Wim­ble­don

The Daily Herald - - SPORTS - By Howard Fen­drich

Ten­nis teacher Mar­cus Wil­lis plays Roger Fed­erer on Cen­tre Court at Wim­ble­don,

LON­DON — How much money might you be will­ing to pay for the once-in-a-life­time chance to play ten­nis against Roger Fed­erer on Cen­tre Court at Wim­ble­don?

Or merely for the chance to emerge from the tun­nel lead­ing out to the green grass there and hear the full-throated yells of nearly 15,000 stand­ing, clap­ping spec­ta­tors pulling for you?

Or, per­haps best of all, for the chance to look up at a guest box and see your par­ents, sis­ter, brother and cousin leap­ing out of their seats, re­joic­ing, af­ter you con­jured up a beau­ti­fully curled lob that floated over the man con­sid­ered by many to be the sport’s great­est player in his­tory and landed in to win a 14-stroke ex­change?

Mar­cus Wil­lis, who lives at home with Mom and Dad and works as a ten­nis in­struc­tor at a club in cen­tral Eng­land, got to ex­pe­ri­ence all of that and more Wed­nes­day, and it didn’t cost the 25-year-old a dime. Ac­tu­ally, Wil­lis earned the big­gest pay­check of his ca­reer de­spite wind­ing up with the sort of re­sult every­one ex­pected when a guy ranked 772nd in the world some­how found him­self across the net from the man who spent more weeks at No. 1 than any­one: a 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 vic­tory for Fed­erer in the sec­ond round at the All Eng­land Club.

“I did look up twice as I bounced the ball, and saw Roger Fed­erer, and thought, ‘Oh, haven’t seen this be­fore,’” Wil­lis said. “Yeah, it was sur­real. … I had to get used to it and play.”

He earned the right to be out there against the 17-time Grand Slam cham­pion thanks to an im­prob­a­ble, straight-from­cou­ple of weeks that in­cluded vic­to­ries in three matches dur­ing a play­off for low-ranked Bri­tish play­ers, three more in the qual­i­fy­ing rounds at Wim­ble­don, and then an­other Mon­day in his very first tour-level match.

“It’s all been in­cred­i­ble and a bit of a blur,” said Wil­lis, a left­hander with a strong serve who slices shots off both wings. “I’ve gone from one ex­treme to the other in a mat­ter of days.”

Wil­lis, who charges about $40 per hour for lessons, leaves with a check for 50,000 pounds (about $67,000).

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