Attn: Jake Nelson
March 10, 2003
By STAN…THE TENNISMAN- STAFF WRITER
What Else Could You Ask For?
“Grand Slam” tennis
tournaments are held 4 times a year. They are the Australian Open, U.S. Open,
French Open, and Wimbledon.
These occasions bring together the top players from all over the world. These matches are the most important in a player’s
career. Many matches are remembered and written about for years as part of the history and legacy of the sport.
Just such a match was played this
January at the Australian Open. Andy Roddick, 20 year old American, was playing to gain his first time entry into any Grand
Slam semi-final. Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco
had the same goal in mind. El Aynaoui is a veteran player, 31 years old and had not reached a Grand Slam semi- final either.
They both wanted to gain the next round, they both had the game, mindset, and heart to play even for 4 hours to a 2 sets all
tie. It took a 5th set to declare the winner. Roddick prevailed 21-19 in the epic 5th set. It was not only a long
battle but brilliantly executed by both players and very exciting for the crowd in the stadium.
Along the way both players could
feel the game taking on elements of a match with historic proportions. The final score was 4-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4, 21-19.
The fifth and deciding set ended up being the longest in Grand Slam history in the Open era. It was the longest men’s
singles match at the Australian Open since tiebreaks were introduced.
Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles
Times wrote: “The impeccable level of tennis between Roddick and El Aynaoui was… astounding”. Roddick came
to the net 71 times, winning 62% of those points. El Aynaoui had a match point at 5-4 in the fifth set and played great, only
to watch Roddick hit a sensational winner. He had match point again at the 10th game of the 5th set.
Roddick again rose to the occasion and came back to win the game. Roddick totaled 27 aces to Aynaoui’s 25 but double-faulted
only twice. El Aynaoui’s first serve was in 71% of the time.
The crowd stayed on the edge
of their seats late into the night and watched as the two battle-weary fighters played scintillating tennis, fought hard,
and after the deciding point hugged at the net during the traditional handshake. The enthusiastic crowd continued a prolonged
standing ovation, Roddick went back over to El Aynaoui, clasped his hand and the two paid tribute to the fans. They had experienced
83 passionate and meticulous games. The final set alone took 2 hours and 23 minutes. Mary Carillo, world-class player, pro
tour member and champion, commented during the 4th set, “This match has just the right combination of touch,
power, comedy, scholarship and entertainment”. What else could you ask for?
I believe the sport of Tennis has
much to offer on many levels. The game offers opportunities to make friends, get exercise, gain confidence, enjoy the out
of doors and see people stretch themselves into doing better and better in many ways. I urge you to take every opportunity
yourself to enjoy the sport and teach others to enjoy it along the way. Make an effort to play the game; watch others play,
watch top players play in tournaments, college matches, and pro matches. Watch on TV. Record the action so you can enjoy it
later with someone else, or study for habits of mental concentration, adaptation to circumstances, physical and mental strength
and stamina. What more could you as ask for in a sport?
Tip of the month:
Start out at any age level helping
children develop at as athletes. Play catch and throw. If they are too young then roll the ball back and forth. Any ball.
Change sizes until the child is comfortable. Pay attention to the smiles and laughs.
For further information or
instruction, contact Stan Carter, USPTA certified professional, at the Flint Canyon Tennis Club: 818-790-3355 or 213-321-8699. You are invited to please email questions and comments to Info@StanTheTennisman.com.