The Tennis Curmudgeon

The Week – Part Eleven
September 23, 2013, 12:03 am
Filed under: Tennis, Tennis Curmudgeon, The Tennis Curmudgeon | Tags: , ,

“Where’s Deltoro?” A press assistant asked me.

“I think he’s getting an MRI.” To this day I don’t know why I lied. I guess it’s second nature to protect your fellow player. No matter how much of a dick he is.

“Great.” She says. “Now the presser will just be you.” She catches herself but I smile.

“I know! I’d be pissed if I only had me to rely on.”

Sheepishly she leads me to the press room. Hey look! Some of my old buddies! It’s less claustrophobic than last time. Less urgent. The press assistant hurries to the front and takes off Guillermo’s name card.

“Guillermo Deltoro was rushed to the hospital for an MRI so will not be available.” She hurries to the back of the room knowing full well Guillermo’s escape will be blamed on her. That’s totally not fair. A super max prison wouldn’t have stopped him from escaping.

I’m looking over the crowd and I’m getting a different vibe than last time. Yesterday (damn, that seemed so long ago) was jovial. We were all in it together. It was an odd sidebar story that would last once cycle. But today it seemed as if a few people out there were pissed at me. And it didn’t take long to prove me right.

“Is your streak,” he said bending the word streak until it sounded like it was sullying the good name of streaking. “Somewhat fraudulent? Having played little more than an amateur in the first match and someone clearly not giving his all today?”

“Wow, you’re a hard hitting journalist, ain’t ya?” I say looking at Tyler in the back next to the press assistant. He’s imploring me not to screw this up.

“I appreciate the question.” I lie. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know. Do I feel I did everything I could to win all the games? Yes. I can’t speak for either opponent nor would it be fair of me to speculate. But I do wish Guillermo a speedy recovery.” He was spotted later that evening dancing in Miami Beach.

“Do you think your record of fifty-two points in a row will have an asterisk beside it?”

“Like it was a juicer? I don’t get the question. I have no idea what kind of book it would be in. The big book of freakish events? As far as any blemish, that’s not up to me. All I know is I hit the tennis ball, they hit the tennis ball, I hit the tennis ball then the tennis ball does not come back. I do that over and over until the outcome reverses. Turns out I did it fifty-two times before it reversed itself.”

“What was the deal with you two coming into the stadium?” At first I had no idea what he was talking about. I figured word got out about the argument.

“We had some words in the locker room. He felt, understandably, upset that our match was rescheduled. It was nothing.”

“Then why was he swearing at you in Spanish while you recited Ninety-Nine Red Balloons in German?”

“Oh, that. I totally forgot about that.” And it’s true. That too seems so long ago.

“Why that song?” Asked the ESPN reporter.

“Why not? It’s a classic. So moving in the original German, don’t you think?” A few reporters started talking over one another and it became sort of chaotic for a few seconds.

“Hold on, hold on. I’ll do my best to explain but, again, I can only do it from my point of view. Willie was pissed, he’s screaming words I don’t understand, so knowing he speaks English, I figured I’d yell at him with words he didn’t understand.” I pause and look around. Some don’t seem to be buying it. “It made sense at the time.”

“You speak German?”

“No. I know how to count to ten, say I love you and the lyrics to Ninety-Nine Red Balloons. Trust me, it’s weird to tell some guy swearing at you you love him.” Some people laugh.

“Listen, it’s been a weird couple of days for me. I was trying to do my job to the best of my ability. To do that I knew I’d have to block out all his noise so chose the immortal words of Nena.”

Looking back I know why they focused on our entrance. Later when I saw the video I thought it was hilarious. It worked much better online where they didn’t bleep out his swearing. They didn’t have much of a match to ask about. But I was amazed they thought I was pulling something over on them.

“Anyone want to ask me about tennis?” I said after a few more questions. Each more a little more precise as if they were trying to catch me in some conspiracy. Like we all got together and decided I’d pull off some stunt. “Okay, thanks everyone, that’s my time.”

I walked out with some reporters still asking me questions. I look at the press assistant, whose name I come to learn is Naomi, and say,

“I do not envy your job. Those people are animals.”

“Tell me about it.” She says following me out.


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