SERVE AND FOLLY:

My Life On and Off the Tennis Circuit by Scott Ross

As Told to Nick Meglin



     I had just won a big one in Dallas the day before.  They love me in Dallas like they love the guys who attacked the Alamo (I know that was San Antonio, but Texas is Texas).  And no one loves me more than the press.  So when I knocked off their Dallas dumpling Craig Templeton in straight sets in the semi-finals, you can figure how many fans I had pulling for me when I faced Tony Bremen in the final.  

     My cousin Stanley was turning out to be a better "manager" than I had anticipated, but he began taking the job too seriously and sometimes crowded my need to relax in my particular fashion.  After he arranged the flights and hotels for our next stop on the tour, I gave him the rest of the weekend off so he could escort his mom to their annual family gathering.  A mistake.  With Stanley not there busting my cojones, I may have celebrated a little too enthusiastically with the local flora and fauna that night after beating Templeton.    

     I knew I was in trouble the next morning when they said the temperature was going to be even hotter then it had been the day before.  I hate to play Bremen to begin with -- he's like a fucking brick wall.  Nothing fancy, never comes to the net, seldom goes for winners, and hits a trillion lobs into the blinding sun.  The worst part is that he sends everything back.  Everything!  Your best shots!  After an hour of this crap you figure, "Screw this, I'm not gonna go five sets with this fucking ball machine!" and you start getting cute with your serve and take less percentage shots.  And that's exactly what Bremen wants you to do.  So you end up beating yourself in five long, grueling sets.  Which is exactly why I lost to Bremen that Sunday afternoon in fucking Dallas!  

     What's worse than losing to Bremen?  Facing my best friends the sports writers after the match...

     "You looked tired out there, Scott.  Was it your match against Templeton yesterday, the long points with Bremen today, or some of the Dallas delovelies you were out with all night?"  

     "Is this true or false, multiple choice, or the 20 point essay question?  Let's just go with "None of the above."  I was bored into submission.  Please, let me take my shower and get out of this oven, okay?"

     "What about your backing out of the challenge match with Courtney at Caesar's Palace?"  

     "C'mon, give me a break already.  You saw the interview with Collins when I mentioned I was going to this foot specialist after Minneapolis next week.  I had bad toes as a kid, long before I ever heard of Courtney.  I'm going to this foot guy who might be able to do something for my condition, so I called off the match to leave a couple of months to heal before the Grand Prix.   I'm sorry bad toes don't sell papers, but that's all I got for you."

     "And it's not because Courtney is on a roll and beating everyone on the circuit?"

     "Look, you know you're gonna write whatever you think will goose your readers, so tell them I'm not afraid of Courtney, it's his mother that's got me paralyzed with fear.  If I beat her little precious I'll have to hire a full time bodyguard to protect me."

     They loved that.  But they also wrote about how my off-the-court activities probably cost me the Bremen match.  Of course, these guys never actually know where I was or what I was doing -- they make it up.  That's their job.  They lie even when they don't know they're telling the fucking truth!


Nick Meglin is a writer living in North Carolina.


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