The Tennis Handsomes

Fresh Meat

Fresh Meat
Credit: John Togasaki

Oh, the stuff of legend! Young Americans make good! Young Americans break down! And not-so-young Argentinians draw real human blood! It was a very good week in the world of unwatched tennis.

Let us start with big goofy Sam Querrey, who made it to the semis on the grass courts at Queens. What a run, after doing almost nothing all year other than avoiding glass tables and belly button lint. (I’m again referencing his fall through a glass table and subsequent umbilical cord infection, because one cannot mention either too many times.) It’s a perfect time for him to peak. His big serve gives him a chance to do something at Wimbledon if he’s playing well, and this week he was.

But but but. In the semis, Querrey missed a lot of break points, in a game that will probably haunt him for the next million hours. Nine break points! In one game! This might be a record. He then proceeded to lose the set, then take the next, but the match slipped away in three. I can imagine what was distracting him.

Marin Cilic, to whom Querrey eventually lost the match, went on to win the whole tournament in even more spectacular fashion yesterday. Cilic was losing when his opponent, the lupine Argentine veteran David Nalbandian, began raging over a bad ground stroke and kicked the wooden barrier around a line judge so hard that the barrier broke, flying in pieces into the judge’s shins and actually drawing blood. Nalbandian was summarily disqualified. Game, set, match—Cilic. 

Poor Querrey. He could have used an easy title win like that. But maybe those nine wasted break points are the reason for the rumors that the 2012 U.S. Olympic team will not include him; tweet has it that Ryan Harrison and Donald Young are going to join Roddick and Isner at the games, not Querrey. It was a bad good week for him, though more good than bad.

And now, Melanie Oudin! Qualified in Birmingham, made it through the early rounds, played a close one with another American out of Georgia, Irina Falconi, in quarters, then proceeded to the final. Out of the qualifier! Then, just this morning, against Jelena Jankovic, the former world No. 1 (and current No. 22), Oudin won her first Women's Tennis Association title ever. She’s on a fast track to exit the 200s and enter top 50 in the world, perhaps in the next few weeks. My heart is aflutter.

Last week a Perrier sign, this week the shins of a line judge; what will break or bleed next week?

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