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Chapter 5.1: Genius and Untalented
After Coach Jeon left, Han Woo Jin sat in the waiting area. He could handle his physical exhaustion but he couldn't deal with his mental fatigue.
When he tumbled on the ground with Park Chang Jin, he scraped his cheek so he felt a stinging pain. Han Woo Jin raised his shoulder and tried to rub his cheek.
"Aigoo, don't do that. It might get infected."
Someone behind him handed him a towel with a joking tone. Han Woo Jin wiped his cheek with the towel from Choi Yeon Hyuk and turned his head around.
He felt awkward because he never received this kind of treatment before. Not to mention, the person who helped him was Choi Yeon Hyuk.
The sweat, dirt, and blood were mixed so the towel quickly became dirty. Choi Yeon Hyuk began speaking to him while sitting next to him.
"You're pretty hotheaded. I thought you were a cool person."
"Not really. When I get angry, I get angry, and when I don't have anything to say I don't say anything."
Han Woo Jin answered with a dry tone.
He was an untalented player who kept to himself for ten years. In the Korean sports world, the relationship between seniors and juniors was quite strict, so the players who didn't conform to the social hierarchy were ostracized.
He entered the tennis world with a pure heart, but during his ten years of play, he closed his heart off from others and only thought about tennis.
The people that told him that he didn't have a social life or friends were those who had no idea what they were talking about. Han Woo Jin's broken heart could not be mended in just one or two days.
If it was someone else, they would leave just him, but Choi Yeon Hyuk just nodded.
"I understand, the guy from earlier can't even be called a tennis player. Don't you think so?"
Han Woo Jin was very surprised by his words. Choi Yeon Hyuk had etiquette and had polite manners with a bright face. Yet he completely changed in front of him.
'… is this his real face?'
Choi Yeon Hyuk was smirking. He coldly looked at the players who were waiting to watch the finals. Among them were the two people who caused trouble with Han Woo Jin and they had ugly expressions.
"I can't stand the fact that I am treated on the same level as them. You and I are not like those people."
Pride, arrogance, confidence, and condescension. Choi Yeon Hyuk's voice contained a variety of emotions that traveled to Han Woo Jin's ears. His voice was soft but it sharply hit his heart.
'Ah, so that's what he feels.'
Han Woo Jin just laughed.
He understood why Choi Yeon Hyuk was speaking to him like this. Also, he knew that this was an act of friendship from him. That's why he couldn't help but laugh.
"Then what about them?"
Han Woo Jin pointed at the players who passed by them. Choi Yeon Hyuk didn't even turn his head and opened his mouth.
"They're a group of beggars. I'm sick and tired of these poor bastards that can't even win a single tournament in this country or around the world."
Han Woo Jin always knew that he was at the bottom and was used to being looked down upon from those at the top. Han Woo Jin was never above anybody else.
Yet today he found out how cold and uncaring those at the top saw those on the bottom.
In his past life, ten years ago, in Choi Yeon Hyuk's eyes, he probably also saw him as a beggar.
A beggar who was not worth remembering. He, who played for ten years, never won anything.
'Is this what those geniuses think?'
It was a harsh world where nothing mattered except for talent. On the outside, Choi Yeon Hyuk was a kind man with impeccable manners, but on the inside, he was someone with a dark side filled with talent and contempt for those weaker than him. No, it could be that he didn't know that he had these dark thoughts.
Han Woo Jin was completely different. He who came from the bottom could kind of understand what Choi Yeon Hyuk was thinking about.
He could do whatever he wanted and accomplish any goal. How pathetic were the people who always failed? He definitely didn't care about their talents and efforts as they were a waste.
"Am I different?"
"Hm? You? Of course you're different. That's why the president called us and gave us a different contract."
Choi Yeon Hyuk happily put his arm over Woo Jin's shoulder and patted it. His action seemed very friendly and if a person didn't hear their previous conversation, they would think that they were good friends.
"Is there about 15 minutes left? I'll start warming up first. Come over later."
He saw Choi Yeon Hyuk's back as he was walking away and gripped his racket. He could see his status in front of him.
His total stats were almost at 180 and his skill level total was 64. Furthermore, he had a special skill like himself. His potential was at an unreachable level. Although he reached the finals, he didn't even show half of his skills.
'To think that I am treated on the same level as this monster.'
Han Woo Jin felt both excited and depressed.
'We aren't the same.'
As soon as Choi Yeon Hyuk was out of sight, Han Woo Jin saw his own status window. Now he could distinguish the status window and his surroundings.
