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It's 3 a.m., do you know where your league team is?

March 26, 2009 10:43 AM

by Granger Huntress, usta.com

And You Thought the Agassi-Blake Match Ran Late.

Every year during Primetime at the Open, we get a match that runs past midnight; where the crowd gets a little rowdy and tennis memories are made.

Scott Dean's 4.0 mens squad from Greensboro, NC, had one such night on their run to Tucson.

Rain had delayed matches at the USTA League Southern Sectional Championships in Mobile and play moved indoors to the Mobile Convention Center, where three courts had been rolled out in an attempt to finish play.

“Matches were delayed and we needed only two lines to get out of our group and into the finals,” said Dean. “But everything was so backed up, we didn't get the first match on until midnight.”

Things started great for Dean's team, as Phillip Payne received a default at number one singles when his opponent was injured. That meant they only needed one more point, but it would come that easy.

First, Marius Andersen fell at the number two singles line, 6-2, 7-6. Next, Brad Whitmore and Kevin Hawkins dropped the second doubles line, 6-4, 6-1.

By this time, the crowd was getting a bit rowdy. Tennessee B, whom Greensboro had defeated earlier, was hoping for a Mississippi sweep.

Greensboro's Ed Gaines had decided to try and catch a nap back at the hotel. Unfortunately, his phone turned to silent at 11 p.m. When the team attempted to call him, neither his cell phone nor hotel room phone would ring. The team finally had to convince the hotel front desk to send hotel security to his room, claiming they thought he was in trouble.

When security finally woke him at 12:30, his teammates were screaming for him to get to the tennis center. If he wasn't there in 15 minutes, he would be defaulted.

“It was surreal,” stated Gaines. “I wake up from this deep sleep and am playing 15 minutes later. My brain wasn't processing.”

In a funk, Gaines and Doug Burleson fell at number one doubles, 7-5, 6-3. Now the fate of the team rested on Captain Dean and his partner, Robert Fox.

“I was a zombie,” said Fox. “It was 1:30 when we walked onto the court and we were the only match left for the night.”

“The crowd was rowdy,” added Gaines. “Let's just say the guys from Tennessee were pretty well-lubricated by this point. They were gentlemen when we had played them, but the situation had changed. I've been to the Open several times and they made what the New Yorkers do look tame.”

Fox and Dean went down early, dropping the first set 6-2 before knowing what hit them. They rallied in the second set, evening the match at 6-1.

During the match tiebreak, the gang from Greensboro fell behind 5-2 or 6-1, as the details have blurred from the night. What was important, however, was the comeback and the win.

When the final ball was out and they had won, the team was both excited and exhausted.

“Doug (Burleson) immediately ran out on the court doing his best Jimmy V imitation, looking for someone to hug,” said Gaines.

“After that, the finals were anticlimactic,” said Fox of the teams 3-2 win over Alabama. “They were a great group of guys and we played well.”

Regardless of what happens here in Tucson, the men from Greensboro created the late night memories, for themselves like we have seen before from the likes of Agassi, Connors and Roddick.

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