After coming off a strong mahut against Keck, playing King James on the clay courts of Brookhaven on an early Friday morning was highly anticipated. Not only was my tennis game under relative control, but it was my debut to the surface. The surface of the French. The surface of River Oaks in Houston. I wanted to slide like Juan Monaco, dig like Novak, and click the mud off my shoes like Fed. My invitation for an invitation to the only clay courts in Collin County was sent earlier in the week after Keck and Coach Vita were guests of the King. Membership does have it's privileges and being a former member of the Royal Court, The Earl of KOtC5, emboldened me. And envy overtook me. King James accommodated graciously with an invitation. The court was in perfect condition, with the rains of the past week captured in the mud. A thin layer of dirt covered the base clay of the court. Upon arrival, the King was combing the court with a contraption especially designed for the task. Unlike the crew in Houston, we left the lines unswept. Tight net, low 70s, little wind, water jug, large shade trees, new can, efficient warm up, the soft clay. Brent has smooth shots, as we know, and is well practiced. Got me running and my legs got heavy, got me thinking and I had mental breakdowns, hit my serves back for winners. In the end, had a number higher than my most optimistic hope and a number better than the 3-17 beat down King James put on Keck two mornings prior. 21 games into our first Isner Match and I'm down 6-15. All this recent tennis, from attending the U.S. Clay Court Championships in Houston to my continuing tennis schedule, naturally got me thinking of KOtC7 preparations.
King Foster, the unexpected King, should return. His protégée, Prince, won the same amount of games in the afternoon King division of KOtC6. They tied 5-5 in their mahut, eliminating the first tiebreaker. Initially, King Foster insisted the throne be given to Prince, but that idea was abandoned when Keck, the Tournament Administrator, determined that total games from the morning mahuts was the 2nd tiebreaker. Brilliant. Consulting the morning brackets indicated King Foster with one more game than Prince. Every game counting is at the core of the Isner Scoring Method. My 1-9 result against Prince in the morning mattered. A game is a game. For literary effect I was secretly hoping for a King Prince in KOtC6, but it was not to be. Hopefully, Prince will be back too, after a year of Collin College training. He is a physically gifted and talented player. From Klien, near Houston. Ultimately, royalty, any worthy royalty anyway, hates to lose. That will determine the fate of all players. Not in an unhealthy way, understand, just a simmering distaste. This hate can lead to actions that decrease the odds of losing including: practice, training, professional instruction, rest, creative expressions, and equipment adjustments. Can be anything, but it is clearly self motivated. This hate can also lead to actions that increase the odds of losing including: frustration, quitting, cussing, pouting, drinking, and equipment destruction. Self control of mind, body, and tennis spirit. Swing to swing, point to point, game to game, mahut to mahut. We are gathered here today to think through this thing called life. Electric word, life, means forever, and that's a mighty long time. Prince Mardy Feldman, brother of King The Todd, should return if his schedule allows. He fishes in far away oceans, he drives race cars, he has people. Duke Keck, who also serves as Tournament Administrator, will return, of course. His recent callout to Allen Civic Leader and Tennis Ambassador, Justin Quest, for an acceptable summer date will set in motion a series of actions, culminating in the tournament and crowning of royalty. Earl Joe Vita served his time well. Newspaper articles and ads, Golden Circle recognition for his professional efforts, trips to New York, multiple trips to Hawaii. He also protected a 70 year old man from a dangerous raging drunk at Tupps Brewery. His loud and repeated verbal assaults of "sit down and shut up!" was all he needed. Royal as ever. His desent to the Earl after serving as the Duke was, no doubt, humbling. But the life of an a Earl is good. The common royal. Like the 10 of hearts in a Royal straight flush. He' ll be back unless unavoidable conflicts arise.
The invitations will be sent in due time. All the former Kings: King Foster, King Stone, King The Todd, and King James. In time for preparations, better come in shape. Avoid the Jack Sock at any cost. Hydrate and live simply. Should have saw that coming. Juan Monaco came to play in Houston. Coach Vita noticed it after the Quarters. Keck favored Monaco all along. His Aggasian strategy of running the American Sock ragged in the finals paid off. Perhaps it was only a coincidence that Brad Gilbert, former coach of Andre Aggasi, was seen with Juan Monaco during the tournament. We can only speculate, as the busy Gilbert seemed everywhere--pictures with Bush41 in the club, at the USTA booth discussing windows of opportunity and the next great player, on TV. Dig his hat. He seems the modern day Bud Collins, another that has departed here. Probably all on Merle's Silver Wings. Merle, Bud Collins, The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, and Bowie. To glory, because they left their glories behind. Ahh yes, the clay got me thinking. Tennis is peace, even when doves cry.