Wednesday Night/Thursday Morning - Midnight Central Standard Time
I’ve missed you guys. I hope you’re all having fun watching the television coverage of the TMC. I’m having a blast! This is my first attempt at reporting from a live event. So, ask me whatever you think I can answer. I think you all know the results of the matches. So, I’ll talk about them a little bit. But, I’ll try to write about the atmosphere of the event.
By now, the tape delay of Andre/JCF has aired and you know that JCF is out of the running for year end #1. :bigcry: :bigcry: I was so upset about this outcome that I left before the doubles started. :sad: :sad: It gave me a chance to eat a real dinner here in Houston AND Andre really stepped up his game to turn the match around. Congratulations, Andre!! :bounce:
Westside Tennis Club/Furniture Gallery Stadium. This is such an intimate and cozy venue! It’s set right in a neighborhood with regular stores, homes, and apartments. I came to Houston a little over a month ago to drive the route from my efficiency apartment to the stadium and make sure I knew where everything was. The stadium was still under construction and a person at the desk told me about the parking and the fees. I thought I’d cheat and park in a grocery store parking lot and walk. When I got here Saturday, there were police officers in uniform and other plain clothes people to make sure that didn’t happen. I didn’t want to come back to an empty parking space and an impound fee. So, I paid for the $5 parking and started hiking a mile and a half each way to the gate. Well, I found out about the free shuttle on Sunday night. That made life a lot nicer! :cool: Then yesterday someone told me if I got there early enough I could park for free in a huge grass lot right next to the $5 area and still take the shuttle. That worked out fine today! :D
The stadium holds between 7,500 and 8,000 people. It looks a lot bigger on TV. The event is supposed to be completely sold out. But, I see empty seats at every match and people come and go willy-nilly. I guess that’s the norm. I’ve been trying to stay for every last bit of tennis since the first match started on Saturday. But, I’ve gotten so tired on every night except one that I left part way into the last doubles match of the evening.
If you’ve watched the TV coverage, you’ll have a good orientation for the set up I’m about to explain. There are two ways to get on the court. There are potted plants covering one entrance to the right of the chair umpire. That stays covered. The other entrance is across from the chair umpire and diagonally to his left. That’s the East Side. That’s where the players enter and the side I’m sitting on. I started getting in line before the matches a couple of nights ago so I could try and get pictures of the players as they enter the stadium. It’s neat to cheer them as they walk in. The only drawback to the East Side is the horrendous sun beating down around 3 and 4PM. We’ve had good breezes and cloud coverage this week. So, it hasn’t been bad. Today was the absolute worst! But, the temperature is supposed to drop tonight. I hope the players aren't adversely affected.
Capturing the moment. I brought two types of cameras to the event – a digital camera and a one-time use box camera. This is my first time using a digital camera and I was a little concerned about the distance. Of the 25 pictures I took from Saturday to Tuesday, only one of Max turned out well. So, today I tried to get a little closer. I’ll download those pictures tonight and try to post any decent ones to the link I saw in another thread on this forum. I started using my third box camera today. I hope those turn out better. I’ll know after I develop them next week.
