God of Tennis - Chapter 12.3
[Overwhelming play! Your skill experience increased due to your victory.]
[Due to the huge gap in skills, your experience decreased.]
Han Woo Jin checked the notifications from the status window that he turned off during the game. There was no benefit for him from playing with Song Ki Joon as he had expected. None of his skills leveled up and his stats didn’t improve either.
‘Should I have played to a perfect game?’
During his match with Kim Jin Hyun last time, his agility went up by two points.
Agility gave him alacrity and it was something that he couldn’t gain with practice. That was why he was happy when he earned those two points. He felt regretful because he could have possibly gotten two more stat points if he played a perfect game. If Song Ki Joon knew what he was thinking, he probably would have run off in anger.
Han Woo Jin was busy because he was organizing the status in his head, but Shin Sae Yeon’s finger suddenly touched his shoulder.
“Are you sleepy, Mr. Woo Jin?”
Han Woo Jin shook his head to erase the thoughts about his previous game. It wasn’t time for him to be thinking about that now.
“It’s because my eyes are kind of dry right now. Ah, it’s starting,” Han Woo Jin said.
The viewers came back from the break time and the referee announced the second semifinal match.
Hokuta Business’ Okuta Ryusuke and Marine Industry’s Park Jung Hoong. The referee introduced them and he tossed up the coin to decide who will serve first.
Okuta guessed correctly and said he will serve first.
Serving was an effective attack method in tennis. Some researchers said that those who serve first have a higher chance of winning.
However, to Han Woo Jin’s eyes, Okuta’s serves weren’t anything special.
‘Okuta doesn’t have a dominant arm so he doesn’t have much strength. It’s probably difficult for him to win with the speed from his serves.’
Speed was probably the most important element in serves. The opponent can obtain a chance to return the ball against serves that aren’t fast. Furthermore, if you think about the server’s location from where they serve at the baseline, if the opponent uses a drop shot, then the server has to run all the way up to the net from the line.
If he served first, he can win points first, but there was also the possibility of him losing points. Also, Okuta wasn’t a player who has that strong of a serve.
Anyway, Han Woo Jin just watched the play that was going on the court and the game started with the referee’s signal.
“On my right, Okuta Ryusuke! On my left, Park Jung Hoon! Okuta to serve!”
He waved his hand down.
Okuta tossed up the ball at the signal.
As the ball came back down, Okuta’s body made a large rotation. It wasn’t just his shoulder — his entire body moved. His front foot stabilized and centered his body. He was attempting to make his serve faster by rotating his body.
Okuta immediately got into position after his serve and was ready to receive the return. The speed was incredibly fast compared to using only his upper body and arm strength.
It was a ball that was faster than expected. Park Jung Hoon didn’t expect that and lost the point.
Han Woo Jin was slightly surprised. How can he serve that way?
Han Woo Jin thought that this was a very fresh and innovative way to serve in order to make up for the lack of strength and speed in his serve. If he could safely serve like that, then the problem of the lack of speed would disappear.
Of course, he couldn’t continuously use that continuously. But if he mixed it up with his usual serves, then he could switch up the serves to keep his opponent on their toes.
‘Okuta can also use both arms for that serve. If he has two types of serves, then he can hit it in four different directions.’
If serves were the weakness for strokers, then being able to serve in multiple directions could make up for that weakness. If he fixed the problem pertaining to controlling his speed, then he could use his switch style to his advantage. Okuta was probably trying to fix that problem already.
However, it was still incomplete.
The direction wasn’t stable. The serve hit the net and the ball rolled back to him.
With an annoyed face, he tossed up the ball once again.
This time Park Jung Hoon was ready for the fast serve and held his racket tightly. The ball hit the center of his racket and went over the net. Park Jung Hoon knew that the counter to these fast serves was to simply use a drop shot.
However, something unexpected happened this time.
Okuta ran up to the net as if he had already known that this would happen. As Park Jung Hoong’s drop shot went over the net, Okuta’s body was already in the service court.
It was a fast serve and volley. His racket moved from his right hand to his left hand and he hit the ball.
He didn’t expect such a fast play and he wasn’t able to react to the ball. Player Park Jung Hoong wasn’t able to react to the ball. Okuta won the point by switching his racket to his left hand and using a backhand.
This was the strength of switch. Players that could freely exchange their racket between their hands were able to toy with their opponents.
The previous play just now even messed with Han Woo Jin.
Ever since his practice game with Han Woo Jin that day, Okuta constantly thought about improving his strategy.
Since he only lost points, it must’ve hurt his pride, which was why he further improved upon his defensive style and added more attacks. This change brought him advantages and disadvantages.
Shin Sae Yeon who was silently watching the rally spoke up and precisely pinpointed the problem.
“He gave up his balance to get the point. He probably can’t show his perfect defensive ability like before.”
Han Woo Jin agreed and nodded.
Okuta’s specialty was his defense while being in the center of the court and being able to return any ball by switching his hands. But by using serve and volley attack, he also lost his balance.
This meant that he changed his style from one of defense and counter to more of an aggressive style which disrupted his balance.
Han Woo Jin and Shin Sae Yeon were watching from the stands and they had a better viewpoint on being able to see his weaknesses. On the other hand, Park Jung Hoong was going crazy trying to think of ways to counter the crazy switch.
He lost his cool and easily began losing points.
