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Reporter has Wii bit of fun with Tennis team

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | APRIL 22, 2009 7:26 AM

It all started one day when I was playing Wii tennis on my roommate’s system, pretending I was Rafael Nadal crushing forehands at my opponent. I was curious. I wondered if Wii tennis actually translated to real tennis, and vice versa.

As the beat reporter for the Iowa women’s tennis team, I figured I could do some investigative reporting to find out the answer to my curiosity. Then I had a better idea: Why ask the players when I could perform the experiment for myself?

That’s right, I was going to challenge a Hawkeye in Wii tennis.

I proposed the idea to the team after a home match. No takers. They weren’t buying what I was selling. As I was about to start begging, senior Jennifer Barnes stepped up to the plate.

“I’ll do it,” Barnes said.



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So we worked out the details and decided to meet on a Monday afternoon, the team’s day off. Barnes, claiming that she had never played before, brought some backup with her in freshman Ally Majercik, who had played once. Just so we’re clear, I had only been playing for about a week.
Things started out a little rocky. We had some technical difficulties trying to set up the game in the team’s lounge at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex (Yes, I was nice and gave them home-court advantage). Just a tip: Bringing extra batteries would always be a smart thing to do.

While I was setting up, “Team Hawkeye” talked strategy. They decided to switch after each game, with Barnes starting out returning and Majercik subbing in as the designated server.

For rookies of Wii tennis, a match can be played to a best of one, three, or five games (Also for those who are unfamiliar, the characters don’t have arms. How they swing a racket, I don’t know). We went all out and chose the five-game match. I, being player one, served first: ACE!

I thought I was off to a good start, but things went downhill in a hurry. Barnes adjusted quickly and broke serve to put Team Hawkeye up, 1-0. Majercik took over, and we went back and forth. As opposed to Barnes’ baseline style, Majercik played the net ferociously, winning a couple easy points. I made my adjustment with a few lob balls, and we battled at deuce for a few minutes.

My mental toughness was rapidly declining. Getting impatient, I tried for a winner and it sailed wide of the line. Team Hawkeye held serve and was up, 2-0. With my back officially against the wall, I was as nervous as Fogel in Superbad when he was getting ready to use his fake Hawaiian ID at the liquor store.

All I knew is I didn’t want to get blanked. I held serve in the third game to cut Team Hawkeye’s lead to 2-1. I would need to break Majercik’s serve to extend the match into a fifth and final game. Somehow, I did just that.

I was relieved to tie the match at two. Barnes took back the controller, determined to put me in my place. She brought out her secret weapon, a shot in which she swings the racket as fast as she can back and forth as she makes contact with the ball, thus making it impossible for me to predict where the ball was going.

With the score at 40-30 in my favor, I knew I didn’t have enough gas left to engage in another deuce, so I went back to my strength. I hit a smoking serve (no really, if you time it right, the ball has a trail of smoke), and the match ended the way it started — with an ace.

To be fair, I had more experience playing the Wii than Team Hawkeye did. Why do you think I went to the Wii anyway? I wanted to save myself the embarrassment and physical pain of getting creamed on the hard court. As for the experiment, I didn’t get enough data to make a decision as to whether real tennis skills translate to the Wii.

Maybe for a follow-up experiment, I’ll challenge Rafa.


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