Student Well-Being

Teens (Unofficially) Break Guinness World Record With 60-Hour Tennis Match

By Bryan Toporek — March 29, 2011 2 min read
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Remember that epic 11-hour, 5-minute Wimbledon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut last summer? Two Montana high school students had a tennis match this past weekend that lasted more than five times as long.

Sam Angel and Katie Martens, seniors at Hellgate High School in Missoula, Mont., played a tennis match for 60 hours, 59 minutes, and 58 seconds this past weekend, unofficially breaking the Guinness World Record for longest singles tennis match in history, according to The Missoulian. (Guinness has yet to confirm the record, which stood at 55:55:55 until now.)

The two seniors, who went by the name “The Guinness Tennis Menace,” concocted their world-record-shattering idea as their senior graduation project, which most high school seniors in Missoula must complete before graduating. The graduation project required a “community service” element, so Sam and Katie secured more than $7,000 in pledges to donate to the Watson Children’s Shelter if they broke the world record.

To qualify for the Guinness World Record, the students needed to meet four key requirements: 1) They needed two “upstanding” citizen witnesses at all times; 2) The entirety of the match had to be recorded, with a DVD or CD sent in with the application for the world record; 3) The students had to “maintain the integrity” of the sport by actually playing/keeping score; and 4) They were allowed one five-minute break every hour, which they could accumulate for longer periods of rest; however, the rest breaks didn’t count in terms of the record.

Originally, when the idea first came to Sam, the world record for longest tennis match only stood at 36 hours, 36 minutes, and 36 seconds. Then, a German duo set the 55:55:55 record less than two months ago.

“The record went to 56 hours, but they had printed up fliers, so they had to do it,” Amy McAllister, Sam’s mother, told The Missoulian.

However, the students did almost fall short of their goal at one point on Sunday. “They were just out of gas,” said Ray Angel, Sam’s father, to the paper. “They hit a wall. For a while, Sam just stopped and let the tennis balls hit off of him.”

After nurses tended to the two students, they returned to the court to finish off their 60-hour journey.

As The Missoulian reported, “Cogent comments from the Hellgate High School seniors were not possible late Sunday as the two took their final five-minute rest break.”

“I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m really tired, I’m tired,” were the only words that Sam could utter.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.