There has been much information pertaining to the longest rally, but the most accurate so far was the 643 times over the net between players Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner on September 24, 1984. More than twenty six years ago, this 643-shot rally lasted for 29 minutes and remains to be the longest point ever played in a professional tennis match. It happened during the first round of the much-coveted $50,000 Virginia Slims-sponsored Ginny tournament at the Raintree Swim and Racquet Club in Richmond, VA.
Nelson got the point after waiting for half an hour. She also won the match after 6 hours and 31 minutes of play. The match consisted of only two sets which led to a final score of 6-4, 7-6 (11). Since she lobbed a lot, her coach told her to become steadier and more patient.
When Nelson was interviewed by popular host Robert Siegel, she said that she wasn’t thinking anything during the match, but just trying to get the ball back to Hepner. She just didn’t want to give up hoping her opponent won’t be able to keep on hitting the ball back to her.
According to The New York Times, John Packett, a local sportswriter in Virginia has started counting the shots for some reason. After the rally, Nelson bowed in leg cramps and the chair umpire strangely called a time-violation warning but she composed herself and got back to the baseline to continue the match.
It seemed ridiculous for Nelson that the game lasted for so long just to win a tennis match. She didn’t actually realize that the match ended after six and a half hours. People who were watching then basically left and didn’t wait for the final set. Nelson even said that it was the worst day of her life.
Nelson is now married to Keith Dubnar, a former professional tennis coach. They currently reside in Ohio and she remains involved in the sport. Hepner on the other hand, retired from the sport soon after that longest match and seldom had the chance to play again.
Curiously, if Hepner hadn’t won the legendary tennis rally, she might have had to play a third set and nobody knows how long the match would have lasted then.