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LaRosa's Sweet Spot: Apr 7, 2010

4/7/2010 4:00:00 PM

LaRosa's Sweet Spot Archive |

Dear Wayne Odesnik,

 

You don't know me. Truth is, I don't really know you. And yet here we are. 

 

By now, most people have heard you pleaded guilty to possession of HGH, a performance enhancer which Aussie airport security plucked from your suitcase in January.

 

People may also have read your official statement on the matter, released through your lawyer yesterday:

 

"The ITF is presently conducting an investigation of me regarding my possession of HGH while in Australia earlier this year.  I have never used nor taken HGH or any other banned substance in my life. I am fully cooperating with their investigation and I will have no further comment on the matter until it is concluded.”

 

I have a comment.

 

Wayne may be this close to a ban.

HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID?!  HOW COULD YOU THINK WE'RE THAT STUPID??  I MEAN SERIOUSLY, YOU WERE, WHAT, HOLDING IT FOR A FRIEND? YOU SPEARHEADED AN INTERVENTION FOR A FELLOW PLAYER WHO YOU HELD IN YOUR ARMS ROCKING HIM BACK AND FORTH IN THE SHOWER FULLY CLOTHED UNTIL YOU CONVINCED HIM TO FINALLY QUIT THE JUNK AND HAND OVER HIS STASH TO YOU, ALL EN ROUTE TO THE AIRPORT?!

 

I'm so sorry.  I've been so wound up about this, I really have no right to yell at you.  You're still a human being, and probably a really nice guy.  You seemed like a nice guy after your win over Guillermo Canas at the '08 French Open, you know the back-to-back-to-back tiebreak thriller that had everyone at that tiny back court on their feet?  The one where Corina Morariu interviewed you afterwards, you were beaming, she was beaming, we were all beaming, at this underdog, this American player who made good on the clay (clay!) of Paris?

 

SMILING LIKE IDIOTS! HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW IF THAT WAS EVEN LEGIT?!  HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW IF ANY OF YOUR WINS WERE LEGIT?! JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO IN WASHINGTON, IVAN LJUBICIC IN CANADA, MARCOS BAGHDATIS IN INDIANAPOLIS, JOHN ISNER LAST YEAR IN HOUSTON?!  ALL THOSE TIMES I THOUGHT, GO WAYNE! NOW WE'LL NEVER KNOW WHAT WAS YOU AND WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN 'SOMETHING ELSE', AND THAT SUCKS! IT SUCKS OUT LOUD!

 

Whew.  I really don't know what's gotten into me.  Maybe it's the fact that you're still playing.  Wild as it may seem, the ITF is refusing to yank you from the tour. Which is super awkward for me. I've come down hard on the ITF in the past for jumping the gun on cases like Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse, who they leapt to ban before their cases could truly be heard.  Now the ITF is taking that breath and allowing you to play and I have to sort of suck it up and say, okay, you asked for due diligence.  You've got it.

 

BUT YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO PLAY HOUSTON THIS WEEK WAYNE!  NO ONE PUT A GUN TO YOUR HEAD AND SAID, DUDE, GET OUT THERE AND STEAL SOMEONE ELSE'S POINTS!  OR THEIR PRIZE MONEY!  I MEAN, YOU'VE MADE OVER $800GS IN THE LAST COUPLE YEARS, YOU KNOW HOW MUCH JERZY JANOWICZ, THE GUY YOU BEAT IN THE FIRST ROUND OF HOUSTON THIS WEEK, MADE?!  $71,663.  IN TWO AND A HALF YEARS.  THAT'S ABOUT $30G A YEAR, BEFORE TAXES. HE COULD'VE USED THE DOUGH WAYNE!  AND NOT TO BUY HGH!

 

Wow.  I'm so not this guy. I just have this thing about cheating.  And no one's saying you used.  Certainly not you. Don't all people carry around human growth hormone in their luggage?  Or their lunch box, or in their glove compartment? It's a conversation piece. 

 

You'll keep playing.  No one can stop you.  Except on the court.  And I certainly won't root against you when you take on your next opponent, Mikhail Kukushkin.  In fact, I hope you make it through, I really do.

 

SO JOHN ISNER CAN EXACT SOME REVENGE FROM LAST YEAR AND BLOW YOU OFF THE COURT!  AND HE'S AMERICAN, SO HE'D ALSO REALLY ENJOY SHOWING YOU HOW HE AND HIS FELLOW PLAYERS AND ALL OF US FEEL ABOUT YOUR STINKING UP U.S. TENNIS'S REP WITH THIS HGH BS! 

 

Excuse me, had to towel off after that one.  So embarrassed.  Anyway, my one comfort in all of this is knowing that, and I'm not trying to be mean Wayne - again you seem to actually be a nice guy - no one really knows who you are enough to perhaps even care about any of this.  So no one will click on the name "Wayne Odesnik" and see just what kind of anger management problems I have. 

 

Actually, I have another comfort.  Even if you never touched the junk, simple possession is a two year ban. So my anger, like your pro career, is living on borrowed time. 

 

Still, I hope this serves as a lesson.  Sincerely.  To other players who think they can get away with this.  And to you.  You made a bad decision, but you're not a monster.  You have some heat to take now.  Man up and take it.  My hope is for you to come back strong after your ban, to admit bad choices and show what it's like to learn from them. That's something truly worth putting you on the map.

 

Ultimately, and this goes out to anyone who thinks they need to "possess" a little sumthin sumthin to compete on tour: If you can't get your rank as high as you want it without a little help, maybe tennis isn't for you.

 

James LaRosa

 

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Follow James at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.