Best of 2000: Best Place To Display Your Tennis Prowess

The Challenge Court,
Balboa Tennis Club
2221 Morley Field Drive,
Balboa Park
(619) 295-9278

This is for the brave, the blusterers, the big-mouths. Go to Balboa Tennis Club's reservations desk, hand over $5, and say "I want a Challenge Court slip." "Y-You mean for Court 9?" stutters the reservation person. You nod. He hands you the slip as if you'd committed to bungee-jumping from the park viaduct. Especially if this is around 5:00 p.m., Hour of the Hot Shots. You mosey up to Court 9. It's surrounded by bleachers, like Center Court Wimbledon. You pin your slip on the board, challenging the winner of the present game. They must accept your challenge. So many people want to show their tennis cojones that you'll probably have to play doubles. And rules state if you win twice, you sit down. Then again, this summer, Kent Sligh, the club's director, ratcheted up the odds. Now there's -- aaargh!! -- "Court Eight: The Ultimate Challenge." The champ stays on the court for as long as he can beat back challengers. "The bad news is you could get injured by the 100 mph balls," says Kent, trying not to laugh. The good news? "You'll probably only have to do this one time."

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