Baby Steps Episode 10 Recap – “Unease on the Edge”
It’s the second day of the Kanagawa Junior Circuit Tournament, and Eichiro’s in the third round again. He’s looking to get past the third round for the first time ever, but bad news for him, he is up against one of the players he’s looked up to, Miyagawa. This time the onlookers for his match are Natsu, Coach Muira, Takuma, Yukichi and Noisy Brat (ok his name is Yuuki) and his friend.
As the match kicks off Eichiro finds that Miyagawa’s ground strokes have more spin on them that he expected. This causes a problem because he can predict where the ball is going, but he can’t get enough on them to return then. However if he can set the pace for the point, he can win most of them. The best chance for that is on Miyagawa’s serve.
Flashback seven years ago to a frustrated Miyagawa, who has no natural talent in tennis despite his repetitive and faithful practice. Even though his father says he shouldn’t feel any pressure and play at his own pace despite the fact they own a tennis club, you can tell it’s wearing on the kid. Eventually he does discover his own brand of tennis, which is putting all his power into his ground strokes with just enough control that they stay inside the court.
Coach Muira has faith in Eichiro though, as he has the court covering skills and ball control to counter Miyagawa. He can win, but he needs to overcome his major weakness: he has no specialty or winner shot since he has practiced every one of his shots equally.
Eichiro keeps his serve, but only on errors from Miyagawa. Even though it’s tied at 1-1, he isn’t dictating during his serve like Miyagawa is. The match continues until it’s 4-3 Miyagawa, with Eichiro serving next. Both Eichiro and his onlookers realise an important development – Miyagawa has been dragging out Eichiro’s service games so he could analyze his gameplay, and then pick the best ground stroke for the situation. This service game is Miyagawa’s chance to win the match since he would then be on serve and up a break, with one game to go. Eichiro knows that he has to change something now or he’ll lose.
So on Miyagawa’s return he rushes the net instead – and just puts it wide. He continues to play this new style, forcing Miyagawa out of his own usual style as well. Since Eichiro is now trying serve and volley and Miyagawa is attempting passing shots, the threat of Miyagawa winning the game is minimized. Eventually Eichiro delivers and levels it at 4-4.
And then – we have to wait until next week to continue the match. Can’t blame it too much though as it is a sports anime. I hope to see more of Miyagawa in the future though, as he is an interesting character, who worked his way up despite not having natural athletic talent. He’s similar to Eichiro in that way. I don’t think he is going to beat Eichiro though.