By Granger Huntress
TUCSON, Ariz. - When Florida’s Buck Bobo and his 4.5 teammates from Pensacola won their Section Championship in August, he was excited to qualify for the 2010 USTA League National Championships in Tucson, Ariz., but there was one little problem – Bobo is afraid to fly.
"I hate flying," says Bobo, who is actually a teaching pro for the city of Gulf Shores, Ala. "I had a bad experience about eight years ago and have only been on a plane once since, when my brother forced me."
So eight years ago, Bobo and his brother, Zack, were heading back to Las Vegas, where they spent their early childhood. The brothers had spent the night prior to their flight out on the town maybe a bit too late and weren’t feeling their best when they boarded the plane.
"As we were boarding, the wings looked all black to me and the plane seemed like it was 50 years old," explains Bobo. "Then we get in the air and we hit some turbulence and the plane dropped like 50 feet. There were two pilots riding in coach sitting next to me and they looked nervous as well."
There was no doubt Bobo was getting to Arizona, but how?
"There was no question I was driving," adds Bobo. "I wasn’t going to miss this."
So he needed to recruit someone to come along for the drive. Naturally that duty fell on his brother, Zach, who had already shown an interest in making the trip.
"Zach thought we were going to fly," says Bobo. "It took some convincing, but he was eventually up for it."
So the brothers left Gulf Shores at noon on Tuesday. They drove straight through to Tucson, only stopping for fast food and a brief one-and-a-half hour nap along the way.
"We stopped just outside of El Paso, Texas," says Buck. "I almost fall asleep at the wheel and started swerving all over the road. I promised my wife we would take a break if I did that."
Of course with all of the drug fighting going on, just on the other side of the border from El Paso, it may have not been the best place to have to stop.
"We were asleep in the car and all of a sudden I start hearing voices of people talking outside the car," says Bobo. "That woke me up."
To try and stay awake for the trip, the brothers took turns at the wheel and blasted rap music.
"We listed to The Roots and Project Pat," Bobo sheepishly admits, "stuff like that."
The drive wasn’t without a minor mishap. Driving just outside of San Antonio, they ran over a raccoon, which a few of his teammates teased was bad karma and contributed to his singles loss Friday morning.
"There was a family of five or so (raccoons), and they just started crossing the road in front of us. There was nothing we could do," pleads Bobo. "We hit the last one."
The brothers arrived in Tucson 26 hours later, at noon on Wednesday, just in time to pick up their first set of teammates who had gone the traditional route of flying into town. They literally drove straight up to the curb, just as the others were walking out with their bags.
With one long drive down, Bobo and his teammates now focus on their drive to a championship.