I love the US Open tennis tournament. Stories like this one from Friday night are the reason why.
Taylor Dent and Ivan Navarro’s match was not on center court. In fact, they are both ranked below 100 on the tour. But they played their match to a tie break in the fifth set, a true serve-and-volley, low-error, great serving , pour-everything-you-got-into-each-shot match — the kind of tennis that is a pleasure to watch.
It finally came to an end with Dent defeating Navarro 6-4, 5-7, 6-7, 7-5, 7-6. But the final score is not the story here.
After fusion surgery on his back two years ago, doctors told Dent he would never play tennis again. He started making plans for alternative careers. Dent considered color commentary and even real estate.
But when his recovery went better than expected, the doctors encouraged Dent to go out and hit a few balls. And he decided he had to give professional tennis another shot. That shot led him to the extraordinary match that I was lucky enough to witness Friday night.
Dent certainly didn’t take the win for granted either. Asking for the umpire’s microphone, he immediately thanked the crowd for their support. He followed that with a victory lap around the court, high five-in’ everyone he could reach. He also stayed for an hour after the match signing autographs.
Dent faces number-two seed Andy Murray in the third round of the US Open. Regardless of that outcome, Dent is already a winner.