Well, as you may know, Nicolas (Zoltan83) has invaded the little town of New York City, and the place will never be the same again. He joined me for a classic set of tennis this afternoon. This battle of Zoltan and Q, a.k.a. the battle of 10-point Scrabble letters, was the most anticipated match-up since King vs. Riggs. The spectators were lined up for hours to get tickets to this epic match-up (OK, there weren’t really any spectators except for a few voyeur jogger types, but let’s include them because they really augment the story!)
Q and Z prepared their legendary legs for this encounter by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and through half of the city of New York for about 5 hours. After this point they felt sufficiently warmed-up. But just in case they weren’t yet ready, they ran themselves ragged by hitting on a spare court for 45 minutes before their scheduled time! They felt fresh!
The racquet spin was won by Z. He chose to serve. Q immediately understood why Z made this decision. You see, Z’s serve is… well, um… let’s say, it doesn’t suck! First game was won by Z at 15.
Q was a bit worried about his much-less-formidable serve, but fortunately Z decided to slam a few returns into the net and Q held at 15.
In the next service game of Z, Q’s returns were sharp and blunt. It wasn’t pretty. Q’s returns made Brad Gilbert look like Pierre-Auguste Renoir. But he did indeed jab some returns back. Nonetheless, with great flair, he still lost the game at 15.
Q served the fourth game and held at 15. A gentle breeze blew over the court, toying with his loopy groundstrokes. It was the breeze generated by the collective yawn of the crowd, watching the most boring match yet executed by humankind.
At 3-3 there was a most spectacular point! Z approached the net, and Q hit a phenomenal lob. The lob was nearly as high as Z’s shoulder! Z smashed the thing into oblivion and won the point.
Play continued in this manner until 4-4. Then things got interesting.
Q got his racquet on the ball and sliced back a couple of returns to bring a shaky Z to *4-4, 0-30. But Z managed to bomb two service winners to bring the score to 30-30. Then Q did the unthinkable. He approached the net. The crowd gasped. The press was stopped. Two air force jets were dispatched. This was unprecedented stuff. Q struck a forehand down the line and Zoltan just got to it with his backhand, but the return was not high enough. Q’s forehand volley slid crosscourt and out of Z’s reach. Break point! Unfortunately for Q, Z’s next three points were solid. 5-4.
Q lost the first three points of the next game and the score was 0-40. Three set points for Z! Then Q became a mental giant (albeit fleetingly). First point, service winner. Second point, Q runs to net and scoops up a half-volley, dropping it with sidespin near the sideline, out of Z’s reach. Hello Pete Sampras!! The crowd goes wild! “The Dropper!” cries Patrick McEnroe. The third break point is saved by a clean ace by Q out wide. This shot is not in Q’s arsenal. He clearly channeled it from Mars. Sometimes, mistiming is perfect timing! Deuce, then ad in. At this point Q closes in behind a strong crosscourt forehand to the corner, and Z replies with a flawless passing shot which dips over the net to Q’s forehand side. Too good! But Q manages to pull out the next two points. 5-5.
Now it is Z’s turn for “showtime!” Q slices a great return to Z’s backhand, and Z responds with… no! it can’t be! Another half-volley dropshot winner! Who’s Pete Sampras now, suckah?!! “The dropper!” cries Pmac! “Will you shut up for once?!” cries Cliff Drysdale. Z holds for 6-5.
Q plays a fairly solid game to get to 40-15, but Z reels off two smart points to bring it to deuce. Then Q floats a forehand about a foot beyond the corner. Let the record show: if the court were a foot longer and wider, that ball would have been good!!! Now it’s set point. Z plays this point ultra conservatively. Doh! Q wiffs a forehand into the net. Hellen Keller could have hit a better forehand than that! Z wins the set!! 7-5!!!! For Fee’s benefit, here are a few more exclamation points!!!!!!! It was just in time, too, because it was one minute after the hour and the next players were ready to play. Z and Q recouped from the match over some beers and wine and margaritas. The End.