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"It was the worst day of my life."
September 24, 2009 8:15 PM   Subscribe

25 years ago today, Vicki Dunbar Nelson and Jean Hepner played the longest tournament rally in tennis history, lasting 29 minutes and 642 shots (SLNYT).

NPR interview with Ms. Nelson, 25 years later.

The longest non-tournament rally was accomplished by the Rossetti Brothers in 2008, with 25,944 strokes over 14 hours and 31 minutes.
posted by Lutoslawski (24 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've seen entire women's tennis matches last less than 29 minutes! Woah.
posted by crossoverman at 8:28 PM on September 24, 2009


I took lessons from a woman who played about the same time as these two, and in her clinics she had a drill to get us to learn not to over hit, by having us rally at 3/4 of the pace that we would normally play and learn to keep a long sustained rally going. I would tease her with "look, it's the ladies' game".

I'll take the screaming and grunting of today's tennis over this.

Cool FPP. Thanks.
posted by Edward L at 8:34 PM on September 24, 2009


“She told me it was the worst day of her life,” he recalled. “I asked her if she lost, and she said no, she won, but she had just gotten off the court. I told her to imagine how Jean felt.”

hell, how do you think the ball felt?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 PM on September 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


Funny how this happened at a tennis tournament sponsored by a cigarette company.
posted by grounded at 9:06 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm curious; who counted the number of times the ball crossed the net? Is there an official at tennis matches who does this?
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:34 PM on September 24, 2009


I'm curious; who counted the number of times the ball crossed the net? Is there an official at tennis matches who does this?


John Packett, who covered the match for The Richmond Times-Dispatch, had the foresight to keep track of the strokes, explaining, “I started counting because the rallies were going so long, you had to figure, Who knows how long these points are going to last?”

Right there in the article.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:47 PM on September 24, 2009


TTC for the reading comprehension fail. Still, it seems odd that Packett bothered.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:03 PM on September 24, 2009


Yeah, it seems like watching the whole thing would be about as exciting as watching an equally long Pong rally. Unless, people all gradually became hypnotized and entered into some kind of sped up consciousness where they could track all the motion in the same way a bird of prey or dragonfly could. That would be kind of interesting.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:11 PM on September 24, 2009


Also, those Rosetti brothers went over 14 hours without taking a leak.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:23 PM on September 24, 2009


Also, those Rosetti brothers went over 14 hours without taking a leak.

Correct. But little known fact is that one of the brothers filled his pants big time, and spent the last few hours with a load in his briefs. I'll see if I can find a link.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:38 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


They wore adult diapers on at least one attempt. I'm not going to hunt around too much more in search results that may cross over into some kind of weird scat sports, but the dropping a load story could very well be a rumor.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:52 PM on September 24, 2009


Yeah, I made that up.

I was being faecesious.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:10 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do you misspell puerile as well?
posted by Sitegeist at 12:28 AM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find it quite curious that the Rossetti's actually had more (a *lot* more) strokes per minute, 29.8 vs. 22.1. I'd have thought the Rossetti's would be hitting slow, easy to return shots (they were going for a record, not trying to beat each other), while Nelson and Hepner would be hitting fast, (hopefully) hard to return shots (the article does say they were hitting lobs, but I'd imagine even then they'd be trying to win the point). Maybe I just don't know how tennis works (or maybe math, if I screwed up the strokes/minute calculations, but I think they're right).
posted by blm at 12:36 AM on September 25, 2009


Do you misspell puerile as well?

Nope, but someone sure missed an obvious joke.

Hey Burhanistan, if they wore nappies during at least one attempt, then maybe they did take a leak? I'm guessing you meant a leak break?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:55 AM on September 25, 2009


Nope, but someone sure missed an obvious joke.

Unfortunately, I think it was you who missed the pooerile joke.
posted by explosion at 3:51 AM on September 25, 2009


I think they're embarassed because it shouldn't have gone on that long. Neither were trying hard to play a winning shot, hence the lobs and the low strokes per minute.
posted by RufusW at 5:17 AM on September 25, 2009


Cool.

I haven't watched the whole thing (ahem), but I hope it goes like that Crusaders version of So Far Away, where Wilton Felder holds that note for, literally, a minute plus, and about tens seconds in (which is already unusually long!) people clap a little bit and they just get more astonished and delighted in waves until finally they are cheering, and he keeps playing even after that. It starts at about the 2:00 mark.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:14 AM on September 25, 2009


"Nelson-Dunbar turned 22 minutes after the match ended..." Wow. She was young, wasn't she?
posted by Splunge at 6:47 AM on September 25, 2009


After winning the point, Nelson-Dunbar collapsed with cramps in her legs. The chair umpire, who apparently maintained consciousness throughout the 643-stroke point, actually called a time-violation warning

It's amazing to me how assholic people become when they get a taste of power.
posted by digsrus at 7:06 AM on September 25, 2009


Hey Burhanistan, if they wore nappies during at least one attempt, then maybe they did take a leak?

That's a thought exercise best left to the discretion of the reader.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:54 AM on September 25, 2009


"Nelson-Dunbar turned 22 minutes after the match ended..." Wow. She was young, wasn't she?

Yeah, it took me a few tries before I figured out what that sentence actually said.
posted by blm at 9:47 AM on September 25, 2009


Unfortunately, I think it was you who missed the pooerile joke.

Well played, sir!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:26 PM on September 25, 2009


"It's amazing to me how assholic people become when they get a taste of power."

It's tournament play. If they don't do their job then the opposing player has legitimate grounds to file a protest/grievance.
posted by Mitheral at 1:17 AM on September 26, 2009


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