Friday, September 09, 2005

The A-Train Rolls On

     I love tennis. I started playing when I was very young because my two sisters played. I started getting up early to watch Wimbledon when I was maybe seven years old. I had my first Wilson Jr. racket about that age as well. I played through high school and college. In 1992 I clocked a 107 MPH serve. In 1994 I hurt my back playing on the 4th of July. In 1996 I went to Vegas to see a Davis Cup match between the US and Sweden.
     So of course growing up when I did, I was a big fan of the great American players of that time: Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Jim Courier, and of course Andre Agassi. Agassi has always been my favorite player. I had some of his Nikes when I was in high school (the black ones with the hot-pink soles.) I’ll never forget when he won Wimbledon in 1992.
     I don’t watch a lot of sports on TV these days. That’s part of being married and having kids. Usually I watch ESPN News (muted) each night when I put my son to sleep. That’s what I was doing Wednesday night, when I saw on the ticker that Andre Agassi and James Blake were in a fifth set at the US Open. I immediately got my wife to change the channel (my hands were full with my son.) Luckily I was just in time for the fifth set tiebreaker.
     All I could say was wow. Tennis does not get any better than that. For that matter, sports don’t get any better than that. It was all I could do not to start yelling and jumping up and down watching that – I was putting my toddler to bed, so that would not have been productive!
That’s what is so great about sports. It made me want to jump up and down and yell triumphantly as Agassi crushed a forehand winner on match point. It’s the ultimate diversion from reality. Just moments before when Blake saved a match point, it reminded me of Agassi losing to Pete Sampras in the semifinals of the 2001 US Open – a match that was probably the best tennis either could play. Then just a minute or so later, Agassi’s victory brought back the joy of seeing him win Wimbledon in 1992. It’s like the old ABC Wide World of Sports theme: “the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.” It’s those two sides of competition that make sports so memorable and enjoyable.

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