Thursday, September 24, 2009

"No matter what I did with the ball, she kept getting it back."

An opponent talking about Jelena Jankovic? Arantxa Sanchez Vicario? You might think so, but the player was Jean Hepner, who--on September 24, 1984--engaged in a 29-minute, 643-shot rally against Vicki Nelson. The match was played in the first round of a 50k Virginia Slims Ginny tournament at the Raintree Swim and Racquet Club in Richmond, Virginia.

"I thought I was going to go crazy." Nelson said after the match, which she won, 6-4, 7-6 (11). The match lasted 6 hours and 31 minutes, making it the second-longest match of all time, and the longest played in a single day. The tiebreak lasted an hour and 47 minutes.

"There was tons of lobbing," according to Nelson. "I would try to come in and she’d lob me again." After winning the point in the 643-shot rally, Nelson collapsed because of leg cramps, and had a time violation warning called on her. She was able to pull herself together and return to the baseline, however.

Hepner says she didn't realize the match went on as long as it did because she was in a "hypnotic state." For her amazing mental and physical endurance, Hepner, who was ranked number 172 in the world left with $475 in prize money. Nelson (ranked 93), who lost in the second round, took home $775.

Of her win, Nelson said, "It took me a long time to get up the nerve to come in, but she finally hit a short lob and I put it away--forever."

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