God of Tennis - Chapter 9.1
9.1: Top 32 of the Tournament
Especially in Korea, tennis futures tournaments weren’t popular. Therefore, there was nothing much to see.
The opening announcer’s speech was irrelevant, and Shin Sae Yeon spoke to Han Woo Jin who touching his racket frame.
“… Mr. Woo Jin, how is your body condition?”
“It’s at its best. I’m ready to play.”
You could hear the confidence in his voice.
There was a reason why he sounded so confident. Surprisingly, when he finished a practice game yesterday, his smash level went up by one and he earned a new special skill.
‘It’s still not available for me. I still need to fulfill one more condition to obtain this skill.’
If he didn’t see that player’s special skill, then he wouldn’t have recognized it. Yet he didn’t know why his skill was still blocked. However, he still couldn’t be any happier because of the fact that he could have another weapon like Sparrow.
Furthermore, his body condition was great. He closed his eyes and concentrated and his senses. He could decipher the wind direction based on the breeze that brushed his skin. This meant that his mental and physical health were in peak condition.
“Mr. Woo Jin, you’re in the second match.”
In this Andong Futures, the first set of matches would take four days to complete. It was the top 32, so there were 16 matches lined up. There would be about 5 to 6 matches a day.
Also, Han Woo Jin’s number was the second match on the first day. As soon as the announcer finished the opening, the first match would begin.
“I believe my match will start in about two hours. Ms. Sae Yeon, are you going to stay here?”
There was nowhere to hide from the harsh rays of the sun in the stands. This place would obviously be very hot for her who was wearing a suit while sitting down. Shin Sae Yeon took out a hand fan from her bag and began waving it.
It was the sign that showed that she was fine. Han Woo Jin stood up next to Shin Sae Yeon. The first match was almost over so he wanted to warm up his body.
[Now we will begin the Andong Futures Top 32! We will start the first match! All of the viewers…]
Han Woo Jin walked away from the announcer to start his warm up.
He was more excited than nervous the closer it was time for him to play. Han Woo Jin smiled as he gripped the racket with his trembling hand.
Han Woo Jin watched the two players rally back and forth and it seemed like they were even.
The set point was 1-1. The person in the lead was a Korean player in his thirties. Thirty was considered to be old in tennis and he was drenched in sweat, but his serve was still very strong.
“Game, set and match, Kim Jin Hyun! Score 7-5, 4-6, 6-2!”
You could hear the crowd cheering from the stands. They shouldn’t cheer for only one person. Since the players weren’t world rankers and this tournament wasn’t that big, the viewers were just watching them play.
However, player Kim Jin Hyun who won this game with difficulty deserved to be praised and encouraged.
With his back covered in sweat, he made a 90-degree bow to the audience and left the court. Han Woo Jin watched him pass by and thought about his next opponent.
‘Lee Yong Woon… average. Even according to Ms. Sae Yeon, he is mediocre. Can I take it easy?’
The tournament was long. There was no exact time schedule, and it depended on how long the players’ matches were.
The reason why players tried so hard to get a seed placement in the tournament was because if one started out from the preliminaries, the further one progressed, the more difficult it would get and the player would be physically and mentally exhausted by the time they reached the finals.
There were many cases of those who started in the preliminaries by going against a strong opponent, and by the middle of the tournament, they couldn’t even unleash half of their full strength. That was why players needed to carefully take care of their bodies and muscle exhaustion. That was also why being a pro in tennis didn’t just mean being able to hit the ball well.
“Player Lee Yong Woon and Player Han Woo Jin, please step onto the court.”
A staff member came to the players’ area and called their names. Han Woo Jin gave a short answer and went up.
The staff cleaned and tidied up the court from the previous match that was covered with dirt and sweat. It looked like they were using hard courts in this tournament, so they cleaned the court perfectly. Due to the smooth texture of the ground on the hard courts, it was easy to clean.
As Han Woo Jin walked up to the court, a young player stood up. Han Woo Jin knew that he was Lee Yong Woon and he just expressionlessly looked at him.
[Lee Yong Woon]
Strength 47 / Stamina 50 / Agility 46
HP 1890/2000 SP 370/370
Drop shot: 4/20
Special Skill: None
‘This won’t be hard.’
Han Woo Jin checked Lee Yong Woon’s stats and gripped his racket. He saw that Lee Yong Woon’s level was about the same as an NK company player. Except for Choi Yeon Hyuk, he never got the feeling that he would lose to anyone.
[Alright! Now we will begin the second match for the top 32 of the Andong Futures Tournament!]
The announcer’s voice was very loud, probably because he was using speakerphone. Han Woo Jin expressed his annoyance at the loud voice, but he then quickly stepped onto the blue hard court. He thought that they must have painted it recently, because there weren’t any signs of wear and tear or dirt.
[In this match, Han Woo Jin from NK company and Lee Yong Woon from Daehan Life Insurance will be playing against each other! Everybody, please look forward to this match!]
Han Woo Jin rolled his ankles several times. He wanted to check the hardness of the ground. As soon as he stepped on the ground, he felt that he could easily bounce back up. He couldn’t tell exactly how much the ball would bounce exactly, but he knew it wouldn’t be that low.
Since the hard court’s ground was very hard, the ball’s speed would be fast and it would induce greater strain on his legs. Although that was the case, this was Han Woo Jin’s favorite type of court.
‘Because it’s a hard court, I should be able to easily predict where the ball will bounce up.’
Han Woo Jin liked to play on hard courts because he was easily able to simulate the speed and bounce of the balls in his head. It was a little irregular on clay courts and it was possible for the speed to change. Additionally, on grass courts, you could not predict the speed and bounce of the ball.
As Han Woo Jin was checking out the court, he heard the announcer announce the beginning of the match.
[After we decide who will serve first we will immediately begin the match! Both players come forward!]
Han Woo Jin began to walk forward. It looked like they were going to decide who would serve first with a coin toss. The two players arrived at the middle of the court.
“Both of you, choose heads or tails.”
“You can choose.”
“… I choose heads.”
So Han Woo Jin got tails and referee tossed up the coin. With a ping, the coin went up and landed on the referee’s palm.
They saw a number. It was tails.
“I’ll serve first.”
[Han Woo Jin decided to serve first! Please get ready to start!]
Han Woo Jin received the balls and went back to the baseline.
Han Woo Jin saw the referee’s head nod asking if they were ready, and he responded with a nod. It meant that he was ready.
The two players’ bodies became nervous like a bow that was being pulled back. It was as if the ball was a bullet that would be shot to start a war.
Finally, they heard the referee’s shout for the start of the match.
“Love all 0:0! Han Woo Jin serve! Play!”
Before his voice was finished, Han Woo Jin threw up the ball. It was the sign that he wasn’t even going to give him time to get ready.
The sound of the ball was crisp as the match began.
Shin Sae Yeon looked at Han Woo Jin’s figure that was walking up on the court as he wiped the sweat on his nose. His height at 177 cm wasn’t that tall for tennis players. In fact, he was on the short side.
Of course, height wasn’t an important factor for his skills, but it was an advantage that one could have. Most of the world rankers were above 180 cm. How far could he go?
Shin Sae Yeon listened to the announcer’s loud voice and she suddenly turned her head because someone was sitting down next to her.
“[Ms. Shin, have you been well?]”
A familiar childish face. He had long arms that were suitable for a tennis player. It was the person who had a practice match with Han Woo Jin two weeks ago.
Okuta Ryusuke smiled as he heard her voice.
He looked like an immature yet happy kid.