Two tennis fans, Libby and Connie, sat beside each other for a best of three exhibition match between America's top two players, Barry O'Bannon and Mitchell Ryan.
Libby and Connie quickly became aware of their opposite rooting interests, their muted claps coming at different times. During the first set, Libby did a lot less clapping than Connie, as Ryan soundly defeated O'Bannon, 6 – 2. No one was surprised to see Ryan take the first set, but no one had expected such a dominating performance. Connie turned to Libby, chiding, "I think your guy O'Bannon is showing his true colors today. He's just no match for Ryan."
To which Libby replied, "He was certainly off his game in that first set, seemed like he was in a daze."
Connie nodded, "I've really never felt he was any good, frankly, and I think Ryan just exposed him."
Libby did not deem this last Connie comment worthy of a reply, so the two fans sat in silence as they awaited the start of the second set.
And a doozy of a second set it turned out to be. Days later, pundits would label it the most competitive set of tennis in recent memory (whatever that means). Each point was a battle, some rallies seeming like they'd never end. Each game went back and forth from deuce to advantage and back to deuce until someone would win by attrition. When O'Bannon finally took the set 7 – 6 after Ryan shocked everyone with a double fault to end an eighty seven point tie break, Libby clapped but, more than excitement, she felt relief. She tried to avoid Connie's eyes, but the Ryan fan tapped her on the shoulder, saying, "Wow, O'Bannon sure got lucky at the end there, the judge completely blew that call."
"What do you mean?"
"That second serve was in!"
"How could you see from here better than he can from down there?"
"Come on," Connie shook her head in disgust, frowning, "it was obvious. You'll see I'm right in the tv highlights."
Libby saw no use in arguing, so once again she let Connie have the last word between sets.
Just as no one had expected such a lopsided first set victory for Ryan, no one would've predicted O'Bannon to prevail by a wide margin in the third. But that's exactly what he did, winning 6 – 1, taking the match, sealing his place as the number one rated US player.
Standing to leave, Libby bowed her head toward Connie. "Good game," she said, "take care."
Connie, brow furrowed, replied, "Ryan got hurt at some point during that second set, I know it. His people will confirm it and this result won't affect anyone's opinion on who's the better player. Just look what Ryan did to O'Bannon in the first set, while he was still healthy. . . ."
Connie continued on for another full minute before she realized that Libby had left the stands, and she'd been talking to herself.