Rough Weekend for International Athletes From Boca
Yesterday, just before leaving to represent the U.S. in its only appearance in the FIFA Confederations Cup, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Boca Raton native Jozy Altidore tweeted: "Do you believe? I know I do!!!"
On Wednesday, the 19-year-old striker scored the first of the two goals (video above) that toppled the world's No. 1-ranked team, Spain, in one of the biggest upsets in American soccer history. But looming in the tournament's final on Sunday was Brazil.
Several thousand miles north along the Prime Meridian, another Boca athlete had played improbably deep into an international tournament. Jesse Levine, a 21-year-old, had the biggest match of his life on Saturday. The journey had started with a huge upset of Marat Safin, a former U.S. Open champion. Ranked 133, Levine was the lowest-ranked player on either the mens' or womens' side of the tournament to make it to the third round. To advance to the fourth round -- a 100:1 chance when the tournament began -- Levine needed to beat a Swiss player, Stanislas Wawrinka, the world's 19th ranked player. Here's video of an interview he gave before that match.
Both Boca youngsters started off strong. Altidore's American squad scored two goals in the first half against a lethargic Brazilian squad. And Levine won his first set against Wawrinka, 7-5.
But the odds have a way of catching up to underdogs.
A suddenly galvanized Brazil team stormed back in the match's second half. It was 2-2 when Altidore, who couldn't shake free from yellow-shirted defenders, came out of the match. A short time later, Brazil scored the game-winning goal.
Against Wawrinka, an exhausted Levine lost three straight sets, ending his run at Wimbledon. But judging by this post-match interview, he had a blast. The real question is whether Levine's success is a credit to his country of birth -- that would be Canada -- or the city where he's been living since he was 12 years old. Judging by the comments on his Wimbledon profile page, Canadian tennis fans have rallied around him, but it sounds like Levine prefers to be known for his Boca Raton roots:
So I was born in Canada, yes, but I play under the American flag 100 percent. USTA has taken me since the day I moved and obviously been having some really good results.
For Altidore's fascinating biography, check out this article in Saturday's Palm Beach Post.
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