A Perfect Set

Most of us have inflicted or received a “bagel” set on the courts; but have you ever heard of a Perfect/Golden Set?

Thanks for a tip from Keith Butterfield, we know that only one professional player in the history of Open Tennis has won a set where he DID NOT LOSE A SINGLE POINT.

That player? American Bill Scanlon did it in 1983 against Marcos Hocevar of Brazil in the first round of the WCT Gold Coast Classic at Delray Beach, Florida.

Scanlon had won the first set 6-2, but then cruised into The Guinness Book of World Records and the Tennis Hall of Fame by winning the second set 6-0, without dropping a single point.

Talk about being in The Zone!

8 thoughts on “A Perfect Set

  1. I played Harold Solomon in the finals of the Greater Washington (a long long time ago:)) and lost 14-12 in the 4th set. Earlier in the tournament however, I won a 2nd round match in the early rounds 0 and 0, losing 0 pts in the first set and 2 in the second set. Wasn’t trying especially hard to not lose any points, just playing one point at a time. It just happened. Second set I suppose I did try to not lose any points, that’s why I lost 2:).

  2. George, when i was a snot nosed kid of 15 playing tennis in high school, I made the mistake of telling my coach that I didn’t need to practice a particular stroke. This led to a little banter between us, all witnessed with great amusement by my teammates, and eventually my coach presented me with a little proposition. We would play a set, and if I scored a SINGLE GAME in that set, then I wouldn’t need to practice the stroke for the rest of the season. If I failed to score even 1 game, then not only would I have to practice the stroke, but I would also have to take 10 laps around the adjacent soccer field every day after tennis practice.

    Being a cocky little bastard, I told the coach that I was sure I could score at least 4 games against him. (I wasn’t completely confident, though, or else I might have claimed I would win the set.) Now, all of the guys on our team had heard these stories about what a good player our coach had once been, but those were just rumors a far as I was concerned. Indeed, none of us had ever actually seen him play — he mostly just stood there and showed us strokes and things, even occasionally hitting a ball or two, but he never, ever actually rallied with any of us or played any points. And, of course, to a cocky 15 year old, I was sure that he was positively ANCIENT, and completely over the hill, being that he was, like, 37 years old or so at the time. I reckoned that I could just outrun him in his decrepit condition as a senior citizen, and I could score at least 4 games on sheer youthful athleticism alone. But the coach insisted that all I needed to do was to score 1 game against him and I would win the bet. Four games would not be necessary.

    At the end of the fifth game in the set, not only was I down by the score of 0-5, but I had in fact NOT WON A SINGLE POINT AGAINST THE COACH IN THOSE 5 GAMES!! The sixth game was my coach’s serve, and things look very bleak for me to win even one point, let alone that game. Three quick points came and went, with the coach winning all 3 points with the same steady play and pinpoint shot placement (EVERTHING seemed to be on the line) that had been his hallmark through the first 5 games. On triple match point, with me down 0-5, 0-40 in the game, the coach miraculously served a double fault. He then closed out the game on the next point with a well placed ace. I had literally escaped having a golden set scored against me by one point. Of course, it never occurred to me at the time that maybe the double fault had been a “courtesy point” from the coach.

    Some time later that season, one of my teammates told me that he had heard more information about the coach’s tennis pedigree. Not only had he played 4 years of varsity tennis while at Rider College (in New Jersey), but he played Number 1 singles at Rider for all 4 years. Even more astonishing, he had only lost one singles match in all 4 years of his college play, finishing his college career with an amazing 43-1 record. (He is, in fact, the only tennis player in the Rider College, now University, sports Hall of Fame, as far as I am aware.)

    My former coach is now in his 80s and he is now the Rider University Men’s and Women’s tennis coach. Although I don’t think he plays much competitively any more, he was consistently ranked very high in both Middle States and Nationally for a number of years in various age groups. His name is Ed Torres. And I am now 100% sure that he would have scored a golden set against me way back when, but he was too much of a gentlemen then, and still is, to have done that to me.

  3. Marty – great story! I was at the other end of a similar story… years ago, i used to hit with a friend of mine and “let him win” a few games to keep it interesting. After a few drinks one night, he insisted that he could beat me — even if i played my hardest. I didn’t want to do it; but he just pushed and pushed. So I agreed to play him “a real set” the next saturday. At the second changeover, i was leading 3-0 and he observed, “Ya, know, I haven’t even won a point yet?!” I said, “No you haven’t. Do you want to? If so, i will go back to playing a relaxed game.” Which i did. End of his tennis bragging with me.

  4. George, there is an epilogue to my story about coach Ed Torres that I did not mention. My nearly golden set loss against him was back in 1967, I believe, when I was 15 (or maybe 1968, when I was 16). Anyway, I had heard a lot about “Big Ed’s” tennis exploits over the years thereafter. It seemed that he was perenially ranked Number 1 in NJ, in the top 5 in Middle States (at least) and also highly ranked nationally as he moved through all of the age group divisions for Men’s Singles in the USTA by getting older. In 1993, 1995 and 1997, or so, I believe he won both gold and bronze balls in the Men’s Nationals in his age group. In short, he remained a very formidible player. Sometime in the later 1990s, when I was myself playing my best tennis (the first and only time I played enough sanctioned tournaments to get a piddly Number 8 ranking in USTA-NJ and, I think, a double digit ranking somewhere in Middle States in Mens 45’s), I saw Big Ed at a tournament. One thing led to another and we made arrangements to play on his home tennis court, which was located at the New Jersey Shore. I showed up on time, to discover Big Ed — at least 25 years older than me — running laps around the perimeter of his court to get ready for me. To say that I was a bit intimidated would be an understatement. Anyway, I don’t remember the exact scores, but I do remember that it was a total blood bath. We went three sets. I had to dig out absolutely every ball and run my a$$ off just to score any points, while Bid Ed just served and volleyed against me effortlessly, putting away winner after wiinner — nearly all of which were STILL right on the line, just as they had been back in 1967 (or 68). Amazingly, I actually won the third set, and thus won the match, but it was not the least bit pretty and I mostly won because I was, after all, 25 years or so younger and I had a bit more stamina and speed. It was not by any means a pretty match to watch. As we shook hands at the net, Big Ed reminded me of the nearly golden set that he has scored against me on the tennis team years earlier and, ever the coach but still also a fierce competitor, he said something like: “Congratulations. You have gotten much better. But you still have a number of weaknesses in your game that you need to work on.” Of course, he was right. I will never be as good as Big Ed was, and I am sure still is as a tennis player. The guy is my own personal legend.

  5. Greetings one & all from our holiday home in sunny Cyprus. I like to play a local English coach friend of mine over here a couple of times a week. Last time out he won the first set 6-0 – even though he usually wins at a canter this was the first time I had suffered a bagel against him, very painful especially as we had several longish games & I was feeling drained in the extreme heat (over 40c & humid). So, off we went again in the second set – I tried to think of taking one point at a time & slow things down as much as possible, determined to keep the ball in play even though it meant that I was doing all the running ! It worked & I got to 5-0, crazy, but I felt so exhausted at the change-over that I lost the next 4 games without winning more than 2 or 3 points. Karen was watching & I said to her at the change-over at 5-4 that it was now or never ! Somehow I managed to win the next game, goodness knows how. We agreed to stop there after nearly 2 hours which was just as well as I don’t think I would have survived to tell this little tennis tale if we had carried on !
    Best wishes
    Howard

  6. Howard – even tho Emmo would not have approved (“I want to see blood on your knees, Blue”)… as Shakespeare’s Falstaff said, “The better part of valor is
    discretion, in the which better part I have sav’d my life.”

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