I'm not really sure if anyone will be interested in this, but I'm just excited and want to share it anyway. I get sidetracked a lot, so try to forgive my tangents.
The trip to the tournament was a bit of a bore... took about two hours even though I'm right outside of D.C. because of all the traffic. But, once I got there I knew that things were going to go my way. At the entrance, two guys approached my mother and I and said that their friends had ditched them, and they gave us two tickets. Getting in for free = sweet... it saved us a cool $50. We did end up giving them some money, anyway, though. Nice guys.
The day just started so perfectly. I was walking around at about 3:00 just after getting there, and I spot Karol Beck leaning against a wall all by himself!
So, I go up to him, sweating nervously and twitching a bit, and tell him what a huge fan of his I am. He was nice and polite, I don't remember much of what he said because I was just so star-struck. He seemed to be very shy and a bit surprised that someone recognized him. After all, he was just standing there and tons of people were walking right by. I got a picture with him. Sweet! So my main goal accomplished, I was able to relax and now I can enjoy the rest of the tournament. I've finally met my favorite player!
I can also say that while I never considered Karol one of the "hot" players, he is much more impressive in person. He's actually a really attractive guy up close and person. Nice smile and seems genuine. My mom liked him.
After walking around and watching Philippoussis practice for a little while, I went to the stadium court... nice cheap seats. Seriously... I think that the cheap seats have the best view. They aren't far from the action, you can still see the players faces and everything, and it's just a better atmosphere. More people, etc. I watched Nicolas Mahut vs. Giovanni Lapentti. Lapentti was just on fire from the beginning, I don't remember him missing much at all. Mahut didn't necessarily play poorly, but he just missed a bit too much and lost all of the close games. He got really frustrated with himself at the end and just lost all of his focus. Pretty easy and really fast win for Lapentti. My mom thought that Lapentti was adorable, and when I told her that he had an older brother that was also playing this tournament, I thought she was going to pass out.
After this match I snuck out to go down and watch a bit of Wesley Moodie... who was getting a tough test from Robert? Smeets. None of them seemed really impressive and I was most interested in Moodie, but the crowd seemed to be behind Smeets overwhelmingly. I didn't stay long because I couldn't miss Paul!
Paul was just amazing from the beginning, I think he maybe made 2 or 3 unforced errors in the entire match. He didn't hit amazingly hard or anything, but he was amazingly consistant. Alejandro Falla, while I like him, was totally unimpressive and unconvincing today. He really had his ass handed to him by Paul, who obviously was a crowd favorite... thought not as much as James Blake was, which I'll get to eventually. Paul won really fast and got a partially standing O... I stood up, at least. Go PAUL!
After that, I took off again because I wanted to see what was going on on the outside courts. I know that Simmonds bagelled Arthurs in the first set, and I couldn't believe it considering how he played the rest of the match. From what I saw, he had trouble getting the ball TO the net, yet alone over it.
But then was the fun part of the night. I say Nicolas Lapentti playing and pointed him out to my mum. He was AMAZING. He was playing a practice set against Brian Baker, which judging from reactions I think he won pretty easily. Nicolas was sweating a lot, and was wearing these short tight black shorts that were soaking wet and stuck to his perfect ass. I'll stop there before this turns into soft porn. I waited around a bit while they finished and chatted, and I caught Nicolas on his way out and got a picture with him. Of all the players I saw today, he was by far the most friendly. He seemed really down to earth and was just incredibly friendly, chatting with me and putting his arm around me. Really nice guy. Really hot, too. I never thought that much of him, but these guys (minus Arthurs... icky) all seem to look better in person.
After that lovely encounter I watched the first set of Blake vs. Lisnard. I like Lisnard and didn't see any of the behavior that some people claim to hate him for. There were a lot of people at this match but I was one of the 2 or 3 that ever clapped for anything that Lisnard did. The crowd was just stupifyingly pro-Blake, to the point of cheering for Lisnard's bad errors. I was a little put off by this, so I decided to leave after the first set. I have nothing against Blake, and I don't think the crowd meant any harm, though. I just felt kind of bad for Lisnard, especially after the drubbing he got last week.
After that, I decided to walk around a little more before I left and see who else I could find. I pointed out Karlovic to my mom, and she thought he was kind of boring. I agreed. Nice serve, but his groundstrokes, especially during the practice, all went into the net. He won though, and even broke serve a few times... so... I just don't know what to say other than that maybe old Kenneth needs to work on his serve?
I got my only other wish of the tournament (aside from meeting Karol) when I saw Paul Goldstein hamming it up for some fans. I guess he finished his match and was just walking around with some of his buddies, but he was having a good time talking to people and just shooting the breeze. He seems like a really nice guy as well. He was walking into a room and I feared my opportunity was lost, so being rather brazen as it is, I just shouted at him. He humored me and came back to talk for a second and take a picture with me. A nice smile on that guy, too. He was really nice but I let him go because I could see his friends were waiting for him. Score! I got pictures with both Karol and Paul, which was my main goal. Yippee!
I left after that. It took a long time to get back here because Mapquest sucks and sent us all over creation to get back here. Yikes, I really thought for a while there that we were just going to grow old and die trying to make it back, but it was all so worth it! My camera is the cheapest and crapiest thing on earth, so I don't know if the pictures I took will be any good or not. The only ones I really care about are the three I took with Karol, Nicolas, and Paul. I hope to get some pictures with some other players if I have the opportunity. Even if they don't turn out that great, it was just nice to meet them.
One thing that really made me happy is how nice all the players I met are to the fans. When I went to a futures event and met Brian Baker and Thomas Blake and some others, they were all pretty stand-offish. Brian Baker was the only player that would really talk to me, and he did take a photo with me, but he kept his arms crossed and kept his distance. I was a little fatter then but I don't think that had much to do with it. So with that experience, I figured the people that were even bigger stars (albeit maybe no the biggest) would probably be even more standoffish, but they really weren't. They were all willing to talk to me and more than happy to take a picture with me. Instead of just crossing their arms, they all put their arms around me for the photo and weren't afraid to touch me. It was nice, I didn't feel like I was annoying them or anything. I was wearing a pretty cute shirt today.
Oh! I also got John McEnroe's autobiography at Barnes and Noble for like $5 after my 10% off card. Sweet. I'll read it on the metro tomorrow.
Another side note is that guys here in the D.C. area are really hot. Maybe it's just tennis fans are, but I saw some really hot guys there today. I also think that 99.99% of the guys here are metrosexual... whereas in my town I think about 1% of the male population is such. It was really confusing to my gaydar, which normally sucks anyway... so I just tried to focus on the tennis instead of the cute guys.
I don't think I'm going to go see as much tomorrow. My mother wanted to do something else instead... going places with my sister after work. I do want to see the Holocaust Museum, but I'm trying to do that on Friday. I rebelled... and compromised. My sister is going to the tournament with us and I'm just praying that I'll get there in time to see all of Beck/Berdych vs. Goldstein/Partner(sorry). Two of my favorite players on the same court, I need to see it. That's the only thing tomorrow I'm terribly interested in. I did want to see Nicolas Lapentti play because he's just such a nice guy (I'm a new big fan of his obviously), but I guess since this is my mom's vacation too and she's paying for everything I'll try to accomodate her. Maybe I can catch the end of Nicolas' match.
Anyway, if you've actually read all of this I salute you, I don't know why anyone other than me would be interested, but you can certainly see that I had a great time! Seriously one of the best days of my life. I'll post more if I go tomorrow when I get back. Definitely want to see that doubles match!