by Ellen Larson
(EuroSpoof first appeared in 1999 in 1st Serve Tennis )
Presented in loving tribute to the best satellite sports network in the world--and its commentators
Scene: Camera pans over Montreal and zooms into Jerry Stadium. We see clips, from the week-gone-by, of tennis players warming up, signing autographs, and racing radio-operated toy cars around center court.
Voice-over: Tonight on EuroSpoof, live from Montreal, the final of the 1999 du Maurier Open, first of this year's Super Nines on hard court. Last year's champion Patrick Rafter will face a resurgent Andre Agassi--22 and 2 over the last two months. Day-bed Mirther here alongside Grue MacVillain. Grue? What do you think of tonight's match-up?
Scene: As Day-bed and Grue talk, Rafter and Agassi arrive on court amid deafening cheers. They put down their tennis bags, arrange towels on their chairs and wander onto the court for the coin toss, swinging their rackets. Leaning toward one another over the net, they smile briefly for the pre-match photo, then put on their game faces and begin the warm-up. Computer stats flash across the screen--age, height, weight, won/loss records, head to heads, grand slam titles, etc.
Grue: Well, it's a bit of a toss, isn't it Day-bed? Agassi is the form player but this is Rafter's surface.
Day-bed: Confirmation that tonight's broadcast is being shown live on British EuroSpoof with Bark Bitchy and Slasher Updown. Grue. I've put my money on Agassi. I thought he positively pulverized Rafter in the semis on the grass in SW 19 this year.
Grue: Yes, he was Rafter's governor on that occasion, but then Agassi has lost in his last two finals. Although both of those losses came at the hands of one Pete Sampras, which is an entirely different kettle of fish to Patrick Rafter.
Day-bed: Ha! Ha!
Scene: The umpire says "play" and Agassi hoists the ball into the air. Whap. Ace up the middle. He trots over to the ball kid and takes a fresh ball from her, then trots back to the baseline. Toss. Whap. Ace, wide. The crowd screams its approval. Follow-shot of Agassi, looking like the Pirate King on speed, power-walking across the baseline.
Grue: And speaking of Agassi/Sampras, there was real drama in LA last week--and I don't mean only in the cinema.
Day-bed: Ha! Ha! You're right, Grue. Two tie break sets. Two Americans battling it out for the bragging rights of the glamour capitol the country. It doesn't get any better than that.
Grue: Well, I think if Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski were playing in a Wimbledon final they might make a headline or two.
Scene: Agassi rips another serve up the middle. Rafter stabs the air with his racket, and the ball skims off the rim and directly into the hands of a ball kid. Rafter looks around to see where the ball went, shrugs, and wanders back to the ad court. He pulls his shorts up as he hunkers down to receive serve, and happy wails are heard from high up in the stadium.
Day-bed: Hard luck for Tim last week in LA, going out in the first round to qualifier Gregor Gloo.
Grue: Well, there's bound to be a bit of a let down after all the hyperbole surrounding Wimbledon.
Scene: Agassi pounds down another monster serve, wide. Pony-tail flying up into the air, Rafter lunges to his backhand side and blocks a low-flying screamer back up the line. Agassi leaps to his right and whips a forehand winner cross court. First game to Agassi. The crowd cheers as the players head to their seats: Agassi jogs across the court while Rafter ambles along, picking at his strings.
Day-bed: Confirmation that Tim went out in the first round here to Leon Spinks. He said in the interview that he thought the balls here were a bit heavier than he likes.
Grue: Yes, the conditions don't really favor the big server this week.
Day-bed: And we'll be right back for more of Rafter/Agassi in a moment.
Commercial: A frightened-looking skier prepares to plunge from the starting gate at the top of an impossibly steep hill, while his coach says: "Remember, go fur da cup!" etc.
Scene: Rafter stalks up to the baseline and peers over the net like Hiyawatha on the first day of deer season. He does a deep knee bend and pulls at his nose.
Day-bed: Welcome back. We're been joined in the booth by our wandering colleague, Slimin' Dweeb, here in Montreal this week covering the Champions on Ice figuring skating. Slimin'. The match so far.
Slimin': Good to be here, Day-bed. You sense that Agassi is unbeatable tonight! Incredible performance all week long! It's great to see him back at the top of his game like this! There's no stopping him!
Scene: Rafter tosses the ball, arching his back like Gumby waving at an airplane, wheezes, and belts a serve to Agassi's backhand. Agassi leaps into the air, but the ball kicks past him untouched and sails nine rows into the stands.
Day-bed: Confirmation that Greg will be playing next week at Cincinnati.
Slimin': I hoped he would be playing in Montreal. The conditions here really favor the big server.
Day-bed and Grue: (silence).
Slimin' (with a hint of anxiety): I guess that ankle injury is still giving him problems?
