Thats how every tennis match starts out. And at this moment, pop culture is madly in love with the sport, which is showing up all over screens and stages.
Why is everyone courting the game for dramatic potential? Anna Ziegler, author of upcoming play about two tennis greats facing off at the U.S. Open, The Last Match, considers that question an easy lob.
Tennis is already theater, she tells the Daily News. Some matches can feel like whole lifetimes. Thats how epic they are.
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That includes the one recreated in Battle of the Sexes, out Sept. 22. Emma Stone and Steve Carell play tennis stars Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, who faced off in an historic exhibition match in 1973.
In the Swedish biodrama Borg/McEnroe,Shia LaBeouf and Stellan Skarsgard relive the 1980s tennis rivalry between the low-key Bjrn Borg and the hot-tempered John McEnroe.
Playwrights are taking a whack at the sport. Actress-writer Amanda Peets new drama, Our Very Own Carlin McCullough, revolves around a tennis prodigy facing her future. MCC Theater hosted a reading of the work this week. Zieglers Last Match begins previews on Sept. 28 at the Laura Pels Theatre.
Meanwhile, Grammy winner Pharrell Williams just released his new tennis collection for Adidas.
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Court and sparks, indeed.
Of course, interest in tennis, along with its might, muscle, mind games and metaphor, isnt brand new. Think of Woody Allens 2005 filmMatch Pointor Terrence McNallys Broadway 2007 playDeuceand any number of other productions.
The current fascination, however, is intense. Same goes for how actors have been preparing to play tennis on stage or screen.
Emma Stone put on 15 pounds of lean muscle to play King. To do that she worked out with personal trainer Jason Walsh, who focused on weight training (pushing a 200-pound sled) for strength and cardio interval training (VersaClimber, anyone?) to keep the La La Land Oscar winner quick on her feet.
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The Last Match cast got busy too. As a tennis fan, and as someone who played a lot growing up, I watch the pros play and wonder what conversations theyre having with themselves at crucial moments in a match, says Ziegler.
I wanted to find a way to make a theater into a tennis court, she adds, to examine that intensity under a different set of lights that might reveal new things about the game and about why people push themselves to do what they do.
To prep inside and out, the actors went the U.S. Open with Queens-born sportscaster and tennis pro Mary Carillo, who won the 1977 French Open mixed-doubles title with partner John McEnroe. Carillo knows her way around a tennis court.
A rep for the play tells the News that Carillo schooled the actors on how to hold a racket and have the swagger of a tennis player. Carillo also discussed the connection between the heart of the athlete and the actor.
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Actor Wilson Bethel’s top takeway was how Carillo “spoke about the emotions that different players channel to win. McEnroe’s anger vs Djokovic’s indignation.”
Alex Mickiewicz marvels, he tells the News, that Carillo “still has dreams/nightmares about certain matches or points. The stress of the game stays in the body long after firsthand experience.”
A tweet from castmate Natalia Payne suggests that Carillo aced her debut as a theater consultant: Still pinching myself.