I have played a lot of tennis in my life. I played in high school and college, even earned my certification as a teaching professional.
I have also watched a lot of tennis in my life. Have you ever seen tennis on TV and thought to yourself, “I could rally with that guy.”? Well, you’d be wrong. You can’t. I know this because I just played in the US Open National Playoff and it was simply one of the most humbling experiences of my adult life.
The tournament in Norman, Oklahoma was one of 16 sectional tournaments held across the country. The 16 winners then play in a national tournament with the champion earning a berth into the qualifying draw of the US Open. Yes, the actual US Open. You know, New York City, tennis under the lights, Alec Baldwin sitting courtside? That US Open.
Because it’s a truly open event, many spots in the draw are occupied by chuckleheads like me who tell themselves they can hold their own (even though they can’t) and may just be delusional enough to believe they can win a few matches (even though they won’t).
The other spots are filled by top ranked juniors, big time college players, and guys who have actually been in professional matches. All of them possess something I do not: real, God-given ability.
When I looked at the draw a week before the tournament, I saw my name paired up against Jackson Withrow. Jackson is a 19-year old from Omaha, Nebraska and he just happens to be a freak. He was a top ten player in the Missouri Valley (a five state section), and a nationally ranked junior who was then recruited heavily by some of the biggest tennis powerhouses in the country before settling for a scholarship to Texas A&M. This was going to be ugly.