The Best Episodes of Baby Steps
Last Updated: Nov 25, 2018
Maruo Eiitirou (E-Chan), a first year honor student, one day decides he's unhappy with the way things are and lacks exercise. He finds a flyer for the Tennis Club and decides to check it out. He's instantly captivated by it. With no prior experience and poor physical conditioning, join E-Chan as he embarks on a tennis journey using his smarts, dedication, and work ethic.
#1 - Visualize the Pressure
Season 2 - Episode 18
Eiichiro thought he was successfully ignoring the crowd's roaring cheers for Ide, but his body was reacting to it more than he realized. The pressure of playing in front of a dramatic, Ide-centric crowd is troubling Eiichiro. What can he do to overcome this situation? Eiichiro wrote down the pressure he felt in his notebook and tries to face the details he has been ignoring. Ide is on his game as his crowd cheers on; what will lead to Eiichiro's road to victory?!
#2 - A First Match Full of Surprises
Season 1 - Episode 5
Eiichirō is about to play his first match. He receives advice from the other STC members, but it only makes him more nervous. He doesn't get a chance to calm himself down as he's soon called to the tennis court. His first opponent is Oobayashi Ryo, a player with five years of experience, the assistant captain of the tennis team at Shonan Tech, and a top eight finalist in the prefectural tournament. It's finally time for Eiichirō's first match! This episode covers chapters 8, 9, and 10 in the manga.
#4 - Revenge at the Critical Moment
Season 2 - Episode 7
The Kanagawa Prefectural begins as Eiichirō faces off against Araya's new underclassman Nishimura. Araya has told Nishimura all of Eiichirō's weaknesses from the year before, making Nishimura very confident in his chances of winning. To counter this knowledge Eiichirō debuts his new serve and wins easily 6-0. Eiichirō then goes to scout Miyagawa, knowing he will be his second round opponent, but he arrives just in time to see the final point as Miyagawa wins 6-1, giving neither the knowledge of each other's growth in the past year.
#5 - The Speed of Evolution
Season 2 - Episode 8
Eiichirō and Miyagawa face off in the second round of the tournament for their second match. If Eiichirō loses he knows he'll lose all chance of going pro. If Miyagawa loses he knows his path to become a pro will take longer and might force him to go to college first. As the two face off both unveil their new weapons. For Eiichirō he unveils his dangerous serve while Miyagawa unveils some new counters that will force Eiichirō to adjust his data in unexpected ways. How many breaks can each get off of each other?
#6 - Unease on the Edge
Season 1 - Episode 10
The match between Eiichirō and Miyagawa begins with each holding serve. However Eiichirō feels that something is off. After studying his notes, Eiichirō realizes that Miyagawa has been studying his shots, and with a 4-3 lead he plans on making his move in the eighth game. If Miyagawa manages to break Eiichirō in the 8th game, the set will be all over. Instead of getting too depressed, Eiichirō changes his strategy and starts playing serve and volley tennis. The change of pace allows Eiichirō to win Game 8 and even it at 4-4, but will either competitor manage to break serve, and will Eiichirō be able to find his winning shot before it becomes too late?
#7 - The Contest Is a Fight
Season 1 - Episode 3
Eiichiro is unable to forget how good it felt when he successfully returned Takuma's serve, and he spends all of his time practicing against the wall. After seeing Eiichiro practice against the wall non-stop for six hours on a Sunday, Natsu predicts that he will quickly improve.
#8 - Plan to be Forceful
Season 1 - Episode 15
Eiichirō overhears Araya telling Takuma that if he loses to him this tournament, he will retire from tennis. His plan is to defeat Takuma and then announce he is going pro. Takuma agrees to tell Eiichirō Araya's weaknesses. Eiichirō comes up with 5 steps that give him the first game in a 3-set match. After going up 30-0 in game 2, Araya protests a point and receives a warning. However the protest allows Araya to get into the zone. Araya manages to win the next 6 games with ease and goes up 1-0. In set 2 Eiichirō studies all of Araya's shots from set 1 and realizes he can predict Araya's movements. Down 1-0 in set 2 Eiichirō finally manages to reverse Araya's counter shot and go up Love-15. How will this exciting match end?