11-13-2003, 07:10 AM
Notable sightings. During the first match of the tournament – Woodbrigde/Bjorkman vs Damm/Suk, I think, Max sat in the front row of my section with Maheesh(sp) to scout their competition. I thought it was soooo cool to recognize people I’ve been watching on TV for such a long time. The big surprise came during the Sunday opening ceremony for the doubles competition. All of the singles players were there, including The Scud!!! They were introduced in a red carpet ceremony from #9 to #1. Little cowboys carried their country flags and the players were dressed in white shirts, ties, suit jackets and pants. They looked great! Then little cowgirls with BIG Texas hairdos presented them with beige Stetson hats. It was a wonderful surprise. None of my digital pictures came out, but, I still have hope for the box pictures. *fingers crossed* Yesterday was the first day I stayed on the grounds between the afternoon and the evening sessions. While I was sitting in the food court, Mary Carillo strolled by! I was shocked, but, I managed to say “Hi, Mary!”. She looked in my general direction and smiled. She’s VERY tall and VERY thin. That’s when it dawned on me to stop burying my cameras in my bag. So, I keep them handy now. Today, I was walking to the stadium entrance and there was Bud Collins hawking his new edition of his tennis encyclopedia. I got up the nerve to walk up to him, shake his hand, and tell him how great I think he is for the game. This time I had the digital camera ready and I hope I took three nice pictures. At tonight’s match, former president Bush was the big name sitting next to the man who owns Furniture Gallery and built the stadium. By the time I found out he was there, I was too far away to get a decent picture. Since I know Roger, Andy, and Andre’s coaches from TV, I’ve been able to spot them when their players are in action. The tournament publishes the singles’ practice schedule and I’ve seen signs for autograph sessions. I haven’t gone to the grounds early enough to take advantage of this opportunity, yet. But, I’m going to try before the tournament ends.
The crowd. I’m sitting with a great group of people. Some are there all week. Others come and go for a session or two. There are a few international fans. That’s fun for me because I don’t feel all alone when I’m rooting for Andy’s or Andre’s opponents. The first night that Andre played, there were wild cheers and chants from this glass enclosure in the top corner of the stadium. I thought it was great because they were really into it and they weren’t interfering with play. But, the majority of the crowd was yelling at them and telling them to be quiet. Prudes!! Tonight, when Andre started off poorly, the crowd didn’t seem to mind that much. Go figure! When Americans aren’t playing, the crowd is pretty good about cheering the underdog. I guess they want more tennis or the highest quality possible. Coria had an awful time in his opening round and he got lots of encouragement.
Live vs. TV. I’ve been able to catch the tape delayed matches at night when I get back from the tournament. It’s a totally different experience. At the stadium, I watch tennis from side to side. But, on TV, you get the “player’s” angle and the commentary. It’s like watching two different matches! I can’t explain how exhilarating it is to see the professionals up close. They are truly extraordinary! I’m not a big doubles fan. But, watching the top eight team compete is very exciting. They get hot and heavy at the net and they come up with some great angles! On one of the jumbotrons outside of the stadium I was able to see what The Tennis Channel’s coverage of the doubles is like. I sure hope I can get TTC one day soon.
Is this the kind of stuff you want to know when someone goes to a tournament? I hope I was able to give you some of the feeling of being there. Would you like another installment?
11-13-2003, 07:55 AM
Thanks for your reports jmp, you manage to convey the atmosphere and fan's experience far more than TV ever can.
Yes please, more, more!
11-13-2003, 10:31 AM
jmp great reports thanks!!
Keep em up!!
11-13-2003, 10:42 AM
11-13-2003, 11:33 AM
Thanks!!! Very nice report!!
11-13-2003, 02:00 PM
Wow that was a great read! I'm so jealous ;) Can't wait for more!
11-13-2003, 03:42 PM
Thanks for the reports! Wish I was there too!
11-14-2003, 01:30 PM
Thursday at the TMC!
Subtitle: Never trust a meteorologist! :confused: :( :rolleyes:
Contrary to dire predictions, Thursday was the most beautiful day of weather I’ve seen at the tournament. The sun was out with little gusts of wind. There was no noticeable temperature drop until the end of the night session singles match. It’s around 50 degrees now and the high today is supposed to be 69, if you can believe these guys. It sounds pretty good.
I was pumped for yesterday’s action – three singles and the doubles SF!! :woohoo: I got to the grounds about an hour before the noon start of Andy/Rainer. As I was getting out of the shuttle van, Carlos Moya was being chauffeured on to the grounds in an official Mercedes! I just smiled and gawked on the inside. I found my way to practice court #5 where David Nalbandian was supposed to be preparing for his night match. But, no David. :sad: I think he skipped that practice session to save his wrist. I strolled over to court #13 and there was Guillermo! I snapped a few pictures and went back to court #5. Carlos Moya was practicing. So, I snapped some more! Then it was time to get in line for Andy and Rainer’s entrance. For Andre/JCF, the night before, I stood in line close to the entrance of the stadium. Wrong move! Everyone else in line kept edging out and by the time the players got to where I was they were going by too fast for me to get a shot. So now I stand across from one of the Round Robin update boards where the players START their walk to the entrance. The ticket checkers let us in right after the players got in the stadium. Since ESPN was staging their entrance for the live broadcast, I got as close as I could to snap some more while they were waiting. Rainer turned around and flashed a gorgeous smile! A security guy put his arm up to me because I looked like I might get too close. I assured him that he didn’t have to tackle me. But, I kept snapping. :D The match was fantastic!! Andy’s serve let him down and that kept Rainer in it. I didn’t know who would win until the last ball. Former president Bush came out again today along with Mrs. Bush. I did something in the first set, I thought I’d never do during a match. I left the match to catch Andre on practice court #5! Everything is so close, I didn’t think I could let the opportunity slip away. After the match, there was a special presentation by Mr. Bush to Andy for ending the year as #1.
I missed the first few games of Carlos/Guillermo because I was starving. After I ate, I walked the grounds to get some shots of the facility. They have all three court surfaces set up in beautiful landscaping. It was really smart for them to change from green to red clay to give Americans a U.S. location to practice on their worst surface. The grass courts are surrounded by tall manicured shrubs that resemble English gardens you might see in the U.K. When I got back to the match, things were looking grim for Carlos. Much to my disappointment, my cheers of encouragement didn’t help. :sad: Guillermo looked great! :) His serve was working and his shots were beautiful. He took a couple of spills during the match. That guy scares me when he plays because I get the impression that he’s injury prone.
Between the afternoon and the evening sessions, I was going to try and go to my apartment for dinner. As I was walking to the shuttle pick up, there was a man behind a Latina band cooking fajita styled chicken and it was free!:lick: I chowed down and took the shuttle to my truck. Since I had a delicious snack, I just sat in the truck until it was time for the night matches. I got back to stadium in time to go in early and watch Nestor and Knowles practice on the main court. I tried to stay on the bottom level for pictures of Andre and David, but, the ushers sent us away. I found another vantage point above the entrance, though. ;)
Andre/David was an awesome match!! I haven’t read the board’s reaction to the first set tie break, yet. I think David got a raw deal!:fiery: I was yelling at the umpire. :mad: Other than that bit of nastiness, these men came up with some tremendous tennis!!! :worship: :worship: Andre is rising well above the occasion. I was pulling for David. But, I had an inkling that Andre would rain down on him in the third set because he let the second set go so easily. Congratulations to both on a hard fought contest!
Mardy Fish is in Houston this week. He gave a tennis lesson to one of the fans earlier Thursday. After Andre/David, Mardy and the fan came out for a mock match, best three out of five points. Before the match ended, the fan’s boyfriend proposed to her for The Learning Channel show “Perfect Proposal”. It was all a ruse for the proposal!! :eek: Since it was a little chilly by then, I passed on the doubles SF. Nestor/Knowles was playing Llorda/Santoro. I came back and started watching the tape delay on ESPN2. I wanted to see how the first set tie break played out on TV. I never saw it! I succumbed to slumber…
With all my snapping, the digital pictures are few and far between. :sad: :sad: Lucky for me, I get to try it again today. :D I think I have about 5 good shots. I’ll try to send them to the link on this forum. I’m really looking forward to the matches today! Roger is looking real good! :D
11-14-2003, 01:49 PM
Thanks for the great reports!!!
I'm looking forward to the next one. :)
11-14-2003, 03:43 PM
Thanks for the excellent detailed reports, JMP. :) It sounds like you're having a great time.
