Song of the Day

“Vamos Rafa” by Binge

First, I want to make sure I give proper credit to Binge. I try to embed only songs that come from the artist’s official YouTube or Spotify. I couldn’t find this track on either site. It is, however, available on Apple Music under Tennis Tunes – EP. Definitely check it out there.

Now for why I picked this song. I think the simplest way to say is that it was part of the podcast episode that got me back into tennis.

The first time I got really into tennis was my freshman year of high school (2011). I joined the school’s team, and that led to me developing an interest in professional tennis. I’d watched the Slams all my life, but I didn’t understand the depth of the the pro game until that year. My favorite players were Andy Roddick (because I’d always been a fan), and Caroline Wozniacki (because she was all the rage back then). In the 3+ years that followed, I became the team captain, and my interest in pro tennis turned into an obsession. By 2014, in addition to favorite players (Jack Sock and Eugenie Bouchard), I had complex lists of players whose matches I tried to watch whenever I had a chance. I even printed out qualifying draws of tour events for nothing but my own enjoyment.

My last year of high school, 2014, was a great tennis year for me. Bouchard went SF, SF, F at the first three Slams. Sock won Wimbledon men’s doubles.

Then I started college. I tried out for Arizona State’s USTA team, the school’s highest available level of men’s tennis (at the time. They’re bringing NCAA men’s tennis back next year.). There were something like 50 people trying out for four open spots. The details aren’t important, but I was one of the very last people to get cut.

That killed me. It wasn’t that I thought I was great at tennis. I just wanted the opportunity to keep competing and getting better

The US Open started the next day or something like that. I remember lying in bed in my dorm watching it for the better part of the two weeks, dead inside. I can’t remember any specific matchups outside of the women’s final. Wozniacki lost to Serena. Although I probably liked Serena better, I wanted Wozniacki to win just so I could hold onto the feeling of discovering tennis in 2011.

I didn’t even watch the men’s final. It was the first won I’d missed in years. The way I saw it, either result would be a loss. It was between Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori. My view was that majors should be won by only the Big 4 + Stan Wawrinka. A win by anyone else would ruin the tennis I came of age with. Cilic won.

For the next year and a half, tennis lost me. I watched the Slams and Masters, but I kind of stopped growing as a fan. I wasn’t learning about new players–I just stuck with the ones I liked in 2014. Genie hit her head, of course. Jack had that painful U.S. Open retirement. I had other things going on, and tennis simply stopped special.

When school let out in 2016, I made a conscious effort to hit more and be a close observer again. Part of that meant listening to every episode of NCR. Then the NCRvision Song Contest happened.

The bad songs were bad, but the good songs reminded me of all the reasons why I’d loved tennis. That episode was what pushed me over the line back into tennis. And the first song on it was “Vamos Rafa.”

NCR re-released part of that episode today.

And as for Rafa, he’s in the Madrid final tomorrow.

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