Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration... - MensTennisForums.com
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post #1 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration...

Such an amazing experience.

I was running slightly late today. We had a Eurovision Song Contest party at mine last night, which was damn good fun and went on quite late, so I was needs must a late start this morning, which meant I was in something of a rush. The gates opened at 12, but at that time I'd not even left my house. However, the main action, commencing with the closing of the roof, wasn't due to start until 2.30 so I knew I had a bit of time. Having to take a somewhat circuitous route to avoid tube engineering works, I finally arrived in SW19 at around 1.30pm, and dived in a taxi-share from Southfields down to the club. A quick ticket inspection and a baggage scan and I was in!



I joined an interminably long queue to pick up some bottled drinks to take in with me, as I'd been too disorganised to manage to bring any, and then I knew exactly where I was headed!

That's right!

Court 2!

You see, as I wandered past the food court area under Centre Court, I noticed that the south end of the grounds where the new court is situated seemed to be open to the public and indeed I could just glimpse people apparently entering the new stadium itself. So how could I resist a chance to stickybeak?

I dashed over and climbed up into the stands to have a look. And what they've done, I think, is magnificent. It's brand new, and yet it has this look, in spite of also looking brand new, of also looking like it's always been there, has always been a part of the tournament.

They were letting people in to wander freely, which I thought was admirable, knowing how curious we'd all be. So I went up to the top and walked all the way around to take some photos from every angle, then went right down to court level as well to see what it was like from there.







It reminds me in many ways of the MCA in Melbourne and Court 1 at Roland Garros, which they call the bullring. An open feel to the court, but wonderfully imtimate, with enough seating to provide a great atmosphere when there's a close match on. I think it's going to be terrific and I can't wait to see some live action from there.

However, time was running on, and I needed to find my seat. Moisture was in the air and I knew if the rains came they'd close the roof earlier than planned, so I hot footed it round the Centre Court to locate my entrance.
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post #2 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Scoob's Centre Court Celebration...

What can I say?

It's one thing to finally get to see perhaps your favourite court in the whole world live (okay not for the actual tournament but this isn't a bad substitute). It's another to have perhaps the best seat in the house.

I was sat directly opposite the umpire's chair, the net was exactly aligned with me so all I could see was the thin line that separated the two halves, and a completed unrestricted view of the court. Plus, though I was on Row B, there was no Row A where I was so I was right at the very front. The Royal Box gives you the traditional TV view but for a ground level view, this was absolutely superb vantage point for the action. To be so close to the grass that you can actually smell it...amazing. I'm not usually a very lucky person but today I felt like the luckiest person in the world.

2.15pm came, and out came Pat Cash and Virginia Wade to share some of their memories of playing on the court, and their thoughts on the new roof. Then Sue Barker emerged to begin the BBC's live coverage, out came Andre, Steffi, Tim and Kim, for a brief welcome interview, with some reminiscences of their experiences on this court.



Finally it was time to close the roof. This being Wimbledon, magnificent but always with a soupcon of pretentiousness, naturally we couldn't close the roof without some classical and opera singers, in the shape of Faryl Smith, Katherine Jenkins and Blake. They were good, if you like that sort of thing, but I pretty much kept my eyes heavenward as the lights came on, the giant trusses began to move and the translucent canopy began to unfurl.









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post #3 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Scoob's Centre Court Celebration...











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post #4 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Scoob's Centre Court Celebration...









The whole thing took about 8 minutes to complete, and it looks magnificent from underneath it - perhaps more so than the exterior view, which I think looks a tad strange with the roof closed. The lights attached to all the trusses came to full illumination, and the singers sang while the air management system went to work to standardise the conditions, which they are aiming for at 24C and 50% humidity, apparently. I found it just a tad warm, personally - I wished they'd crank up the aircon just a bit more. But the important thing is that the court surface was perfect, with no condensation or slipperyness to worry about.
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post #5 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Scoob's Centre Court Celebration...

Out came the players again to a wonderful ovation, and a very entertaining mixed doubles ensued. No doubt it was stage managed, but they did play some very entertaining tennis, with Tim and Kim coming from a break down to force the tiebreak, which they narrowly won.






Of the three "oldies" you can see that all three of them still have all the moves. Andre was still cracking the ball for all he was worth and pulled off some shots that had the crowd gasping. Steffi's trademark serve, no worries about the wind with the high toss anymore - and that lethal forehand was still very much in evidence. And Tim pulled off several terrific volleys, including a couple of exquisite half volleys.

