By MARY BURGER – STAFF WRITER
While a round of tennis is a lot of fun, it is also exhausting. No one knows that better than sophomores Lucas Brooks, Logan Henize, junior Kate Tomey, and Head Coach of Tennis at Danville High School Mark Mojesky. On Oct. 24, the three Centre students and tennis coach sought to break the Guinness Book of World Records in the longest tennis doubles match.
The current record is held by four men from the Netherlands, Sipke de Hoop, Wichard Heidekamp, Andre Poel, and Rob Hamersma, whose match lasted 57 hours, 32 minutes, and 27 seconds. Brooks, Henize, Tomey, and Mojesky played for 24 hours. While the record-breaking attempt fell short, it was not without worthwhile efforts.
“It was a very trying but great experience. You really can’t prepare to play tennis that long while going to school. As part of the tennis team, I did play quite a bit, but it is just not possible to be able train for something like that properly,” Brooks said.
“We had to will ourselves to keep playing. The toughest thing for me was the three hour time period from about 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. [where] there was no crowd at all and it was cold. We had great support through the event and the crowd kept me going, but those three hours without anyone there were very difficult.”
Prior to this experience, the longest match Coach Mark Mojesky had participated in lasted around three and a half hours. In order to prepare for this challenge of 58 hours, he tried to hit tennis balls at least twice a week, sometimes with coaches from the University of Kentucky. He also ran and cycled in order to build up endurance.
“The biggest challenge was focus, mentally more than physically. The elements were pretty challenging. It was cold, dark, and the lights went off at one point,” Coach Mojesky said.
The players also had challenges that went beyond the elements. The match began at 3 p.m., which meant that each player was already awake for several hours. One student even had an exam on Friday. Each had gone about their normal day, and then attempted to play tennis for two and a half straight days. Had they began playing soon after waking up for the day, it is possible that the match would have continued past 24 hours.
The players had a quick break between sets in which they could get water, energy bars, bananas, or other necessities to keep playing. They also had a ten minute break between matches, during which some players tried to capture a few minutes of sleep.
“For the first ten hours or so, we didn’t run into too much trouble, but as the night went on, the temperature continued to drop, our legs got tired, and it became harder and harder to keep playing. Energy came to each of us in random spurts. It was like riding a roller coaster, and each hill had a steeper drop than the last. Fortunately, the sunrise picked up our spirits enough to keep going for a little while longer, but by twelve o’clock or so it was apparent that 58 hours was going to be an unreachable goal. After 24 hours of continuous play, we had pushed ourselves to limit both physically and mentally, and we mutually decided that it was time to stop,” Henize said.
While they may not have broken the record, it is possible that Brooks, Henize, Tomey, and Mojesky broke the record for the longest mixed genders doubles match since the current world record is held by all males. However, that information is not easily accessible. Both Brooks and Mojesky said they might consider attempting the record again if they had better conditions.
“I would consider trying to break it, but only in the perfect circumstance, such as if the college ever got us real indoor tennis courts. It would have to be indoors where we could control the climate instead of it being very cool at one point during the event and then heating up to where we were struggling with the heat during the day,” Brooks said.
Brooks, Henize, Tomey, and Mojesky sought to do more than just break the world record, though. They also raised money and awareness for the Wilderness Trace Child Development Center. This was accomplished through corporate sponsors, donations, and t-shirt sales. The money raised totaled approximately $2,000.