God of Tennis - Chapter 12.2
Somehow the second set had already begun and they were currently in the midst of the second game.
Han Woo Jin currently felt annoyed by the situation. He wiped the sweat that was slowly beginning to accumulate and sighed in annoyance.
‘This isn’t going to be easy. He’s starting to get annoying.’
‘One set and one game. In terms of games, I already played seven games and in terms of points, I have probably scored around 40 points. And in terms of the rally, I probably hit the ball around 100 times already.
‘This is why Song Ki Joon is starting to be able to return my hits because he is slowly getting used to them.’
Of course, this just meant that the rallies would last a bit longer. The skill difference between the two was still the same, but the length of the match would also be longer.
However, Han Woo Jin thought that this was a little frustrating because he was getting tired from a player of Song Ki Joon’s caliber.
Also, Song Ki Joon was currently feeling an interesting emotion.
‘I can hit the ball better than before. Have I still not reached my limit yet?’
It was a shocking realization because he believed that his skills could no longer improve which made him fall into despair. He felt his limitations against this opponent whom he could not defeat. However, his will to play hadn’t decreased. As he kept on playing more and more rallies, his skill began to improve slowly but surely.
So far he had only barely gotten one point in a few of the games. If he was lucky, he was able to score two points. That was it. Those were very sloppy points but his body kept on moving. The words of forfeiting wouldn’t come out of his mouth so he just kept on playing with his exhausted body.
“Han Woo Jin serve! Play!”
Han Woo Jin served.
As usual, Han Woo Jin’s serve was insanely quick and it swiftly reached the other side of the court. It wouldn’t be weird if that serve was a service ace. Though they already played one set, Song Ki Joon still couldn’t return his serves. But it was different this time.
Song Ki Joon stretched out his body as wide as he could as he put out his racket to hit the ball that was leaving the court.
The ball barely went over the net so this could count as a successful return. Han Woo Jin sighed as he saw him returning his serve now because this meant that the game would go on longer. So he gracefully moved his arm back and fiercely swung down his racket at the ball.
Han Woo Jin finally admitted it. Song Ki Joon’s skills had obviously improved since the game started.
Han Woo Jin was really unhappy with this type of situation.
‘The type of opponent who improves in the middle of the game because he played with me.’ Only geniuses would be happy to see their rival improve during their games. Yet he wasn’t a genius, so he hated seeing this. When Choi Yeon Hyuk found out the trick to returning his special skill, Sparrow, Han Woo Jin was furious.
In this match, Song Ki Joon evolved and overcame his limit which allowed him to start returning balls that he never was able to receive before. This wasn’t improvement due to effort and practice — this was the discovery of his talent. This meant that his undiscovered talent could now be put to use.
Of course, it was obvious that he was late. Song Ki Joon tried very hard while discovering his latent talent, but he was too late. Though the difference in skill gap would shorten, Song Ki Joon could not beat Han Woo Jin.
Yet Song Ki Joon kept moving his body. Now Han Woo Jin understood the reasoning behind his motivation to play.
But he didn’t care.
‘You only started to care just now?’
This rally was longer. The rally that went back and forth eight times ended when Han Woo Jin smashed the ball. It was like a basketball dunk kind of smash.
He couldn’t receive the ball even though he knew where it was going to land. The ball was extremely fast and the bounce was very high — it was difficult to receive.
If he doesn’t have great reflexes or can’t predict where the ball will land, he can’t return the ball.
The serve that headed towards Song Ki Joon went in a different direction compared to the last serve.
It was a drive that had a large curve after the bounce. Song Ki Joon lost another point.
He wanted to curse but he held it in and raised his head. He didn’t have a bad personality and he didn’t forget the basic manners of playing tennis.
He saw Han Woo Jin’s figure across the net and saw that he looked a bit tired. This motivated him.
Song Ki Joon just smiled as he looked at Han Woo Jin throw up the ball to serve. He looked so scarily perfect that it frightened him. He couldn’t find any imperfections from his movements to his mental strength.
He couldn’t believe that the several years that he had a headstart on in tennis would make this large of a difference. He reprimanded himself for thinking such stupid thoughts. Han Woo Jin wasn’t just trying for nothing.
The ball the curved like a baseball. Song Ki Joon nicked it with the frame of his racket and he suddenly felt refreshed.
“Game Han Woo Jin!”
It was Song Ki Joon’s turn to serve and receive the balls. He lost the strength in his hands and felt that those balls were really hard and heavy.
Song Ki Joon decided that this game would be his last game in this Andong Futures tournament. He gave up his goal of winning this game and he just decided focus getting at least one point.
Once he made that decision, his heart strengthened and he tightened the grip on his racket.
Han Woo Jin squinted his eyes at Song Ki Joon, examining him. He didn’t know why he served that way but his present state wasn’t normal.
‘Did he stop pacing himself?’
He looked like an idiot hitting the ball that hard. If he put too much strength into hitting the ball, it could result in a fault.
Furthermore, his shoulders, back, and legs could become overburdened. That’s why it was important to find a balance between strength and technique to pace yourself. If he gripped his racket that hard, he would get a cramp in ten minutes.
In other words, that meant that he could keep on going for at least ten more minutes.
