The trophy case at Daniel Samess’s home immediately redirects the imagination to the glittery shapes and leathery smells of historic Cooperstown. Numerous awards pave a historic picture of a life quilted in success. A third place ribbon for a hotdog eating contest in the 4th grade is the center piece, accompanied by a “most spirited” trophy he received as back up left fielder in a softball tournament. Some of the larger trophies have the inscriptions scratched off, which have been artistically replaced by a yellow sticky with the name “Samess” written in a sharpie mixture of freehand lettering and cursive twists. His most prized possession, a toilet lid used by legendary quarterback Dan Marino, sits atop of the case, reflecting his love for the Miami Dolphins.
However, much like Sonny the Cuckoo’s chase for the eternally elusive mirage of tasty Cocoa Puffs, his dream of adding the Tim Wonderland Tennis Tournament doubles championship to his cornucopia of awards has not only left an empty space beside Dan Marino’s porcelain pad, it has driven a deep void into the young warrior’s heart. So on a blistering day in early September at the Sombrero Resort courts, Daniel Samess set out to settle an old score. His first calculative maneuver began months in advance when he purchased a round-trip plane ticket for his little brother in Seattle. Already a favorite to win the tournament and with his brother in arms, it finally appeared Daniel would conquer his daemons. However, little did he know his daemons would come in the unlikely forms of tennis has-beens, Josh Mothner and Britt Myers.
“We knew we were a stepping stone match for the Samess brothers,” explained Britt Myers. “Our greatest advantage was Ben ‘Legend’ Daniels and Chris Bull. They were the defending champions and we knew Daniel would be looking ahead to his rivals. I mean, I guess everyone was looking at Ben and Chris to some extent. They did have on matching outfits that made them look like two bananas.”
And while the stage was set for a classic showdown between old foes, what happened next would prove to rival the American’s 1980 Gold Medal hockey victory over the heavily favored Russians. Commemorating the last time he played tennis, Mothner unpacked a 1978 vintage Bjorn Borg wooden racket and a backhand that could make McEnroe wet his pants. Within a blink of an eye, the Samess brothers dropped their first set to Myers and Mothner 6-0. As crowds gathered, disbelief transformed into gospel truth as Myers and Mothner unveiled an onslaught of tactful teamwork.
“I knew we had them after the first three games,” added Mothner. “They were screaming at each other like two Republicans at a Tea Party rally.”
In the end, the Samess brothers crumbled in straight sets, as Mothner and Myers never dropped a single game. Perhaps lost in the amazing upset, was the spectacular play of Josh Mothner. “At one point, he basically just stood at the net and ate a hotdog,” says Myers. “I never would have thought he had it in him. It was like watching Yogi Bear figure skate.”
It was Jack Kerouac who once penned, “Manana, something that must mean forever.” For Daniel Samess, tomorrow means 12 more months of rain, 365 days of racy emails from his nemesis Ben Daniels and a lifetime of wondering what might have been. When asked about his defeat, he words reverberated against the walls of Sombrero Resort, “They say pride comes before the fall, but bad calls never help.”