Game, Set, Lover

Submitted into Contest #249 in response to: Write a story about a tennis match between two rivals.... view prompt

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Romance Coming of Age Gay

This story contains sensitive content

(TW: Contains cursing)

Sweat was pouring down my flushed face, and my throat tightened as I saw whose name was paired across from mine on the tournament bracket. It was the final match of the spring tournament and a rematch that would surely draw the entire country club to our court.

I wiped my face with my cold, wet towel and watched as Becks Taylor took the court with his oversized, Babolat bag and his trusted Head racquet in hand. His pink headband held his wispy, blonde hair at bay, and I wasn’t sure if it was the heat or my imagination, but it looked as if Alex Zverev (my favorite professional tennis player) was strolling towards me.

Becks placed his bag on the bench, and still clutching his racquet, set his sights on me. I groaned and rolled my eyes as he walked up next to me, his obnoxious, albeit gorgeous body, blocked the sun from my face.

“Rory, long time no see.” He winked with a flirtatious smile that would send most girls into a whirlwind but fell flatter than a lob for me.

“Becks, what not a pleasure it is to see you, again.” I replied with a forced smile.

He chuckled, his deep laugh rattling the energy around me.

Okay, stop! I told myself. Stop it right now. That wasn’t sexy. Get your head in the game. Remember, we hate him. Yes, we despise Becks Taylor. We despise his adorable dimples and sexy ass. Ugh, stop it, brain.

“Not still bitter about last year, are we?” his left eyebrow quirked, and his voice snapped me out of my internal war with myself. I met his olive-green eyes and yearned to punch the lopsided grin from his face. Or kiss it. To be fair, it was a toss-up for me. Becks Taylor was the arrogant son of the club's tennis pro, and since we were six years old, my forever enemy.

It all started one practice when he spiked a ball at me and it hit my ankle. I know, I know, that’s the game, but the thing is, he meant to do it. He aimed for my ankle. I know this because he told me – asshole. Apparently, he didn’t like that his dad, our pro, chose me for line one, and put him at line two in our upcoming match against a rival club.

My hot temper prevailed, and I hurled my racquet at his beautiful face. Turns out, my aim is better using a racquet than it is tossing one. I missed and sent my racquet into the ground by the service line. Mortally embarrassed, and pissed off, I vowed to get back at Becks. But there's a secret I’ve never told anyone; I actually really liked Becks up until that moment. Well, deep down, maybe I still do. Even my parents didn’t see it, but I knew I wasn’t like other boys. So, when I met Becks, I knew. I knew I wanted to always love someone like Becks Taylor.

Fast forward to last year, and it was our spring junior tournament for under-18; the final time we would compete at the junior level since we both would turn eighteen a few weeks later. Becks and I both progressed easily to the final singles round and according to his dad, there’s still chatter amongst the club members about that junior's match.

We played a four-hour match in the beating sun. His serve, then mine, his set point, then mine. We were so equally matched, that we made it to the fifth set as the sun started to set and the court lights beamed on us instead. The club’s pros began to discuss whether they'd let the match continue or reschedule it to finish the next day.

I remember the way his shirt was suctioned to his body and the way his blonde, shaggy hair danced every time he made contact with the ball. Most kids our age didn’t get to a fifth set, that was unheard of at our level. Typically, a better player overcame the other in straight sets of three, maybe four if they had a bad set.

The humidity and stifling heat of the day wore us out; now, with the LED lights shining down on us, it was match point, again. We'd been stuck in deuce for thirty minutes going back and forth with match points. Both panting and moving slower, it was almost poetic the way it ended; I knew my mistake as soon as my mis-hit forehand went straight up in the air, setting Becks up for the perfect overhead smash.

Today, I wouldn’t make the same mistake. Becks was over 6 feet tall, but I hit a growth spurt (miraculously) last summer and I matched him in height, speed, and talent. Round two was going to go down in club history, and I was determined to be the winner.

I knew I had to be careful about his big serve energy, it wasn’t just synonymous with his personality, he was powerful and dangerous on the court. But so was I, and if I’m telling the truth, I’m a bit more accurate with my first serves.

“No, not bitter at all,” I smirked at him with a devilish gleam in my eyes. “I’ll kick your ass this time anyway, so that will make everything better.”

He laughed so loud it caused spectators to look over with curious expressions.

“Oh Ror, I love your enthusiasm.” He turned to walk away, then looked over his shoulder and added, “Let’s keep them low this time, yeah?” Still laughing, he strolled to his bench with the confidence of a God and began to get ready for the match.

Fuck, I hate him! I hate him. No, you don’t.

Ugh, my heart seemed to forget we did in fact hate him.

After flipping a coin, it was determined that he would serve first and I would return.

“Get ready, Ror. I’m coming for you.” he taunted as he walked to the baseline on his side of the court.

I wish you would come for me. Shit, no. Don’t think that! No. My thoughts were in rare form today.

“We’ll see about that, Becks. Second place will look good on you for once.”

I set my stance, twirled my racquet, and waited for his serve. The court was standing room only, it was packed, and I hadn’t realized so many people arrived so quickly. His dad was playing umpire, but I wasn’t worried he’d cheat; Mr. Taylor was an ethical, honest man.

Becks tossed the ball high into the air, and as he jumped to make contact, I saw everything unfold in slow motion. A little girl was playing with a tennis ball in her mom's lap. She missed it and it rolled onto the court just as Becks was landing. His serve was perfect, but I let it fly right past me. Fear thrummed through my body, and a sharp chill crept down my spine as I broke out into a cold sweat. I was running to Beck's side of the court where he was screaming and holding his ankle. His dad, only seconds behind me, leaped from the umpire’s chair and ran to Becks.

I’ll never forget his guttural screams and the way the crowd collectively gasped as he landed on the little girl’s rogue tennis ball. It was a freak accident, a mistake, and now Becks was crying in my arms as I squeezed his hand and held him; his dad grasped his other hand and kept whispering reassuring words into his son's ear.

When the paramedics arrived, Becks looked at me and uttered through painful gasps, "He's coming. I want Ror with me."

His dad looked over at me surprised, but I wasn't looking back at him, I was staring into the most beautiful green eyes that were pleading with me to stay.

Yes, I hated Becks Taylor, but that day, I learned I loved him even more.

May 10, 2024 22:42

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1 comment

Eid Okuma
01:02 May 31, 2024

Really good story.


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