I went to New Haven this weekend. It was fun. Although, I probably spent more time watching Li Na practice (and watching her husband play footy with a tennis ball) than actual tennis matches. But I saw some of that too, and it was good.
Saturday was all qualifying and matches for the US Open qualifying wildcard playoffs. Sunday had the last of qualifying matches and some first-round matches as well. A favorite I took in was Klara Zakopalova against Flavia Pennetta. So impressed by the heavy hitting by both, considering the very muggy conditions. Found Flavi’s lecturing of the umpire funny after she got a coaching violation. She was not being coached. She literally looked up at her coach for a brief moment, who made no motion or sounds in return. She did, however, call out the umpire for giving her the violation based on something that happened a few games earlier (where she might have received coaching?). Either way, the crowd got behind Flavi in a big way. In the end though, Klara prevailed.
I should note: I wasn’t in New Haven as media. My sister and I have been going to the tournament for many years now (since we live in New York) and took the weekend as an opportunity to get out of the concrete jungle and into the suburbs to relax a little bit (what we call a “sister trip”). Could I have gone as media and asked Caroline Wozniacki who her new coach was (and get no answer)? Sure. But instead, I went as a fan and, as a fan, it’s totally okay to ask Li Na for a picture. Don’t worry, I thanked her in Chinese after – numerous times.
So anyway, what I’m trying to say is, just because you’re not media doesn’t mean you can’t get close to the players. At smaller tournaments you’re practically sitting on the court. Also, players walk around as if you’re in a rural shopping mall. Example: Marion Bartoli visited the Kashi booth for a free reusable tote and snacks. So bring your camera, bring a tennis ball and sharpee marker, be courteous and understanding at practices and matches and often times you’ll have an unforgettable experience!
(Photo: The Slice)