Ask, and you might receive. That's what a cohort of tennis fans found when one of their own began reaching out to WTA players, both retired and active (as they can be), to see if they would consider joining a tennis-trivia party on Zoom.
This 30-odd set of fans is comprised of fellows who play on the GLTA World Tour, a consortium of LGBTQ tennis lovers who compete in events around the world. (Full disclosure: This author is one of them.)
On April 30, they met virtually with their highest-ranked guest in the current pro ranks: Madison Keys, No. 13 with a bullet of a forehand. During these days of COVID-19 crisis, she finds herself with a lot more free time than usual, sharing it with family, friends, and now a number of new pals—from a safe distance.
Had so much fun tonight at happy hour with my 30 new gay best friends... and I think I did ok at the Madison Keys trivia game! Thank you for having me ????— Madison Keys (@Madison_Keys) May 1, 2020
(Also everyone please admire Patrick’s zoom background) pic.twitter.com/zcnYD3UdRe
Keys & Co. enjoyed the night's signature drink, dubbed the "MarKEYni." Think of these 60-to 90-minute Zoom conferences as a tennis-centric Watch What Happens Live, with the group's founder and moderator, Jon Guerrica, in the proverbial seat of Andy Cohen.
"I thought to myself, tennis fans are so desperate for content right now," says Guerrica, a New Yorker who heads to the US Open in Flushing a few times each fall. "So why not go out on a limb and try to chat with some of our favorite players, using this hiatus to have them enjoy time with their super-fans? I'm so grateful that they've come on and shared their stories and made such a cool connection with us."
When times were normal, a batch of about 16 of these gents commonly confer over group text threads during each calendar year's tournament schedule, each making daily WTA-match predictions. There is no betting, though the majors and events like Indian Wells and Miami raise the stakes for the friendly fantasy league that provides bragging rights in its year-over-year rankings updated by the group's resident Microsoft Excel wizard.
First rule of this group's tennis-trivia nights with players: What's discussed stays within the confines of each chat, bound to that time and (virtual) place for those who participated. Retired and current pros including Rennae Stubbs, Alexandra Stevenson, and more have guested to date. More current and former pros are in queue to verbally volley with this coterie of racquet-wielding pals.
On this night, the group hinged on Keys' highly entertaining words, relishing in her shares of on-and-off-court remembrances and all the amusing minutiae of life on tour.
Of note, though she's just 25, Keys turned pro in 2009—a solid 11 years back. This serves as further proof that nothing passes as quickly as the future. And the world's millions of tennis enthusiasts hope the same will be true of this global pandemic.