Thursday, July 21, 2011

Third day notes from the 2011 Atlanta Tennis Championships

Day 3 @ the ATC, it looked like severe weather was going to alter Wednesday’s match schedule especially since heavy rain started to pelt Marietta – west of the Racquet Club of the South – at about 3 PM. However, in an unusual pattern, the storm clouds travelled west instead of east, leaving Norcross clear for another beautiful day of uninterrupted tennis at the 2011 Atlanta Tennis Championships.

At about 9:30 PM on Tuesday night, a decision was made to put all the singles and doubles matches on either the Stadium Court or Court 1, but because of how the matches played out Wednesday, that decision had to be reconsidered, and Court 2 was prepared for action. I was assigned to work as a court monitor on Court 1 and, after the young American team of Ryan Harrison-Donald Young lost their doubles match in a third set tiebreaker to Germany’s Matthias Bachinger and Frank Moser, Australia’s Marinko Matosevic and Taiwan’s Yen-Hsun Lu – who famously upset a fifth seeded Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2010 – were next up. I’d seen Matosevic – who looks and moves a bit like Max Mirnyi – win his third set against Kudla in Monday’s final qualifying round, so I knew what kind of game he had. The Australian’s bigger game threatened to blow his smaller Taiwanese opponent off the court in the first set, which he won 6-3 after having set points off Lu’s serve at 5-2.

During the match, I made sure that court umpire Steve Ulrich had all that he (and the players) needed but also had to inform several fans that they could not use their professional (e.g. long lens) cameras to record the action. Late in the first set, I noticed a man that kept putting a satchel on his lap every time the action started who had his knees pointed toward Lu’s end of the court, yet during changeovers, he’d put the satchel back on the bench beside him. Occasionally, he’d even bend over and look into the bag. I found this curious, and asked my partner to watch and see what she thought he was doing; we came to believe that he was hiding a video camera between his legs. Instead of calling security immediately, I first hustled across the court after the first game of the second set – technically I should have waited until the changeover after 3 games – and approached the man. Later, my partner told me that his body language and demeanor changed significantly when he saw me coming. I asked him if he had press credentials and what was in the bag, but he ‘pretended’ not to speak English, asking me to speak slowly. I gestured “point-and-click camera O.K.” but that he couldn’t use a professional camera to record the match. He seemed to understand this and since I couldn’t cross back over until two more games were completed, I sat a couple of rows behind him. Bottom line – the satchel never left the bench beside him for the rest of the match.

Lu raced to a 5-love lead and won the second set 6-1 and, although the third set was closer than its score, he wore down his big opponent by playing exceptional defense, taking the third set (and the match) 6-2.

Between sets, I met the next (and much friendly) chair umpire Antonio Zapatero (not a 100% sure of his last name), who was to officiate the doubles match between Great Britain’s Colin Fleming-Ross Hutchins and the pairing of young American Ryan Sweeting and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who’d been the fifth seed in the singles draw before his first round upset at the hands of American qualifier Rajeev Ram, who plays Lleyton Hewitt next. For the 5 or so closely contested games that I saw before my shift ended, it was clear that the two singles players, while impressively big off the ground, were playing a couple of doubles specialists who would likely prevail, and they did (though it took a third set tiebreak to win it). I’ve subsequently learned that Fleming-Hutchins were the first British pair to reach the quarterfinals – where they lost in 5 sets – at Wimbledon 2011 since 1993.

Unfortunately, as it was now 9 PM and my carriage would soon turn into a pumpkin, I was unable to see or stay for more than the first set tiebreaker of John Isner's first set (and eventual match win) over James Blake on Stadium Court which, as a volunteer and without a ticket, I had to watch standing behind an usher's rope.

More tomorrow ...

1 comment:

  1. Busted! If you want to see a guy like the one I caught on Court 1 Wednesday, watch today's quarterfinal with John Isner, in between games 2 and 3 of the first set (21 minute mark on my DVR recording), ESPN2's cameras shows a guy hiding a video camera in his lap. During Lu's match again!