The 15 Point Shot
Mabuhay Pilipinas! The loose translation: "Long live the Philippines!" It's the proclamation Ruben Gonzales roared moments after winning the Davis Cup Championship for his home country, the Philippines. However, if you ask Ruben where he calls home in this world, he would remarkably answer Terre Haute. Thus, we thought we'd better get Ruben serving a 15 point ace while back in his hometown. Hence, The 15 Point Shot. Mabuhay Terre Haute!
BEHIND THE SCENES
The distance between Terre Haute and the Philippines is approximately 8,356 miles. So how exactly do you contact a person who is halfway around the world? Easy, Instagram. Oh, good old social media. So Instagram was initially how we reached out to Ruben. However, Ruben is an athlete who is always on the move; playing in tournaments in France, Finland, the Czech Republic, and such. He doesn't check social media as often as the teenager on the couch.
So weeks pass, and Ruben hasn't responded. The message hasn't even been read yet. So how do you contact a person halfway around the world you don't know, who isn't answering social media? Now that's a stumper. Enter in Garrett Baysinger, a friend of TSC.
Garrett played tennis in his youth all the way to the collegiate level, and like any Terre Haute tennis player from the southside, he's quick to state Ruben Gonzales as the best tennis player from Terre Haute. He's also quick to state that he has Ruben Gonzales' phone number, once you explain the premise of Trick Shots For Charity. Garrett texts Ruben about TSC. His phone buzzes moments later.
Ruben's responds, "Yeah man no worries. I can do it tomorrow if you want." We look up at each other from our lunch. Ruben must not understand that the trick shot has to be done in Terre Haute. While it would be cool to have a shot made in the Philippines, we desire our Terre Haute athletes hitting a shot in the place their careers started.
With the notion that Ruben likely thinks he can do the shot at any location, Garrett texts, "Are you Terre Haute?" We all go to take another bite of our meal. The phone buzzes. "I am!" Ruben's not in the Philippines, he's not in France, and he's not in England. He's right here in our backyard.
We schedule the trick shot for tomorrow. Now the only question is where? We first try gaining access to the Wabash Valley Tennis Club, colloquially known as "the Bubble" amongst Terre Haute tennis players. However, tennis at the club is not really in season yet, so the facility is closed. But all is okay, since we can do a shot at Terre Haute South's tennis courts. Well, all was okay until we discovered Terre Haute South had a match the same time
Ruben could do the shot.
We fall back on the back-up plan to the back-up plan: Honey Creek tennis courts. Surely, nobody would be using the middle school tennis courts at 5pm. We hitch the basketball goal on a trailer, and head to the middle school. As soon as we pull into the parking lot, 6th graders flood the tennis courts - there's a match about to take place.
The 6th grade tennis match; however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. How? Enter in Robert Fischer, known as Mr. Fischer to his students. Mr. Fischer has been a renowned math teacher in the Terre Haute community for 50 years. 50 YEARS. That's right, he was teaching the Pythagorean theorem
to students in Terre Haute the same year Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Amongst those 50 years, some
involved former students: none other than Ruben Gonzales and Gary Ulrich.
Mr. Fischer coaches tennis in addition to teaching math, so he exclaims "I'll give you two courts! But I need them back in an hour knuckleheads!" Now, if you were to guess what population of people would love the idea of trick shots, who would you guess? Former athletes? Soccer moms? People who play Minecraft? All those may stand correct, but there is one population of people that trumps them all: 6th graders.
The blessing in disguise: all of the 6th graders who aren't currently playing come to the trick shot scene. They seek the mania. Some help rebound. Some offer tips to Ruben. Some just want hype. However, they all want to witness one thing: Ruben serving the ball over the net and through the net. Ruben is used to the pressure.
The 6th graders rebounding mimics Henry Ford's assembly line, so Ruben
hits balls every 5 seconds. This system would lead to our quickest trick shot yet. Ruben takes a mere 10 minutes to sink the shot. The 6th graders go wild. Mr. Fischer can do nothing but shake his head with a smile. He's probably
thinking that ball had a perfect parabola. The 6th graders are probably thinking they want to form their own trick shot groups. Sorry parents.
Trick Shots For Charity is meant to inspire. It's meant to showcase our athletes and how they have achieved success at the highest level. It's meant to remind that these athletes all started in one place: Terre Haute. Ruben plays not just all over the nation, but all over the world. When he puts on the Philippine tennis jersey, he's not just representing the Philippines, but also all the hard work that took place right here in Terre Haute. We thank you Ruben for doing the trick shot and giving back, but also for representing our hometown across the world in a virtuous manner.
Thank you Ruben.
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more about Ruben Gonzales