Exorcising demons


Jimmy Hann, who according to reports is still in Daytona Beach getting his legs worked on, because no one has seen him on the tennis courts since. RIP, Jimmy. RIP.

Just a little more than a year ago, John Cotey was drunk on a bus bench, passed out shirtless, the hair on his chest matted by dried vomit that smelled of chicken wing sauce and Milwaukee’s Best, as a cleaning lady on her way to work at a nearby hotel called 9-1-1 after unsuccessfully trying to nudge him awake. A few miles away, Jimmy Hann was in the bathroom of a Nebraska Avenue strip club, a needle half-filled with heroine hanging from one arm, and a batch of wrinkled and soggy dollar bills in the other.

A few hours earlier, the doubles partners had blown a 9-3 lead in a 3rd set tiebreaker of a USTA match, costing the Green Machine in a 3-2 loss to Fishhawk. The magnitude of the moment had sent both on a road to hell., and it probably didn’t help that Cotey mentioned it in every tennis write-up over the next 12 months even though it had nothing to so with anything and no one remembered it. Except for John Slatniske. Who found it really funny.

Fast forward to Saturday, and playing at line 2 on court 3, Cotey and partner Erik Hajek had battled back from a one-set deficit to force a third set tiebreaker against the exact same players that had turned the tables on Cotey and Hann the year before. Things went swimmingly for the Green Machine duo this time, as Cotey and Hajek rolled to a 5-2 lead….then 6-2….then 7-2….then 7-3, and 8-3.

Hajek ripped a forehand winner, and it was 9-3.

9-3 against the exact same players!  Are you serious?

Hajek looked at Cotey, who had tears in his eyes, and simply scowled nodded at his partner, while saying “don’t be such a pussy, just hit the fricking tennis ball over the net you basket cased freak.” “You can do this, John!”

Cotey tapped his chest three times, pointed to the sky, and said Jimmy Hann, this is for you. The serve crossed the net, and Cotey gave it a mighty swing, whistling a shot right down the middle of the court, a ball hit with such thunderous force and impactful meaning, with such emotion behind it, with so many hopes and dreams entangled among the small fuzzy green strands, with despair flying off the ball as it spun towards the baseline, with an entire nation hanging on every rotation, until it landed with no chance at being returned.

It was over. The pain, the agony, the memories. He ran towards Erik who ran the other way and said don’t you dare touch me you psychotic moron and jumped into his arms. When he was done celebrating, he reached into his tennis bag, pulled out a 40 oz. Olde English, and poured it out onto the grass for his homey.

“I miss you, Jimmy Hann. But it’s done. It’s over. We did it!”

Also Saturday, Jim Jones won at No. 1 singles in straight sets, and Andy Ritter made his USTA singles debut and had his opponent on the ropes in each set before losing. Ritter was coming off a disheartening loss in the 3.0 club championship semifinals, but he may have gotten his mojo back on Saturday.

Slatniske and Jimmy Dice finally made up for a dreadful showing together at sectionals with an impressive 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 2 doubles, and Bob Schmidt and Bruce Bursack defeated the Asian team of NA and NA 6-0, 6-0 to give the Green Machine a 4-1 victory to keep alive Hunter’s Green’s hopes of a fifth straight trip to 3.5-over-18 sectionals.

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 9.37.18 PM

If the Green Machine can win Saturday against HCC, it will advance to the top half of the round robin tournament with a 3-2 record. It would then need to beat both Cheval (5-0) and Harbour Island (4-1), and then have Harbour Island beat Cheval, and then have all this go well enough that HG has all the tiebreaker advantages, because we can’t win it outright.

So there’s hope.

P.S. While exaggerated, it really was 9-3 against the same two dude from Jan. 31, 2015. Can you believe that shit?


About johncotey

John was a sportswriter and columnist for the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay Times for 25 years, before being pushed from the Titantic, and hopes all of you non-subscribers are happy reading your free news on the internets while his journalism brethren suffer. Not that he's not bitter or anything. His real true joys, however, are his wife, kids and tennis, though not necessarily in that order. Unless his wife is reading this. Then DEFINITELY in that order.
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One Response to Exorcising demons

  1. Andy Ritter says:

    Hysterical – pleased to hear you have exorcised the demons (albeit with Erik)!


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