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The Longest Point in the History of Professional Tennis - 29 minutes, 643 shots

Jean Hepner and Vicki DunbarThis week marks the 25th anniversary of an historic tennis match.  At a Virginia Slims tournament in 1984, Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner exchanged 643 shots; it remains the longest single rally in the history of professional tennis.

The 6-hour-31-minute marathon was itself the longest match in tennis history for nearly 20 years and remains the longest match completed on a single day.

The rally that put Nelson-Dunbar and Hepner in the record books came at set point for Hepner, who was ahead, 11-10, in the second-set tie breaker, which lasted 1:47 on its own...

Hugh Waters, a former tennis coach and the owner of the Raintree club, remembered: “I had a lot of people coming up to me at the tournament saying the match was ridiculous, but I always jumped on them. It takes guts to do what they did.  “People don’t understand the mental aspect of the game: this was a battle of wills and real tennis fans like me could appreciate it.”

Among the astonishing elements to the match was this: If Hepner had won the epic rally, she would have forced a third set, and who knows how long the match might have lasted.

Link, via Metafilter.

Photo: Jean Hepner (L) in 1985 and Vicki Nelson Dunbar (R) in 1987.

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