Missoula teens play longest singles tennis match

2011-03-28T14:15:00Z 2011-08-05T21:09:24Z Missoula teens play longest singles tennis matchBy JAMIE KELLY of the Missoulian missoulian.com
March 28, 2011 2:15 pm  • 

Their bodies were still willing, but their minds delirious from sleep deprivation.

Still, teenagers Sam Angel and Katie Martens set the Guinness World Record - unofficially, anyway - for the longest singles tennis match ever around 10 p.m. on Sunday night at the Peak Wellness Center.

Cogent comments from the Hellgate High School seniors were not possible late Sunday as the two took their final five-minute rest break shortly before passing over the 55-hour, 55-minute and 55-second mark, the current world record.

Angel, 18, could only offer, "I'm tired, I'm tired, I'm tired, I'm really tired, I'm tired," before retreating to the men's bathroom at the fitness center, where the two held their record-breaking match.

Meanwhile, nearly 200 people cheered them on as the two lobbed - and occasionally rifled - forehands and backhands over the net in the indoor tennis facility.

At press time, Sam and Katie were still playing but planned to stop late Sunday night when the courtside digital clock read 60:59:58, keeping with the numeric theme of the previous two records - 55:55:55 and 36:36:36.

They almost had to stop far short of the record.

Ray Angel, Sam's father, noticed that his son was making no sense verbally and wasn't responding well physically around dinnertime Sunday. In fact, neither he nor Katie were doing well.

"They were just out of gas," said Ray Angel. "They hit a wall. For a while, Sam just stopped and let the tennis balls hit off of him."

After nurses checked on them, Sam and Katie returned to the court.

As the record time approached, friends of both players watched and cheered.

"I'm impressed," said Hellgate senior Ashley Gostnell. "I'm shocked that they're still going. But I love that they're sticking to it."

They're sticking to it to the tune of more than $7,000, pledges they secured to give to the Watson Children's Shelter as part of their senior projects.

Katie's mother, Betsy Martens, joined the energetic crowd as her daughter made her way across the court, sometimes aimlessly and sometimes with a vague idea of where she needed to go.

"This morning, I was very optimistic about her breaking the record," she said. "But there's no way to prepare for this or know how it's going to turn out."

Amy McAllister, Sam's mother, had little doubt her son would succeed.

"He's a determined kid," she said. "If he wants to do something, he works really hard to get it done."

As soon as Guinness World Records confirms it, it shall be done.

Reach reporter Jamie Kelly at 523-5254 or at jkelly@missoulian.com.

 

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