When Your Luck's In, Your Luck's In
Posted on September 04 2018
You most likely have never heard of him, but Peter Polansky recently completed one of the most difficult sporting feats. Defying quite ludicrous odds, the world number 119 became the first man to earn a Grand Slam of lucky loser entries to the majors. After losing in the last round of US Open Qualifying to Donald Young, Polansky ensured himself a very large payday, as he was selected as a lucky loser entry into the main draw. Ordinarily, a lucky loser would be feeling very lucky indeed to get entry into the main draw, but amazingly, this was Peter Polansky’s crowning moment of the Lucky Loser Grand Slam.
No doubt there are many people who would begrudge a man earning an extra $100,000 through a lucky loser draw, and are expecting a critical evaluation of the ‘crazy’ money in sport. But to take this view is a big misunderstanding of the game of tennis. Instead, this is a heartwarming story of perseverance paying off (albeit in a very lucky way). As Polansky admits, “it’s not the best accomplishment.. but it’s something that I think is super fun. I don’t think it will ever happen again.”
Polansky is most likely right, the parameters for achieving it are so incredibly small that the likelihood of it being replicated are slim to none.
First of all, just to reach the qualification tournament for each of the grand slams, Polansky had to maintain a world ranking roughly between 80-280 throughout the year, without peaking too high so that he would gain direct entry or too low that he wouldn’t get into qualis. Next, he had to be fit for all four of the slams. Now we get to the difficult part, on each occasion he had to battle his way through the first two rounds in a highly competitive tournament. If that wasn’t enough, he had to lose in the third round and then be picked out of a hat to be lucky loser with a 1 in 16 chance. To think this has happened four times in a row is quite incredible.
So why does anyone deserve this kind of luck? Well frankly, any of those guys playing on the circuit ranked below the top 100 deserve anything they can get. People like to romanticise the life of the tennis pro, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Polansky is likely to have earned just over $300,000 in prize money this year. That is a lot of money, but to earn it, he will have ran up great expenses. Think of all the travel, the accommodation, his coaching, his physio, any number of things that are required to maintain his spot at number 119 in the world. Take out the $100,000 he will have earned from lucky loser spots and suddenly the pot begins to look very dry. Obviously Polansky is likely to have some endorsements, but for someone you’ve probably never heard of, they are not likely to be huge.
Upon completion of his own kind of Grand Slam, Polansky, who obviously found the situation fairly amusing tweeted a picture of Batman’s evil nemesis, the Joker, with the caption “LL Slam Complete.” This probably sums up the situation. While we’d all love to hate the Joker, you can’t quite help but love him, and while we all wish that we’d earned $100,00 through a lucky draw, you can’t begrudge Peter Polansky his prize.
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