As for Kim, she's clearly worked hard to get herself back into shape, and I thought she played pretty well - she must have been nervous given the occasion and obviously this meant something to her in a very different way - it wouldn't have augured well for her comeback if she'd played terribly. She didn't though - while she did look rusty in places, all the old shots are still there and when she's match tight, she'll no doubt be formidable once again.





They had a bit of a surprise for us between the Mixed Doubles and the Mens Singles. While the old men went for a bit of a breather, Sue Barker returned and introduced Andy Murray! He emerged for a chat, to take a look at the roof, and said it looked really good, so much better than most roofs - and commented that the closed roof traps the atmosphere inside so you're going to see some even more atmospheric matches with the roof closed. We had a rundown of how his season is going and his goals for Paris (make it to the second week). And then Tim and Andre re-emerged. Andy had me in stitches saying that Andre had been his favourite player growing up and he'd had the demin shorts and the pink cycling shorts underneath and the baseball cap with the long blond hair poking out the back ) Andre commented on this fashion as "showing questionable taste." Sue wrapped things up, and it was back to the action.

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post #6 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Scoob's Centre Court Celebration...

In the mens singles it stayed pretty much with serve throughout, with Tim serve-volleying and Andre finding some big serves, as well as a few doubles, and some steaming shotmaking from both wings.

In the end, though, Andre snatched the vital break and took the match 6-4 - delayed revenge perhaps for their final dual at Queens in 2006 when Henman beat Andre in the first round.







While Kathrine Jenkins re-emerged to warble something that sounded suspicously like an operatic version of Bryan Adam's "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)", I took the opportunity to eat my chocolate brownie and stretch my legs briefly, and soak up the atmosphere.
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post #7 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Scoob's Centre Court Celebration...

I returned for the start of the ladies singles. The match started blisteringly, with both ladies trading tremendous forehands, and Steffi fought her way up an early break. However, Kim tightened up her game a bit and started to move Steffi around a bit more, and it seemed like Graf was starting to tire from her extra exertions today, as the forehand started to misfire more and more as the set wore on. Clijsters recovered the break, and then forged ahead. Steffi fought hard to claw it back, but Clijsters managed to serve it out.

I found it interesting to hear how Steffi felt about the place, clearly it was very special for her - I rather thought she preferred the French Open, to be honest, but she seemed to genuinely love being back, and I remembered how she sort of slinked away from Wimbledon 10 years ago after losing to Davenport in the final, never to return as a professional player. The copy I have of that match is the American TV broadcast and I remember the interview she did with Bud Collins just after she left the court, you know how Bud (and now Mac) likes to hijack them just before the walk through the double doors that lead to the champion's board and the locker room. Bud asked her if she'd be back again next year and she just kinda tilted her head and quietly said..."no...I don't think so..."

10 years later it was so nice to see her back for one last time on the Centre Court - I regret that I was never able to see her live in her prime - and indeed Tim and André - but this is the next best thing.








The four players went up to the Royal Box to be presented with some little plates as a memento of the occasion - when Wimbledon outrageously allowed play on Centre Court outside the 2 weeks of the Championships. Probably not something that will be repeated for many years, if ever.



As the final applause was taken, and the spectators dashed for the exits to make their way back to their many destinations, no doubt all over the country, I remained in my seat a little while longer. After all, how often was I going to get the chance to sit here, on this court, with such a spectacular view? Why rush away? I gazed around - at the grass, the big screens, the giant trusses of the roof and the pigeon trapped inside still occasionally soaring around trying to locate an exit...



...then I got up, smiled a little wistfully, knowing it was over all too soon, and made my way outside.

It was raining.
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post #8 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:30 AM
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Re: Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration...

wow awesome pix and report

but where are the pix from the party?
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post #9 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:31 AM
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Re: Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration...

Excellent. Good stuff. How did you find the surface? Speed, bounce etc.
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post #10 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:32 AM
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Re: Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration...

You go girl.
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post #11 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoo Foo View Post
wow awesome pix and report

but where are the pix from the party?
Those will never been seen
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post #12 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:34 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Har-Tru View Post
Excellent. Good stuff. How did you find the surface? Speed, bounce etc.
I thought it was playing quite fast actually.

And the ball was really staying low on the slices, they were really having to dig them out of the court, it looked like to me. Plus all four of them play pretty flat, especially off their forehands, so it will seem faster compared to the topspinners on the main tour. It will be interesting to see if it seems any faster when the tournament rolls round, but I don't expect so.
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post #13 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:34 AM
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Re: Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration...

that court 2 looks amazing
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post #14 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:36 AM
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Re: Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration...

Wonderful report, Chris. Thanks so much. It sounds like you had a great day.
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post #15 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:38 AM
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Re: Scoobs's Centre Court Celebration...

It was amazing (in direct TV coverage).

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