Sunday, September 06, 2009

Kohlschreiber's Got a Bit of a Muffin Top

The missus and I made our annual trek out to the U.S. Open Tennis Extravaganza yesterday. As is our usual custom, we got out there early, and as soon as the gates open, we ran to the front row in the Grandstand. Or, rather, I should say that the missus ran to the front row in the Grandstand.

I was actually doing a slight jog, much slower than just about everyone else, and for some reason, one of the U.S. Open Safety Patrol Officers decided she would get in my face with both hands held up in front of her, shouting, "SLOW DOWN! SLOW DOWN!"

To be fair to the Safety Patrol Officer, there really is quite the mad rush to seats, sure to cause injury at some point, and tennis fans are a particularly douchey bunch. There's something about the entitlement of the rich that doesn't go well with the democratic/anarchic first-come-first-served methods of the daytime U.S. Open passes.

Still, the Safety Patrol Officer didn't have to single me out just because I was the only person she actually had time to get in front of.

The missus had long sprinted by the Safety Patrol Officers by this point and claimed two prime seats right on the court behind the deuce service line.

The daytime passes get you into four matches in the Grandstand. It usually goes boy-girl-boy-girl. And we sat in that hot sun, lathered in sunscreen all freakin' day. We saw Radek Stepanek beat Philipp Kohlschreiber, Nadia Petrova beat Zheng Jie, Robin Soderling beat Sam Querrey, and Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Shehar Peer.

That, B&E readers, is a lot of tennis. Here's what stands out from a day of sun stroke...

I didn't expect to see the lovehandles.
During our first match of the day, at one point, Kohlschreiber lifted his shirt slightly. This 25-year-old trains for tennis, and yet, somehow he's still got a little overlap on his shorts. Genetics can be very unkind. Of course, he also lost, so maybe it's a fitness issue.

The psychotic coach wasn't around.
When we saw Nadia Petrova play two years ago, she was being coached from the sidelines by a scary, crazy woman. Nadia lost anyway. This year, the psycho lady didn't hunker down next to us, even though we were in the same seats. Nadia won. Coincidence? I think not.

I caught a ball.
During the Stepanek/Muffin Top match, I caught an errant ball. I've always wanted to catch a ball at a baseball game, and this is the second time I've caught one at a tennis match. It's a bit of a thrill. You're supposed to give them back. I decided I'd hold onto it until someone asked for its return. During the changeover, a ball boy traded me a used ball for a game ball. I totally should've tried to get the ball boy's autograph. I caught another ball later in the day, but gave that one right back.

138 mph is really fucking fast.
Soderling has a hell of a powerful serve, and when you're sitting behind the service line on the deuce court and he puts the full force of his strength behind a bullet heading down the center line and right for your face, you have a very strong impulse to duck the hell out of the way. Thank god for Querrey's racket, which saved my face at least three times.

Israelis and Asians cheer best.
The tennis crowd is in general a polite bunch of uptight ninnies. So when you get the occasional rabid fan or a block of fans all clearly supporting one player, it seems shockingly out of place. The Chinese supporters of Zheng Jie had an exciting call and response thing going on. When we saw Andy Murray lose to a Korean player a couple years ago, the Korean supporters, too, had some fun, wacky cheers they all seemed to know. And although a lot less organized, the vocal supporters of Shahar Peer in her match against Kuznetsova were very loud and having a great time amongst the uptight WASPs in the crowd.

Painting S-A-M on your chests is a little gay.
Sam Querrey is an up-and-coming American player, some say the future of American tennis. So he was much more supported than Robin Soderling, the surly Swede. There was a trio of men who watched the entire match while standing in the sun. Each man had a letter on his chest, spelling out SAM. You don't see that much at a tennis match.

The food is crap.
I had a crappy egg sandwich and a crappy Italian sausage. I think there were some better options there (the missus said her crepe was good, if salty), but I couldn't afford to buy anything else after the crappy sausage. And I know it's not fair to compare, but the food at New Shea (a game at which we attended the night before) is so goddamned outstanding, it's raised my expectations at all sporting events. Serve the rich preppies better, U.S. Open.

Some of those ball boys are ball men.
I've never seen an older bunch of ball boys in my life. Some were downright huge. The spazziest ball boy of the day was a ball man with a wedding ring. Not quite as unobtrusive as the best ball boys. He was uncoordinated. And about 40 years old.

I didn't take any photos.
Alas, my dead camera is still dead. Otherwise, I could show you the view from our amazing seats and help you understand why the missus has a little thing for Robin Soderling.

Those of you in the New York City area really need to make a point of going to the U.S. Open. It's a perfectly civilized way to spend the day. Aside from the misbehavior of preppies, of course.

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At 6:43 PM , Anonymous blondandeffective said...

I agree, Soderling is so-darling!

At 12:34 PM , Anonymous Your NonAthletic Friend said...

What's the difference between a used ball and a game ball?

At 4:50 PM , Blogger Dan G said...

A used ball was once in play; a game ball is still in play.

But Your NonAthletic Friend, you should perhaps be called One of Your Many NonAthletic Friends.

I sure do know my demographic!

At 11:47 AM , Blogger Carrie said...

Dan, please don't take offense, but I am not at all certain the 7 of us constitute a "demographic".


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