A Tale of Marat from the Los Angeles Tennis Center, February 2007, pre-Vegas.
February 21st, 2007 Marat Day!
A little blue birdy notifed the Club Tennis Bruins of former World #1 Single's Player Marat Safin's presence on the Los Angeles Tennis Center
between the dates of February 20th through the 23rd. Of course, the Club Tennis Bruins took immediate advantage of this information.
3 PM, Safin's estimated time of arrival, witnessed the simultaneous entry of Club Bruins Adeline Yang and Pat Williams. Both had prior commitments for the evening, but -
Who would miss a chance to see Marat Safin?!
Safin arrived much earlier than his hitting partner, however, and soon found himself sitting around on the benches watching UCLA Tennis Men's varsity practice their routine. Williams, in a courageous move, asked Safin if he would like Williams to help warm him up.
"I'm resting," Safin rumbled back in a thick Russian burr.
"Ah," said Williams. "That's cool. I don't want to wear you out or anything before your hitter gets here."
Safin smiled and went back to glaring off into some unknown space.
Club tennis' Emily Wu later informed those present that Safin was hitting with UCLA's very own Zach Fleishman, who had already graduated and currently ranks 100 in the world. Both players will be participating in the Tennis Channel's Las Vegas Tournament this coming weekend. Safin flies out on Friday.
As the minutes ticked by more and more tennis enthusiasts trickled past LATC and, intrigued by the slowly accumulating crowd already present, wandered in closer and were pleasantly thrilled to see Marat Safin on the courts. By the time the clock struck 4:30 PM tennis fans had propagated throughout the LATC stadium and border periphery to watch the Tennis Great practice. Club Tennis' Alyssa Chen meandered over and secretly admitted to a hidden desire for Safin-hugging
. Adeline Yang encouraged her to perform an "Alyssa Attack" and overwhelm the unknowing and unprepared Marat. Chen politely declined and continued doing so for the next hour.
After hitting until roughly 5:20 Marat began a grueling conditioning session under the watchful eye of his Spanish-whispering coach and alongside Zach. (Wu later informed the general populace that Marat had trained in Barcelona for a year during his youth)
. - hello?!
- This included footwork conditioning drills, as seen to the right, as well as line drills and corner sprints.
Immediately upon finishing this workout, Safin was besieged by a veritable flood of UCLA fans intent on bombarding the somewhat bewildered 6'4" Safin with photo and autograph requests
. Club Tennis particpated in this flurry with guilty pleasure. Emily Wu approached Safin with five tennis balls, while Adeline Yang stood to the side with three rackets she wanted to have signed (two of them belonged to Williams). Safin began to frown, just a tad, which elicited an immediate response from Yang.
"Emily," sighed Yang, "what are you doing making him sign all those balls? At least give him a stick to do it on."
Safin choked and hid a laugh behind a short cough, but smiled nonetheless
and finished signing all the balls, rackets, racket bags, and shirts thrust upon him. The UCLA crowd was not through with him yet, however. Next came group pictures. Having had enough for the day, though, Safin walked off the court. Waving goodbye, he offered to his fans: "See you all tomorrow."
We most certainly will.