Every great tennis player needs a rival to elevate his game. Sampras had Agassi, Federer has Nadal and I have a 40 year old gay man from Long Beach who is ranked #1 in my internet tennis league.
The first time I met Jerry he told me to meet him at night at courts that didn’t have lights. We relocated to the courts on Riverside Drive where before our match I stretched my quads and he stood over my shoulder jumping rope. I just thought “There is no way I can lose to this guy.”
Not only did he beat me decisively in the first set, but up 30-love he stops the point, and says, “Sorry, but I gotta pee” and runs off the court.
I’ve never seen anyone pee in between points. A brilliant psych out. Thereafter, each time I threw the ball in the air to serve I wondered if I too had to pee. I even farted chasing a backhand.
Our second match I kept it closer by driving the ball down the alley and incorporating my drop shot, but on a crucial break-point his forehand may have grazed the line, but it was too close to call.
“Was it in?” He asked.
“I couldn’t see. Why don’t we replay the point?”
To which he replied, “According to USTA rules if you aren’t sure, the point goes to the other player.”
What does the USTA say about peeing midpoint? I gave him the point. Besides as a line judge who can’t see at night, I’m sure I already called half of his winners, “Deep!”
Our third match I came ready to avenge my previous losses in my favorite hot dog tee shirt. He wasn’t psyched out.
“Have you been playing a lot?” he asked me.
“Here and there. You?”
“I’ve been playing in a lot of tournaments.”
“Oh, that’s cool” I remarked.
“It’s not just for gays. Straights can play too.”
I don’t see myself earning a trophy inscribed ELLIOT STEINGART, GAY TENNIS CHAMPION!! I already can’t beat one homosexual. I doubt I can beat a whole bracket full.
In between sets Jerry began eating chips. “Want some chips?” He offered.
“I’m good, thanks.”
I checked my phone and saw a text from Lori who I’ve taken out on three dates. Lori postponed our forth date, pizza and a Red Box at my place.
“Want to go see a movie in the theaters next week?” She texted.
I threw my raquet to the ground. “Women!” I said to Jerry.
“What’s wrong?” He inquired.
“She wants to go to the movies on our fourth date, but she still hasn’t come over. At this point I’d like to have her over instead of doing another activity.”
“You mean come over to have sex?”
“Yea, don’t get me wrong I love activities, but I prefer sex.”
“Why don’t you go on Craigslist?”
An interesting and unexpected suggestion. “I’ve found apartments, jobs, and roommates off craigslist, but never sex. Why? Have you?”
“F*ck yea!” He exclaimed.
When my tennis rival isn’t hitting to my backhand he is soliciting gay sex on Craiglist. He’s very strategic, i’ll give him that.
“I don’t know if I’ve reached that point. I don’t want any weirdos coming to my place.”
“One time I brought someone back that was weird, but it’s not like he had a knife or anything.”
I can always keep my tennis racquet close by if I get into trouble.
Our third match was a battle. Long rallies, aces, slams, and the time I called myself “a son of a dick” for missing an open winner.
1st set: 3-6,
2nd set: 6-4,
3rd set: 2-4
Before we could finish our third set a husband and wife stepped onto the court signaling our time was up . Had we not been talking about finding sexual partners on craigslist I would have earned the W. It’s fine. I’ll concede losing to Jerry even if it means the end of our rivalry. Besides, I can always find tennis partners on Craigslist.