16 Between the lines

Elise’s hands were sweating. She wiped them on her sweat pants then clenched her fists again.
Ever since she had seen the draw she had feared the fourth round. But she would have never imagined that it would be that bad.
“Oh, what a shot!” Next to Elise sat Angela, her German friend and fellow Fed Cup player. Sitting on a large sofa in the player’s lounge. In front of them were three large televisions showing the going matches on the show courts. On the first Ted Curry was two sets and a break down on Robert Lepus. It looked like the fifth seed was going out in the third round already.
However, both girls had turned away from Ted’s misery and were currently watching two other matches. On the second screen the match between Rufino and Markus Neumann was on its way to become a classic. The two players had leveled in the fourth set and had held serve so far in the fifth. Neither seemed to be breaking down.

Distracted by Angela’s enthusiastic yell Elise looked away from the third screen and shot a glance to the men’s match on Arthur Ashe. She would be playing as soon as they had finished. For the first time in her career she was scheduled to play on the biggest tennis court in the world. it could hold 23.000 people. She felt nauseous.
But it wasn’t the enormousness of the stage that made her feel sick. The stadium didn’t look overcrowded for the men’s match and Elise knew, that as soon as she stepped out onto the court she would forget about the spectators.
She looked back to the third screen wiping her hands again on her pants.
Scheduled on Grandstand court, Amanda tried to break her opponent to win the match. She had won the first set against a shaky Lana Uzilenko, but surprisingly the Ukrainian had done a good job to compose herself and had played a magnificent second set.
The Ukrainian held, then Amanda held for her own and once again tried to break Lana for the match.

“You shouldn’t even watch this,” Angela remarked. “Just look at you. All tense and anxious.”
“How can I not watch it?” Elise answered. “I have to play against one of them.”
“Please, Elise, don’t tell me you are watching for tennis reasons,” Angela smiled and pointing to the men’s match. Rufino had two match points. “This could be over in a second and you should already be in the locker room.”
Shit, Elise thought. Amanda had to hurry up to win the match. Elise couldn’t imagine going on court without knowing if Amanda had won. But on Grandstand Amanda was unable to break the unrelenting Uzilenko. The set would be decided by a tie break.
“Rufino just won by the way,” Angela remarked. Elise moaned. She had to get ready to go onto court, but she kept on staring at the television spellbound by the ongoings.

Just like the whole set the tiebreak was incredibly close. When the players went back to their chairs at 6-6 to drink some water, Angela gave Elise an urging look.
“I know, I know,” Elise snapped, but she didn’t move.
After Uzilenko couldn’t convert a set point, Amanda hit a stunning backhand down the line. And even though Lana, who had rushed to the net, was able to reach it the ball landed in the net. From then on the caption on the TV screen merrily switched from MATCH POINT to SET POINT and back again.
“Get up,” Angela almost yelled at Elise. “Now!” She grabbed Elise’s cold and sweaty hands and pulled her from the sofa.
Dragged out by her friend Elise shot a last look to the TV. Amanda and Lana had both come up to the net exchanging volleys until Amanda hit a powerful passing shot right onto the baseline. The crowd roared in unison but Lana Uzilenko lifted her hand and gestured to the chair umpire. She would challenge the call.

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