“Game Okuta! 1-0!”
Okuta finally got the last point and won the game. If Okuta was trying to destroy his opponent’s spirit, then he succeeded in doing so.
After they switched sides, player Park Jung Hoon angrily threw up the ball. In his shoes, it felt like he was being toyed around with which was a reasonable response.
His serve was fierce. As soon as the ball landed on Okuta’s right side, he hit it back to Park Jung Hoong’s court. The ball traveled quickly so he lightly touched it and it bounced off.
Park Jung Hoong ran to the ball and hit the ball. It was a jumping smash.
The stronger the stroke, the stronger the ball was. In the case of jumping smash and the two-handed drive, it was more difficult to put a spin on the ball with only one hand.
Okuta expected the ball’s strength, so he put his racket in the center of his body.
It was a two-handed grip position that he used to hold his racket.
Seeing the change in position, Han Woo Jin’s eyes widened. ‘No way?’
The ball that Park Jung Hoong hit went toward Okuta with a fast speed that looked as if it would hit his body.
But Okuta didn’t move an inch.
His left foot that was slightly in front of his right was moved to the left and his body shifted towards the side. In that position, he hit the ball with both hands.
This really surprised Park Jung Hoong.
Park Jung Hoong thought that he hit the ball too fast for him to receive, but seeing it returned was too shocking. After this point, Park Jung Hoon came to the realization that Okuta was a cut above him.
In professional tennis, if the skill gap between two players isn’t that wide, then they wouldn’t have any mental blocks during the match. That was why pros always thought about how they could win.
However, if a player realized that the difference in skill between him and his opponent was too huge, he could easily lose his will to fight. People evaluated other players’ skills by their match histories and if they saw many victories, they would believe that their opponent was better than them.
Anyway, if they have the thought that they will lose that game, then they will skip the current game and just think about their next game.
And that was they won’t give it their 100% in a game they know they will lose to save energy for the next game. Because in a 6-0, a 6-0 loss is still the same as losing from a tiebreaker. A loss was a loss, which was why they did not play until they were exhausted.
Han Woo Jin noticed that Park Jung Hoong’s speed was considerably slower than before and clicked his tongue.
“He gave up too early. If he kept on playing a bit longer, he could have won.”
“Ara? But isn’t Player Okuta strong?”
‘I screwed up.’
Han Woo Jin unconsciously spoke aloud which allowed Shin Sae Yeon to hear him speak to himself. Han Woo Jin already knew about the weakness in Okuta’s style because he was from the future.
Although Okuta’s two-handed switch style had a strong point that allowed him to rotate his whole body so that he could hit strong forehands, the longer the rallies, the more tired would he get.
That was why the future Okuta couldn’t reach the top ranks.
However, that was an issue that would occur five years from now. Currently, there was no reason for him to know about Okuta’s weakness.
‘What do I say to her?’
Han Woo Jin was fiercely thinking in his mind. The curious Shin Sae Yeon looked at him harder.
Shin Sae Yeon saw that Okuta was looking at them, so she shook his shoulder and that made her forget about their previous conversation.
“Mr. Woo Jin, Okuta is looking at us.”
Han Woo Jin was surprised and he looked at Okuta. The two players’ eyes met and then quickly broke contact. Han Woo Jin felt weird because he felt something strange coming from Okuta’s eyes.
‘Why did he look at me like that? Is he that upset that I won that last game?’
Han Woo Jin would never find out that he was fighting over the girl that he liked and that he lost.
Anyway, due to that, Shin Sae Yeon was no longer curious about their previous conversation.
It was clear that Okuta was going to win. The referee announced the name of the winner of the first set.
“Set won by Okuta! Score 6-0!”
When the score was announced, Okuta glared at Han Woo Jin once again. He was looking at him as if he was saying, ‘What do you think about this?’ Han Woo Jin knew the exact meaning behind his gaze.
He was provoking him. Okuta was telling him that he could also play a perfect set.
Of course, his reaction wasn’t worth making a fuss about. Han Woo Jin could say, “You need to save your energy for tomorrow’s final instead of wasting your energy here.” But Han Woo Jin couldn’t say that. Instead, he looked at Okuta and smirked. That expression portrayed that Okuta was being ridiculous.
‘A future world ranker wants to be competitive with me?’
In his past, Han Woo Jin always heard of several Asian tennis stars on TV and on newspapers. He always dreamed that he could be like them. How many times had he dreamed of beating them? Anyway, it was a bit early now, but he could make it a reality.
Okuta’s provocation was successful against Han Woo Jin. Han Woo Jin stood up.
“Are you going now?” Shin Sae Yeon asked curiously. She felt like something just happened between the two players but she didn’t know exactly what.
Han Woo Jin just nodded at her question.
“I saw everything I needed to see.”
Okuta’s style wasn’t complete currently. Although Okuta could use the forehand double, his status still had a […], indicating that it wasn’t complete.
However, he was reaching completion at a frightening speed. He couldn’t believe that he was the same player from fifteen days ago.
Han Woo Jin couldn’t stay in his seat any longer. He didn’t want to waste any time and wanted to go practice. He spoke without turning back.
“I’m going to go practice first.”
Only Okuta’s serve and positioning were in his head as he thought about how to deal with it.
Han Woo Jin’s pace was filled with excitement and nervousness as he walked.