Home > The Singles Game(8)

The Singles Game(8)
Lauren Weisberger

Charlie looked up. ‘It is? I didn’t even know he was out here with you.’

‘Yes. It was a good excuse to steal a long weekend away. We both fly back to Florida tomorrow.’

‘Well, wish him a happy anniversary for me.’

‘Everything’s going to be fine, Charlie. Not fine – great. You’re doing a stupendous job with the rehab here, you really are. I’ll be back in three weeks to check in on you, and in the meantime, I’ll be prepping everything behind the scenes to get you all set for Australia in January. Sound good?’

‘Sounds good,’ Charlie said, although their talk had made her feel queasy and cold all over.

They each leaned forward and Charlie kissed Marcy’s cheek. ‘Have fun tonight.’

‘Thanks. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.’

Charlie watched as Marcy walked to the door and let herself out. She took a quick shower and then pulled on white jeans and a tank top. After checking to make sure she was alone in the locker room, she dialed Jake’s number.

When he picked up, she heard the rumble of people talking in the background. ‘Where are you?’ she asked.

‘One guess.’

‘Are you stalking that instructor again? What was his name? Something ridiculous. Herman?’

‘Nelson. And if you would take just one class with him, you’d be converted forever.’

‘You know how I feel about spinning. And that one class you dragged me to at SoulCycle almost killed me.’

‘You’re a professional athlete, Charlie. It’s a bunch of Wall Street guys who drink too much and moms who don’t eat enough. You were fine.’

‘That’s not what I meant and you know it. But listen, do you have a second?’

Charlie listened as Jake high-fived someone and then called out a good-bye, and she pictured him wrapping a towel around his neck and ducking out onto the busy New York sidewalk.

‘Okay, I’m all yours. What’s up?’ He was still out of breath, and she shuddered, wondering if he’d done back-to-back classes.

‘You remember how you told me that Todd Feltner was retiring? When was that? Two months ago?’

‘Yeah, about that. He announced it right before Wimbledon. Said he’s done everything he’s wanted to do, so he was going to take some time off before figuring out his next step. Why?’

‘Because I want to be his next step.’ Charlie surprised herself with the confidence she heard.

‘Come again?’

‘I want to hire Todd Feltner, and I want you to help me make it happen.’

Her statement was followed by silence.

‘Charlie? You want to tell me what’s going on here?’ There was a twinge of concern, if not outright panic, in Jake’s voice. He wasn’t only her brother, he was her manager, and there was no more significant decision in a professional tennis player’s life than who would coach her.

‘Look, I have to meet Dad soon, so I don’t have time to explain everything. But suffice it to say that I’ve been having doubts about Marcy for some time now. And today those doubts crystallized. Do you know what she said to me?’

‘Tell me.’

‘She asked what my Plan B was for when my Achilles’ doesn’t heal and I can’t play ever again.’

‘Why would she say that? Dr Cohen has every expectation that it’s going to heal completely. Does she know something I don’t?’

‘No, not at all. She was just what-iffing. Over and over again. She was almost insistent. I don’t have to tell you what that does to my mental game, do I?’

Jake’s silence confirmed he understood.

‘I have been supportive when she’s expressed that she doesn’t want to travel so much anymore because of the fertility treatments. It’s not easy for me or best for my career that she’s not at all the smaller tournaments, but of course I understand why she needs more time right now. I have tried not to blame her for the fall at Wimbledon, but you and I both know that it was her responsibility to make sure my shoes were cleared for play ahead of time. The fact that I was forced to wear someone else’s sneakers is insane. And look what happened.’

‘Mm-hmm,’ Jake said. Charlie could tell he was listening very closely.

‘But the one thing I can’t live with is the doubt. Breaking my wrist, blowing out my Achilles’, and being forced to leave the tour for six months is hard enough. It sucks beyond description. But having my own coach wondering if I’m ever going to recover enough to play again? To insist we talk about what happens if I don’t heal? I can’t get past that.’

‘I hear you,’ Jake said. ‘I really do.’

‘That doubt is poison. Every time I look at her from now on, I’m going to know she doesn’t think I can do it. Maybe there is a chance I won’t recover, won’t ever play again at the elite level. But I sure can’t afford to be thinking that. Not now. And my coach can’t either. I love Marcy, you know I do. She’s been like a mom to me all these years. But I’m almost twenty-five, Jake. Hardly ancient, but running out of time if I really want to achieve something here. And I do. Want to achieve something. I know I can’t play forever – and I don’t necessarily want to – but I want all the years of sacrifice and hard work to pay off. I want to win a Slam, and it’s becoming clearer every day that Marcy is not going to be the one to take me there.’

‘I don’t disagree with you,’ he said quietly. ‘But Feltner? You really want to go down that road?’

‘I know he’s supposed to be a jerk of epic proportions. I’ve heard all the stories. But he’s the best, hands down. And I want the best.’

‘He’s never coached a woman before.’

‘So maybe he’s never met the right woman! You were the one who told me he’s bored in retirement. He’s so young! What’s he doing, sitting around Palm Beach all day, working on his tan? Can you get him on the phone for me? I just need five minutes, and I’m going to convince him that he should work for me.’

‘Of course I can get him on the phone, but I think the chances of him accepting are slim. And I don’t imagine that having Todd Feltner as your coach is all kittens and sunshine, Charlie. I support you a hundred percent – if you want him, I’ll do anything I can to help get him – but please don’t delude yourself into thinking that he’s some sort of dreamy unicorn ride to the top of the rankings. He’s a killer, plain and simple.’

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