To Serve With Love

Trying to rise in the ranks of worldwide tennis, dozens of professional athletes, including Carly Gullickson, descend on Boar’s Head

My coverage of the 2009 Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic tennis tournament, where I spent a week shadowing one player.

Out on the clay courts of the Boar’s Head Inn, a smoky-eyed Indian woman built like a model grunts loudly and slams the ball over the net. Boom! WaaUNGH! Boom! The 90-degree air is thick with pollen, and this player, one of 58 athletes that arrived in town last week for Boyd Tinsley’s invitational tennis tournament, stops between shots and doubles over. She pulls in great, shrieking breaths and lets long ropes of spit drop from her mouth. Then she straightens up, bouncing back and forth on the balls of her feet before letting loose with another monster serve. Boom! WaaaUNGH! On another court, a player is stretched out on the ground under an umbrella. Ice packs on her head, she’s being force-fed liquids. After a while she gets up and goes through the motions of finishing her match. She walks off looking like she just survived an eight-car pile-up. Read the rest of the story.