Much less just chill [Backstage interlude in the League of Tennis Professionals]


0% chill

[part 2, full story will soon be available at Lulu]

There are two numbers there, on the screen, signifying the fifth set but he, RF, cannot make sense of them. He feels like laughing or crying or even both. The diversity of momentum sequences which a set or match follows is so staggering that it is often beyond anybody’s mental capacity. What can be done by players in interviews is pluck out what subjectively appear as big points and then give a coherent account of how these influenced the subsequent interaction. Big points are very important indeed but, and herein lies part of the beauty of the sport, no matter how many big points one wins it is never enough if one does not win the last point, the match-point. Winning the match-point is closure and culmination, it is not a big point, it is the biggest point. And the match point, as soon as one starts taking a closer look, is a strange phenomenon. It is absolutely certain that in terms of counting it is just one point, one. But in terms of significance of points it is absolute: the person who wins it has one the match, basta.

And its total value varies, which is to say, if you count all the points that each player has won the score could be 103:112 with the latter player having match-ball and winning. In this case it is one more point. But if the 103-player has match point, which in Tennis is possible, then winning it is effectively asserting that the match point was worth at least 10 points. This difference can be bigger or smaller, negative or positive: the match point is a mathematical trickster.

Back to the point about momentum: the journalists will make their own rationalizations or patterns of explanation, ones they consider interesting for the audience “back home”. Often these show why they are, at the professional level, wielding pens/keyboards/mics instead of sticks. The exception is the slew of ex-LTP members turned analysts who cannot manage the escape velocity necessary to escape the gravity of planet pro sports.

Many, maybe even most players find it hard to believe that the media get away with their questions. It is an unspoken understanding that if the press conferences were staffed by passionate crowd members and players themselves asking their sweaty peers what just happened out there [with all the nuances of somebody who is invested in the sport], that if it all went down in such a familial way the results would be much, much more pleasing.

The white length of lint seems to say “J’accuse”. He flicks it toward the deep-pile carpet, dark green and purple. At the center of this room of the locker is the emblem of crossed racquets. In this country it suggests that the well-remunerated tennis professionals are modern-day knights and their competition chivalric. He glances to his subjective right then looks and holds long enough for it to become a stare. A few steps away, forward and to the right when he is facing in the direction of the three TVs is the next leathery monster. Nestled into reclines AM. You can see the pressure bearing down on him, pressing him deeper into the couch, an entire island of people expecting him to finally come through on behalf of the nation, history, as well as other abstractions. RF wonders if AM will ever justify his talent. But what would that mean other than going all the way at Wimbledon? Winning a couple of Slams? Being numero uno for a few months?

AM and RF are not that close. Not due to competitive history gone sour, just a certain baseline incompatibility of character that lets uncomfortable silences descend more often than what would make casually associating something to proactively seek out. They do not have each other’s numbers. RF studies AM large orange, metalloid coif. He thinks there is something fierce and warrior-like about red hairs that always makes him think about battlefields and the shedding of blood. Way before civilizations learned to sublimate a certain subset of violent emotions via not-lethal athletic competition. Is this an advantage or disadvantage?

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About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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