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Tie-Breaker

By Garner Simmons

SOUND OVER BLACK:

KEEEEE-POCK…! A hushed silence, then —

KEEEEE-POCK…! More silence, then —

KEEEEE-POCK…!

Suddenly the SOUND of a CROWD coming to its feet as we —

SLOWLY FADE IN:

EXT. FLUSHING MEADOW – NIGHT

A capacity CROWD is roaring it’s approval now.

UMPIRE (P.A.)

Deuce…

TITLE OVER: “Arthur Ashe Stadium – U.S. OPEN…”

Standing room only. Spontaneous applause as RALPH DAWKINS calls it courtside.

DAWKINS (V.O.)

Deuce again… Marika Kobl is one

tough young lady…

A sea of faces settle once more as at Center Court —

MARIKA KOBL

19 year-old tennis phenom has just rallied to win the point from her 24 year-old opponent —

LORI HAMBLETON

Under the lights, Kobl moves back to the baseline and prepares to serve. At the same time —

INT. COURTSIDE BROADCAST BOOTH – NIGHT

Wearing a “Transcon Sports Network” blazer, his perfect hair seemingly un-touched by his headset —

RALPH DAWKINS

Does the play-by-play.

DAWKINS

Comes in here un-ranked at 19 off a
strong showing at Wimbledon and plays
like Martina Navratilova in her prime.

Beside him, also wearing a TSN blazer and headset —

JOCK BRODIE

Shakes his head. Tall. Strong featured. At 34, a major force in world tennis despite recent knee surgery.

BRODIE

Except she’s bigger and stronger.
More like McEnroe or Connors in a
skirt. Always in-your-face… what
a monster.

DAWKINS

So Jock Brodie — you’re a four-time
winner in the Men’s Open here —
faced with someone like Marika Kobl,
what does Hambleton do?

BRODIE

Pray Marika breaks her leg.

EXT. PRESS BOX – NIGHT

An attractive FEMALE REPORTER named —

LISA MARTIN

Types on her laptop. Clearly a reporter first and woman second, at 28, she dresses to downplay her good looks.

ANGLE ON KOBL – LISA’S P.O.V.

A muscular 6’1″, she’s 19 going on 25. Curly blond hair and broad shoulders. A malevolent twinkle in her eye.

Gyrating her lower body in a perversely sexual motion, she tosses up the ball and serves. Reacting —

HAMBLETON

Stretches to reach it, returning the ball cross-court. It is just out.

BACK ON LISA

She shakes her head, typing more quickly.

UMPIRE

Advantage Kobl… Match point.

DAWKINS (V.O.)

What a shot. This kid’s for real.

First she defeats Jennifer Capriati
in two, then knocks off Venus Williams
in three. And now here she is in
the finals demolishing Lori Hambleton
in straight sets.

BRODIE (V.O.)

That was a great move by Lori
Hambleton… she just over-matched.

ON LORI HAMBLETON

Disgusted with herself, she awaits Kobl’s next serve.

DAWKINS (V.O.)

Look at Marika… is she intense or what?

BACK ON MARIKA

Bouncing the ball exactly six times in front of her right foot, she moves like a whirling Dervish smashing the ball at —

LORI

Who manages to return it as they rally back and forth half a dozen times before Kobl finally puts her away.

The CROWD explodes in applause. Hands above her head, Marika Kobl exults.

UMPIRE

Game, set and match to Ms. Kobl.

DAWKINS (V.O.)

Unbelievable! Unseeded Marika Kobl
pulls off the upset of upsets. What a finish…!

As the CROWD rises enthusiastically to its feet —

LISA MARTIN

Continues typing furiously. Then, finishing with a flourish, she stands and joins in.

LISA

(applauding)

Yes…! All right…!

BACK ON THE COURT

Her face stricken, Lori Hambleton starts toward the net to shake Marika’s hand.

DAWKINS (V.O.)

While our Nancy Ross tries to get a
word with Marika Kobl, here they are —
victor and vanquished at center-court
to shake…

CLOSER ON KOBL AND HAMBLETON

But as Hambleton extends her hand to Kobl, the younger player suddenly throws her the finger instead.

KOBL

Sit on it…

To a mixture of applause and boos, Marika Kobl turns away as Hambleton is restrained by her coach and two others.

HARD CUT TO:

DAWKINS

Finding himself on CAMERA, he forces a smile.

DAWKINS

Whoa… nothing like a gracious winner.

Shot WIDENS to include Brodie, who is grinning.

BRODIE

Yeah, absolutely nothing. I always
said the Women’s Tour was tougher.

DAWKINS

I realize you’re being facetious,
but watching Marika, she’s such a
strong power-baseliner it almost
makes you wonder what she would have
done in the Men’s.

BRODIE

(laughs)
Let’s not get carried away. We’re
still talking about a 19 year-old
girl who’s won her first major —
admittedly blowing away the
competition. But still, she’s got
to prove herself. I don’t care how strong she is, the
women play three sets for a reason.
She’d never last five.

DAWKINS

In June, she made the semifinals at
Wimbledon taking Serena Williams all
the way to a tie-breaker before losing
in the third. Got no respect. They
didn’t even seed her coming in here.

BRODIE

That’s because everyone but Marika
Kobl and her mother thought Wimbledon was a fluke…

DAWKINS

(glancing off)

Speaking of her mother…

ANGLE ON MARGE KOBL

Strictly high-maintenance, MARGE KOBL is 40 clinging to 30 with ever moisturizer at her command. Beside her is —

DR. ALEXANDRA YAEGER

A strikingly handsome woman of 35, she is Marika’s personal physician and trainer.

