Some things we know about Senator Barack Obama, democratic candidate for President of the United States – Oprah Winfrey loves him, he is probably the best public orator among Presidential candidates since John and Robert Kennedy, he is for national health care, securing our borders with additional immigration agents and ending the war in Iraq. You should also know that he is a fan of James Blake and tennis.
My former girlfriend (who works in a high profile job) had the opportunity to speak to Sen. Obama this summer on a private conference call with her very high profile boss. When my ex-girlfriend was to give Obama instructions about a particular project, she told me there was a pause in the conversation as she scrambled to find the information to give to him. Wanting to bring up some small talk to kill the silence, she brought up tennis. She was still reeling from our fun outing from the previous night, watching the thrilling James Blake – Fabrice Santoro five-set second round US Open match. She asked the Senator if he watched the match. She told me that Obama enthusiastically responded and told her how exciting a match it was and he was glued to the TV until the conclusion at nearly 1 am. He proceeded to tell my ex-girlfriend in great detail and acumen how great a player Blake was, how much he admired him and how he had overcome so much (Santoro’s great shotmaking, Blake’s 0-for-9 five-set match record at the time and a difficulty of closing out a player who was cramping, but still able to compete at a high-level.) This is not to mention Blake’s comeback from his well-documented neck injury and zoster that resulted from the stress of dealing with the death of his father.
Blake, I recall from a short “Bag Check” segment on Tennis Channel, pulled out a copy of Obama’s book Dreams From My Father from his tennis bag, so I think there is some mutual respect and admiration.
If Obama does win the presidency, at least we won’t have to worry about a presidential double-fault like President Richard Nixon performed in 1969 when hosting the United States and Romanian Davis Cup teams at the White House prior to the Davis Cup Challenge Round (Final). The following excerpt from THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS (www.newchapterpressmedia.com ), due out later this year, describes what happened.
President Richard M. Nixon, a bowler and golfer who secretly despised tennis, hosted both final-round teams at a White House reception. This was a nice gesture, but the Chief Executive caused a few awkward stares when, as a memento of the occasion, he presented each player with a golf ball. Perhaps these were left over, some speculated, from the golf-happy Eisenhower administration. “I’m a Republican, but I’ll never vote for him again,” grumbled (Cliff) Richey. “Why he do this?” said a puzzled (Ion) Tiriac. “No golf courses in Romania.”