The ball that hit the net was a fault. He thought that if the ball went over the net, he wasn’t sure whether he could return the ball or not. A serve that gave up everything except speed — the opponent would able to read the direction of the ball, but if their response was late, they’d lose.
Anyway, it was already decided that Han Woo Jin will win. It was impossible for him to maintain his current state for longer than ten minutes to keep on going until the sixth game. He decided that he wouldn’t do the same thing as he hit with all his strength and wanted to just wait until he lost all his strength.
Han Woo Jin calmed himself and watched his opponent’s serve.
This time the ball went over the net.
Serves with great speed usually end up as a fault, but players don’t double fault because they make slight adjustments to their grips and the direction of their serves for the second time.
The ball landed next to Han Woo Jin. Han Woo Jin just blocked the ball with his racket.
Drop shot. There was no need to swing his racket to a ball that had a high bounce. It was enough to just place your racket in front of it and receive it like that.
The ball went over the net and bounced.
Song Ki Joon lost a point right away and served again. He wasn’t thinking about the subsequent games and just fiercely hit the ball. This time the ball landed in a spot he couldn’t reach.
He didn’t feel the need to try to hit the ball and let it pass by him.
The match started heading in a strange direction.
Song Ki Joon hit the serve with all his might and Han Woo Jin utilized his movements perfectly with as little movement as possible and used drop shots to return the balls that he could reach.
Since Song Ki Joon used too much strength his serves, when Han Woo Jin used the drop shot, he had no energy to run up to the net. Therefore, the points went back and forth.
“Game Song Ki Joon!”
It was now 2-1. Song Ki Joon won his first game, but in terms of the bigger picture, it was useless.
The two players switched sides and it was Han Woo Jin’s turn to serve.
He expected the game to finish within 30 minutes. Han Woo Jin threw up the ball. As if he was like a finely-tuned machine, he served in a near-perfect arc.
Score 5-3. Point 0:40.
The match was almost done.
As according to Han Woo Jin’s prediction, Song Ki Joon was completely spent. His muscles were also exhausted, so whenever he returned the ball it was almost always a lob. That was why Han Woo Jin continued to easily score points. This was the result of Han Woo Jin’s strategy.
Song Ki Jin tossed up his ball for his last serve.
However, Song Ki Joon realized something good during this game. He found out that he still had some talent inside him that he could develop. It was still too early to quit. Song Ki Joon wasn’t upset about this loss and he smiled.
‘Thank you, Mr. Han Woo Jin.’
‘He’s an amazing player.’ That was what Song Ki Joon sincerely thought of Han Woo Jin.
He didn’t think about talent or whatnot, only his pure effort. Even though he was young, it felt like he had an abundant amount of experience and his cool-headedness would allow him to go far.
‘If it was me, I probably wouldn’t be able to do it.
‘If I held the racket as young as he did, would I have come as far as him?’
Song Ki Joon didn’t think so. He couldn’t compare to Han Woo Jin’s tenacity which was irregular. Who could say that they can walk through life with as much determination as him?
Despite that, Song KI Joon was confident.
Song Ki Joon decided that after this game was finished, he wanted to keep on playing. It didn’t matter if he stagnated. There was always the possibility that he could someday improve like he did today.
Song Ki Joon thanked Han Woo Jin with a low voice so that he didn’t hear it as he hit the ball.
He didn’t care that his serve had no strength and Han Woo Jin fiercely swung his racket. He was in top condition because he paced himself throughout the games and was able to return the ball with a fast speed.
“Game set! Match won by Han Woo Jin!”
The two players dropped their rackets after hearing the crowd yell. Song Ki Joon spoke first.
“Thank you very much.”
“Haa, you worked hard.”
Han Woo Jin sighed and put out his hand. He really hated hearing the sound of the notification from the system because their difference in skill was huge so his experience actually dropped for playing against a player that was much worse than him. Seeing Song Ki Joon smile made him annoyed.
‘I’m the one who won, but why does it feel like Song Ki Joon earned a lot more than me?’
He turned his body and left the court. He received the towel from Shin Sae Yeon who was waiting for him by the court.
He sweat more than he expected and his sweat warmed the cold towel he used.
“You reached the finals.”
“… It was harder than I thought. It will be difficult for me to play at full strength tomorrow.”
Han Woo Jin was surprised by his attitude which portrayed that it was expected that he would reach the finals. But Shin Sae Yeon who evaluated his performance with an objective perspective nodded her head as if it was expected. Shin Sae Yeon thought that Han Woo Jin definitely had the skills to reach the finals.
“Player Song Ki Joon’s level was higher than I thought. I believed him to be an average level player.”
She had no idea. Nobody understood, except him and Song Ki Joon of what occurred during the match and that he improved during the game. Han Woo Jin thought about Song Ki Joon and basically thought that he had given him a private lesson and clicked his tongue.
Shin Sae Yeon tilted her head and faced him. She began speaking about his next match.
“Are you going to watch the next match?”
Up until now, Han Woo Jin had watched every player’s match that she recorded beforehand. Anyway, Han Woo Jin already thought that no one else had the probability of beating him except Okuta and just kind of paid attention to the videos. But today he had to pay attention to the match for tomorrow.
The next matchup was with Okuta Ryusuke.
Han Woo Jin tilted his head.
“Let’s go watch together. They’ll probably finish in an hour.”