13 December 2015

Celebrating my 25th year as a tennis fan

1990 was the year I fell in love with professional tennis. I've written about my first tennis faves Monica Seles and Andre Agassi often enough and I still thank them (and Jennifer Capriati) for getting me into this game. The first slam I ever watched was the 1990 French Open...my how time flies.

The year, I revisited chunks of the past 25 years of tennis fandom by going through old news clippings, tennis tourney programs and memorabilia. Because I didn't live in the US for ages, I really hadn't gone through all my tennis stuff, well, ever. I had no idea how much I'd accumulated.

A year ago, I converted all my VHS tapes of tennis matches and interviews and have shared many matches and tidbits on my Youtube channel. I've continued to try and upload some items I didn't already see on Youtube, such as Andre Agassi's last match at Wimbledon vs Rafael Nadal from 2006, or the the full, uninterrupted 1998 French Open semifinal win by Monica Seles over Martina Hingis.

This year, I continued to organize the many, many tennis items I've accumulated through the last 25 years.  I've pared down a bit, donated some items to fellow tennis fans and now have a full on tennis wall and tennis bookshelf housing all my tennis books, magazines and tennis tournament programs. I have had such fun going through them all and have tweeted so many classic magazine covers, photos, etc. And I uncovered the two tennis scrapbooks I used to keep in the early 90s. What a blast!

One item I found this year that was incredible was a newsletter published by Venus and Serena back in 1999. My discovery led my friend Ben Rothenberg to write an article on it for Slate.

So 2015 was a great year for this tennis nerd. I attended two new tournaments, started doing a live tennis radio show and in all spent 27 days watching live matches in Indian Wells, Madrid and Cincinnati. This in addition to my continued tennis memorabilia organization project and I think I celebrated my 25th year as a tennis nerd/addict pretty well!

Here's my breakdown of what my 2015 entailed:

Completing 32 live radio shows on the Pro Tenn Radio Network - we were all-WTA which was great and so much fun but I had no idea how much work would go into 1-2 hours of a live tennis show. It's a challenge to think on your feet in terms of stats, results, rankings and more so each show took a lot of pre-planning looking up all sorts of facts and figures. But it was really great to be able to talk tennis, especially women's tennis, so in-depth.

Thanks to my co-host Pete for a fun year and thanks to everyone who listened, called in and engaged with us on Twitter!

Watching Serena make her Indian Wells comeback - it took me awhile to try and put into words how amazing it all was. I tried here. Being there that first night was so emotional and nerve wracking.

How nervous would Serena be? How supportive would the crowd be? Because I wasn't exactly sitting court side, other than being well aware at how much cheering there was, I couldn't see the emotion on Serena's face when she came on court. But being part of the crowd that night, and hearing the support throughout is by far one of my best tennis memories, ever. The standing ovation was everything.

Making my debut at Indian Wells - the morning I woke up to the news that Serena was returning to IW was the day I booked my flight there and overall it was wonderful. Here are my tips for attending. I'm sure I'll be back. I had a glorious 9 days onsite and although the heat was rough all in all I can see why players and fans love the BNP Paribas Open.

First visit to the Madrid Open - Madrid itself is so, so amazing (see my travel blog here) and overall I enjoyed the tournament. I was onsite for the entire tournament and it was memorable in so many ways. Some thoughts here.

Return to Cincinnati - As much as I love attending slams, I felt so satisfied with my time in Cincy that I didn't bother with the US Open this year. Cincy is one of the best combined events, in fact I rate it higher than both IW and Miami for overall fan experience. My thoughts here.

Meeting up with many old and new tennis fans I've met through Twitter. I usually attend tournaments alone and that's just fine because I can do what I like. But at every tournament I went to this year, I was able to meet up with so many friends I've met through Tennis Twitter. You're all fab.

And here are some of my favorite matches I saw live this year:

Yulia Putintseva vs Anastasia Rodionova, Indian Wells. This qualifying match embodied SO much of what I love about the WTA. There was so much drama, a small but very captive audience and many WTA/ATP chair umpires around watching the drama unfold. My friends over at The Tennis Island nicely documented the match and I'm so happy our Twitter coverage of this non-streamed qualifying match is preserved for all time. A MUST read.


Serena vs Vika, Madrid - I hadn't seen these two play live since the 2013 US Open final. And this was the first match with Sascha Bajin attending a Serena match in another player box (sniff). So much intrigue and this match was full of drama, especially Vika being up triple match point and Serena winning 7-6 in the third for her 26th straight win.

Chan Sisters vs Flavia Pennetta and Sara Errani, Cincinnati. This was one of the craziest doubles matches I've ever seen live. In the end, the Chan sisters won 6-7 (4) 7-6 (1), 19-17. The Italians had five match points in the supertiebreak. It lasted two hours and 18 minutes. I got in right before the first set tiebreaker and saw the match from there, and oh my goodness it was crazy. I was courtside in the media seats so I got to see all the player expressions and it was the best. The atmosphere was incredible. Such fun!

Vika vs Maria, Indian Wells - even though this match was a bit of a fizzer,  I still loved seeing these two amazing players face off for the first time live. I hope they play more often in 2016. And that we get a more improved Vika in 2016....

Indian Wells 2015 3rd round Highlights Maria... by cruxsquall

Svetlana Kuznetsova vs Lucie Safarova, Madrid - this was one of those crazy tennis matches that had so many twists and turns. Sveta served for the first set at 5-4 and then lost three straight games to loser the set. Lucie led 5-2 in the second set TB, and Sveta somehow won the set. Then Lucie was up 5-3 in the second set, had a few match points but in the end Sveta won 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3).  The crowd improved in size as the contest progressed and I loved it all! I would have never picked Sveta to go all the way to the final after she got through this one, and who would have expected Lucie to make the French Open final mere weeks later? 


As always, thanks to everyone for reading this blog, for following and chatting with me on Twitter and in general just being part of this incredible sport! Here's hoping for another incredible year in 2016.

1 comment: