11 September 2013

Arthur Ashe Kids' Day Weekend in photos


First sight upon arrival - Serena practicing

AAKD stage before the kids arrived.

One of my fave moments - Serena introducing Michelle Obama!

Michelle Obama is the coolest


















The calm before the storm

Watching Ernie practice


Who knew the upset Robredo would pull off later that week!

So empty!

I'm pretty pleased how this board ended up!

Prince promo event with the Bryans

The cutest Bryan for sure - Michaela!

These guys are the best



10 September 2013

Seven glorious days at the 2013 US Open


Ah live grand slam tennis. 

It's always great to attend the US' Grand Slam, and I'm lucky to now live an hour away so I was in NYC three straight weekends. Though tennis was the focus, each weekend was so different. 

The first weekend, Arthur Ashe Kids Day, seems like six months ago now. But the thrills I got to experience that weekend still make me shake my head in disbelief. 

I was onsite for a work awards luncheon and got to meet some of the most amazing people in the tennis world. I met David Dinkins, Jeanne Ashe, Katrina Adams and USTA President Dave Haggerty. As a tennis nerd, this was a huge day. Our luncheon took place in the USTA Presidential Suite so that in itself was surreal, and we got to watch Arthur Ashe Kids Day from the Presidential Box. Yes, I kept pinching myself. 

I had a front row seat (well, not literally - I was in the fourth row) for Serena, Rafa and Roger as they competed in the charity skills event and it was amazing. The best part of my day tho, was standing at a podium, reading out bios for our amazing award winners, with David Dinkins standing to my right handing out the awards. And after giving out awards in Arthur Ashe's name, I went up to his widow, the beautiful Jeanne who was smiling at me all the while I read out accolades for the winners. I told her that the first college paper I ever wrote was about Arthur, and it was just a few months after he died. I got to tell her that I was so afraid my grade would get docked due to the excessive length of my paper, but that he was so amazing I couldn't keep to the assigned length. I told her how surreal it was to now, 20 years later, be in a room in Arthur Ashe Stadium celebrating Arthur's legacy. It still makes me tear up. 

The day after AAKD, we were back onsite to attend another awards luncheon, this one for winners of the National Junior Tennis Learning (NJTL) Arthur Ashe Essay Contest. Again I was in the same room as Dinkins, who I think is one of the cutest men alive. Just adorable, and so funny as well. It was a pleasure to be in his company two days in a row.

Once the work events were over, it was time to enjoy the grounds on the Sunday before the main draw started. I've never been to the Billie Jean National Tennis Center when it was so quiet. There were still people onsite, but nothing overwhelming so I enjoyed watching a few player practices before heading out for the weekend. But not before catching up with some tennis media friends and crashing a Prince function with the Bryan Brothers!

Labor Day Weekend is always a tricky time to visit the open as it's usually fully sold out and there are crazy crowds (and heat). For the second time in three years, however, my mom and I battled the crowds to take in the tennis. Our goals this time were simple: watch Rafa, watch Serena. So we saw Rafa take out Dodig, we got to watch the Bryan Brothers in their tussle with Canadians Nestor and Pospisil plus the Serena/Sloane battle. Our time together ended watching Tommy Haas go down to Mikhail Youzhny. Great stuff!

Serena versus Sloane was by far the most intense match I saw that weekend. I was nervous, as that Aussie Open quarterfinal match left a bad taste in my mouth for awhile. I always feel like it's harder to get perspective on a match when you're there live watching. I felt like I lived and breathed with every point, particularly in that first set. Was it good quality? All I know is that I felt such relief when Serena won. And that Sloane cracked some amazing forehands! 

Finals weekend:
Living so close to NYC has its perks, and there was no way I was going to stay away from finals weekend. So I watched Stan battle Novak so well in their five set battle - the crowd was pretty amazing in that match, so it's no surprise many people left after that 4-hour semifinal. Rafa vs Gasquet had a few nice moments, but overall it was pretty straightforward. Rafa/Novak final!

BUT - the ladies final. I'm a live tennis nut, so this was my fifth grand slam final, but first
watching a huge fave. Nerves! And being in the Promenade of Arthur Ashe Stadium is not always fun as people are constantly chatting, yelling, coming and going. BUT. Being there - wow. How many times did Serena's dress fly up? How many balls were carried out, or inside the court due to the wind? It was hard to tell from up in the cheap(ish) seats but I clearly saw Serena lose her set and a double break lead. I still can't believe she lost that set but wow the crowd loved that we were going three sets. And when she flew through the third set and closed it out. Amazing! I can't describe watching my longtime fave winning a grand slam. Her fifth US Open. Her 17th grand slam. Dreams!!


