Friday, April 11, 2008

Mix and Match

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, gives us 23 pages of the history and accomplishments of John McEnroe. McEnroe participated in 24 Grand Slam finals, winning 17 . He was a 3 time singles champion at Wimbledon, a 4 time singles champion at the US Open, a 9 times doubles champion in Grand Slam events and even a winner in a mixed doubles Slam. His epic battles with Bjorn Borg filled our screens and captured our undivided attention. His temper was legendary. He could infuriate us as he sometimes appeared nothing more than a brat, but as an elder statesman of the game he grew on most of us. John McEnroe will turn 50 next February.

Brett Kaplan graduated from Horace Mann and went on to Emory University.He was a tennis player of renown, albeit in a division 3 school. Second singles in his first college year, he was elevated to the first position his last 3 seasons. He was most valuable player on the team his junior and senior years, and garnered all-American division 3 honors in all 4 years of a stellar college career. He has since gone on to success in the business world. Most of his trophies from his days as a tennis star sit in his childhood bedroom.. Brett Kaplan is 29 years old and is my nephew.

This Sunday, McEnroe and Kaplan will square off in a match which I have been eagerly anticipating for many months. Brett is a member of the same New York tennis club as McEnroe. Months ago, Brett was able to work his way through some stiff competition at the club to win its annual championship. The prize for capturing the tournament was more than a pat on the back and a handshake. It was an opportunity to step onto the court against John McEnroe and compete against him.

This seemed to be a big deal for almost no one , except me. For the rest of the world, it was nothing more than a footnote. For McEnroe, and even my nephew, it was an afterthought. Time passed., while business matters, injuries and more pressing issues kept the match from moving forward.

I received a call from my nephew earlier this week. In the course of our conversation, he casually mentioned that he was finally going to be playing McEnroe this Sunday. No discussion of strategy ensued. After a few seconds, the topic of our talk turned to more mundane matters such as his mother's upcoming birthday party and preparations being made for this occasion. When I spoke to his mother ( my sister ) later that day, she said she didn't even know the match was happening.

As Sunday draws nearer, I wonder if Brett is even thinking about how best to attack McEnroe's game. As McEnroe is reaching the half century mark, it would probably help to drop shot him some. Make him move, tire him out. Get him going corner to corner, and make the rallies last until McEnroe can take no more. Brett's youth and vitality should help him scale the mountain.

While my nephew is probably more concerned with whether he has to pick up bagels before of after the match, my mind is focused on the image of Brett readying himself to serve to McEnroe for the first time. In my head, I hear the announcer calling out, " from New York City , New York, former All American at Emory University, Brett Kaplan". Go get him Brett.


Unknown said...

Love it. Thanks a lot Uncle Robby! Hoping it's fun and a good hit this weekend...then maybe we'll hit again and it could be more fodder for the blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert, I think I figured out how to comment... we will see. Anyway, I am impressed about Brett playing with such a tennis star! I think you must really be getting up early in the A.M. Kisses, me