We rushed back to John's house to change and grab 100 10,000-note rupiah from his safe. John stuffed the money inside a racket cover, and we returned to the hotel.
As soon as we took the court, it became obvious that Gunawan was half showman and half psych-artist. Well aware that I was rusty, he tried to cajole us into starting right away. He scampered all over the court in an effort to prevent our hitting with Andy, who could do a much better job of warming us up. Mercifully, Andy didn't engage in any chicanery; for him this was strictly business. Meanwhile, spectators streamed onto the court. Some just wanted to shoot the breeze and some volunteered to serve as ball boys, but most tried to entice John and me into laying off part of the action. We could have covered the entire bet, but John turned down all offers.
We were set to start when Gunawan announced that he wanted Andy to do all the serving for his team. We promptly nixed that proposal and Gunawan relented. Then he informed us about two house rules: First, reaching over the net, as well as touching it, was permitted. Second, "no foot-faulting." The first rule didn't bother me, but the second one sure did. What in the world did he mean by that? Was Gunawan planning to unnerve us by calling foot faults whenever we served a winner? John told me not to worry, and I got ready to receive serve—only to see a man leave the bleachers, climb into the umpire's chair and declare himself the umpire. How many side bets did he have going? Fortunately he said he would call only the score, not the lines.
On the first point of the match Andy hit a serve that was at least six inches deep. I signaled out, and Gunawan took off like a rampaging jack-in-the-box, emitting a variety of indecipherable noises and pointing frantically to a nonexistent mark inside the service line. Now I was certain I had entered The Match of Living Dangerously. Once again John told me to relax, that Gunawan was merely testing us. He was right. Gunawan calmed down and never questioned another call.
For the balance of the set Gunawan devoted most of his energy to staying out of Andy's way and to yapping at John and me as we served and hit overheads. He badgered us with a litany of Indonesian exhortations and with "come on boy, come on boy" in English. Between points he worked the crowd masterfully. When we hit a winner, he feigned despair and elicited sympathy by casting himself as the beleaguered underdog up against two young and strong Americans. That the youngest and strongest player on the court was his partner didn't seem to matter. When his team won a point, Gunawan led the applause.
We broke Gunawan's serve in the third game and were leading 4-3, 40-30 on John's serve when Gunawan threw up a mile-high lob into the rapidly approaching darkness. John's smash landed in the net. Worse, it broke two strings in his racket. Bedlam! Gunawan let loose with myriad macaronic effusions, and the betting became frenzied. I heard a dozen or so spectators cry out "tambah, tambah" (up the ante). Everyone sensed a turning point. If Andy and Gunawan broke us here, they would simply have to hold serve the next game to be serving for the set at 5-5. Worse, I had no idea whether John had another racket. The relief I felt when I saw him produce one from his bag didn't ease my anxiety. But John, who reassured me with a series of "no problems," remained unflappable. After we saved two break points, he served us out of danger.
At 5-4 we reached double match point on my service. I knew exactly what I wanted to do: cut my first ball wide to Andy's forehand. That was his better side, but as the set progressed, the spectators standing on the side of the court opposite the bleachers had edged ever closer to the alley. My serve landed just inside the sideline. Andy might well have chased it down had he not run into a clutch of his countrymen. I waited for Gunawan to explode. Nothing...then a shrug, a smile and a handshake.
As Gunawan was peeling off one million rupiah from his bankroll, I asked him if I could come to next year's taruhan in Bali. His face lit up.
"No problem," he said.