A little fun reading on this Columbus Day courtesy of the New Republic‘s Noam Scheiber (aka, my husband), who reports on the Obama economics team’s shared passion for tennis. When they’re not busy trying to save the global economy, Geithner, Summers et al like to blow off steam by heading down to Nick Bollettieri’s famous academy in Florida for tennis camp:
The trip soon became an annual ritual, with Geithner, Sperling, and several other former colleagues joining in. Each March, the wonks-in-exile would present themselves to the Bollettieri instructors for two days of extensive drilling. In one particularly taxing exercise, the campers would hit a forehand approach, then charge the net to take two volleys before sprinting back to the baseline–one after the other in a whir of circular motion. Imagine the Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker; then imagine that the dancers are middle-aged men of roughly average dexterity, and you have the idea.
Not surprisingly, given this crowd, the trip isn’t exactly a laid-back bonding exercise.
“Those guys are very, very competitive. Put that in there. Holy shit,” says Bollettieri. “There’s no friendship on the friggin’ court. They want to beat the shit out of everybody.” And how do they stack up? “Sperling is better than any of us,” Summers says. “I was probably second-best at hitting the ball, but I don’t move as well–I’m not as fast. So I would say Geithner or I were probably second-best.”
I love the fact that Bollettieri, who has helped train such driven, professional players as Andre Agassi and Boris Becker, is kind of shocked by how ferocious these middle-aged wonks are. Read the whole thing.