"Even without looking at it, I can tell that he's better than me."
A world-class genius.
He would become the future prince of tennis that would place as the runner-up for Wimbledon.
Although this was ten years in the future and he currently didn't have the same experience as the tennis prince that he would become, he was still an amazing player.
Han Woo Jin mumbled as he looked up at the sky with depressed eyes.
He couldn't see himself winning.
The sun was high up in the sky when the test league began but now the sun was already setting. All the outdoor lights were turned on but there still would be some vision problems for the players. That's why it was decided that the finals would be held inside.
The two people who were kicked out earlier were also present. All 32 players were seated and were waiting for the finals to start.
They would always have a test league whenever new players joined. The rookies got to this test league's finals. This was the first time for this to have ever happened in NK company history. That's why those who were sitting in the stands were all excited.
Of course, there would always be haters who would doubt their skills.
"Ha, how lucky could they be to have gotten to the finals? Did you guys even try?"
"I don't care about them. They're probably nothing special. Who wants to get some chicken and beer after this?"
Im Sang Hoon and Park Chang Jin who were scolded by Coach Jeon were the ones that started the commotion to distract everyone else. This time, someone stopped them.
It was Lee Hyun Woo who played against Han Woo Jin in the top eight. He had been at NK company since a long time ago and he had higher seniority than Im Sang Hoon and Park Chang Jin.
"Both of you stop talking and just watch. If you want to talk that badly, then leave."
The two people stopped talking. They were surprised by Lee Hyun Woo's attitude as it was different from usual.
Park Chang Jin spoke first.
"Hyun Woo hyung, are you taking their side?"
"Since when was tennis a sport about taking sides? Chang Jin, if you don't stop drinking and start practicing, it'll be hard for you to pass this quarter."
Lee Hyun Woo pointed out a serious fact and that got him to quiet down.
At that time, Coach Jeon came inside with a jumper on.
He just counted the number of players sitting in the stands and nodded.
"Good, you're all here. How do you guys feel?"
The main characters of the finals. Han Woo Jin and Choi Yeon Hyuk looked at each other from the opposite ends of the court. They didn't turn their heads even though Coach Jeon was speaking to them; their eyes were fired up.
Han Woo Jin's eyes were very dark compared to Choi Yeon Hyuk's eyes which were very bright. They contrasted each other.
'Choi Yeon Hyuk looks more excited. Woo Jin seems a bit down?'
Jeon Sang Shik tilted his head at his unexpected expression. Nonetheless, he decided to go ahead with the finals.
"Choose who serves first with rock paper scissors."
The two players slowly walked to the net from the baseline. 186 cm Choi Yeon Hyuk and 177 cm Han Woo Jin — their eye heights were very different. The two began shaking their hands.
Han Woo Jin chose rock and Choi Yeon Hyuk chose paper. Choi Yeon Hyuk would serve first.
"This time we will have a best of two out of three for the finals. We won't have deuces and extended rules because of physical exhaustion. Other than that, everything is the same. Are you ready?"
Choi Yeon Hyuk was fired up and excited to play compared to Han Woo Jin who seemed unexcited. Coach Jeon was excited to see the match between these two players.
"Okay, go to your spots."
The two turned their backs toward each other and walked. They looked like those western cowboys about to head into a gun duel. They both walked slowly and looked nervous.
As soon as they arrived at the service line, a ball was thrown to Choi Yeon Hyuk. As he received the ball, he grabbed it really tightly. You could see his veins popping on his arms.
'He's serious,' Han Woo Jin thought. 'He will use a different serve from before.'
"Alright, first set, first game… start!" Coach Jeon shouted, and the ball flew out from Choi Yeon Hyuk's hand. Seeing him throw the ball, Han Woo Jin's back was covered with sweat as if it was a block of melting ice.
Han Woo Jin instinctively widened his eyes. He saw Choi Yeon Hyuk's racket hit the ball.
Everybody except for Choi Yeon Hyuk stopped thinking. What happened just now? It looked like somebody erased the scene of Choi Yeon Hyuk's serve from everyone's minds.
'What kind of speed…!'
Han Woo Jin was the one who was the most surprised after seeing the ball in front of him. He remembered Choi Yeon Hyuk's fastest serve ever was 242 km/h. It was at the highest level in the world ranks. How can he hit the ball like that even though he just entered the company?
Choi Yeon Hyuk's eyes were speaking to him, and he saw Han Woo Jin's astonished expression.
'If it's you, you can return it, right?'