Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is this tennis...or a Test match?

(I'm warning you now: it's another post about sports. I can't help it! If you don't know what this post is about, Google it.)

I knew these two weeks would be amazing, sports-wise. When the World Cup and Wimbledon collide, there is no other option. I could even blame it on my not having posted in more than a few days (yeah, let's go with that). But I would never have guessed that I would be as blessed a sports fan as I have been the past three days.

It's my favorite grand slam. It's the first I ever cared about, and marks the beginning of the transition, which took years, of becoming an avid sports fan. The green grass turning brown, the crisp white outfits,, the strawberries and cream. It's just perfect.

Take all of that, and add in a match that lasts three days. Three days. Isner-Mahut is going to be the calling card for the 2010 Championships. The only possible event to eclipse it would be if Murray took the title, and even then I'm not sure that fifty years from now it wouldn't be the more important statistic. The Queen was there for the first time in several decades, and that doesn't matter as much today.

I missed the first day of action, when this was just a five-setter suspended for darkness. The second day, I caught on somewhere around 25 games all. I was absolutely transfixed by the never-ending service games being held, many times at love. World Cup matches came and went, and they were still going until it was too dark to see the ball. It went from an interesting first-round match to an record-breaker, to an epic marathon that filled every one of the 750 seats of Court 18.

Because of simultaneous World Cup matches, I had to resort to ESPN3 online to watch the third day begin (seriously? Bad form ESPN/ABC). I couldn't turn away. Every game, every point, wasn't just a possible turning point in the match, it was part of history.

It had to end eventually. And when it did, I burst out with a shriek of happiness and tears of amazement as Isner fell to the ground. Hours later, watching the final day repeat in it's entirety, I'm still tearing up. I can't even tell you exactly why. It's just magnificent. They went to 70-68. They shattered every record and just kept going. They played it one game at a time, one serve at a time. Physically, it's impressive that they were able to walk today. Mentally, it's impressive that they were able to get out of bed this morning.

I'm an emotional person. I've already said it's the stories that have made me a sports convert. I think the reason I'm so emotional about this marathon match is that I know that these two players just gave me one of the best stories ever. With the greatest lesson. I think 'Finding Nemo' paraphrases it perfectly: Just keep swimming.

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