It took Dan Goldie a long time to play his first tennis match at Wimbledon. He arrived here at noon Monday and waited, never getting on the court. He went through the same ritual Tuesday.
Today, he finally got to play. Given the chance, he and Paul Annacone went out and played and played and played. Finally, as the sun set on Wimbledon, with the bells of St. Mary's Church ringing in the background, Annacone walked off with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-1, 1-6, 9-7 victory.
For Annacone, a quarterfinalist last year in his first trip to Wimbledon, it was a gratifying, gritty victory. For Goldie, who went from McLean, Va., to Stanford to Wimbledon, it was a disappointing ending to three very long days.
"It's hard sitting around all that time," he said softly after the match. "You get bored just waiting and waiting and waiting. I'm really not sure this is the way I want to make a living."
Because of that, Goldie, who is 21, probably will return to Stanford for his senior year in the fall, passing up a chance to turn pro even though he is ranked No. 102 on the ATP computer.
Today, though, his major in economics was not on his mind as he finally got his first chance to play on the hallowed lawns. He and Annacone were on Court 12 -- "out back," as they say here -- but neither seemed to mind. What Goldie did mind was the slippery court that sent both players tumbling at times.
"I don't know if it was bad or not, maybe grass is always slippery but it was kind of a joke," Goldie said. "I'd never played on grass before and I hadn't been able to hit for three days so I really didn't know what to do. I kept trying to adjust during the match."
The match was streaky, filled with good tennis early, some bad tennis in the middle and excellent tennis at the end as the two struggled in the withering sunlight, fighting off exhaustion and each other.
Goldie, down a break in the fifth set, got even with three great returns, the last a two-fisted crosscourt backhand that left Annacone shaking his head.
"He's a good player, a talent," Annacone said. "It's really hard to judge a guy when he's still an amateur, though, because he really doesn't have anything to lose out there. He's not out there trying to earn a living, trying to pay his bills through tennis. It's not a business to him."
It is pretty serious to Goldie. And his tennis, against a player who is ranked No. 25 in the world, was very good. His best chance to win came at 6-all in the last set when he got to break point with another gorgeous backhand. Annacone came in behind a backhand on the next point and punched a hard volley. Goldie ran it down and tried an unreachable lob. But it fell about three inches outside the base line.
That was his last chance. Annacone got a second wind, picking up his serve and finally winning the 3-hour 25-minute marathon by attacking Goldie's second serve in the last game. The match ended on a superb forehand volley that Goldie had no chance to reach.
"I came over here hoping to win a few matches," Goldie said. "I hope I at least learned some things from this. I'll just go home and get ready to play Boston in two weeks."
Goldie will play the summer circuit in the United States and make a final decision about his last year of college after the U.S. Open.
"My education is important to me," he said.
Goldie, who looks younger than 21 with his blond hair and fair features, might not want to risk a pro career because of back problems. He suffers from Sherman's Disease, a congenital weakness in the lower back. He says his back "is okay, just fine," but throughout the match he stretched to avoid tightening up.
"Five sets is a long time to play and lose," he said. "It's over now, it's just another tournament."
He stopped, knowing those last words weren't true. "This is Wimbledon, it's special," he said. "I'll think about this match for a while."