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BROWN: In over my head against a tennis pro

By Victoria Advocate
March 2, 2013 at 11:05 p.m.
Updated March 1, 2013 at 9:02 p.m.

Tennis professional Philip Perez readies to hit a shot against sports reporter Will Brown. The tennis pro won, 6-0, 6-1.

My tennis game can be filtered down to three Fs: forehand, foot speed, first serve. When those are on I believe I can beat anyone.

That is what led me to challenging Philip Perez to a tennis match last month. I was arrogant enough to believe I could massacre him. Instead, I went back to my office looking like Gen. George Armstrong Custer.

Somewhere Bobby Riggs is laughing at my hubris.

However, this bespectacled tennis player was not nearly as competitive in his challenge match. Perez beat me 6-0, 6-1 on a sunny afternoon at the Victoria Country Club.

The contest was not nearly as close as the score indicated.

I realized I was in trouble in the second game when I had three game points and still couldn't close it out. That has never happened to me, at least when I was being serious.

There were other chances to make a game competitive in the first set, but the first serve eliminated any chance of that. Philip's first serve, as well as my inability to constantly test him with mine, meant the points were as quick as my urge to fling my racket.

Philip was far classier than I would have been throughout this ordeal. He praised my decent shots, didn't showboat when he smacked easy winners and humbly gave me the benefit of the doubt on calls that may have been close.

The first time he said "good shot," I almost wanted to sneer in contempt. As the match wore on, and it became obvious he could have won far easier than he did, I accepted his crumbles of congratulations when I could get them.

The mark of a good player, in any sport, is recognizing a weakness and attacking it time and again. This is what Philip did. He quickly recognized there is no "F" in the word backhand.

His first serve of the match was to my forehand. After that, I remember a steady dose of serves with heavy topspin to my fragile backhand. (Perhaps there is a F with backhand after all.)

Yes, there is a hole in my one-and-half-hand backhand. Yes, my mind wonders in serve receive. No, I am not patient when it comes to constructing points.

Those things were as apparent as one of Victoria Azarenka's orgasmic shrieks after producing a routine winner. I know it. Philip knew it.

One of us was talented enough to take advantage. The other couldn't compensate. The score clearly indicated which was which.

When it was all said and done, and after my wife enjoyed laughing at my misplaced bravado, I sent a text featuring a combination of self-deprecating humor and blunt honesty to family and friends about the experience.

"(Will) decided to challenge a local tennis pro to a match.

(Will) decided it would be a good idea to put this match on camera.

(Will) pitched the idea to his editor.

(Will's) editor liked the idea.

(Will) got beat 6-0, 6-1.

(Will) is humbled."

The text alone would have served as a sufficient essay about the experience. Though I am certain my editors - the ones who loved the idea of videotaping this public ego deflation and tennis pro appreciation - would have produced a few other F-words about that.

Will Brown is a sports reporter for the Victoria Advocate.

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