#9 - Data for the Future
Season 2 - Episode 3
After winning his first match in America, Eiichirō finally gets to play Ike in a one set match. Ike gets it approved at the New Years party where many of Eiichirō's new friends first learn of Natsu. Eiichirō plays Ike and begins to collect data on what the players in the world of the Pros is like. On his final day in Florida the coach proposes Eiichirō and Alex play a 3-set match. Alex learns how fearsome the notebook can be as he is forced to change his play pattern after Eiichirō breaks him twice. Eiichirō wins Set One 6-2
#10 - Moonlight and the Sound of Waves
Season 2 - Episode 14
The final door on the way to the All-Japan Junior, the Kanto Junior Tournament, is just around the corner. Eiichiro psyches himself up as he confirms his promise to his parents that he'll give up if he doesn't win the All-Japan Junior, and then he sets off with the other STC members for Chiba, where the Kanto Junior will be held.
#11 - Dramatic by Nature
Season 2 - Episode 17
Ide's remarkable ability to adapt instantly to everything has Eiichiro struggling, and reads his notes again to regain his focus. This improves his movements and leads to more impressive rallies, making the match even more exciting. Neither is willing to yield as the match comes down to which player can manage to hold serve...
#12 - Risk and Possibility
Season 1 - Episode 11
After managing to hold serve Eiichirō starts looking for an opportunity to break Miyagawa. Both hold serve and force a tiebreaker. With the score 6-5 Maruo in the tiebreaker Eiichirō decides to try and gamble to use his full stroke and steal a point. The gamble backfires and Miyagawa evens the score 6-6. However Eiichirō's gamble makes Miyagawa think too much during his serve. He falls victim to a double fault, giving Eiichirō the match point opportunity on his serve. Seeing no other choice, Miyagawa makes a move to the net to catch Eiichirō by surprise. However Eiichirō's racket happens to be in the right spot for a return from short distance. Eiichirō's miracle return gives him the tiebreaker 8-6 and the match 7-6. The crowd is shocked as the 5-seed has been knocked out.
#13 - Psychological Warfare and Self-Control
Season 2 - Episode 20
The match against Takagi begins. Just as Yukichi warned, Takagi's style is unique.
#14 - Fundamentals are the Weakness
Season 1 - Episode 22
Yu Nabae matches up with Eiichirō and realizes they really are two players that are virtually the same. He realizes that what Eiichirō lacks is experience with the fundamentals, as he has never played anyone like himself, and after losing the first set Nabae begins to pull away and goes up 5-2.
#15 - Diamond in the Rough
Season 1 - Episode 6
It is down to the final match of the set. Eiichirō trails 5 games to 1, but with a determination to stay on the court as long as possible Eiichirō begins to push Oobayashi. Coach Miwa notices that Eiichirō has sharp eyes and is able to predict his opponents next move when he is focused. The final match lasts close to an hour, and in the end Eiichirō is unable to score a single point in the final match. Oobayashi learns this was Eiichirō's first match and begins to fear what Eiichirō will become if he is diligent with practice while gaining control and more muscles. The next day Eiichirō returns to the Kanagawa Junior Circuit, despite having been eliminated, to study various tennis playing styles. Coach Miura notices him there and tells him if he really wants to improve, he should come to STC the next morning at 7 AM. This episode covers manga chapters 11, 12, and 13.
#16 - Improvement by Memory
Season 1 - Episode 12
After defeating Miyagawa, Eiichirō returns to STC for some training that will make him better in 1 day. Eiichirō is teamed up with a Coach Mike from Florida who specializes in pyschological training. Mike is envious of Eiichirō's notes and points out his notes will help him recall his shots faster, and that he only has 20 seconds to recall his best memories. Eiichirō is able to master this basic training of Mike, and in round 4 he defeats the 16-seed Terashima with relative ease. A broken string forces him to go to the tennis shop where he meets his quarterfinal opponent, 3-seed Iwasa Hiromi. Hiromi doesn't seem to have any interest in Eiichirō. After Hiromi leaves, the shop owner explains that Hiromi doesn't get to know his opponents in advance. Instead he learns and draws an image of them while they're playing on the court. Eiichirō is confused by this and wonders how someone can draw pictures while playing.
#17 - Nine-Square and Reality
Season 1 - Episode 7
In order to improve Eiichirō's playing, Coach Miura has him learn control on a 9-square court. After getting the basics done, Eiichirō is forced into a match against Takuma. Takuma realizes that Eiichirō has gained control but proceeds to show Eiichirō that control and good eye site is nothing compared to experience. Coach Miura then instructs Eiichirō and Takuma to continue playing each other as often as possible. 3 months after the Kanagawa Junior Circuit, Coach Miura asks Eiichirō to sign up for the Championship Match Tournament to see how much he has improved.
