Tuesday, July 19, 2011

First day notes from the 2011 Atlanta Tennis Championships

It was a beautiful Monday at the ATC, which featured several compelling matches and cooler than usual temperatures because of some late afternoon cloud cover. The only downside was a late evening rain delay which interrupted James Blake’s comeback win over Ernests Gulbus by more than an hour.

I arrived for my shift as a scorekeeper-court monitor about 20 minutes early, which gave me time to get the scoop from some fellow volunteers that had worked over the weekend. My assignment for the day was to be a court monitor on Court 2. After a brief orientation and walk around the grounds, I arrived at the most remote court from the Racquet Club of the South clubhouse where 18 year old Denis Kudla from the Ukraine had just won the second set 6-1 after having lost the first set 1-6 to Australian Marinko Matosevic. The third set went the distance with the big serving Aussie winning over Kudla’s world class backhand. I met Kudla’s coach Frank Salazar, who had another of his tennis prodigies in tow, because he sat behind us (under our umbrella) during the match.

While waiting for the next match, I met and introduced myself to the umpire Jake Garner, because, as a court monitor, my responsibility is to make sure that he has everything he needs for the match, that the water and Gatorade tubs are adequately stocked and iced, and that there are enough clean towels and ice towels available for the players et al. Additionally, the court monitor looks to see if anyone in the crowd needs assistance, is being disruptive to the match or is using a professional camera (except, of course, if they’re among the press corps), and calls in match related updates. Plus, I also had a most informative conversation with a couple of the lines persons who told me about their jobs, how they learned their tasks, what they get paid, how their travel and expenses works etc. I’d share more, but it’s getting about time for me to leave for my second day on the job!

The next match on Court 2 was a first round match between Japan’s Tatsuma Ito and Germany’s Michael Berrer. It was a tight first set decided by a tiebreak (8-6) and won by Ito, who was able to beat the big serving but weak backhanded German with spectacular crosscourt passing shots every time his taller opponent approached the net. Ito went on to win the second set, and his first ATP tour level match, 6-4, just after 7 PM, when my shift ended. BTW, during the match, a ball bounced towards me and I noticed that it looked pretty beat up, even though they change balls every 8 games. I also noticed that it had red streaks on it which must have come from the big red “W” (for Wilson) stencils on the racquets that both players used.

After a brief yet satisfying meal – provided for volunteers – I decided to stay and watch as much of the Blake-Gulbis match – which was refereed by Mohamed Lahyani , who’d done the Isner-Mahut Wimbledon 2010 marathon – as I could before I’d have to leave. Because of Blake’s comeback, down 4-5 in the second, he broke the Latvian and later came back from 0-4 to win the tiebreaker, I left later than I’d intended, but still a lot earlier than everyone who stayed for the rain delayed 3rd set;-)

More tomorrow …

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