P.S. - JMP, your first attempt at reporting from a live event is a major success. You should be writing for Tennis Week! :D
11-14-2003, 04:22 PM
Well done, JMC!
nothing beats watching tennis live! ;)
11-14-2003, 10:25 PM
Thank you all for the positive feedback! :D :angel: :)
The singles matches ended really early today. So, I'm going to try and send pictures to the thread on the forum before I leave for the evening session.
11-15-2003, 04:39 PM
Hi, All! :wavey:
I’m trying to use these last couple of days to apply what I’ve learned so far. The pictures are finally coming out and I’m seeking out a couple of people for autographs.
Friday’s afternoon matches went by quickly. Roger was superb. Unfortunately, JCF had a horrible tournament. :sad: The crowd gave him plenty of love, though. I heard a couple of people say he was under the weather and on antibiotics. I hope he comes back strong in 2004.
Speaking of weather…I didn’t feel anything close to a 69 degree high yesterday! The weather was HOT. It’s supposed to be hot with clouds and scattered showers for Saturday and Sunday. There are a few sprinkles going on right now. But, nothing serious, yet.
The Rainer/Carlos match was a surprise reversal. Rainer looked really strong at the start. Then Carlos found a spark. I’ve read on this board and heard at the tournament that Rainer stopped trying because he was saving himself for the SF. I couldn’t tell while I was watching the match. But, that sentiment makes a lot of sense. Anyway, I’m glad Carlos got a win out of the tournament.
Since the matches ended so early, we had about a four hour break between the afternoon and evening sessions. While I was waiting for the shuttle, Andy drives by in an official Mercedes with Brad Gilbert in the passenger seat. When you’re 21, it’s probably more fun to drive an $80,000 car than be driven around! This time I took a nice rest in my apartment. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the pictures posted before I left. When I got to the grounds, I decided to try and get pictures and autographs from the ESPN announcers. Pat wasn’t in the booth and Cliff was making a pre-production recording of some kind. One of the people in the crew got Cliff and Mary to sign a Media Guide for me and Mary posed for a picture like she was conducting an interview! It was soooo neat!!! I was over the moon!
Before the singles match, there was a nice ceremony honoring the Bryan brothers as the #1 doubles team. Their father has been the on court announcer for the tournament. He was so proud. It was a very nice moment. I was able to catch a picture of them at the entrance while they were waiting to go on court.
Andy/Guillermo was one of the weirdest matches I’ve ever seen. I didn’t think Andy would get out of his funk from the second set double fault. Then Guillermo goes downhill! Since I was feeling pretty fresh from the afternoon break, I stayed to watch Bryan/Bryan defeat Eltis/Rodrigues in two sets. This was their easiest victory in the tournament. The stadium was pretty full and the crowd was very supportive.
Saturday singles SF and doubles finals tonight!!! I’ll be leaving soon. I hope I can find Bud again so I can get an autographed copy of his book! Enjoy the matches, guys!
11-15-2003, 05:01 PM
11-15-2003, 05:43 PM
Thanks jmp for the great reports - really enjoyed them ....oh, and thanks for cheering for David too :)
11-15-2003, 05:44 PM
Thanks so much JMP!!
But boo hoo... not enough details about the cute things Gui does during his matches. (j/k) :)
I'm glad you are getting to see all these great players.
11-15-2003, 06:12 PM
11-15-2003, 11:10 PM
Thanks for another fine report, JMP. :) I'm glad you're having so much fun seeing some great tennis and meeting some wll known tennis personalities.
And I'm very happy the Bryan Brothers were named the #1 doubles team for 2003. :D
11-16-2003, 01:56 PM
I'll post a final report on Monday. :)
11-16-2003, 04:41 PM
lovely reports!!! thanks!! :kiss:
can't wait for Monday!
