Tag Archives: Rod Laver

17 years after getting LASIK surgery, I need glasses again, dammit. And I’m not happy. The next great Americans arrive at the Aussie Open. And an ESPN announcer with a beautiful elegy to his late father

 

I’m bummed. I’m bummed because last Saturday I got some news that I hoped I’d never have to hear again. From a freaking eye doctor.

In February, 2002, I had the best surgery of my life, and spent the best money I’d ever spent.

After 20 years of wearing glasses, from age 8 on, I finally took the plunge and got LASIK surgery. My whole life changed, for the better. I hated, hated glasses, for obvious reasons in school (I was called a nerd, made fun of, all the usual insults we vision-impaired folks deal with in adolescence) and then as an adult I felt it hampered my dating life, my social life, all of it.

LASIK was the panacea, the cure-all to my problems. OK, it didn’t solve EVERY problem, but it made me feel better, look better, and that led to a lot of great things in my life.

Anyway, LASIK was great, and I thought, OK, I’ll never have to wear glasses again, or at least, not for a very long time.

Well, that time is now. I knew my nearsighted-ness was getting a little worse; I’ve been having trouble seeing the scorebox on the TV during sporting events lately, and reading the letters on street signs in the dark while I’m driving was getting more difficult.

But still, I didn’t think I would hear, within two minutes of my annual eye exam, “Yeah, you’re going to need glasses for driving.”

Ugh. I’m only 43; I thought my re-entry into the four-eyed world was still a decade away. I wasn’t mentally prepared to have to delve back into this arena again.

I feel old. I feel like I should get a LASIK refund (kidding, of course, they never guaranteed anything.) I feel defeated.

After my diagnosis, I tried on a few frames, looked at myself in the mirror, and tried not to grimace each time. Couldn’t bring myself to buy specs yet; that’ll come this week.

Dammit, dammit, dammit. Back to glasses. Sigh.

On the positive side, maybe I’ll start to look distinguished with glasses, like Clooney. Nah, I’ll end up looking like Larry David.

**Next up today, this came out of the blue to me on Twitter and I have to say it was very, very moving. ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt, normally known for his sharp, funny quips, went on the air the other night on the anniversary of his father’s death, and gave a beautiful two-minute tribute to his Dad, and the importance of seizing every moment.

I really loved this.

**Finally today, we are midway through the second week of the Australian Open, and as usual, it’s been an awesome tournament. Oh sure I was bummed when Roger Federer lost in the 4th round (not sure he’ll ever win another Slam, the men’s field is just so strong), but there have been so many terrific storylines I’ve enjoyed, including…

— The next generation of Americans is ready to do damage. Yeah, we’ve been hearing about them for a few years, all about their potential, but now they’re here. On the women’s side, Danielle Collins, the pride of UVA, is in the semifinals after never having won a match at a Grand Slam heading into last week (she is ranked in the Top 40, so it’s not like she is a total surprise). Amanda Anisimova, who was born 10 days before 9/11, got to the 4th round and showed she’s the future, and fellow teen Sofia Kenin was also terrific in Week 1.

— And on the men’s side, whoo boy. My man Reilly Opelka beat John Isner, Taylor Fritz did well to get to the third round, and the guy pictured above, all of 21 years old a few days ago, was spectacular. Frances Tiafoe, who many of us in tennis have been touting as the best U.S. hope to win a Grand Slam in the next few years, has finally had that major breakthrough we’ve all expected. He beat No. 5 seed Kevin Anderson in Round 2, survived two more brutal matches to reach the quarters, then finally succumbed to Rafa Nadal on Monday.

But in the process, Tiafoe revealed his wonderful personality, enthusiasm and talent that many have enjoyed as he’s risen up the junior ranks. Truly, a good dude and someone you should root for. He and the other young Americans are just about ready to arrive, now if that Novak/Roger/Rafa three-headed monster would retire already 🙂

— The Aussie Open is killer on my sleep cycle. I try to get to sleep earlier than I used to but it’s hard to turn off live tennis at 12:30 a.m. And this is the only sporting event I follow where I wake up at 7 a.m. and check my phone to see all the things that happened while I slept.

— Down to the semis in both men’s and women’s, and I’m pretty sure Novak Djokovic will win the men’s title, though Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rafa Nadal will both give him major tests in the process. On the women’s side? I have no idea, especially after Serena’s epic collapse Tuesday night from up 5-1 in the third set.
I guess I’ll say Naomi Osaka wins it, but the way Danielle Collins is playing, it wouldn’t shock me if she broke through and shocked the world.

— Finally, I have to give a shout-out to this tremendous piece of journalism from my friend and former colleague Konrad Marshall, whose work I have featured in this space before. Konrad, a native Australian who’s a journalist there now, wrote this outstanding feature on the greatest Aussie tennis player of them all, and one of the 3 greatest men’s players ever, Rod Laver.

Laver is 80 now, was hobbled by a stroke and only recently has come out of his shell a bit and accepted the adulation he gets worldwide.

Marshall gets so many wonderful details from Laver, about his stroke, about his beloved wife Mary passing away, and how he’s so enjoying life now. Truly, this is a fantastic piece of writing I think you’ll enjoy. (I got to meet Laver a few years ago at the U.S. Open and the 10 minutes I spent with him is an absolute career highlight.)