Just got back from attending the Pilot Pen final. When I saw that it was going to be a James-Mardy final I said "Book them tickets!" and we drove the two hours up to New Haven. Easy ride to the stadium. Not surprisingly, the place was jam packed. I'm glad we went. It's not everyday we see Mardy and James play together (this was only their third meeting and their first in a final). I simply had to witness that in person.
One thing I learned is that Pilot Pen/New Haven is James Blake's town in the truest sense. The crowd was heavily pro-James. A few smattering of Fish fans would try to cheer Mardy on. The best part was when a small group of Fish fans sitting way up in the upper tier of the stadium would start their own "Fish! Fish! Fish!" chants as soon as the J-Block's "James! James! James!" chants ended. It was pretty funny. Glad to see Mardy had his own impromptu F-Block.
Seriously, James owns
this tournament the way Andy owns the Houston clay tournament. Ann Worcester's comments after the match (she's the tournament director) let us know just how much Pilot Pen depends on James Blake: ka-CHING! It was New Haven's first all-American final too, and it was obvious Ms. Worcester was happy about that as well. She couldn't stop thanking Mardy enough for accepting her wild card offer at the last minute.
Also, people can bitch about the J-Block all they want, I didn't see or hear anything inappropriate from them all match long. If anything, they added some fun atmosphere to that place. And Nike was smart to jump on the J-Block bandwagon and to market them as a commodity. I'm not kidding when I tell you that every single piece of J-Block hat and clothing in the Pro Shop was sold out, and every kid under the age of 15 was wearing a blue J-Block t-shirt. Lots of adults were wearing them too. New Haven is definitely J-Block town. ka-CHING!
Anyway, seeing James and Mardy play in person is a treat except they they both seemed so casual about this match. I didn't feel any sense of urgency from either one of them. It was like we had stumbled across a friendly practice match or something. I was disappointed that the final wasn't quite the classic I was hoping for.
The women's doubles final was terrible. Huber and Black were the top seeds but they sure didn't look it or play like it. I take it Sania Mirza is a good doubles player because she outplayed everybody including her doubles partner the whole night. 6-1 6-2, that was all Mirza. Very impressive playing from her. Huber and Black were a huge disappointing and so many fans watching were disgusted with them. One lady sitting up front kept complaining loudly, "Aren't they supposed to be the No. 1 doubles team? What's wrong with them?" and after hearing this one of them double faulted. I'm surprised they didn't complain to the chair umpire to tell that lady to keep it down.
So anyway, after the men's final I don't know if ESPN showed the trophy ceremony but it was very cute. Both Mardy and James would tease each other during their speeches and it was obvious how strong their friendly competitiveness is. During his speech Mardy said, "I know Ann [Worcester] was asking "Is there anything James Blake can't do?" and the answer to that is: yes, he's terrible at golf." That got a good laugh. When James did his speech he said to Mardy, "You may be better than me at golf but I got two holes-in-one and you didn't." More laughter.
Afterwards, both James and Mardy signed autographs. Mardy left after a bit but James continued to sign many, many more. He literally had to get pulled off the court so that the women's doubles teams could begin their match.
So I'm very proud of Team Flake
today and I'm glad we took that spontaneous trip to New Haven which was a lot of fun.