The Tennis Handsomes

Bleak House

Bleak House
Credit: Hannah Swithinbank

O loss! On the fresh grass of Wimbledon! And I don’t mean Rafael Nadal. Remember, this is the place to which you come to read about players about whom no one cares. Except for me. And you too—or at least your future self. Because I’m talking about the losses of young Americans, the players who will not lose as much next year, and so on and so on until we are talking about their wins.

Our young heroes’ current standings are low:

Melanie Oudin lost her first match;
Donald Young lost his first match;
John Inser lost his first match;
Ryan Harrison lost his second match;
and Sloane Stephens lost her third.

But all is not as it seems. A few of these were what they call in the biz “good” losses.

Stephens can’t complain about making the third round, even if she should have won the match. Oudin put up a good fight, and lost in three. Harrison also put up a damn good fight—to the No. 1 player in the world, Novak Djokovic, nonetheless. Harrison looked outclassed not at all, and, in the final game, though he knelt down, cocked his fist, and almost punched the grass, he stopped himself short. I don’t think he was that pissed off, which is saying something.

And then Sam Querrey! Oh Sam, your poor infected umbilical cord has surely healed! He made it to the third round and played the second-longest match ever seen at the All England Club. But then … he lost.

Loss, loss, loss, and loss. Only one player can win each tournament, I know, but so many can seize and break my heart. I’ll comfort myself by rooting for Belmont University assistant tennis coach Brian Baker, who isn’t so young (27), but is playing essentially his first real year on the tour after a grocery list of surgeries, and has now made it to the second week. The only thing I love more than a good loss? A comeback.

Nic Brown is the author of the novel Doubles and the story collection Floodmarkers. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Harvard Review, and Epoch, among many other publications. He is currently the John and Renee Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. More by Nic Brown