Day-bed and Grue: (silence).
Slimin' (with a hint of desperation): Or maybe he's having trouble adjusting to his new coach, and wanted to take a break?
Day-bed and Grue: (silence).
Scene: Rafter, having muffed his first serve into the net, tosses, arches, wheezes, and spins in a second serve that shoots up around Agassi earring. Agassi whacks at it with his two-hander, and the ball hits the netcord judge in the nose. Agassi dashes forward to offer apologies and make sure she's all right.
Slimin': Agassi's return was only an inch from being a clean winner! This looks bad for Rafter! You sense that this is a key game for him. I can't see him coming back if he's broken here!
Grue: Yes, though having said that, one should remember that Tim was a set up against one Pete Sampras in the quarter finals at Wimbledon this year.
Scene: Rafter kicks another ace out wide. Agassi has already moved to the ad court and is ready to return serve again by the time the ball bounces off the supercam and drops into the outstretched hands of a ball kid. As Rafter prepares to serve, the camera switches to a shot of Hillary Clinton, in the VIP box, holding hands with Vaslav Havel, both wearing Amelie Mauresmo Fanclub T-shirts. Barely visible behind them is a grinning young man wearing a black Raiders cap and sunglasses. He is chewing gum.
Day-bed: There's Brad Gilbert, Andre Agassi's coach.
Grue: Yes. Now that's something you don't see very often. Brad Gilbert, not talking? Make a note of the date in your diary, Slimin'.
Slimin': I'll be happy to, Grue. Let's see.... That'll be twelve times so far this year!
Scene: Rafter jams Agassi with a serve to the body. Agassi twists out of the way, desperately defending himself with his racket. The ball bounds off the frame and onto the net, dribbling over the tape like a leaf sliding over a waterfall. Rafter, having done his split step at the T, dives forward, and manages to get his racket under the ball just before he crashes full-length onto the court. Agassi is there and taps the ball gently over the net. Rafter rolls over and throws his racket at it, missing it by an inch.
Day-bed: At least he's trying.
Scene: Rafter gets up and inspects the damage to his knees. Agassi pulls his shirt off and offers it to him as a towel. Roars and stamps of approval come from the crowd at the sight of Agassi's chiseled shoulders and braided abs. Rafter shakes Agassi off and insists he can play on, though he signals to the umpire to call the trainer. He heads back to the baseline, runs in place a little, does another knee bend, and pinches his nose.
Grue: Well. I see Rafter is still doing his little dance. Maybe he's taking lessons. There seem to be a lot of women in the stadium today. I'm sure he won't have difficulty finding partners to fill his card.
Day-bed: Ha! Ha!
Scene: Rafter arches, wheezes, and blasts a flat one up the middle. The ball ricochets off the throat of Agassi's racket and directly at the netcord judge, hitting her on the chin. Agassi runs to her as she swoons in her chair. Games are one all.
Slimin': You sense that Agassi can't touch Rafter's serve! It's intimidating him! Agassi's feeling like he can't get a grip on this match!
Scene: The trainer arrives to treat Rafter, who insists that he attend to the netcord judge first. Agassi has carried her to his seat, and directed a ball kid to get her a cold bottle of Evian from the cooler to hold to her rapidly swelling nose. While waiting his turn, Rafter removes his shirt and twists around trying to get a look at his scraped elbows. Wolf whistles and shrieks of delight rise from the crowd like steam off boiling water.
Day-bed: Rafter has called in Doc Sprain, the ATP trainer. You have to wonder how this will affect his chances today in the final of the first of the Super Nines on hardcourt live here on EuroSpoof. A break in the action here in Montreal. We'll be right back.
Commercial: Afternoon in Trafalgar Square. A red-headed policewoman is patrolling her beat. A sportscar pulls up to the curb, and the policewoman approaches. She recognizes the occupants, who are obviously lost. "Ah! Mika Hakkinen!" etc.
Scene: Rafter is sitting in a lotus position on his seat, staring across the court with a vacant expression. The wind whips a loose strand of hair over his eyes. He reaches up slowly and brushes the strand back into place, blinks, looks around dazedly and pinches his nose. The camera pans to Doc Sprain, the trainer, bandaging up the netcord judge's chin while Agassi, who has taken off his shirt again for no discernible reason, gives her a back rub.
Day-bed: Back now on EuroSpoof and confirmation that Bark and Slasher will be doing a wrap up of the du Maurier week later over on British EuroSpoof, with news of how all the British players did.... Oh? Oh. My director tells me that's been canceled. So back to the tennis. Hmm. Some time to fill here, Grue.
Grue: Yes. These new rules about injury time-outs tend to slow the game down. In the old days, play was continuous.
Slimin': Oh, but surely these rules are meant to protect the health of the players!
