As a tennis fanatic and weekend hacker, I've always wanted the chance to play tennis against some of the really good players. But you can't just sign up to play the U.S. Open, or even the qualifying tournament to the U.S. Open -- you have to earn your way in by doing well in smaller Challenger tournaments. So, when I found out that professional players were going to be playing a tournament on the courts I played on every day in high school, and that anyone who wanted to could attempt to qualify for that tournament, it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. There were two other interesting parts to this tournament, besides the completely open qualifying. Celebrities were given wildcards into the main draw, and men and women played in the same draw, because of the unique rules which removed the serve and thus evened the playing field significantly. The qualifier started with 64 players, and the top 4 earned an entry into the main draw of 32, which included Jill Craybas (currently 75 in the world, competing in the Olympics), Sam Querrey (49th in the world), and John Isner (134 in the world). So, how did this all turn out? I lost in the first round of the qualifying, coming away with 5 points, a T-shirt, and a skinned knee as I was run from side to side by my opponent, the 2004 SoCal Open champion. The highest ranked woman, Jill Craybas, made it all the way to the quarterfinals, and was 2 points away from beating Sam Querrey, a higher ranked professional, so removing the serve definitely evened out the play. Some of the celebrities, like Gavin Rossdale, were actually pretty good tennis players. Gavin beat Sam Querrey's father before Querrey beat him in the next round. The sudden death format also worked extremely well, with both semi-finals and the final being decided by a single point at 20-all. That removes some of the suspense from the match, but allows for much more predictable play times and a very rapid tournament. I'd certainly play in it again.
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About the reviewer
Ari Miller (ari1974)
I mostly write about my main obsession, tennis. When I'm not experimenting with new tennis racquets, I love to watch a good movie or read a great book. I'm a fan of both non-fiction (especially books … more
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Shotgun 21 refers both to a variant of standard tennis, and to a tournament of the same name played in the Pacific Palisades, California on August 3rd, 2008. Players serve underhanded to start the point, alternating serve every 5 points. The first player to 21 points wins.