Tennis Prose



The Mystery Of The Babolat Aero On Route 80

By Scoop Malinowski

On the way to a singles match at my tennis club my eyes were arrested by a surprise sight on the side of the road on the shoulder lane of Interstate 80 sat a Babolat Aero tennis racquet.

The brightly colored black and yellow instrument presumably was thrown out of a car window by a frustrated player who just lost a tournament match at nearby indoor Bogota Racquet Club. I can think of no other explanation for that discarded racquet being on route 80. Or did it get there by some kind of divine intervention?

I decided against the temptation to make a u-turn to go back and retrieve the mysterious racquet but hoped it would still be there in 24 hours as I would repeat the same trek to my Packanack Lake Tennis Club on Sunday morning for a doubles match.

Yes it was there on Sunday morning so I pulled over, got out and grabbed it. The racquet had obviously been smashed by the previous owner and run over by a car as the handle was crushed. The racquet had to have been thrown out of the car window. Or it was dropped out of the clouds for some kind of unknown purpose or message.

I checked the USTA site and there was supposed to be a junior tournament this weekend at Bogota but only three players registered so there was no competition.

Maybe the racquet had been on the highway for days or weeks. Perhaps a player at nearby Overpeck Park public tennis courts decided to donate it to asphalt road.

There are no coincidences in this world, everything happens for a reason. That racquet was intended to be seen by my eyes and destined to end up in my possession.

Interstate 80 crosses the United States from Teaneck, NJ to downtown San Francisco. The highway was designated in 1956 as one of the original routes of the Interstate Highway System . The second-longest Interstate Highway in the United States after Interstate 90, route 80 runs through a plethora of major cities – Oakland, Sacramento, Reno, Salt Lake City, Omaha, Des Moines and Toledo and just barely misses Chicago, Cleveland and NYC.

The exact spot where I found the Babolat on Interstate 80 was in the first quarter mile of the highway, just after the connection from the feeder ramp of Route 95 south a mile from the George Washington Bridge. Though the use of the Babolat Aero had expired, the placement of it’s final resting place was the highway that beckons the very beginning of a new journey to just about anywhere and everywhere in the United States of America.

This episode may or may not be a metaphor symbol from the tennis gods to signify the beginnings of the new post-Federer era. Remember the opening scene in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey (1969 sci-fi film classic) where the ape suddenly realizes the animal bone can be used as a tool and weapon? I once read that Stanley Kubrick’s sister used to live in Teaneck, NJ! Also, intriguing is the fact that Jack Sock and Rafael Nadal have used this Babolat Aero model.

I have no idea what I will do with this almost semi-intriguing racquet right now but will contemplate a fitting conclusion for it.

If this unsolved mystery is to never find a logical explanation, at least now you know that it’s possible that a tennis racquet can be found anywhere, even on the side of one of the biggest and busiest highways in the world. So let’s just assume this enigmatic tale is a reminder to get out and play the healthiest sport of a lifetime!

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  • Bill McGill · September 26, 2022 at 4:41 pm

    CourtSense could re-pave the parking lot in Bogota with mulched racquets after their boys 16 and under tourneys.

  • Cory · September 26, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    Quite poetic. i wonder what kind of bad day the assailant had… to warrant this fate.

    i would imagine you’d never see a racket on the interstate in 5 lifetimes.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 26, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    Cory, true, it is probably the first and only tennis racquet to ever end up on any interstate. Come to think of it I’ve never seen any sports equipment ever on any interstate. I may have to donate this historic rare artifact to the Hall of Fame museum )

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 26, 2022 at 7:26 pm

    Bill, that’s not good to hear so many kids are imitating Kyrgios, Safin and Novak and Serena. But it is good for the tennis racquet industry. I know a guy who broke all eight of his racquets after blowing ten match points in a college match in Vermont. I also personally own two smashes Wilsons previously owned by Kiki Mladenovic and also a smashed Dunlop from Adrian Andreev.

  • Bill McGill · September 26, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    Andy Roddick once favorably commented on the kids that break racquets, saying that while it can betray a level of unhealthy torment, it was preferable, at least in juniors, to kids that get all mopey and hang-dog. Roddick thought the latter type were the juniors most likely to fail to make the next step, while with the former you just couldn’t predict.

    I will note that there remains a giant difference in how boys and girls at that junior level exhibit frustration, with boys breaking racquets and girls losing it on their parents, opponent and the occasional tournament official.

  • Cyndy · September 26, 2022 at 9:16 pm

    Scoop Malinowski., am eager to know as to what you will contemplate on doing with your newfound semi intriguing racquet. I’m thinking of the matches where disgruntled players often throw their used racquets (win or lose!) in the direction of thousands of eager diehard, push and shove fans who will take anything! So I think you should consider yourself lucky that you miraculously happened to discover one on the interstate 80 highway. Nevertheless will look forward to your fitting conclusion of the racquet.

  • catherine · September 27, 2022 at 6:36 am

    Occam’s razor : racquet smashed by owner and chucked out of a car on a road which happened to be an interstate.

    Found by Scoop. That’s it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 27, 2022 at 8:10 am

    Cyndy, thanks for your comment, i could also arrange a piece of abstract art work from all the broken racquets, now 4, or do a broken racquet exhibit at Newport Hall of Fame )

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 27, 2022 at 8:15 am

    Bill I never read that observation by Roddick and it’s an interesting one. It took guts for Andy to say that as the tennis establishment tends to attack racquet smashers especially if it’s Djokovic. Racquet smashing shows the player is very dedicated, hard working and cares very much about being successful and is super serious about it. I think it’s actually a good sign in a player. It’s a brutal cruel sport and managing anger frustration is a part of it and sometimes the anger frustration gets the best of even the greatest players on the planet. If people don’t like to see racquet smashing they should go watch ballet or golf.

  • Cyndy · September 27, 2022 at 10:35 am

    Abstract art work sounds good Scoop Malinowski and then when it’s done you could exhibit it at the Newport hall of fame.) on the racquet smashing episodes at matches, do you know if you have ever seen Nadal or Federer doing it, probably it happened with Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka at some point in their matches. The latest that comes to mind is Kyrgios at the USOpen where he smashed not one but two of his racquets.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 27, 2022 at 11:51 am

    Cyndy, yes I saw Federer smash a Wilson in his second match vs Rafa at Miami Open, after he lost the previous year 63 63 he was losing again and destroyed the Wilson and then eventually won the match. Rafa never has broken a racquet though I did see him toss one on the ground in a practice set with Lopez before the US Open one year about ten years ago. Can’t recall Murray busting a head, but Djokovic has smashed a few racquets in a rage.

  • Cyndy · September 27, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Interesting to know that Scoop Malinowski., thanks much for the info., and seemingly Nadal has no instances of racquet smashing then which has added to his reputation within his fan club.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 28, 2022 at 7:34 am

    Cyndy, Nadal has been well coached and directed by professional sporting family and had the best of training and nutrition from a young age, his progression from teenager to pro was the smoothest and quickest and the only adversity difficulty Rafa faced was the foot injury that caused him to miss Roland Garros 2004 which he may have won. Rafa always has had tremendous emotional and mental self control on court and we very rarely ever saw him angry or frustrated. Such a fantastic fighter and competitor. Most all the Spanish players are supreme sportsman and very well behaved – Moya, Carlos, Ferrero, Corretja, Bruguera, Ferrer, Agut, Busta, Lopez, etc.



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