Along the Lines with Michael Morrison
Mary Lee Pappas
Michael Morrison is division co-chair, media relations for the RCA Championships, held July 16-24 at the Indianapolis Tennis Center.
This U.S. Open Series men’s event offers $600,000 in prize money to 48 singles and 16 doubles teams. Past champions include Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Andy Roddick.
Q: Where do players eat, golf and hang out while in Indianapolis?
A: You definitely see players at Palamino Sunday night before the tournament starts. We don’t have food service for the players that night, the Sunday of qualifications. I once saw Goren Ivanisevic in there right after he won Wimbledon. One of the places they like to golf [like Agassi] is Wolf Run in Zionsville. Also, they’ll play the Fort or Eagle Creek.
Q: Where are the best seats at the RCAs?
A: On the stadium court, it’s your own preference. For me, I like sitting on the north or south ends so my head doesn’t turn back and forth. If you like to get up close, the best seats are the media press area, the paddock area right behind the player benches. There are courtside seats on the west side where you can get that close. The best thing about the qualifiers is that you are seeing all the up-and-comers, the journeymen on tour who are really trying to make a living. Obviously, the farther they go and if they make it into the main draw, they can make more money. Qualifying is always done on our outer courts, so you’ll always have intimate seating, no more than 50 feet away from players.
Q: Why new court colors?
A: Every year we have to resurface the courts. They get worn and become slower. Being part of the U.S. Open Series and as a tournament leading up to the U.S. Open, you want to make sure you provide the players with the exact same speed of surface that they are going to see at the U.S. Open. The U.S. Open series this year changed the court colors. They used to be dark green for the interior court and outer court in light green. This year the interior court, the playing portion, is blue … really for the TV audience. On television on a blue court the ball stands out more and is easier for the viewer to see. Players don’t care about the color of the court just as long as the speed of the surface is fine.
Q: Where’s the best spot to get an autograph?
A: Fans line up on the walkway between the stadium going to the indoor tennis center. Players walk up those southwest corner stairs after stadium matches.
Q: What would be your fantasy match-up for the RCAs this year?
A: I think everyone’s fantasy match-up would be Agassi and Roddick in the finals, though it’s very rare that our No. 1 and 2 seed actually make it to the finals.
Q: Who are some other biggies scheduled to play?
A: Tommy Haas, the German star, is coming back. Last year’s runner up, Nicolas Kiefer from Germany, will also be back. Greg Rusedski, who won our title in 2002, will be back. American players include the all-American from Harvard James Blake, Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri.
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