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September 25, 2014 11:09 AM

Holding_cup_aloft.jeg_(2)Toby Smith reveals the absolute worst victory speech.

I want to especially thank those people who have been around me during the two weeks of this tournament. I don’t like the terms “team” or “camp.” “My team” sounds as if we have numbers on our shirts. Hello?  In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t. And “my camp” is way too dorky. When I hear it, I think of the summer camp for boys that I went to in Minnesota. I had to go on snipe hunts, eat s’mores and constantly fight off mosquitoes the size of full-grown sparrows.  

Therefore, I prefer “my faction.”

All the members of my faction are here today. They’re sitting over there, in the first seven or eight rows. I need every one of them to have a good day. Well, I don’t really need Dr. Larry. He’s my dentist, the guy wearing the red ball cap.  A dentist isn’t really a doctor, so I’m not sure why he insists on being called doctor.  Anyway, Dr. Larry tells me over and over I need to floss more often. Hey, Doc, how will that help my second serve?
On the other hand, I do need a rolling coach and I am glad Sheila has joined my faction.  She has been working with me to not simply sprawl on the court in ecstasy the moment I win a tournament. Instead, Sheila has gotten me to practice what she calls “The Log.” You saw the results of how I roll a few minutes ago when I completed exactly five revolutions, with my arms tucked into my chest.  I can’t begin to tell you what this means. Here then is a big shout-out to Sheila.

In order to win a major tournament like this one, it is absolutely crucial for you to have a good tan. To get a super tan, you need a top-notch tanning instructor and it is my good fortune to have Giorgio on board my faction. Giorgio demands that I tan everything, and I mean everything, including the bottoms of my feet. Doing so has improved my game in ways I cannot explain.   

Rocco, you may know, used to give me terrific massages but I no longer needed him when I learned I could get someone for my faction who could take care of two tasks for the price of one. So I canned Rocco, who has three small children at home and depends on me for a living. If he’s listening to this, nothing personal, big guy. In his place I hired Rita, who is now my masseuse and who happens to be much better looking than Rocco. More important, Rita does double duty by making sure I have a large supply of wristbands to throw to fans when I win a match or, heaven forbid, when I just happen to lose.    

Special praise must go to Pascal, my walking coach. Pascal has shown me the value of not walking when I need a towel during a match or when I go to the net to shake hands at the end.  Instead, Pascal has pushed me to skip as I do these things. “Skeep! Skeep! Skeep!” Pascal is always calling out to me. It’s a mantra that has definitely turned my life around.

My talking coach, Sylvie, deserves a well-earned salutel. Sylvie is a licensed electrocutionist. She helps me with the talks I give myself. When my back is turned toward the court, Sylvie doesn’t want me to say “First serve in” or “Keep the pressure on.” Because of Sylvie, I now say, “Nish-kabob horsehair.”   

I look at the faces of my faction between points and, yes, some of them I’ve never seen before. It’s not easy bankrolling such a large group. I mean, my monthly nut for all these people is surely bigger than the GNP of some of those countries that the U.S. is bombing, such as Ukraine. Even so, having every one of my faction is, in the end, worth it, I suppose. My faction means the world to me. My faction always has my back, except when Rita is working on my back.

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