Day-bed: The injury time-out, maybe sometimes. It's these toilet breaks that I wonder at. I think it's all tactics. Stalling. You never see Tim or Greg taking a toilet break.
Grue: Yes. I remember a time when we didn't have chairs to sit on during the break, let alone toilets....
Scene: The action resumes, with the netcord judge, her face swathed in bandages, in position. Agassi smacks an ace out wide. Rafter stares at the line as if he thought he saw it move, then shrugs it off and wanders along the baseline to the ad court.
Slimin': I thought that serve looked long. Aren't they using the Zamboni at this tournament?
Grue and Day-bed: (silence).
Slimin': I mean...Cyclops?
Scene: Agassi spins in a second serve to Rafter's backhand. Rafter chips up the line and charges the net. Agassi whips a forehand crosscourt. Rafter bounds to his right and sends a stab volley back crosscourt, but Agassi is there, and hits an unplayable topspin lob over Rafter's head.
Day-bed: Ha! Ha! He's toying with him. Agassi's toying with him. Ha!
Grue: Yes, the question is, if Rafter doesn't have the weapons to dent the service game of an on-form Agassi, what can he do against a server like Greg?
Day-bed: Some scores from the doubles semifinals held yesterday. Djan Kroslak and Djonas Bjorkman defeated Yan-Michael Gambill and Yeff Terango. While in the other semi, Hickem Aratsi and Arnold Dee Paskwallay defeated the South American duo, Gustavo Kurtin and Gwillermo Cannus.
Scene: Agassi serves wide to the deuce court. Rafter chips and charges again. Agassi blasts a backhand up the line, both feet off the ground. Rafter stabs, pirouettes, and is in position to put away Agassi's lunge volley, which he does. The crowd leaps to its feet, applauding both players. Agassi acknowledges Rafter's shot, but Rafter shakes his head, mouthing "Just lucky, mate." They stand at the net exchanging a few rounds of "You da man," "No, you da man."
Slimin': You sense that Rafter is at his unbeatable best for hard court season here in the US!
Day-bed and Grue: (silence).
Slimin' (losing control): What? What did I say?
Grue: Slimin' missed geography once too often in his lost youth.
Day-bed: Ha! Ha!
Slimin': It's just that I get so confused! They won't let concentrate on tennis, because I'm not an ex-doubles champion like Grue, or an ex-umpire like Day-bed. One week it's Prague doing the curling, the next Helsinki for the rhythmic gymnastics! Last week they made me go to Maryland in New Jersey to do the bloody soap box derby!
Scene: Agassi cracks a serve to Rafter's forehand. Rafter's desperation return poops over the net and falls onto the line. Agassi scurries forward and takes a titanic swing at the high-bouncing sitter, and whacks the netcord judge in the forehead with his follow-through. She throws her arms up and crumples. Rafter starts toward the ball, but when he sees the netcord judge going down, executes an impossible change of direction, bounds sideways, and catches her before she hits the court.
Day-bed: Agassi is just dominating this match.
Grue: Yes. And decimating umpire Curst's team....
Slimin': Wait, I remember now! Montreal! That in....you know.... What's that country? Quebec wants to break away! Y'know! Their top men's player is Elvis Stojko, and they've got a great doubles team in Bourne and Kratz! Oh, come on, you guys, it's on the tip of my tongue. You know, that country where Greg--"(sound of choking and a microphone clattering to the floor. Screams are heard fading away into the distance)
Day-bed: Thanks to Slimin' Dweeb for stopping by despite his busy schedule. Confirmation of a break in the action here on EuroSpoof and on British EuroSpoof. We'll be right back.
Scene: Doc Sprain sprints to the netcord judge's side. The crowd is on its feet, holding its collective breath. Agassi is performing mouth to mouth on the judge. Rafter gestures to the tournament referee that he wants to donate half his winnings to pay for her hospital bills.
Grue (sound of beer can being opened): Yes. Well. So long Simple Slimin'. I don't imagine we'll be hearing your cloying colorless commentary again soon. Using the "C" word on British EuroSpoof? It's a wonder he didn't mention Zola Bud while he was about it. Pathetic country, yours, Day-bed. A real sink-hole for sport. No wonder Fiona May left (sotto voce whispers, and the sound of beer being spilled). What? We're on the air?
Day-bed: Sorry, Grue. Confirmation that the director thought we should stick with the action on court. And also confirmation of a quick call from the Home Office to say that your UK work visa has been rescinded, effective immediately after today's final live here on EuroSpoof. Hard luck. But maybe you can get your old job back with StuporSport. Ha! Ha!
Grue: Well. It may behoove me to give Greg a call. I heard he was looking for a new coach. Hmm. Perhaps it's time I changed hats. Yes....
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