Remember your first funeral? Pete put his first Wimbledon trophy in his coach’s casket. Earlier he broke down and cried between points and games against Courier in the 1995 Australian Open quarterfinals before somehow winning the match. Tim Gullickson, brain cancer, gone. Each grain of salt vanishes/becomes the cosmic ocean. Hinduism 101. The problem in Hinduism is that this essential truth lay hidden beneath a magical yet deceptive illusion of surfaces (Maya) that deceives us distracts us from understanding. The problem for sports fans when contemplating Sampras was much the same. Pete’s tremendous competitive will–“the strongest willed athlete I’ve ever seen” (Paul Annacone)–lay deceptively buried beneath the veil the veneer of a superb classic athlete, someone who made everything look easy: his all-court game, his running forehands, his gift of history’s best big clutch serve. On fast courts, especially, opponents were dispatched too easily. Spectators grew bored, the headlines cruel: Samprazzzzzzz would put you to sleep. How many are awake enough to see beneath life’s surfaces? How many might be enlightened? The answer in Hinduism is that everyone will be. Just give it enough time, enough lifetimes.
Currently a Professor of Humanities, David Linebarger’s publications include poetry, creative nonfiction, and scholarship in over thirty journals as well as two short books of poetry. His current book project is entitled Tennis Players as Works of Art.
Read more of David’s work at Tennis Players as Works of Art.
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