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They'll vacate valley to volley

Nine years ago, they stroked their way ­ with an assortment of forehandsand backhands ­ into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Their record: longest documented rally in tennis history.

Ashland residents Ron Kapp and Will Duggan hit 6,202 consecutive shotswithin a singles court without a miss on March 12, 1988, before approximately200 curious onlookers at Santa Barbara, Calif.

Kapp and Duggan easily broke the previous record of 643 consecutive strokeswithout a miss.

Nine years older, but in peak physical condition and brimming with enthusiasm,they are back for an assault on their record.

Duggan, 50, and the 47-year-old Kapp will attempt to break their recordwhen they embark on a 52-day, 14,000-mile tour of the United States todayat Willamette University in Salem. They will put on exhibitions in 48 U.S.capitals, Washington, D.C., and at the

U.S. Open in New York City on Aug. 31 to end the trip. At each stop they'llattempt to break the record and have vowed to hit a minimum of 1,000 consecutiveshots in each of the cities.

They will make the trip in a 27-foot motor home.

We've been working on this and thinking about it for a year, andwe're excited to get going, says Kapp, an emergency room physicianin the San Francisco Bay area who works 10 days a month and spends mostof the rest of his time at home in Ashland or commuting back and forth.

We think we have a good chance to break the record, saysKapp. We're in good shape and looking forward to getting out thereand seeing the country and promoting tennis.

No matter what happens, Duggan and Kapp are proving to be effective ambassadorsfor their sport and for the United States Tennis Association, which willhelp them by providing its officials to supervise and document their attemptat re-breaking the record for consecutive successful shots in one rally.The USTA paid $300 to help the players make the trip.

Donna Montee, director of the Pacific Northwest Section of the USTA,says Duggan and Kapp are good-will ambassadors for tennis.

What they are doing is in line with our goal of promoting the gameof tennis and to create a fun atmosphere for it, says Montee. Tellingpeople their story creates attention for them and tennis. It's a wonderfulstory.

The story will be told best if Duggan and Kapp break their own record.

Ron thinks we can go over 10,000 shots in a row, says Duggan.That's going to take a long time (probably four to five hours), butwe think we have the patience and the conditioning to do it.

It's exciting, but it can also get boring, says Duggan, aformer teaching professional from Southern California, who now gives lessonsin Ashland and works part-time as a freelance writer and author. Whenyou are out there that long, you try to do things, like talk to each other,to stay in it mentally.

the time you are finished with a long rally, all of the fuzzis off the ball and it has turned from yellow to gray.

In competitive tennis, the object is to hit shots that are difficultto return. Rallies are generally short.

But in the world of Duggan and Kapp, the object is to hit soft, easilyreturned shots to keep marathon rallies going.

It becomes tedious, says Kapp. You have to search forways to keep your concentration going.

It comes down to being several marathons within a marathon,says Kapp. Mentally and physically. It's an ordeal, but we like itbecause we like tennis so much.

The tour starts Friday in Salem. Then, it's on to Olympia, Wash.; Helena,Mont.; and Cheyenne, Wyo.

The tour winds through the Midwest until it reaches the eastern seaboardin Florida. Then, they turn their motor home north and hit major citiesthrough the northeast.

They'll finish at Flushing Meadows, N.Y., site of the U.S. Open.

The stretch between Helena and Cheyenne is the longest on the tour. Theplayers will do an exhibition Monday in Helena and then drive 735 milesto Cheyenne that night.

They will emphasize good diet, plenty of rest and conditioning on thetrip.

We work out together regularly, says Duggan. We workout in high altitude on Ron's property near Ashland. The air is so clearup there, it makes you feel great after running or working out.

Last year, we were able to find a little money ($300) to help themwith their expenses, says Montee. That was after the grant processwas over.

If we find out the feedback from their tour is good, we may havea bonus for them by the end of the year. I think they deserve that.

Will Duggan, right, and Ron Kapp hope to break the 6,202-volley record they set nine years ago. - Photo by Jim Craven</P