It's not as if Merrick product Scott Lipsky wandered by accident into the U.S. Open doubles quarterfinals.
Lipsky, 33, a former state high school champion while at Bellmore JFK, has a decade of experience as a professional doubles specialist. He has labored in the far-off fields of minor-league tennis and won a major tournament title (French Open, 2011) in mixed doubles.
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Sunday, Lipsky and partner Rajeev Ram won, 6-3, 6-4, against the tournament's third-seeded team of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic -- both perennial top 10 doubles players over the last decade.
While it's been a hard road to hoe, Ram assured that plenty of the fairly anonymous doubles pros are able to sustain their careers. Lipsky, Ram said, is doing fine as a practitioner of the sport's lower-profile discipline.
"He drives a Mercedes and lives in a three-bedroom house, so he's all right," Ram said.
It wasn't always that way.
Upon graduation from Stanford, where Lipsky played on the national championship team in 2000, he began beating the tennis bushes. "You have to work your way through the cheap motels and the small towns in Mexico," he said, "sharing a hotel room with two other guys.
"You know, everyone dreams to play on the bigger stages, and a lot of people don't know what you go through because they only see the top 10, making a million dollars a week. So, yeah, it's a grind. There are guys playing Futures, still, that were there 10 years ago when I was playing Futures.
"So I feel fortunate to be able to be playing at the quarters of the U.S. Open."
By getting this far, Lipsky and Ram are assured of splitting at least $62,000 in prize money, which comes in handy to pay for coaches, physiotherapists, trainers and the constant airline travel inherent in chasing the global tour.
"The tournaments pay the hotel bill in all the non-Grand Slams," Lipsky said, "but the Grand Slams pay a per diem" as long as a player remains in the tournament.
"This is the biggest tournament," he said, "so it's going to be the most money. It's definitely important. But I've been playing doubles for 10 years and I've done pretty well financially."
Plus, there is what Lipsky calls the "dream."
"I've been coming here [to the Open] since I was 5 years old," he said. "I was at the match with [Jimmy] Connors and Patrick McEnroe [in 1991], the match Connors came back from two sets to love and made it to the semis.
"So I have all these good memories. And to be here in the second week, in the quarters, still alive, it's great."
He and Ram, who hails from Colorado, will play Minnesota native Eric Butorac and his South African partner, Raaven Klaasen, contemporaries Lipsky called "two of our better friends on the tour.
"I played with Eric for a while, and he was in my wedding," Lipsky said. "We practiced with them right before the tournament started. It should be a fun match, and one of us goes to the semifinals. And we'll all be happy about it."