Jeff Salzenstein has always thought of himself as somewhat of a late bloomer. The 36-year-old Coloradan, known for his huge lefty serve and forehand, played his last match on the ATP Tour almost three years ago, but since then has sought new directions in his life. At least that’s what most had been lead to believe. So who would have thought the former journeyman pro had it in him to absolutely shatter Andy Roddick’s fastest serve record of 155 mph. Last Saturday, high up in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, Salzenstein, or Salzy as he was known on the tour, cracked a serve for the ages at the National Fast Serve Challenge. Silverton, originally a silver mining camp, was chosen as the site for the event not only for its secluded location — the media wasn’t even aware of the fast serve competition — but also for its elevation. The town of just over 500 residents sits in a valley at 9,305 feet. Anyone who has ever played tennis at altitude knows what happens to a tennis ball way up high. It flies. It really flies. Perhaps that’s what the organizers were thinking when Silverton was selected. Maybe the elevation could add a few extra mph of velocity and someone could bomb a really big one. Still, officials were dumbfounded when the 6-foot-1 Salzenstein unleashed every ounce of his 180-pound frame into a serve that virtually exploded off the strings of his racket and registered 168 mph on the radar gun. Thirteen mph faster than Roddick’s best. An astonished silence gripped the high school gymnasium immediately after the feat. Then a wild celebration of high-fives and whooping it up followed. The record is pending certification. One has to wonder if Salzenstein, who reached a career high of No. 100 in the world in 2004 and has wins over David Nalbandian and Mardy Fish, might be contemplating a comeback. He always said he’d like to play until he was 40. Stay tuned. Sidd Finch must be proud.
Former Pro Tops Roddick Serve Record with 168 MPH Heater
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