Ben and Brady vs. WO: Tennis

Ben and Brady vs. WO: Tennis

Brady Bosma and Ben Riley

 The snowy air whipped across the court. I braced myself for Jr. Teddy Schurman’s next serve, determined to actually hit it over the net. The past five had missiled past my racquet, giving me no time to think. There was something different about this serve, though, because unlike the last five, it seemed to arc over the net in slow motion. 

   My eyes got wide as I realized it was coming directly at me. This was my chance. I wound up, anticipating to smash the ball past my unworthy opponent. Chance missed. The ball had backspin and didn’t even bounce towards me. I completely whiffed. 

   Welcome to the first edition of Ben and Brady vs. WO, where we put our athletic talent to the test against the best West Ottawa athletes in their primary sports. 

   We decided to test our tennis “skills” against the best in the area, and who better than Jrs. Teddy Schurman and Dalton Goodwin. Both Varsity boys tennis players earned All-Conference honors this year.

   Of course we wouldn’t win, but we figured we would have a fighting chance at respect, and possibly we could make it close. Both of us have some tennis experience. Brady played tennis in middle school and Ben plays for fun against family and friends. 

   When we arrived, we quickly realized we would already be at a disadvantage. Unfortunately, it just happened to be 30 degrees and snowy.

   After we volleyed and warmed up, we started by trying to return their serves. Off the first serve, we quickly realized we were in way over our heads. The ball whizzed past Brady, and he didn’t get his racket around in time to hit the ball. The next six serves didn’t go much better; none were returned, and Brady made contact with only four.

  Ben had slightly more success, but once again, making contact with the ball proved to be a struggle. Ben didn’t even touch two out of the seven serves, and hit only one back over the net.  After changing servers and each taking our turns, we had successfully returned 3 of the 28 serves, and had touched only 17. After our unsuccessful attempts at returning, we asked them how fast they served. “I serve 106 MPH,” Goodwin informed us.
“I’m probably about the same,” said Schurman. 

   We started to worry about our chances to win a point as we transitioned into playing a set. Since returning serves proved to be difficult, Schurman and Goodwin agreed to give us a handicap: they would strictly do underhand serves. 

  As we started our first game, we realized that our only chance of winning a game was for them to make multiple mistakes. So we focused on trying to return the ball as best we could and hope they messed up on occasion.

  Our plan did not work, as we quickly lost our first game without winning a point. Second game, and we again didn’t win a point. Over and over, they hit rocket returns right past us, and we only nicked the ball on the edge of our rackets.

   Before the third game, we took a little timeout to discuss how best to beat them. We agreed the best way to counter their returns was to back up more to have more time to react and hit the ball. 

   As we played the third game, our strategy started to work. We became more efficient and effective at returning the ball. This helped a little, as we were able to win two points in the third game, but still got beat pretty handily. 

   At this point, we realized there was almost no chance we could win. We just started playing to save our dignity, and hope to win one game to feel that we had accomplished something.

   As the next two games were played, we started to play better and started to return the ball more. In response, Schurman and Goodwin started to hit harder. It became apparent to us that they weren’t even going 100%. Yet we could barely muster two points in a game. 

 After going down five games and realizing they probably still had a lot left in their tank, we started to feel defeated. There was only one more chance to win a game, and we had only scored five points throughout all the games. 

   We quickly went down 40 – Love, but we were determined not to give up so easily, as it was our last chance. After a couple good returns and mistakes by them, we had tied it at deuce. We started to feel excited; this was the closest that it had ever been.

   For the next five minutes, a back and forth game ensued. We would hit a great return and win the point. We would get super excited as we only needed one more point to win. We would then mess up and lose the point, and the game returned to deuce. This process was replayed over and over again. 

   Finally, after staying alive for so long, we were bound to make a mistake. Schurman hit the hardest ball we had seen that day, and we had no chance. Ben swung his racket, but was late, and sent the ball nowhere near the box. That was it. We had lost. With our hopes crushed, we congratulated Schurman and Goodwin, and thanked them for playing against us. 

   After all was said and done, and we had just gotten destroyed by players that were probably only playing at about 60% effort, we marked down a huge L next to tennis.

   We came in expecting to be somewhat competitive, and left feeling utterly defeated and embarrassed. To some, tennis may look like an easy sport to play. But after some first-hand experience vs. two good tennis players, we found out the hard way tennis is a lot more difficult than it looks.

   Stay tuned for the next edition for Ben and Brady vs. WO.

For video confirmation of our…failure, check out