It just wasn't Sean Hendricks' day to win.
Hendricks broke the strings on both of his tennis rackets within a space of five minutes, played with a spectator's, reaggravated a pulled hamstring and groin muscle and lost to Lonnie Greene, 6-2, 6-2, in the men's open final of the 1994 Municipal City Championships yesterday.
"I felt like I was playing under a lot of adversity," said Hendricks, a 22-year-old assistant coach for the Morgan State tennis team. "It was like somebody didn't want me to win."
Instead, the 22-year-old Greene, a junior at Morgan State and the Bears' No. 1 singles player, played cautiously, changing the pace of his balls and taking advantage of Hendricks' unfamiliarity with a different racket to defeat his coach and win his first city championship.
"I saw that he wasn't used to the racket," Greene said with a smile. "He had to deal with different strings, different tension, different weight. I knew he'd have problems with it, so I just mixed it up."
At the start of the match, Hendricks broke the strings on his first racket while trying to return Greene's serve. Five minutes and one game later, he broke the strings on his second -- and last -- as he served out the game for a 1-1 tie. Hendricks was forced to borrow avid tennis fan Noel Fales' racket, but the damage was already done, Hendricks said.
"[I was in] a state of panic and shock," he recalled. "The first thing that went through my mind was I won't be able to continue.
"The second thing that went through my mind was I won't be able to play my best. It was a psychological letdown."
The mental games of tennis were no better highlighted than in the sixth game of the first set. With Greene ahead 3-2, 40-15 on Hendricks' serve, Hendricks rushed the net behind a nice approach shot. But he failed to put away the easy volley, and Greene returned the volley and watched Hendricks' forehand from the baseline sail wide.
Greene would then win the next two games for the first set.
The second set looked up for Hendricks as he built a quick 2-0 lead. But Hendricks re-injured his pulled hamstring and groin muscle and missed some volleys at the net. Greene captured six unanswered games to close out the match.
"Those [volleys] are normally gimmes for me," Hendricks lamented. "That was not only frustrating but also debilitating . . . . I felt mentally defeated."
"My easy win was definitely a tribute to him breaking the strings on his racket," Greene said. "If he had been able to use his strings, I think I would've been forced to get down on myself and play better."
But as it was, Greene did not have to do much to win -- which, he noted, was not to the spectators' benefit.
"That match can't even attest to how well we both could've played," he said. "He didn't have his rackets, and I wasn't playing well. It was a fortunate win, but unfortunate for the fans because we could've played a much better match for them."
Lonnie Greene def. Sean Hendricks, 6-2, 6-2.
Jamie Fisher def. Derrick McMillan, 6-1, 6-2.
Bill Kamenoff def. Laurence Freeman, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 7-5
Royce Jones/McMillan def. Ronald Lee/Stanley Turner, 6-2, 6-3
Delise O'Meally def. Claudette Gregory, 6-2, 6-2.
K? O'Meally/Greene def. Patricia Kelly/Ronald Diggs, 6-0, 6-2.