DAWKINS (V.O.)

Nancy…? Nancy Ross? Marge Kobl’s
right near you. Can you get a mic over to her…?

WIDEN to include —

NANCY ROSS

One-time ranked number four on the Women’s Tour, she maneuvers through the crowd, holding out her microphone as she speaks.

NANCY

Marge… Marge… Congratulations on
Marika’s victory. Are you a little surprised?

MARGE

Only that she wasn’t seeded coming
in. I told them they were wrong.
Now they know.

NANCY

Winning is the best revenge. How
did you prepare her for the Open?

MARGE

Conditioning and focus. We’ve been very fortunate…

(indicating)
Dr. Yaeger has been working with
Marika since she was 14 developing
her physical strength and
coordination.

NANCY

It’s obviously paying off…

(turning to Dr. Yaeger)
This is, of course, Dr. Alex Yaeger,
one of America’s foremost fitness
experts. Care to share your secret?

DR. YAEGER

Stop treating girls differently than
we do boys. It all comes down to
strength training and endurance.

NANCY

(to Marge)

What’s next?

MARGE

Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise…

With a mysterious smile, she turns back as they prepare to present the trophy.

EXT. CENTER COURT – NIGHT – SERIES OF SHOTS

MONTAGE as they make the TROPHY PRESENTATION:

MARIKA KOBL basking in the spotlight. Strobe lights FLASHING.

BRODIE watching from sidelines. Trying not to let his envy
show.

MARGE joins MARIKA as she holds up trophy.

INT. ELEVATOR – NIGHT

Jammed as reporters attempt to make their way down to the
INTERVIEW ROOM.

SECURITY GUARD

Away from the doors… make room… Step back.

Standing right in front, laptop case slung over her shoulder —

LISA MARTIN

Waits for the doors to close. But at the last minute —

JOCK BRODIE

Slips inside just as the doors slide shut. They are pressed together, nose-to-nose.

LISA

Don’t push…

BRODIE

Sorry…

(re: laptop case)
Think you could take your footlocker

out of my ribs?

LISA

If you hadn’t muscled your way in here…

BRODIE

Excuse me…?

LISA

Oh, wait — I know you… You’re…

As she seemingly struggles to place his face, Brodie looks pleased. Flattered, he starts to smile.

LISA

…a professional asshole — I mean
athlete — sorry. Rules just don’t apply.

Brodie’s face falls as behind him the doors slide open. Without waiting, Lisa shoulders past and is gone.

HOLD on Brodie staring after her.

INT. INTERVIEW ROOM – NIGHT

Sliding into a chair on the dais beside her mother, Marge, —

MARIKA KOBL

Stares out at the sea of REPORTERS – Lisa Martin among them.
As strobe lights flash, the barrage of questions begins.

LISA

How’s it feel to be the first un-
seeded woman to win the U.S. Open…?

MARIKA

Like I deserved it.

Pure attitude. Sensing they’ve got a live one, a ripple goes through the room.

REPORTER #2

They’re saying Lori Hambleton had
the tougher draw. Do you agree?

MARIKA

They? Who the fuck are “they?”
Hambleton was seeded. I wasn’t.
I’d say I had the tougher draw.

REPORTER #3

Hey Marika, your mom let you talk like that at home?

Mixed laughter. But before Marika can answer, Marge leans forward to speak into the microphone.

MARGE

At home, there’s only one rule — say what you mean.

LISA

So what’s next? The Olympics…?

MARIKA

No way. The Olympics are bogus.

More of a buzz.

DAWKINS

Jock Brodie was saying he thought
you still needed to prove yourself.

MARIKA

Prove myself…?  What is he… blind?

Staring around the room, Marge finds Brodie. Ice.

MARGE

Considering his knee surgery, if

anyone needs to prove himself, it’s Jock Brodie.

Across the room, Brodie reacts. Turning, Lisa spots him.

TIGHT ON BRODIE – LISA’S P.O.V.

If it weren’t live television, he’d tear Marge’s heart out… assuming he could find one.

MARIKA

If he had any guts, he’d come out
and play me so I could kick his ass.

BRODIE

Don’t make any promises you can’t keep.

MARIKA

Oooo… I’m very scared.

MARGE

Then you’d be willing to meet us?

BRODIE

(electric)

Anytime, anywhere…

Without missing a beat —

MARGE KOBL

Picks up the gauntlet.

MARGE

Fine. How about Las Vegas, November 15th…?

Reacting to Marge’s readiness, Brodie hesitates. Enjoying the moment, Marika goads him.

MARIKA

Don’t forget your cane.

BRODIE

(trying to ignore her)

If the price is right…

MARGE

Actually, I’ve spoken to Mandalay
Bay. They assure me, for the right
match, money’s no object. Say a

million? Winner take all…?

BRODIE

You set it up, I’ll be there.

As the reporters react, Lisa shakes her head…

CUT TO:

EXT. NYC HIGHRISE OFFICE BUILDING – DAY (TO ESTABLISH)

Midtown Manhattan. Glass and steel.

TITLE OVER: “Six weeks later…”

INT. OFFICES OF SPORTS UNLIMITED MAGAZINE – DAY

Organized chaos in search of truth and profit, though not necessarily in that order.

Staff writers drive word processors at warp speed in a race against deadlines as —

LISA MARTIN

Makes her way to a door marked “JEROME RUSK – EDITOR.”