So? Ten grand?
Naw, Mr. Brown says. Why don't we just bet $500.
Whatever you say.
My body relaxes. I want to dance along the baseline, knowing I won't have to play for $10,000.
Mr. Brown, meanwhile, is playing a less relaxed game. He's suddenly junking, drop-shotting, lofting lobs, angling the ball at the corners, trying backspin and sidespin and all sorts of trickery. He's also trying to run me back and forth, wear me out. But I can't be worn out, and I can't miss. I beat Mr. Brown 6--2.
Sweat running down his face, he pulls a wad from his pocket and counts out five crisp hundreds. He hands them to my father, then turns to me. Great game, son.
He shakes my hand. His calluses feel rougher—thanks to me.
He asks what my goals are, my dreams. I start to answer, but my father jumps in.
He's going to be No. 1 in the world.
I wouldn't bet against him, Mr. Brown says.