There was no room for anger. Han Woo Jin gracefully ran to the ball and received it.
A clean forehand slice.
At this moment, both players were serious. They could only see the ball, the court, and their bodies that were moving as efficiently as possible. Okuta took some big steps backward and returned the ball that landed very close to the line.
Tennis players who were close to pro level were able to precisely rally back and forth. As long as neither of them made a mistake, they could go on rallying for a long time. Furthermore, in this situation, they were both hiding their skills.
‘…Should I make the first move?’
Han Woo Jin broke the rhythm and attacked.
He arrived at the spot where the ordinary ball was going to land and he swung fiercely to the left side of the court. That spot was where he couldn’t hit the ball with his right forehand. It was his trick to force Okuta to use his backhand.
Since he intentionally changed directions, his speed was slower but that didn’t stop the ball from flying off with incredible power.
As if he expected that, Okuta moved quickly.
The ball that Okuta hit landed on Han Woo Jin’s left side, but he was too far and wasn’t able to reach it.
However, the rally that they just finished was within Han Woo Jin’s expectations. Although the point went to Okuta, Han Woo Jin’s face was calm.
Agent Sato announced the score in English and surprisingly said it without an accent. Although Okuta scored the point, Sato looked at with him a displeased expression.
‘To think that he already has to use it… just who is this player?’
Han Woo Jin paid no attention to Sato who was looking at him. Instead, he was staring at Okuta as he was now holding his racket with his left hand.
‘He’s using his left hand.
‘Okuta is a switch striker, and he can use the racket adeptly with both hands.’
He could freely switch hands when he was playing. Okuta was ambidextrous and he could use both hands with his racket with equal skill. His body’s balance was also almost at the same level.
His playstyle was one where he frequently switched hands while playing, and thus his body also changed playstyles along with his hands.
There was no need for him to use backhands. He just needed to simply move his racket to his other hand and he could use his forehand, which changed the way the court needed to be played. So the fact that he was bad at backhands was not a complete disadvantage for him.
The human body was biologically designed to be able to fold inwards, and that was why forehand strokes were stronger. They were also able to be played more skillfully and were more detailed than backhands.
This skill is what made Okuta Ryusuke stand out from the others.
However, Han Woo Jin knew that Okuta still hadn’t gone all out yet. Although he was a switch striker, if he could only use simple forehands, then he would never be able to take part in major tournaments. He needed something special.
Okuta once again tossed up the ball. This time, he was gripping the racket with his left hand.
‘Switching allows the user to change the speed and direction of the ball, and it also causes a distracting and confusing effect on the opponent.’
Han Woo Jin had trained enough. He was no longer deceived by those shallow tricks as he patiently waited and watched the ball.
Okuta hit his serve with an appropriate speed. Since he was ambidextrous his whole life, he was easily able to control his strength in both arms. In other words, you could say that his arms weren’t necessarily powerful.
That meant that either both his hands were powerful, both were weak, or both were normal.
That’s why Okuta’s serves weren’t too difficult to receive.
‘I’ve figured out the gist of it.’
Han Woo Jin already knew the speed, direction, and curve of his serve. It was like a telephone punch. Han Woo Jin immediately twisted his racket to return his serve.
The grip of his tennis racket made a small squeak because of his tight grip.
There are several ways to hit a ball in tennis.
A top-spin consists of swinging the racket upwards, and the drive is the ball’s large curvature to the left or right side of the opponent’s court.
However, if someone asked about the most powerful stroke, it would be the flat.
The flat is where you hit the ball completely straight with immense speed so that nobody can hit the ball if they can’t read the ball’s curve in advance.
The ball landed on the right side of Okuta’s court, and it bounced on the ground without giving him the time to react. If he hit the ball diagonally while using a flat, then the ball will have enough spin for it to not go out.
Han Woo Jin heard the score that Sato announced with a strange accent, and that made him confident in knowing his opponent’s weakness.
‘There’s a small time opening when he uses the switch. He doesn’t have any spare time to receive strokes like rising and smash.’
Earlier, if his racket was in his right hand, then he would have had time to hit the ball. The small time window of when he was switching hands was the crucial moment that caused him to miss.
If that was the case, then he was positive that Okuta’s style would be complete in the future when he was more mature.
Han Woo Jin was glad that he found a strong opponent before he reached maturity as he returned his serve.
Okuta’s agent, Sato Takeshi, had an expression that slowly grew ugly and uglier towards Okuta.
This Korean player was able to easily find his weakness with only two rallies. No one should have known about Okuta regarding his playstyle as he was not yet famous. If he really discovered his weakness with only two rallies, then…
‘He’s too dangerous. Okuta is still lacking. To think that he entered this tournament to improve his skills but he’s already met this monster.’
Okuta Ryusuke was a hidden card from the Japanese Tennis Association.
Switch striker, excellent senses, and at a young age.
Regarding all these things, it was enough for him to become a world ranker with these aspects. Within one year, he had the possibility of participating in the ATP tour.
Okuta should look to keep on improving, but if he lost in this no-name tournament, he could end up in a slump.
That’s what Sato was worried about the most.
Okuta’s face showed that he was beginning to get angry. His calm demeanor was getting hot and his breathing was getting rougher.
He was no longer calm.
‘Okay, show me what you got.’
Han Woo Jin smirked. Taunting wasn’t his specialty, but against a newbie like Okuta, it was simple. He lowered his racket and shrugged his shoulders.
That was enough.
“[How dare you…!]”