#18 - One Year and Twenty Notebooks
Season 1 - Episode 8
Maruo Eiichirō continues his training at STC as he tries to master every shot. At smaller tournaments he begins advancing to the third round but is unable to go further. His mother worries that Eiichirō is spending too much time on tennis when he drops out of cram school to practice more. Eiichirō begins calling Natsu Nat-chan. After one year of playing Maruo prepares to return to the Kanagawa Junior Circuit and make it past the third round, but in order to do so he'll likely have to defeat three seeded players.
#19 - Meat Buns and Yakisoba
Season 1 - Episode 20
Eiichirō participates in a tournament after 3 months of hellish training. He learns about active rest while participating in the tournament and makes it to the final. Terashima is his opponent. Eiichirō shocks Terashima with how his game has changed and manages to win 6-1, 6-0. In all of his matches the closest game was 6-2. After the match Coach Miura informs Eiichirō he will have a week off before they do another 3 weeks of hellish training. He informs Eiichirō that this type of training will continue for the rest of the year, with him eventually getting down to only two days of rest inbetween. With a week off, Eiichirō helps his school perform their yearly cultural festival, a festival which ends up serving only to bring him and Natsu a little closer.
#20 - Existence is the Driving Force
Season 2 - Episode 22
After beating Takagi, Eiichiro moves onto the semi-finals as does Natsu in the women's division. Eiichiro becomes aware of new feelings towards Natsu while watching her match. The next match is against the top tennis player, Nabae who has no physical or psychological weaknesses. While Eiichiro is troubled by what strategy to use, Takuma reveals Nabae's childhood weakness to Eiichiro. The battle against Nabae, the greatest opponent is about to begin!
#21 - Pro At My Age
Season 1 - Episode 17
Araya and Eiichirō end up at deuce after neither player can gain an advantage. An ace end up being huge for Araya give him the match point advantage, and despite his best efforts a lucky bounce proves to be the end for Eiichirō as he loses 6-1, 6-4. The finals are held between Araya and Takuma. Takuma plays to his best ability and once again prevails, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 to win the championship. As Eiichirō returns to his bag he runs into an unknown youngster named Ike Souji. Ike asks to see Eiichirō's notes before running off due to an important phone call. However he asks Eiichirō to inform Coach Miura that he will soon be visiting STC. After the awards ceremony is held, the others vow to defeat Eiichirō in the All Japan Junior before Eiichirō says he can't participate due to his low showings the year before. However he swears he'll get ready for the Inter-High. As Eiichirō gets home, he gets rewarded for his performance, but he shocks his parents when he asks them what they'd think if he decided to go Pro at tennis.
#22 - Methodical and Unorganized
Season 1 - Episode 2
Eiichiro is unable to answer Natsu when she asks him what he enjoys doing most. He becomes interested in tennis and returns to STC for another free trial. This time, he meets Egawa Takuma, an upperclassman who's friendly with Natsu. For some reason, he acts hostile towards Eiichiro, which is very intimidating. As Takuma watches, Natsu teaches Eiichiro how to hit the ball.
#23 - Face of Conviction
Season 1 - Episode 4
Eiichiro finds himself in a contest with Takuma. Eiichiro has fifty tries to return Takuma's serve. One successful return and Eiichiro wins. However, despite Eiichiro's best attempts to follow his notes and stick to the basics, he can do nothing against one of the strongest serves in the country.
#24 - Full Force Toward Adversity
Season 2 - Episode 12
Araya and Eiichirō prove to be even and are both unable to break each others serve. Making things worse is there will be no tiebreaker., Instead an individual must win by 2 games. As set 3 continues Eiichirō begins to rely more and more on his instincts as his mind tires, and it begins to give Araya the slightest advantage. Eiichirō realizes if he doesn't break Araya when it is 6 all that he will likely tire and lose the match. Even that knowledge doesn't prove to be enough. Araya holds serve and goes up 7-6. Eiichirō then holds serve and evens it up at 7, but his mind completely wears itself out, and Araya goes on to win 9-7.
#25 - Start With a Roar
Season 2 - Episode 10
Araya and Eiichirō begin their match in the Kanagawa Prefectural Final. At first both are holding serve and the score is at 3-3. However Coach Aoi realizes Eiichirō doesn't have the knowledge on how to deal with left handers since he's only played Araya once. Araya starts to target Eiichirō's backhand. To counter Eiichirō is forced to continually adjust his speed, making his center shots an easy target for Araya. Araya gets the first break and goes on to win set 1 6-3. However Eiichirō begins to return Araya's shots as the first set ends, making Araya realize Eiichirō is growing as fast as Ike previously did. Both realize they have to find a way to get massive breaks if they are to have any chance of winning.