A highlight of ladies' finals day was Monica Seles! She was my first WTA love and she was being inducted into the US Court of Champions before the women's final. But she also was doing a book signing for her new book The Academy: Game On, which I already owned but bought again to get her to sign it. And I got to speak with Monica for a minute or so and got my photo taken. DREAMS!

This post is long and does no justice to the many days I spent at the 2013 US Open, but I will  do some photo blogs after I sift through the 1000 photos I took. 

16 July 2013

Newport - Hall of Fame, museum and enshrinement ceremony

Front entrance to the museum and Hall of Fame
I started a new job working for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and on my first day, I was invited to attend the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. My 'yes' was immediate so off we went last weekend.

The two days were so different. Saturday was cloudy and rainy and the tennis was cancelled. Then Sunday was superbly hot and the packed schedule meant both the singles semis and final were on tap.

A few thoughts:


Legends entering the Enshrinement Ceremony
The enshrinement ceremony: Martina Hingis, Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell and Ion Tiriac. I can't imagine attending the ceremony of one of my favorites being enshrined in the Tennis Hall of Fame. It was emotional enough to be there and witness this amazing day. Rod Laver was there. Bud Collins. Stan Smith. So many tennis legends in one place.

The sound system wasn't fantastic so I need to rewatch all the speeches online but in a nutshell I thought Tiriac was hilarious and Hingis was a bit soft spoken but very emotional. I followed Hingis' entire career and it's hard to believe she's been fully retired five years since her peers Venus and Serena Williams are still going. But Hingis' speech was poignant and made me just remember the amazing player she was, with her mom in the stands. They were quite a pair.

Rod Laver speaking during the ceremony
I was lucky enough to be able to be on the court during photos taken after the ceremony. The ITA honors its College Players of the Year so I took a few pics and got to hang around afterward. I was so close to Rod Laver but was too bashful to ask for a pic with him. I did, however, ask Bud Collins for a pic so I did get my tennis fan on. Great afternoon.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum. What better an option during a rain delay than visiting this amazing place. It cost $8 with a tourney ticket and what a bargain. So many fantastic exhibitions and so much history. Loved it. When I went in, Rod Laver and Bud Collins were giving autographs, and Mary Pierce was inside wandering around. So fun.

The Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. My first visit to the Newport tourney was a good one. Lleyton Hewitt took out two-time defending champ John Isner in the semis, which was a nice surprise then Nicolas Mahut beat Michael Russell to make the final. It's never great when a match originally scheduled (and in this case started) on the main court gets moved due to weather but that's what happened on Sunday. I was watching Hewitt/Isner but read that both Mahut and Russell were frustrated by the crowd's movement around court 1 as well as the actual court condition. But, c'est la vie.

The final was decent, but it was so hot on Sunday I was struggling to focus (clearly all those days sitting in the searing Melbourne sun have not made me a heat-loving tennis fan). I was hoping to see Hewitt win the title, but he couldn't close it out and Mahut pulled it out in three sets. Who could not be happy for Mahut? Two grass titles in the past few months, and then he won the doubles semifinal after winning two singles matches, and then won the doubles final the next morning. What a great story.

The tourney itself is in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island (if you go, be sure to drive along Ocean Drive - wow some people are really rich). It's easy to park on the street in walking distance to the tourney. There's a supermarket right next to the grounds and there are plenty of places to eat and drink before or after the tourney. One con - you have to leave the gate to use the toilets so if you do this they will check your bags every time you re-enter. Slightly a pain so get someone to keep your bags!

Here are some more pics from a fab few days:

Panoramic view of the grounds as the ceremony began

'victory' lap by honorees, but hard to see as photogs were allowed to join in

Stan Smith and Rod Laver

Pam Shriver helps Bud Collins do the lap

Class of 2013

Me and Bud Collins

Hingis and her mom Melanie Molitor

Collins and Laver


Martina and a very cool racket!

Cliff Drysdale and family

Stairs leading up to the museum

My year! First year I followed an entire year of pro tennis

Monica Seles' winning kit at her first slam - 1990 French Open

Loved this wall

Serena's gold winning dress

Andy Roddick's shoes from his final match, US Open 2012

Aussie Open exhibition in the museum

Ah I remember this moment!

Martina Hingis and Mary Pierce before their exo

Such lovely courts

Hewitt vs Isner semifinal

Mahut beats Russell to make the final

Isner losing to Hewitt

Hewitt makes the final

Hewitt in the final

Mahut wins!

Mahut is overcome