After Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me, my second-favorite “must-listen podcast” (hmm, doesn’t flow off the tongue like “must-see TV, does it?) is Slate.com’s sports program Hang Up and Listen, hosted by Josh Levin, Stefan Fatsis, and Mike Pesca. The trio usually discusses the top three sports topics of the week and concludes with some sort of “cocktail chatter.”
This week, one of those tidbits was about the U.S. Tennis Open opening up its qualifying competition. As per this item from Sports Illustrated, one of those tennis buffs taking advantage of the opportunity was Rabbi Gary Ackerman of Cedarhurst, NY.
Ackerman … took up tennis at 7 and played for Lehman College. He’s taught the sport over the years at Cunningham Park in Queens — when he’s not leading the Jewish programs at the Woodmere Rehabilitation and Health Care Center — but the observant Jew is unable to play competitively since most age-group tournaments occur on Saturdays.
When Ackerman learned the USTA’s new playoff venture presented no immediate conflict with the Sabbath, ponying up the $125 entry fee was a no-brainer.
“It’s always been a big dream of mine to compete on this level and on this stage,” Ackerman said. “As they say, you’ve got to dream big.”
The Open item came almost as an afterthought on HUAL (for those uninitiated in the ways of sports-talk radio, “hang up and listen” is what a caller often says after making a(n often inane) point). The hosts were discussing the recent NCAA decision to expand the men’s basketball tournament from 65 to 68 teams, prompting a reference to this video from The Onion: