Sunday, July 22, 2012

BB&T Atlanta Open – more photos, ‘insider’ stories from the week

It looks like the BB&T Atlanta Open is here to stay, thanks to the anchor sponsor and the unique venue built at Atlantic Station, which has been well received by players and fans. I had a terrific time working as a volunteer (my second straight year as a scorekeeper/court monitor) and, since I didn't attend the semi-finals yesterday, I thought I'd share some 'insider' stories and photos from the week.

For instance, while my first post this week showed the terrific view from our booth, here is what it looked like while sitting in a chair:

The real view from the scorekeeping table

But I'm not complaining! Especially because when I wasn't scorekeeping, I could stand and watch from where the main Stadium Court television camera was installed and have this view:

Taken from the main TV camera mount

By the way, the red circle on the picture below shows where I was working as a scorekeeper; the photo was taken from the seat I'll have today during the finals, as a spectator:

Where the scorekeeper sits (tent to the left houses the Hawkeye "guys"

While I was leaving the tournament that first night, I took pictures of Grandstand and Court 3 ... and since I haven't posted any photos of these parts of the venue, I'm doing so now for archival completeness:

Grandstand Court
Court 3

After working during the day, I would stay for some of the night matches, many of which I've detailed on these pages. While I posted a picture of Ryan Harrison from Tuesday night's match, I didn't share this one of James Blake (who ended up schooling the youngster):

James Blake (waiting to see if his challenge is successful)

Wednesday was by far the worst night for rain (e.g. to have tickets), which is a shame since I had some friends in attendance that night. Initially, it looked as if the rain would stop after only an hour or so, and the squeegee patrol came out in force (below). Unfortunately, it was all for naught because they were unable to play again on Stadium Court until after dark (9 PM) more than 4 hours later. But I took this picture court-side and it made me wonder: "Don't these people know about the "circle technique" for squeegeeing a court?"

Start at the "T", make an ever increasing circle until off the court

It's so much more efficient! Also, shortly after this, the rain really started to come down and some lightning struck nearby the facility that not only sent the ball-kids running for cover, but its thunder caused all of us in the booth to gasp. As if that wasn't enough, we're elevated 30+ feet above Stadium Court and, because of a faulty tent 'gutter', the floor beneath us was wet such that we were standing in water during the electrical storm; thankfully the equipment was off the floor (if only just barely, and after a scramble):

Heavy rain invaded the tents, encroached on the electronics

Since I posted some beefcake pictures of Andy Roddick from his practice session with Ryan Harrison on Thursday morning, it's only fair that I post one of Ryan Harrison, right?

Ryan Harrison practicing (with Andy Roddick) on Grandstand

I would have earlier, but he wasn't shirtless! Thursday was a big day (hence the length of my post about it Friday morning), but I failed to mention something that happened which I found 'funny'. Before Mardy Fish (literally) crashed out of the tournament, he or his opponent (and now semifinalist) Gilles Muller (I'm not sure which, sorry) initiated a change that has had implications for the rest of the tournament. One of them 'complained' about not being able to see the ball when the other was serving because the background (behind the ball toss) included white chairs. So here is a series of pictures of the South End seating (the North End was likewise changed) before, during, and after the change (to black chairs):

"End-zone" seating is populated with white chairs
During the change from white (stacked on the right side) to black chairs

By Friday morning, when I took this picture of Xavier Malisse warming up (his doubles partner, and) quarterfinalist Michael Russell, the change was complete (notice the improved visibility of the ball):

Xavier Malisse (practicing  with Michael Russell Friday morning)

For some reason, I like this picture of Steve Johnson serving (to Jack Sock), which also shows how very closely contested the match was (see scoreboard):

Steve Johnson serving (to Jack Sock) in the second set's tiebreaker

Lastly, I want to say thanks to all the people I met during the tournament: the PA announcer Kevin Payne (a fellow entrepreneur; check out his cool chairz), and Bill, Danny, Emil, Jimmy, Sean, Will and others, whose names I have forgotten (sorry!), my coordinator and fellow volunteers for all their help, the (learning) experience, and a truly unforgettable week.

Kevin Payne and yours truly

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