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North Pole Finale 2011

Your faithful North Pole reporter realized with so much holiday cheer directly around Christmas time any story, no matter how well written, no matter how full of wit and charm and even racquetball anecdotes would get lost in the holiday shuffle. The delay was further exaggerated by the very mild winter. No snow, no mail dog sleds, no communication out of the super secret North Pole town.

The mild winter had one major affect on our tournament that even Santa didn’t see coming. This was the first year in modern Christmas times (modern times meaning after stealth aircraft) that the North Pole was not snowed in after operation “Gift Drop” was completed. This meant that all the enchanted little elves and reindeer and other mythical creatures had the week off and could get out of dodge. And so they did…but I’m getting ahead of myself. The real story picks up with our Jolly Green Giant being notified that the event he has secretly entered has been pushed back five days because Santa realized he wasn’t up to the challenge. Santa was both mentally and physically too tired to play the demanding event before his big up-all-nighter trans-world journey. His age was showing. Too much hands-on in the work place (the coal mines), took their toll and the great Ho-Off loss shook Santa’s confidence. Anticipating a drawn out multi-day event the Jolly Green Giant (JGG) plans his workout schedule and his eating schedule for the week. The JGG stayed with his on court work out drilling and off court cardio until 2 days before the event. He does a light on court workout with ceiling balls and lob serves and elects to take the full day before the event off physically. He will mentally run through his serves and shots on this off day. During the week he slowly increases his carbohydrates and water intake and has one last full meal the night before the event is to begin. Since you don’t always know your exact playing times before an event, it’s better to be fully fueled at the get go. Breakfasts will be light and consist of eggs and toast/bagel. Lunches will be soup or salad and a half sandwich. Water will continue to be sipped even when he’s not thirsty. Orange slices every hour or so. The overall goal is to stay light and be ready to play. The time between eating breakfast or lunch and playing a match should be 1 ½ to 2 hours. At the end of the day, is when he will enjoy a fuller meal. That meal will replenish him for the current day and build him up for the following day…so more carbs.

(I can hear the people who played next to me for years saying…”Where the hell is this food stuff coming from Bernardo?” Just to put them all at ease…I admit I never really followed this eating regiment. I should have. In this story, I will be writing what I really did in the part of Santa’s eating regiment that follows. I called my friend Ruben Gonzalez (Top 10 at 60) and ask him for some help on the correct pre-tournament/tournament eating habits for the JGG.) Alabaster Snowball (the Elf keeper of the Naughty List) was this year’s tournament director. Everyone knew he was good with lists and knew he could handle the tournament seeding. What wasn’t known was that he was the JGG 3rd cousin and he owed the JGG for slipping him vegetables year round that he sold at the North Pole at a nice profit. The JGG called in a favor. Alabaster, always used the threat of the Naughty List as a way to get out of every undesirable situation, was at a loss with the JGG. Remember that 10 year Naughty exemption. That simple favor was to enter the JGG under an alias and keep him on the opposite side of the draw as Santa. Alabaster Snowball was a very interesting character. He had been around almost as long as Christmas and he knew things about everyone. To make things even more interesting, he was a betting elf. Nobody ever bet against Santa in the North Pole shootouts. Vegas didn’t even have a line for such a bet. However, upon hearing that the event was being delayed until after Christmas, Alabaster secretly started to bet any takers that Elf #5 would win the tournament. On December 27th Santa rolls out of bed having lost an additional day in recovery from his night-long mission. His plan to hit the court for a little training session was derailed due to a massive headache. Upon further recollection, Santa was at a loss as to how he actually got into bed after his all nighter. The last thing he truly remembered was heading to his last stops in Ireland. He liked the young lads of Ireland. They always left him a pint of Guiness. (this is true) Normally he would only have a sip at each stop as Ireland is usually one of the first countries on his tour, but this year since it was the last and he was only across the Atlantic and Rudolf could drive he decided to throw back a few. Alcohol and sugar cookies make for one mean hangover. Santa skipped practice on the 27th.

Alabaster knew one more crucial thing that slipped Santa’s mind. Just like the Tim Allen movies, Santa is not really fat, jolly and white bearded all year. He isn’t officially Santa either. It takes three magical days to digest all those cookies, mince pies etc. and as they finally weave their way through his system, his special powers dwindle until the next Christmas Season starts. Alabaster knew that Elf #5 would not be playing Santa but would be playing a much weaker Kris Kringle on the 29th.

So looking back, leading up to our tournament, Santa ate cookies, pies and drank beer the weekend before the event was to start. (Hey, sounds familiar) He did drink plenty of water starting two days out because that’s when he woke up with a dry mouth Guiness hangover. Santa has had no time to be on the court although he did run through mental shots in his mind when he could. (experts say this is 95% as affective as actually doing the hitting on court – if you actually have physically practiced regularly – which Santa hadn’t)

We find ourselves back at the beginning of this piece…it was a mild winter. Kris Kringle awakens well rested as does the JGG on the morning of the 29th. They both wake to a peculiar silence. All entrants from reindeer #1 - #9 and elf #1 - #12 (except #5) are gone. No Heat Mizer or Cold Mizer. No Frost or Grinch. No Ghost from any time period. No Kitchen help…not even Mrs. Clause (who took off for a girls weekend when she realized Santa enjoyed the night out with the reindeers on Christmas). As both combatants made their way to the court, Kris realized that Elf # 5 would be his arch rival the JGG. His heart sank. He had not even considered playing against him. His mind was racing, trying to conceive of a game plan. His confidence was shaken. His mystical powers were virtually depleted. He seemed defeated before he ever stepped on the court. Alabaster Snowball was sitting there waiting. A small video camera was setup to record the event but it was really there so that Alabaster could collect a small fortune on his bet.

The JGG was a true competitor. He was not interested in berating Santa/Kris. He just wanted the day he earned months ago. He didn’t need to share this day with anyone. So in the style of Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, the JGG and Kris Kringle both told Alabaster to go home and they turned off the camera and then played racquetball. There is no record of their match. When asked about it, they both smile knowingly and never say a word. It was rumored that the JGG went as far as swapping out the lights on the court with special grow lights…but we’ll never know what effect that really had.

The bottom line, I can’t really force you to eat right, or choose the right shots to hit, or force you to practice. But what I can insist on is for you to just play racquetball for the pure love of the game! The rest will take care of itself. One last disclaimer… I had a whole bit about losing Fed Ex as a sponsor because they felt Santa was a competitor of theirs that refused to charge fair rates for his express delivery service. His reindeer were underpaid according to industrial standards and they knew if St. Nick ever expanded his business they were doomed. (I actually told my Fed Ex rep I’d work them into a story…this is close.)

Welcome to 2012 from Racquetworld.com!!


Questions or comment...Pat@Racquetworld.com

You can forward any rules questions to me at Pat@Racquetworld.com