Wilson knew that Prez was cheating. The second the ball leaves your racket, you know if it’s long or not. It wasn’t. But Prez called it out – shouted ‘My advantage!’ and stared confidently back down the court at Wilson.
Wilson nodded, smiled and crossed to the advantage side of the court. The serve for the game, had it been televised, would have drawn the comment, ‘Like a tracer bullet.’ But it was out by a few centimetres. Wilson looked unconcerned as Prez announced, ‘3 – 5. Your serve – to save the match.’
With a good serve and volley, and then a precise backhand pass, Wilson got to 30 love and then served an ace. ‘Sorry. Wasn’t ready.’ shouted Prez, his left hand held high in apology; his racket hand swishing back and forth.
Wilson acknowledged the gesture and retook his serve – a shallow, kicking serve hit with enough side spin to beat a dusty carpet. Prez netted the return. Then an indisputable ace, wide out to the Prez forehand. ‘Not sure about that. Close call really. Take two why don’t you.’
Wilson double-faulted and then was stranded at the net as Prez lobbed him. Wilson shanked his next serve and the second serve was too short and slow. Prez monstered the return. Deuce.
The two men played for a further 5 minutes. Neither one able to convert a game point. On the fourth deuce point, Wilson played a wonderfully angled drop shot that clipped the line. ‘Out!‘ roared Prez, pumping his fist, eyes blazing, striding back to receive service.
Wilson served wide to the Prez backhand and the return was hit powerfully down the line, its landing place masked from view by Wilson’s lunging body. It was clearly out.
Without hesitation, Wilson ran to the net, offering his hand to Prez. ‘Great shot, Prez. Really well played. I’ll get you next time fellah.’
Diana, Wilson’s wife, handed him a beer, also handing him a concerned look. ‘Why don’t you say something? He cheats every time you play – and you say nothing. Why do you let him do that to you? Is it because he’s your boss and that’s just how it is?’
‘It has nothing to do with that, Diana. I’ll tell you why. It’s for me. It’s about me. He’s a much better player than I’ll ever be. He doesn’t need to cheat to win. But if I let him cheat. Help him to cheat. And he knows that. That gives me an edge. Just a little something I have on him when the dick waving starts in the locker room – or in the office. That’s why.’
Wilson raised his beer to Prez and smiled. ‘Here’s to next time, Prez.’