August 9, 2003

Making a Racket!

As I've mentioned several times here over the years, I'm a sports fan, and tennis is near the top of my list of spectator sports.

It's a strange obsession, because I most certainly am NOT athletic and don't have much of a desire to try most sports. In fact, if I can do it (for instance bowling) I don't consider it a sport, by definition.

I don't remember ever playing tennis but I was pretty good at ping pong in my day.
Of course, by my standards, ping pong would not be a sport either.
I can swim, and must admit swimming IS a sport, but that doesn't apply to the definition because the sweat factor is absent.
Besides, I don't so much SWIM as stay afloat.

Ten months ago, for my last birthday, my son Mark had the bright idea to get tickets to the Tennis Masters Series tournament, held in Montreal this year.
The fact that the tournament would take place the following August didn't bother him, and it didn't bother me either with regard to a delayed present.
He and I spent yesterday afternoon at the Jarry Tennis Center and watched two of the quarterfinal matches.

Normally I hate getting tickets for events in advance. It's sort of like tempting fate:

Aha, you THINK you're going to be available to go that day at that time but who are you to predict the future? I'll show you, you arrogant creature...


As a result if I go at all I end up with abysmal seats.

This was different. The seats, reserved last year, WERE moderately high up but the view was great, we were under a canopy protected from the sun and felt only gentle breezes.

It was my first time attending a live tennis match; Mark had already gone in other years, with friends. He told me that people were only allowed to enter or leave the stadium seating area during breaks, which came every two games (about ten minutes). With every break there was what seemed to be a mass audience movement. Quite amusing!

There are a few advantages to being in the audience at a tennis match:

You can watch the serve speed indicator any time you want;
You can clap and cheer and not feel like an idiot;
No moronic all-purpose sports announcers assigned to tennis for just this week who love to assert the glaringly obvious;
You are THERE.

Compared to the advantages of watching at home:

You can scratch yourself and pick your nose, unafraid that the camera will suddenly turn to the audience;
Snacks not overpriced, no line-up for the bathroom;
The best camera angles and close-ups;
You can throw in a load of wash during the commercials and feel like you haven't wasted the entire day;
When he's there, John McEnroe's commentary.

Tennis has some odd rules/conventions that I was already aware of from watching on TV:

For one thing, the coaches are not allowed to communicate with the players during the match.

At all.

Can you imagine that occurring in baseball? basketball?
Can you imagine a golfer not conferring with his caddie?
A boxer not being allowed to take instruction from his trainer in the corner?

I don't know what the thinking behind it is but it leads to such bizarre spectacles (gleefully shown in close-up on TV) as coaches taking off their hats/glasses/jackets with a certain flourish, scratching their ears or noses very deliberately, holding up one or a number of fingers, and trying to look very James Bond while doing so.

Another oddity is, if a player hits a tennis ball into the stands and you catch or pick it up:

YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT BACK.

Even if a crying small child is involved.
One would think they could afford to purchase enough balls to go around.
Mark suggested that maybe they didn't want people throwing the balls back at inopportune times, which made sense until I realized: nobody examined my purse when I went in, and I could easily have had a few balls in there to throw as I saw fit.

And I won't even get started on the scoring system.

I knew early on that it was going to be a good day: about two minutes after we entered the grounds of the Jarry Tennis Centre, a slow-moving (roofless) golf-cart-like vehicle wound its way right in front of us, and inside, Andre Agassi, right in front of me, close up, in person, for at least five seconds!

I am such a groupie.

We didn't see Agassi play but the close up was even better.

We did see Andy Roddick play, also Roger Federer, both of whom won their matches. They are the next big rivalry, the next McEnroe/Borg, Sampras/Agassi.


Yes I'm stopping now. For those who've borne with me, a trivia question:

What do Andre Agassi and Canada's late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau have in common?

Please submit answers to the Guestbook.
First correct answer wins a link if applicable and a gushing congratulatory message.


Linque Du Jour:   Two Guy Journals
An old friend who recently revived his journal, and a new friend with a new journal.

Reality Asylum:

I first encountered Rien through his website when I was starting my own, four years ago. That's an eternity in internet time!
After he closed down the Reality Asylum I really missed it. I don't claim to be an avid journal reader, in fact the opposite, but even after a lull I would always go back and catch up on ALL Rien's entries.

I really missed hearing about life in the Netherlands, his home, his cats, his obsession with Greece, his occasional tilt at a windmill. (Get it? windmills? Netherlands? I really do amuse myself!)
But the thing with journals is, once you're hooked you're hooked or as I like to say, you can check in but you can't check out, and the Asylum is BACK and as wonderful as ever. Thank you Rien!

The Mauiman:

James, the new friend, came to my attention when he asked to join the Autumn Leaves'burb, for which I help screen the applicants.
He lives in Hawaii which in itself should make for an interesting life (from where I sit, Hawaii is exotic!) but added to that, he makes his home in a Buddhist residence complete with a fresh-off-the-mountain Lama!
His previous lives are pretty exotic too - check out the About page.
I'm looking forward to hearing more from this one.



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