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The Tennis Handsomes

Where the Air Is Sweet

Where the Air Is Sweet
Credit: Simon Williams

I follow the tennis no one else does, the obscure and up-and-coming or never-to-rise. I write about the young Americans. Some days that means I just watch digital scores on my iPhone, refreshing them every few seconds, imagining what the actual match looks like.

The major stuff I watch too, and weeks like this past one are as good as any. The Olympics satisfied all my blockbuster tennis needs, while the Citi Open in Washington, DC, offered up a whole slew of Americans, young and tennis-old, men and women alike. There on Saturday, young Americans Sam Querrey, Vania King, and Sloane Stephens all lost in the semis on the afternoon that veteran Mardy Fish faded, too.

No matter. Sunday morning presented perhaps the most tantalizing match of the year: Andy Murray vs. Roger Federer playing for a gold medal at the Olympics. The storylines here are almost too rich to fathom. Scotsman Murray on hallowed Wimbledon grounds, playing for domestic gold on the site where he lost to Federer (Mr. Probably OK Definitely GOAT) only three weeks ago. There was no match I might possibly want to see more.

But then my friends called and invited me to play doubles, so I turned off the television and left. I was on court when I heard Murray won, serving out my own second set. The best day of international tennis this year? Maybe. I saw almost none of it. The humidity was 85 percent here in Mississippi, and the temperature nowhere near not-hot. But watching tennis is never as good as playing it, even if you almost pass out in the process. Screw the television and the iPhone and watching them and writing about what happens on them. I’ll get back to it tomorrow. Today I played a real match of tennis and I fucking won.

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