Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Walk in the crowds

First the bare facts: Every year I undertake a trip to Flushing Meadows during the Labor Day weekend to watch some tennis at the US Open. I have previously blogged about my experiences here and here.

This year, I decided to catch more than just the solitary night session at Arthur Ashe. A day pass to the premises let me wander around the outer courts, sample the Grandstand, and sneak into Louis Armstrong. All it took was some patience and the ability to figure out which matches were going to be the longer ones.

On one of the outer courts I went to watch Leander Paes in the men's doubles. I have heard John McEnroe rave about the guy's quickness at the net, and watching him live was something else altogether. On the court Paes was the biggest draw (the other three players were his partner - Dlouhy, De Voest and Fisher) and he did not disappoint. (By the way, in the picture below I am not zooming in - I did have great seats for the match!)

After the match was done he spent a good half hour mingling with his fans. He signed every autograph and posed for every photo request. He responded to fans when they spoke to him, answered questions in a soft voice, and did not leave till everyone had a chance to spend some time with him, including yours truly.

After the Paes experience, everything else was just icing on the cake. These are some of the players I watched live on various courts: Djokovic, Davydenko, Robredo, Muller, Tsonga, Safina, Dementieva, Blake, Ferrer, Fish, Del Potro, and Cilic. I also got to see Federer practice, and McEnroe hit some balls with a 12 year-old kid named Christian Harrison (remember that name for the future).
Next year, I shall spend less time on Arthur Ashe and more on the outer courts. My favorite is the Grandstand which is big enough to feature some big names but small enough to where you feel you are at your neighborhood club.

If you get a chance to see attend one sporting event, I recommend the US Open. It's worth it.

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