As you may have noticed I really, really, really, really, really like tennis.
So, as an explanation of why I mention it so often here’s where my love of tennis stems from. Beware of all the pictures!
I grew up watching and playing tennis. My maternal grandparents are huge tennis players and I played with them a lot when I was younger. My father (who also plays tennis, but not as regularly or as well) is a huge sports fan, he can watch pretty much any sport and tennis is one of his favorite.
So from a young age I watched a lot of tennis growing up.
For as long as I can remember my father and I have gone to the US Open on the first Thursday. We’ve seen everyone. I remember seeing Federer play on Armstrong (the second show court) with barely anyone there 8 years ago or something.
So I’ve seen:
The Bryan Brothers (in blue)
Novak Djokovic (white shirt)
Serena Williams (top) and Justine Henin
One of the coolest things is going over to the practice courts, you can get up close (well, you can go around trees or right up to a fence between trees) and watch the players practice.
I’ve also seen Serena practicing.
Dinara Safina practicing
And Safina (left) and Serena playing each other
Here’s Roger practicing
When the players are done practicing they often come over to a throng of people (mostly children) to sign autographs.
This is how close I got to Djokovic
Which brings us to Rafa. My favorite. Rafael Nadal of Spain, brilliant tennis player, seemingly great person, and my favorite player to watch.
Last year I was at the women’s semifinals with my friend and we were waiting for the match to start on the concourse of the stadium overlooking the practice courts and we looked down and saw:
So logically we ran down to the practice courts and got a PRIME position. We stood and watched him practice for about an hour and a half (I am nuts) and I took about 300 pictures (yes, see, crazy). Here are some of the choice pictures:
(I love Uncle Toni, Rafa’s coach)
(And there’s Rafa’s troublesome knees)
Another great thing about the US Open is that if you go to a night match and it goes late and the rich people with the $20,000 seats leave they let all of us poor people come down from the top of the stadium and sit courtside. I’ve made it courtside twice.
The first was to watch Rafa play David Ferrer in the 4th round in 2007, 4 set match, great crowd, everyone was dancing and singing to the music at changovers, they showed a McEnroe classic clip on the big screen and he stood and waved from the broadcast box:
And the second time was watching James Blake play Donald Young in the first round in 2008. 5 set match. We were right next to Donald Young’s family and friends, it was INSANE. But no pictures because my camera broke
One of the most bizarrre things I’ve seen happened at the women’s semifinals last year. We were sitting way up in our nosebleed seats and who should appear right next to us with their trophy but the Bryan Brothers!
So that’s my love of tennis. I know I’m crazy, but no one says this about people who love football! If anyone lives near a tournament, either big or small (watching unknown players or juniors play on the outer courts is one of my favorite things, I just didn’t think their pictures would interest anyone here) I would highly recommend your going. It’s not “stuffy” or “elitest” like a lot of people seem to think. It’s brilliant.
I will be going to 7 US Open sessions this year and I think I’m also going to the qualifying so expect lots of posts about tennis (and some unhealthy stadium food) at the beginning of September!