Usually when people participate in a marathon, they travel great lengths in running 26.2 miles.
That was not the case for one West Holmes tennis player, who pretty much stayed in a 36-by-78 foot box for his marathon.
When Knights’ tennis player John Hipp and Brent Waggle of East Liverpool served it up Monday, May 11 at 9 a.m. at Dover Park during the opening round of the Boys Eastern District Tennis Sectionals, little did they know that they would still be playing each other more than three hours later.
As the other seven courts saw competitors come and go, with three to four matches being played on each one, the two singles players fought valiantly as time passed by for what seemed to be forever.
Finally, after three hours and five minutes of play, Hipp hit a shot to Waggle’s backhand, and the East Liverpool senior hit it wide, giving Hipp a long awaited victory, scoring a 6-7 (7-1), 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) win to advance to the second round of Sectional play.
“I can’t feel my legs,” joked Hipp following the match as teammates congratulated him.
As the two met to shake hands, both seemingly having celebrated several birthdays while the match wore on, it was tough to tell whom the victor was, such was the exhaustion that finally overtook both players.
“I’ve never played that long before, ever,” said Hipp following the marathon.
Hipp dropped the first set, not surprisingly, in a tier-breaker. Why not play extra tennis in a marathon match.
Having fought back to force the first set into a tiebreaker, Hipp quickly fell 7-1 to Waggle to go down a set.
“I was pretty disappointed after that first set,” said Hipp.
Hipp didn’t let that affect him and then won in what a person could only term as a blowout in set two — mainly because it was the only set that didn’t go into a tiebreaker — earning a 6-4 victory to force the third and deciding set.
Hipp took a 5-4 lead and had a pair of match point serves, but couldn’t put Waggle away, as the crafty senior forced yet more extra tennis, tying things up at 6-6.
“I was pleased that I didn’t let myself get down after losing that first set tiebreaker,” said Hipp. “I thought I played well in the second set. I just wish I could have put him away when I had the chance at the end of the third set.”
In the tiebreaker to settle the whole enchilada, Hipp wasted little time in hammering his way to an early lead, simply keeping the ball in play and allowing Waggle to make the mistakes.
Leading 6-1 and needing just one more point, Hipp finally put the match in the win column, and as the two came to center court to shake hands, both looked like they had just completed a marathon, which in a sense, they had. The qualifying time for men to qualify for the Boston Marathon is three hours and five minutes — on the nose.
“That felt amazing to get out to a big lead in the last tiebreaker,” said Hipp. “I was pretty sure it was going to be back and forth like it had been the entire match. That allowed me to let him have to make the shots and I just kind of kept it in play.”
While the win was satisfying, the one negative that came form the marathon was that it pretty much sapped all of the strength out of Hipp, who had to dive into his second round game abut 40 minutes later.
Not even complete exhaustion could quell Hipp’s sense of humor, however.
“Well, I am warmed up now,” he said with a grin as he talked about his upcoming match.
With little left in the tank, Hipp fell to Garrett Davis of Dover in straight sets, but it did little to take away from the thrill of playing what had to be the match of the tournament.
Despite the loss, Hipp had a day that he will certainly remember. The day he did the marathon.