What If An Extra Terrestrial Landed in Oz?

By Jane Voigt

January 12, 2014 -- What if an alien landed at Melbourne Park, home of The Australian Open? 

Our ET gazes at the Australian grounds and smiles. What a lovely setting for tennis. The extra terrestrial has not hit a ball in eons, gravity at home is a bit too light. 

But the alien -- the badge on his suit reads 'Protector' -- glances through a discarded newspaper. He reads that Roger Federer is seeded sixth, his lowest spot since 2003. Protector is amazed, joyous, awed by the spectacular career of a man 32 years old, a mere babe back home amongst Martians. Yet Protector is miffed as he reads on. Why won't the media lift Federer to a probable winner? 'Just think that would make 18,' he says to a stone-faced teen frozen on a bench. 'If they think Serena Williams can win her 18th, then why not Roger?' he reasons.  

Protector quickly figures out the reason, as it stares at a very young male competitor on his way to practice. He has a towel around his neck, a large bag with numerous racquets, the name 'Babolat' scripted on every piece of clothing and equipment. 'Ah, the French have landed,' Protector giggles. 'They have guts.' 

This young Babolatian is a problem. There must be more. All seeking glory, for look at these arenas, one honoring Rod Laver, another Margaret Court, plus there are rows of tennis courts and food halls selling sustenance. Tennis is euphoria here. Youth spreads thick a yearning to top those who have gone before them … Federer. These male units are strong, fast, willing to leap into backhands like a speeding bullet and our aged Federer, although fleet of foot for many years, is a nanosecond slow. 

Yet Roger's name travels on, as Protector realizes only four men have won 34 of the last 35 slams. These are Roger, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray. And over the last 8 years at The Australian Open, Protector sees that three of those big four men have grabbed the glory: Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer. How could any other consider their chances of making headway? These three are a virtual wall. Roger is the oldest, yes, but happiest, which is good.

Protector is at peace. It is time for change. 

What about Ernests Gulbis? He is a reformed party dude and ex-smoker, has talent galore, if only his abnormal forehand was not a hideous vision. If Ernests could wave away the handsome and short Italian Fabio Fognini, he would have a chance to play Novak Djokovic, Ernests' teenage friend at the Niki Pilic Academy in Germany. They would not be friendly on court, Protector knows. The stakes are too high. 

And what of this Bernard Tomic, Protector wonders, taking in the massive poster of the 21-year-old Australian with a name reminiscent of eastern Europe? His life could be cut short. In fact, he could be headed home to dear old dad tomorrow, a man forbidden on the property because of the anguish he spews towards others both physically and mentally. How has Bernard come so far under his father's harassment? 

"'I have to stay patient and not lose my head too early,'" Tomic told the AP about his Monday battle against Nadal. "'You just have to stay with him. I mean, he's human.'"

Protector laughs, the sound ruffling flags near the entrance of Rod Laver Arena. 'What else would Rafa be, but human?' Protector says ironically. 'We certainly have had no application from the King for immigration status. Hilarious.'

In a snap Protector straightens, his eyes widen. A breeze brushes his face, like a breath of heaven. A man in robes, cinched at the waist with a Rosary, his arm draped around a tall Argentine friend Juan Martin del Potro, the interloper who stole that one title out of 35. The robed man so forgiving. Juan is crying. He lost the Rosary given him by this man on his way to Wimbledon last summer. Now this saint with a childlike smile hands Juan his own Rosary. He wishes Juan luck and 'take it to the streets my child. You are the one who will rule.' 

A chill passes through Protector's titanium arms. The foreboding comment by the saintly creature could pan out. Protector vows silence. He will take the vision home to his galaxy.

With all the sturdy young men snapping at Federer's feet, and the clear factual records of results over 9 years of Grand Slams from his three friends, Protector cannot reason why Serena is so heralded amongst women tennis players, the press in unison singing praises of her expected win. No one will come close, it writes. 

Protector's starseeds have produced many fine offspring, and they are equal in nature, strength, and tennis skill. Oh but here on Earth the chemistry contrasts. The madness results in superiority of gender. A man's muscle is tighter and combusts with greater power when hitting tennis balls than for their women. Serena nears the physical barrier of competition, Protector comes to understand. She has gone where no woman has ever gone, except Chrissie Evert and Martina Navratilova. Serena is special. Her sister Venus is extra-special. She will have to pull on her planetary powers in the first round. Her opponent from Russia, Ekaterina Makarova, has caused the family troubles in recent past encounters Serena knows all too intimately. Serena will guide her elder sibling Venus, like stars will align to guide Protector on his ride home to a galaxy beyond where no man has gone.

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© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013