The J-Block has polarized so many people that I think they deserve to have their own thread.
Here's an article about them which basically says that the Pilot Pen would've been kinda boring without them. I will have to agree with that.
The James Blake Show
The 2007 Pilot Pen would've been a snoozer without Blake and his rowdy fans.
By Joshua Mamis
Harvard! James Blake won his second Pilot Pen. More importantly, his cheerleaders brought some excitement to the tourney.
The tennis enthusiasts at last Thursday's men's quarterfinal between James Blake and Fernando Verdasco were tired of the J-Block—the gallery of noisy Blake fans that cheer his every winner and chant his name during switch overs. They rolled their eyes, took deep sighs and complained about the distraction.
I overheard the tennis players at my local park on Saturday, before the final, grousing about all the commotion in the stadium during Blake's matches. "It has to bother him," said one, authoritatively.
But even these tennis fans have to admit: This year's Pilot Pen would have been a big yawn if it were not for Blake and the J-Block.
Sure, there were some moments for the highlight reel, including junior champ Donald Young taking last year's title-holder Nikolay Davydenko to three sets in the second round. (Davydenko blamed his loss in the next round to fatigue from the Young encounter, but I wouldn't bet on it. We can bet that Young will have a lot more buzz among casual fans if he comes back next year.)
Then there was Blake's near-death experience: down 6-3, 5-4 with last year's finalist Agustin Calleri serving at 40-0, it looked like Blake would begin practicing for the U.S. Open a week early. Blake found his range on his return of serve and broke Calleri's serve. The collapse looked suspicious to some fans I spoke with later that evening, except for the fact that Calleri broke Blake right back—certainly not the behavior of a player in the midst of tanking. Blake went on to win a second set tie-breaker and cruised through the third set. Pilot Pen execs probably exhaled more forcefully than Blake himself, as the walk-up gate had been deflating before their eyes.
Watching Blake play his quarterfinal match that evening against the accomplished Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, one thing was clear: To win at this level of tennis you have to display return-of-serve prowess. Neither players' serves are overwhelming in the Federer or Roddick school, yet Verdasco clearly had trouble picking up Blake's ball off his racket. When Blake broke Verdasco's serve in the second set, the Spaniard seemed to give up. The J-Block kept things interesting in this otherwise fairly routine match, especially when chanting "Harvard" whenever the Ivy-Leaguer Blake won a line call challenge. Cracked me up every time.
Blake, of course, went on to win his second Pilot Pen championship, beating best friend Mardy Fish 7-5,6-4 to take the title.
The women's draw, if not literally bereft of top flight champions, was missing the Big Attractions: No Justine Henin to defend her title, no Amelie Mauresmo, and, at the last minute, no Serena Williams, saving her tender thumb for Flushing Meadows.
The sparsely attended women's final, between top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and qualifier Agnes Szavay, ended anti-climactically. With Kuznetsova down a set, Szavay retired with a bad back. It's the second straight year that the women's championship was decided this way: Last year, it was Lindsay Davenport who quit, citing a shoulder injury.
Make no mistake, there was some good tennis to be seen among the women, though not a lot of thrills. Eleni Danililidou gutted out two straight tough three-set matches, hitting harder than her opponents, though not being particularly fleet of foot, before succumbing to Szavay in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Kuznetsova won the tournament without having to actually win a match point after her first match. She was beating Francesca Schiavone handily in the quarterfinals when Schiavone went down with an ankle injury. She was in the midst of a three-set semi-final battle in hot and humid conditions when Elena Dementieva quit from nausea. And so it went in the final.
It doesn't take a Harvard grad to figure out that professional tennis needs more than this to grow its fan base. It did, however, take a Harvard grad and his rabid followers to make this Pilot Pen entertaining.