Sam Groth serves for the match. Five thousand breaths are held as the shot booms off his racquet seven and half feet off the ground. Five pairs of eyes see it land across the net stretched across Washington’s legendary Stadium Court in Rock Creek Park. They belong to him, to his partner Leander Paes, who crouches near the net under the line of Groth’s serve, to the receiving player, Sam Querrey, and the linesman, and the chair umpire. The receiving player’s partner, Steve Johnson, is not looking. He stares across the net, ready for the return of the return.
The five men who see and hear the shot are experienced in split-second eyeballing. They know they must make decisions and stick with them despite their acquaintance with their own fallibility.