Exhilarated and exhausted but happy, Wendy Thompson and Carlos Gomes have smashed the Guinness World Record for the longest tennis tournament (“World record attempt aims to promote tennis
in townships,” Bulletin January 19).
The mixed-doubles tennis partners broke the previous record of 63 hours, 27 minutes and 40 seconds, held by Germans Dennis Groißl and Niklas Jahn, by playing for 63 hours and 41 minutes.
Wendy continued playing with her tennis coach, Chris Potterton, to the 65-hour mark.
The marathon match at Constantia Tennis Club started on Friday February 3, at 10am, and ended on Monday February 6.
To beat the record, they had to play a match and not just hit the ball to each other. No substitutes were allowed and the entire game had to be filmed with a clock visible at all times.
They could take five minutes to rest, eat and sleep per hour played, not part of the hour, and although they could accumulate the time to sleep they decided not to for fear of not waking up.
The marathon was used to raise money to resurface five courts, build two clubhouses and start a tennis academy for youngsters in Khayelitsha and Kayamandi.
On Saturday two bus loads of children from these areas arrived to offer their support, get coaching, play on a jumping castle and tuck into sponsored hot dogs and drinks.
On Sunday morning, having played for 42 hours, Wendy and Carlos were still playing good shots and were surrounded by supporters, including several celebrities, among them adventure couple Riaan and Vasti Manser, ex-rugby player Werner Greeff and actress Chanelle de Jager.
On Tuesday morning, after the match, Wendy said she was “speechless and humbled by the mind-blowing support”.
Carlos had had a sore throat and lost his voice on Friday morning. The last two hours were difficult for him and he had been unable to continue to the 65- hour goal. “It was hard to watch but he used every ounce of his mental strength,” said Wendy.
After a hot bath, an afternoon nap and a good night’s sleep, Wendy said she was surprised that she did not even feel stiff.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing – at times she had felt teary,
along with intense nausea and vertigo.
Now comes the hard work of submitting film footage to Guinness, collecting pledges and doing the lucky draw.
If you would like to make a donation to Grass Roots Tennis, call Carlos at 079 512 1256
or Wendy on 083 609 7615.