Last week I had the unbelievable opportunity from Mercedes Benz to play tennis with Roger Federer, the number one men’s tennis player in the world. And, admittedly, the ultimate sports crush.
Talk about the opportunity of a lifetime and the highlight of my (very) amateur tennis career. Sure, I play here and there. I enjoy the game as much as any other casual player. If you ask me to join your round robin, I’ll gladly oblige. But when presented with the opportunity to show my stuff at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center–home of the US Open–in front of theRoger Federer? Well, let’s say I experienced a bit of fit crasher stage fright.
Thankfully, the two hour clinic included players with a range of abilities, and we had an extended warm up at the beginning to work out any major kinks. Well, at least try to. A huge “thank you” to the USTA tennis coaches who did their best to help me tame my wild backhand. My apologies to each of them for what probably seemed less like groundstroke drills and more like target practice.
After our warm up, the champion himself arrived.
Since there were quite a few folks present, we split up into teams and competed for about 45 minutes in a series of games. I didn’t think my luck could get any better, but somehow the fitness fates were smiling on me and I was picked by the man himself to be on Federer’s team.
His game is incredibly impressive on TV. But seeing it up close? Truly unreal. His skill. His speed. His grace. I swear I saw time itself suspend as it waited patiently for him to run over to an errant ball.
But more impressive than his game was the fact that he presented himself as a true team player and overall nice guy. He cheered us on as we attempted to get basic shots over the net. Encouraged us when we missed. Goofed around with the smaller kids and high-fived the older ones. We all had a blast. And we all had to pause in the middle of it and think, holy cow, that’s Roger Federer.
The whole experience ranks at the very top of my all-time favorite fit crash so far.
Thank you, Mercedes Benz, for inviting me to take part in the day, and best of luck to my teammate and tennis champ Roger Federer as he takes on the US Open!