Alright – here’s some additional highlights from my DC report for those of you who like first-hand reporting. I’m not sure if you’ve been enjoying the actual on-court related stuff or my commentary about embarrassing myself. If it’s the latter, this should be somewhat entertaining:
The entire time I’m holding up my signs, I’m thinking Stan’s not ever actually going to see me – so this is safe to do. After one of his angry racquet throwing outbursts, he’s sitting on the bench looking straight ahead but not necessarily in my direction. I forced myself to hold up one of my signs. That was really tough to do.
(I hid my face behind it as I held it up though.) But, I suppose that’s what fans do – support their players even in the worst of times. And, of course, at this point I’m still in denial that he would actually see the sign (or me holding it).
[btw - I hate it when Stan smashes racquets but I laughed (to myself only, of course) when Severin (Luthi) picked a piece of his racquet out of his hair after he completely demolished one during the doubles match. ‘Uh, Stan – let me get your racquet out of your hair for you…’
This must be part of his job description as team captain]
Prior to the matches starting on Day 3, I figured I would go and ‘practice’ getting an autograph and talking to Chiudinelli in preparation for doing the same with Stan (in the event he won his match against Roddick). I’m a nervous cat a lot of the time, so I knew I needed the practice. I go over to the other side of the court and walk all of the way down to the front after he finishes practicing. I was getting ready to go and stand with other people who were lined up down on the end but then I saw him look at me and squeeze through part of this barricade to come over to me. He just has his head down the entire time as he walks over to me. My sister was watching from the other side and said it looked like he was going to walk right past me. I had my program opened to his photo and handed him the sharpie. My hands were shaking and it made it worse that he was being so shy. I was figuring he’d be all confident based upon his not having any issues looking right at people when he’s on the court. The whole time, I’m telling myself ‘say something. Anything.’ It would have been easier to talk to him if he would have looked at me. [I really like how Gilles commonly makes eye contact with the people for whom he’s signing autographs.] When he was autographing my program his arm/wrist was touching mine and at the time I was wondering why that was happening. My internal dialogue during this experience (along with telling myself to say something to him) is something like this: 'Hand him the pen (felt tip pointed toward me) – okay. That went well. Good job. Damn. My hands are shaking. Stop it. Oh, his arm is touching mine. He has nice skin tone and is pretty good looking too.’
All I managed to say was ‘good luck today.’ And he said ‘thank you.’ I’m in a total fog while this is happening and then somehow drift into Yves Allegro so I get his autograph too. All I really remember is initially trying to hand Yves my sharpie but then realizing he already had one in his hand. Afterward – I realized Marco’s arm was touching mine because he was using his left hand to steady the program while he autographed it… Oops.
Then I felt really embarrassed. After that, I felt more confident but also thought I’m in no way prepared to actually try to talk to Stan. I’ll just make a fool of myself. I know he’s really shy, so I’d probably just embarrass him. My ‘practice’ seemed enough to prepare me to stand there holding a pen and not say anything to him.
I’m such a wimp.
Sadly (or not) I never ended up having an opportunity to talk to Stan or get his autograph. The best time to get autographs was either when they finish practicing or following their on-court interview after a win. Stan was always first to play, so he was never out practicing prior to the matches starting. After his win over Blake on Day 1, I was sitting in my seat thinking – ‘damn. I guess I should have gone over there.’ It wasn’t a big deal though. I’m definitely a fan of the action as opposed to a giddy/drooling fangirl.
I did have a cool Stan ‘interaction’ though. In his match against Roddick, he was serving at 15-40 at 2-4 in the third set. At that moment, I was channeling positive energy and was actually thinking about Gillou. I was telling myself to hang in there with him and stay positive. (Watching Gilles has taught me to not be fatalistic in situations like that and to be calm as he fights off break points.) My sister whispers to me – ‘well, it looks like it’s all over here.’ I fight off the temptation to think the same. I’m staring right at Stan, maintaining my positive focus (saying mentally, you can do it, hang in there, you’re strong). He’s preparing to serve on the deuce side, closest to my side of the court. As I’m staring at him, he looks up after doing his pre-service ritual of sorting the balls. At that moment, it appears that he’s looking right at me. My internal dialogue (while feeling his eyes locked right onto mine) is: 'Is he looking at me? No. He can’t be. But…it sure looks like he is. He can’t be. Oh, I think he is. Oh, my. Do something.’
It was kind of like the twilight zone (but in a good way). So, somehow I manage to give the Dimitry Zavialoff ‘you can do it’ head nod. Zavialoff is his coach. If you’ve watched Stan play, he often looks at him in similar situations and Zavialoff gives the head nod. Now, I’m still in denial about this actually happening (even now – it’s easier to try to write it off as some bizarre fan hallucination). My brain has tried to block it out I think. Sadly, he ends up getting broken and then Roddick serves for the match. I guess the point here is that there’s a reasonable chance that I wasn’t actually invisible. I suppose if my being the lone crazy fan on my side helped him in some way, it was certainly worth it to risk looking like an idiot in front of the other 15,000 people and the global viewing public.