You Can Get There From Here:
Part 6

Barry Buss

Coach Bassett, you lose you move down.

Coach Bassett had a system. Everything earned, nothing given. Win, you move up. Lose, you move down. Pretty simple, don't lose, don't get dropped. Fair. Like a lot like my tennis growing up. Don't miss. Don't get yelled at. I thrived on negative incentive. Being low man in the line-up though, I had no margin for error, or to the bench I would go.

Season starts. Matches and more matches. I kept winning at six. Finally Blaine Willenborg at five loses. I'm moved up. My college tennis learning curve was steep. I knew few of the players, many of them 3-4 years older than myself with tons of experience and everyone could play at this level.

My opponents were grown young men. Myself, Half man, half child, trying to find myself. But I'm loving it, especially the practice regiment. Nobody to call anymore. Nobody cancelling, nobody dogging it. Drills and drills and drills. I'd never trained like this before. I'm getting super fit, feeling like I can go all day. Constant encouragement and support from the coaches, my team mates, our student body. And with all the winning, my belief in myself skyrocketed. And more matches. And more matches. And I kept winning.

Playing the University of San Diego. I'm getting blown out. No answers. 6-3, 5-3 40-0. Quadruple match point down. My season hung in the balance. Lose this, its next guy up and to the bench I go. Yet I survived that mess, only to go down 40-0 the next game. Quadruple match point again. I pulled a Houdini, somehow escaping, saving eight match points. I won the final set 6-0. Season salvaged if not saved. But Coach wasn't happy. Bruins don't lose to Toreros.

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Growing up in Boston and Los Angeles, Barry became a national ranked junior player at the age of 12, and a member of the elite USTA Junior Davis Cup Team. As a college player he tied the legendary Jimmy Connors 22 match win streak at UCLA. He is now an independent teaching pro working in Franklin, Tennessee.

You Can Get There From Here

The harrowing tale of an American junior tennis standout's descent into alcoholism, addiction, bipolar disorder, and eventual hospitalization and his journey toward healing and recovery. Essential reading if you care about alcoholism, recovery and mental health, with competitive tennis forming the backdrop of Buss' life.

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