The Fifth Set – Match Point

Whether the surface is a hard one or made of red clay or manicured green grass, the goal is the same: to win.  To beat someone.  To play better, smarter and mentally tougher than the opponent.  To be more physical and aggressive.  To charge the net when an opening appears.  To cover the baseline when the shots go deep against you.  The court is a battlefield and the scales of justice are often tipped by net cords and fractions of inches along white lines.  The game is tennis.

For men who play singles, the winner is usually required to win two of three sets.  In Grand Slam events, however, the rules change to three of five sets to determine the champion.  If each man wins two sets, a fifth set is played.  The fifth set is often the scene of one man’s surrender and loss to another man’s courage and inner strength.  The first four sets are evenly played, but the last one is too much for the body or mind or will or all of the above for one of the guys and the desire to win or to not lose drives his opponent to victory.

I love fifth sets.  I particularly like them when they are close and long, and I’m not even paying for my seat in front of the television set.  Nope, I’m watching for free, but I have the Deluxe Box seats and have seen my share of Grand Slams in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York City.  From my ABCs of Agassi to Becker to Connors to my current personal favorites of Federer and Nadal I admire the passion and persistence of the five-set winners.

There is a moment of high drama called Match Point when the difference between winning and losing in the fifth set can be measured in split-second choices and breaks in concentration.  Match points can be saved and the game can go on for hours, but in the end, a Match Point is lost and the winner takes center court with a victorious smile and wave to the crowd.

As I watched a five-set match today at the US Open, the thought occurred to me that Match Points in tennis have an advantage over those we have in real life.  The quarter finalists I saw today knew the importance of the fifth set and its Match Point, but we may never know when we miss the chance to win –  or lose what we value most.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Fifth Set – Match Point

  1. Bob says:

    Well said, Sheila.


  2. Beautifully written, Sheila. Good words to ponder even if the game is mystifying. 😉

    Hope your Southern day is as lovely as mine up North!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.