Tennis Channel’s James LaRosa wrote a hilarious – and spot-on – letter to Wayne Odesnik, the American who’s playing this week’s U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston despite pleading guilty to smuggling Human Growth Hormone into Australia earlier this year (the ITF hasn’t handed down a punishment yet.) Here’s an excerpt of LaRosa’s letter:
No one can stop you [from playing Houston, Wayne]. Except on the court. And I certainly won’t root against you when you take on your next opponent, Mikhail Kukushkin. In fact, I hope you make it through, I really do.
SO JOHN ISNER CAN EXACT SOME REVENGE FROM LAST YEAR AND BLOW YOU OFF THE COURT! AND HE’S AMERICAN, SO HE’D ALSO REALLY ENJOY SHOWING YOU HOW HE AND HIS FELLOW PLAYERS AND ALL OF US FEEL ABOUT YOUR STINKING UP U.S. TENNIS’S REP WITH THIS HGH BS!
Unfortunately for James and the rest of us craving a good, old-fashioned, righteous beat down, John Isner lost to Xavier Malisse in the second round. Then the rampaging Odesnik took out Malisse, 6-4, 6-1, in the quarterfinals. But sometimes justice is even sweeter when it’s delayed: Odesnik will take on Isner’s best buddy on Team America, Sam Querrey, in the semifinals.
According to a Tweet from Houston Chronicle reporter, Dale Robertson, Querrey’s hoping to prove a point:
Querrey is in the anti-Odesnik faction. Asked about a possible semifinal meeting with him, Querrey said: “I refuse to lose to that guy.”
Note that this may not be as easy a task for Slammin’ Sam as the rankings suggest (Sam’s No. 37, Wayne’s No. 103). The tournament circulated this factoid today: While Querrey and Odesnik have never faced each other in an ATP World Tour match, Odesnik has defeated Querrey three times in past Futures and Challenger events.
Tennis.com’s Peter Bodo thinks that playing Avenging Angel could put Sam at an additional psychological disadvantage:
At least one comment poster at the last thread, challenging my assertion that Odesnik’s opponents are paying the price for his illegal activities, said he would be thrilled to go out there in Houston and, driven by righteousness, double-bagel Odesnik.
Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. It never did, except in a few rare cases. Nobody should have to go into a tennis match fired up to make a point (in this case, punishing a cheater); most players simply can’t play their best tennis when so distracted. That’s one of the main reasons players engage in so little trash-talking to begin with, and why they generally prefer staring at their strings instead of their opponents. When things on court get personal, they usually get ugly – not necessarily confrontation-ugly, often it’s just style-ugly. You can say it’s up to Odesnik’s opponents not to be distracted by his recent actions, and a Roger Federer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga probably would make short work of the guy in an impersonal way.
Ooh, I like Bodo’s suggestion. Roger’s not so busy right now – someone fly him out to Houston! He can tag-team with Sam.
We may or may not get vigilante tennis justice on Saturday. But we know for sure we’ll get an interesting (if ugly) match. And lucky for us, it will be televised. Click here for Tennis Channel’s TV Schedule and here for (possible) live streaming options.