Jose-Antonio Fernandez

Mark Keil: My Heart-Pounding Moment With Renee Zellweger

Mark Keil, the new head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Newbury College, Brookline, Mass, writes this week on one of the best event’s of the year, and an out of the way tourney in beautiful Spain.

The ATP event in Los Angeles is a much needed bonus on the road to the Open. The tournament is played in Westwood, and the tournament hotel is like being in a movie. I played singles qualifying there a few times, and went down in a thriller to Michael Joyce of Bel Air, California. He got to the fourth round of Wimbledon one year, and is currently the coach/hitting partner of Russia’s Maria Sharapova. I also played doubles qualies with Craig Johnson, a double-fisted forehand and backhand player and All-American out of Pepperdine. We lost in the final round, and would have gotten in but I think Craig was cruising the beach at the time, and I couldn’t find him. In between matches, I would have a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s on Beverly Glen and I met Renee Zellweger once. She said her brother was a tennis player, and it was a heart pounding moment. I also would hang out with a high school friend of mine, Shelley McCrory. She was a vice president of NBC Comedy, and it felt cool to eat with someone in the business. In doubles, I qualifed in 2000 with the Arizona State University standout Jeff Williams. We beat the doubles Olympian for Great Britain Kyle Spencer and the All-American out of Clemson Mitch Sprengelmeyer 7-6, 6-4. In the next round, we lost to Paul Kilderry, a humorous fellow from Australia. He was Patrick Rafter’s cohort, and had a sweet backhand. His partner, Sandon Stolle, who played high school tennis in Miami and attended TCU, was a tall, deep baritoned voice rail thin Aussie man (and the son of Hall of Famer Fred Stolle).

Before the match, I attended a barbecue at Dustin Hoffman’s Brentwood home with former player Derrick Rostagno. We lost 4-6,4-6. After the match, I crashed a party at the Playboy Mansion and made a fool of myself. I spotted Pamela Anderson and Denise Richards, but they didn’t see me. All in all, it was a very manic week.

The event played in Segovia, Spain is on hard court’s that had dimples on them.  The match’s were played when the sun was setting, and it was a high altitude affair.  The venue had marquee tent’s set up around the stadium court, with attractive Spanish women dressed in their summer white’s handing out free sample’s of stuff. In this challenger event, I beat Nuno Marques of Portugal and lost to Jose-Antonio Fernandez of Chile 3-6, 6-7.  I had a good time there, but the restaurant’s opened so late and it was tough to sleep after eating.

I hope everyone is hitting the courts, and getting ready for the Olympics!

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