Baby Steps Episode 9 Recap – “Diligence Is My Style”

nobody is worriedEichiro gets stuck. Maybe he should eat more plums.

Baby Steps Episode 9 Recap – “Diligence Is My Style”

After those miscellaneous training episodes the past weeks, it’s finally time for Eichiro’s second try at the Kanagawa Junior Circuit Tournament. Last year he lost in the first round to Oobayashi, and he hasn’t been past the third round in any tournament yet. Understandably, he is tense before his first round match. Natsu gives him a small confidence boost though, and after stopping him from overexerting himself in practice, tells him it’s natural to be tense. It’s not always a bad thing!

All of the top seeds from last year are also at the tournament, regardless of the switching of some of the seeding order. Eichiro notices that none of them are worried at all about losing, so he resolves to adopt the same attitude. A decision that may not have been the wisest, as we will see in a few minutes. Natsu says that Eichiro will play a big role in the results of the tournament – in front of all of the top seeds! Also, it’s pretty obvious Natsu and Eichiro are meant to end up with each other, but at least they are both pretty adorable.

Onto his first round match! His opponent is Koshimizu, a fellow classmate, who is utterly OBSESSED with doing better than Eichiro is every sense. “I’ll make you remember my name” is his personal mantra. He’s already higher than Eichiro in the school scores (he had a cameo last episode), so beating him in tennis is the next logical step.

It looks he might pull it off as well, as Eichiro is not having a good start to the match. Almost every won point for Koshimizu is off of an unforced error by Eichiro. Araya and Miyagawa note that he must be “stuck”; he is concentrating so much on winning that he is disrupting his natural playing style. Before we know it…it’s 3-0 for Koshimizu. Remember that it’s only an one set match!

Koshimizu, the rival Eichiro never knew he had
Koshimizu, the rival Eichiro never knew he had

During the changeover, Eichiro is at a loss, even with the help of his notebooks. By chance, he finds a note scribbled on the back page of one of his notebooks from Natsu. It offers him the sage advice of “focus on your opponent instead of yourself.” It’s just the motivation Eichiro needs to turn the match around and cruise to a 6-3 victory.

After he wins his second round match easily by the final score of 6-1, he and Yukichi take in one of Miyagawa’s matches. If Miyagawa wins he will be Eichiro’s next opponent. We learn several things about Miyagawa here. First off, he drinks Kobu tea (seaweed tea) and pickled plums during changeovers. Both are supposed to be good for your health, but he’s still weird XD. Like most athletes! Just look at how OCD Nadal is!

Yukichi also points out that Miyagawa is not a versatile player, as he can only hit ground strokes. Miyagawa’s family was super rich and owned a tennis club, so he was forced into playing the sport. Unfortunately he had no natural skill in tennis, and only improved through constant repetitive practice. Just like we have seen Eichiro do. Miyagawa wins the match 6-0, setting up for a contest between him and Eichiro next episode.

Glad to see the progression of plot in this episode, and some of the fruits of Eichiro’s work. Looking forward to his match against Miyagawa, and to see if he finally breaks through. I’ve read ahead in the manga so I know what happens, but I’m excited nonetheless. Thankfully, it’s also going at a much faster pace than the manga is. 🙂

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