Monday, July 7, 2008

I'll Bet He's Had More Memorable Athletic Moments

So, I hear that the Gentlemen's Singles Final at Wimbledon yesterday was pretty good. Once upon a time I would absolutely have made sure to watch it. I was captain of my high school tennis team back in the day and a big fan of second-tier players like Yannick Noah and Pat Cash. I even had a picture of Cash on the dashboard of my car for some awkward man-crush reason. I used to have fairly long hair and wore a ridiculous checkered headband like him when I played, so maybe I thought we had some sort of bond.

My family used to spend a week in Lake Placid every summer. I remember all of us going to the public courts there together when I was younger and my parents would play each other while my sister and I just goofed around. When I got older I'd often just take my racket and a can of balls and go by myself to hit against the boards.

On one such day in the summer of 1987, there was another guy there doing the same thing. Sort of an awkward dude with a moustache and big glasses. Playing against someone else is always more fun, so we introduced ourselves. In a British accent he told me that his name was Eddie and that he was training for the Olympics.

I was less impressed by this than you might think. Lake Placid is home to a U.S. Olympic Training Center, and running into Olympic hopefuls there was sort of like running into actors in Los Angeles. So I just nodded. I didn't even ask what event he was training for. He looked more like a member of the A-V club than a jock, anyway.

We hit for a while and then decided to play an actual match, which I won pretty handily. Something like 6-2, 6-3. I thanked him for the match and he mentioned that there was a doubles tournament coming up in a few days at the local Holiday Inn, and asked if I would be interested in being his partner. I had nothing going on, so I said sure and gave him the number where I was staying.

He called that evening to say that the tournament was unfortunately full, and we couldn't work out another time to play again before I was headed back home. So that was the last I ever saw of Eddie. Or so I thought...

Jump ahead seven months to February and I did see Eddie again after all. On TV, competing in the ski-jumping event at the Winter Olympics in Calgary where he captured the hearts of the world. Yup, I had played tennis with Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards.

So in addition to winning a race against an NFL quarterback, I can add beating an Olympian in tennis to my lengthy list of proud athletic accomplishments. I'll take some comfort in those feats as I'm rehabbing from my upcoming wrist surgery.

Like a lot of people, tennis fell off my must-see sporting event list a while ago. From what I hear about yesterday's five-set epic between Nadal and Federer, I missed out on a doozy yesterday.

I'll say this much, though -- if Eddie ever jumps again, I'll be glued to the set.

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