COLUMN: World Cup, Wimbledon provide memorable day

Monday, June 28, 2010

No championships were decided Wednesday. Nothing even close.

Yet why will that date -- June 23 -- go down as among the most exciting single days of sports in recent memory and be etched in the minds of so many sports fans for a long time?

Because of what took place on a soccer pitch in South Africa and a tennis court in England.

A little before 11 a.m., Landon Donovan's goal in extra time lifted the United States past Algeria 1-0 and into the World Cup's round of 16. A tie, which is what the Americans appeared headed for, would have kept them from advancing out of their group.

At about the same time, John Isner of the United States and Nicolas Mahut of France were well underway in the fifth set at Wimbledon in what would turn out to be the longest match in tennis history.

That contest spanned three days and lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes, surpassing the previous record for longest match of 6:33. The fifth set alone, which spanned two days, took 8:11.

Isner finally outlasted Mahut 70-68 in that final set. Those 138 games were longer than the previous record of 112 games -- for an entire match.

I woke up about 9 a.m. that day intent on watching the entire soccer game and flipping around to some tennis before leaving the house for a workout.

I still got my workout in, but not until about four hours later because I simply could not take my eyes off the tennis until it finally was suspended by darkness for the day at 59-59.

Of course, I was back in front of the television Thursday for the conclusion of the match, which finally ended when Isner got the first break of serve in the entire marathon set with Mahut.

Isner is a top-20 player who may or may not end up having a fine professional career -- he lost his next match at Wimbledon -- while Mahut is a journeyman.

But regardless of what the future holds for them, their ironman performance won't soon be forgotten, if ever.

As for the U.S. soccer team, the Americans followed up their stirring victory by suffering a 2-1 overtime loss Saturday to Ghana.

Regardless, what a Wednesday of sports.

Kentucky was considered by many to be the nation's most talented college basketball team last season despite fielding one of the country's youngest squads.

Thursday's NBA draft did nothing to dispute just how much talent the Wildcats had.

Kentucky had five players selected in the first round, the most ever by any school in the opening round. Four of Kentucky's selections were freshmen.

Point guard John Wall was the No. 1 overall pick, followed by center DeMarcus Cousins at No. 5, forward Patrick Patterson at No. 14, guard Eric Bledsoe at No. 18 and center Daniel Orton at No. 29.

Patterson, a junior, was the only non-freshman of the group.

Orton wasn't even a starter, averaging 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds.

The Big 12 had an impressive draft with seven players taken in the first round, the most by any conference.

That includes the only schools other than Kentucky with more than one first-rounder as Kansas (center Cole Aldrich, No. 11, guard Xavier Henry, No. 12) and Texas (guard Avery Bradley, No. 19, forward Damion James, No. 24) each had two opening-round picks.

It came as no surprise Friday when an NCAA appeals committee upheld the original sanctions levied against former Southeast Missouri State men's basketball coach Scott Edgar.

Edgar had denied committing rules violations since the NCAA began its investigation of him and his program in October of 2008.

The NCAA cited Southeast last August for major and secondary violations that included impermissible benefits to basketball players, coaches attending summer strength and conditioning activities and coaches observing offseason pickup games. The men's basketball team was ordered to vacate 11 wins during the 2007-08 season.

Edgar, who was fired in 2008, also was cited by the NCAA for unethical conduct and was given a three-year show-cause order that makes it difficult for any NCAA institution to hire him. He denied involvement or knowledge of the violations and filed an appeal.

Edgar, who coached at Southeast during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, was hired in May as the basketball coach at Eastern Oklahoma State College, a junior college in Wilburton, Okla.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: