When I read the news that tennis legend Bud Collins has passed away, I recalled the one and only time I met the guy.
It was during one of those mindless tennis tournaments that go on between the Grand Slams.
Just another week with 32 tennis players hoping to pick up a few bucks in the middle of nowhere.
It was just a quick hello and moving on.
He took the time to say hi to everyone who recognized him from television and he autographed a pair of pants for a guy that only someone like Bud would like.
Nothing of note really happened that week, but a few weeks later, tennis, or at least one player would be front and center in my life for about a week. The crazy thing about this tennis player is that she was one of the top ranked women in the world when this happened back in the day and is still one of the top ranked women in the world.
I’m too lazy to look but I don’t think she was 21 when this happened.
Maybe just a shade under.
I was at the tournament trying to make contacts and do some networking.
I had been given free tickets and some hospitality passes.
You know what hospitality passes mean?
So, yeah, I was there.
One of the things you got to also do with these passes was go to an event that featured a lot of the tennis players before the week of play actually started.
It was a thank you to the sponsors and an opportunity for them to get up close and personal with the players and for me to get not only free booze, but also free food.
I remember that Jennifer Capriati was there and this was the year of her comeback, maybe the year after.
I know they drug tested back then, but she was jacked up on something.
Like a thousand miles per hour.
It was the roadrunner for two straight hours.
Plus, she talked that fast too.
She was a whirlwind.
I was watching it all happen from the bar.
Have I told you how much I love open bars?
Never see me more than ten feet from one because if you get too far away, someone pushes their way in.
People love free booze.
One of the tennis players walks up and orders a drink.
Not just any drink, but whiskey.
Well, hello new friend.
As I said, I don’t think she was old enough to drink, but no one was going to card.
I was just shocked that she would be drinking whiskey when she presumably had to play the next day.
I told her I admired her taste and I thought she was going to do that whole why is this creepy looking dude talking to me about whiskey and how can I get out of this gracefully in case he is a reporter look.
Instead, I got a smile and witnessed her slam it down in one shot before ordering another.
She then questioned my manliness because I was still drinking my drink.
Well, I couldn’t have that and the next thing you know we each had five or six shots.
This was someone who was in the top 5 in the world.
Hammering back shots the night before she was supposed to play.
It turns out the player she was going against the next day withdrew with an injury.
My guess is my drinking buddy paid her $10K to withdraw.
It was way more than she was going to earn getting waxed by Miss Whiskey.
After we had our shots, she said farewell and I thought that would be it.
A couple of days later I was sitting in the stands during the middle of the day and someone hits me in the back of the head.
I turn around and it is her.
She has this huge smile on her face and says, let’s go.
She drags me to some player area and we have some food and drink, although this time she did stick to water.
She had to play that night.
We get to talking and she says her boyfriend is coming that night and would I mind taking one of her friends and making it a double date because she is not sure if she is going to break up with the guy (foreign born B- list tennis player at the time and nothing now) and wanted some people with her.
I say fine.
She says to come by her hotel that night about 7.
I get there and she opens the door in a bra and shorts.
On the bed is a guy who is definitely not the tennis player boyfriend. Nope.
As I found out later it is a foreign born at the time B- list golfer who moved to A+ and still has A list name recognition.
Apparently he was not supposed to be in town but turned up when he missed a cut.
She decides she is going to break up with the tennis player, but is scared so proceeds to have about five shots before we go, leaving the golfer behind.
We get to dinner and my “date” is with me and our tennis player has four more drinks before the food comes and then has a bunch of wine with dinner and is just hammered.
Wasted. In a restaurant. Surrounded by other diners.
She then grabs this wine bucket and pukes in the bucket before getting up to go to the bathroom.
As she gets up and is helped by my “date,” she turns to the tennis player and tells him they are breaking up and that she is “f**king” someone else.
She leaves and now it is just me and this guy I just met.
She never came back to the table.
The good news is he paid.
Tennis player boyfriend: Julián Alonso
Golfer boyfriend: Sergio Garcia