11-16-2003, 04:41 PM
thanks again for your updates! look forward to hearing the last one :)
11-16-2003, 10:43 PM
11-17-2003, 12:33 AM
Great stuff, JMP. I have questions and a pop quiz for you after the final match.
11-18-2003, 02:47 PM
Wrapping up the TMC (in a rain tarp!! :rain: :rain: :rain: )
Saturday and Sunday
Well, we knew it might happen and it did – rain! I got to the stadium as Roger was walking off from his final hit before his Andy match. As we settled in for the first SF, the rain came. Having learned from the USO debacle, the crew pulled out a tarp. There were plenty of outdoor places to take shelter. So, we just watched it come down for a while. There was one false stop before the rain dissipated for good. We went right into the SFs followed by the doubles final between the Bryan brothers and Llodra/Santoro. Rainer looked so strong throughout the match. He’s come a loooong way from AO ’03. I thought he’d pull it out. But, once again, Andre came up with the goods. Roger completely dominated in his two set romp over Andy. He is such an artist and I was thrilled to be able to see his genius in person. The doubles final went down to the wire! Everytime it looked like Llodra/Santoro were going to put the Bryans away, they found new life. The Bryans broke to take the title in the fifth set. A good portion of the crowd stayed and it was a great way to end the doubles tournament. I got home to find that only one of thirty digital pictures came out very badly. :sad: Come on, box camera!
Sunday’s final! Rain, rain, and more rain. I sat out a 1PM shower in my truck and then headed to the grounds. I was determined to find Bud for an autographed copy of his book and get a couple more pictures of the grounds. No Bud. :sad: I did get more pictures of the grounds. They are posted on the photo thread.
I was happily surprised during Saturday and Sunday’s opening ceremonies. Legendary Country Hall of Famer and Grammy Award winner, Charlie Pride, sung the National Anthem! He must be a tennis fan because he stayed for all of the matches on both days. Everyone settled in for a thriller. But, Roger had other plans. The rain was a welcomed respite for Andre. I was able to take the rain delay time to complete my ESPN autograph trio. Patrick was standing outside of the booth talking with fans. He was very approachable and nice to the fans who wanted to chat and take pictures. One of the digitals I took of him actually came out! :woohoo:
The rain lasted forever (it seems). It really wasn’t as bad as it could have been. While the tarp was a good idea, I think it got ruined on Saturday. The crew was in leaf blower/towel city as the rain came and went. A lot of people had planes to catch and different reasons they couldn’t stay. But, the word came down that the match would be completed on Sunday. I settled in and quite a few people stayed. When play resumed, you know how the story ended. Andre wasn’t off or having a bad day. Roger was dialed in and hot, Hot, HOT!! I’m so happy for his unqualified victory this week. He was stupendous! Congratulations, Roger! :bounce:
During the presentation ceremony, I got a taste of the Jim McIngvale most of the world has seen through the media’s eyes during the tournament. It’s not a pretty sight. But, I hung in there because I wanted to add my voice to those who cheered Roger’s success. I decided to hang out and buy souvenirs while everyone left. It didn’t take long. The grounds emptied out very quickly. I had a wonderful time. I enjoyed sharing my experience with you. Now, I have a decision to make. Will I go back in 2004? Hmmmm.
Tennis Fool, I'm ready for your questions and the quiz. :)
11-18-2003, 04:00 PM
Thank you so much!!!!!
11-18-2003, 04:25 PM
Glad you had such a good experience, jmp!
11-18-2003, 05:25 PM
JMP you have to go back next year just so we can get some more insight stories from you!!
11-18-2003, 05:25 PM
Awesome reports jmp! Thank you! :worship:
11-18-2003, 06:49 PM
Thanks jmp for all your write-ups. Very jealous of you being able to see Roger all week, and in such awesome form!
11-19-2003, 09:40 AM
well done, jmp! mtf's own on-the-scene reporter! :)