Okuta mumbled under his breath and changed his position. He gripped his racket with his left hand and brought it to the center of his body. He held it with both hands.
‘… He’s going all out already?!’
Han Woo Jin’s expression turned serious as he suddenly felt the change in atmosphere. Okuta’s current form got him into the world rankings.
Ambidextrous Okuta Ryusuke invented this style because he wasn’t content with just being a switch striker.
If this skill was perfected, then it would be easy for him to win this futures tournament. However, Okuta was still inexperienced. Han Woo Jin gambled that his skill was still incomplete.
It was still Okuta’s serve and he tossed the ball up. This time, he started with his right hand.
The ball was filled with his angry emotions. The ball had a little bit of a shaky curve, but it was still faster than what he expected. Han Woo Jin corrected his prediction to where the ball would land and he quickly stepped two steps forward.
Before he returned the ball, he saw Okuta over the net. He felt like time was moving slowly because his concentration was at its peak. After Okuta served, he immediately moved up towards the net and gripped his racket with both hands.
If you wanted to describe it with a similar form, it looked like he was performing kendo.
It was a unique position as he was holding his racket on the thin side so that he could respond quickly on both sides. This was the forehand double that would become Okuta Ryusuke’s signature move.
‘Let’s test it out.’
Okuta had served with his right hand earlier, so Han Woo Jin needed to hit it toward his left side to make him use his backhand.
Han Woo Jin hit the ball that bounced with a spin, aiming for Okuta’s left side. It felt good in his hands. It was a perfect drive.
As the ball was flying towards the sideline, Okuta’s body immediately jumped to the left. Knees, hips, and shoulder. His entire body rotated to the left side, so Okuta immediately reached the ball and he hit the ball with his right forehand with both hands.
The benefit of using both hands in a stroke was obvious. The ball was able to move a lot faster and with more power.
If you used both hands to hold your racket in other sports, it would always be more powerful than just using one hand. Have you ever seen a baseball player swing his bat with only one hand?
Of course, one didn’t always use both hands. Nobody uses both hands in ping pong. However, it depends on the situation in tennis, so the player can sometimes use one hand or two hands. If one needs to hit the ball powerfully, one can use two hands. Yet if one needs to lightly hit the ball or use a spin, one can use a single hand.
The stroke that Okuta used just now was a flat without any spin to it, but the speed was amazing.
‘Whew, it was out.’
Han Woo Jin let out a sigh of relief hearing Sato’s expressionless voice as he realized that the ball was out. It was clearly showed that Okuta’s double forehand was still incomplete. He couldn’t control his strength well with both hands.
‘He could have used spin to make it in, but his freakishly fast speed in changing positions is frightening.’
If the ball went to his right side, his right hand would be on top, and his left hand would be on the bottom. Therefore, it was easy for him to receive the ball with full strength by simply changing his hand positions.
This was the future world ranker’s, Okuta Ryusuke’s, specialty.
Okuta clenched his teeth because he used his special skill but he still lost the point. As he was about to throw up the ball again, Sato stopped him by coming on to the court.
Han Woo Jin was confused as to what was going on. Okuta looked at his agent as he was confused as to why he stopped the game. As soon as Sato came onto the court, Shin Sae Yeon asked what he was doing.
“[Is there something wrong?]”
“[Okuta’s condition isn’t good. Let’s stop the practice match here.]”
Shin Sae Yeon stared at Okuta, and Okuta shook his head in denial. He showed her that he was lively, but Sato put his hand behind his back and pinched him hard. He opened his mouth to make a painful sound, but he stopped himself.
“[I apologize, but let’s play another time.]”
They left before Shin Sae Yeon could say something. Han Woo Jin understood the situation and put down his racket. The opponent’s agent thought that Han Woo Jin was too strong of an opponent.
“We’ll probably never meet them again before the tournament.”
That agent will never let Okuta meet him again.
The agent wasn’t stupid because he observed that Han Woo Jin was able to make Okuta go 100% before a single game even over. So in order to not leak any more information, he immediately stopped the game. However, his player didn’t seem to care.
Shin Sae Yeon shook her head after she saw the outcome of this match because she couldn’t figure anything out. They ended the game before she could observe Han Woo Jin’s skills.
‘A standard style. Overall high skill level. His shorter-than-average height shouldn’t be a problem.’
In Shin Sae Yeon’s opinion, Han Woo Jin looked like he could barely achieve a world ranking. He could probably place top three in Korea, but NK company’s president didn’t expect so little of him. He definitely had potential or something special that she hadn’t seen yet.
Han Woo Jin shook his racket while thinking about the game, and Shin Sae Yeon looked at his back that was on the court.
The two people were thinking to themselves without moving before he decided to have another game with the club members that arrived a few minutes later.
As he expected, Han Woo Jin never saw Okuta Ryusuke until the day of the tournament.
July 20th. Han Woo Jin got up from his bed to complete his schedule. The sunshine that entered through the window poked his eyes.
The sky was very clear. Han Woo Jin looked outside through the window and he thought that they wouldn’t play indoors today. He turned his eyes and looked at the desk.
He thoroughly cleaned his racket yesterday and it shined brightly with a blue light from the sun as it waited for its owner.
Han Woo Jin grabbed his racket.
[Han Woo Jin]
Strength 57 / Stamina 60 / Agility 50
HP 2400/2400 SP 550/550
Drop shot: 5/20
Special Skill: Sparrow (Serve), ??? (Smash)
24 hours had passed, so his SP and HP recovered. His status showed that he was in peak condition.
His veins popped as he gripped his racket.
It was time to fight.