Tuesday, July 30, 2013

BB&T Atlanta Open 2013 - pictures and videos from both finals

Sunday was a beautiful day to conclude this year's BB&T Atlanta Open at Atlantic Station, though not quite as cool as Saturday, a nice (if occasional) breeze could be felt during the latter stages of what turned out to  be the longest 3-set match of the year.  There were no breaks of serve and John Isner prevailed over Kevin Anderson 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2).  Here are some pictures and videos (of the end of each set) from the singles and doubles finals on Sunday, July 28:
Anderson serves to Isner up 15-0 in the first game
Anderson launches a second serve at Isner
Anderson prepares to return Isner's serve down the middle

Anderson won the first set over Isner 7-6 (3) - watch the HD video on YouTube here!

Our seats were not bad, right next to the cameraman
Another picture of Anderson preparing to return serve
Isner won the second set 7-6 (2) over Anderson - watch the HD video on YouTube here!

Isner prepares to serve to Anderson (ball at top)
Isner launches a serve at Anderson (ball at top)
As Isner prepares another serve, note his shadow
Isner saved one match point, and then a second, while serving at 5-6 to Anderson in the third.  But Isner won in the third set tiebreaker 7-6 (2) to win the Atlanta title on his fourth try (third final).  Click on the links in the previous sentence to watch the videos on YouTube.

In doubles final, Colin Fleming prepares to serve
Note his unusual pre-serve technique

But alas, the Brits couldn't win it, as Roger-Vasselin and Sijsling won the first set 7-6, and the second 6-3.

Friday, July 26, 2013

BB&T Atlanta Open 2013 - pictures/video of Thursday, July 25

It was another beautiful rain-free day at the tennis tournament; Ryan Harrison and James Blake advanced easily in straight sets against unfamiliar opponents while top seeds John Isner and Kevin Anderson struggled to three set victories.  My trusty scorekeeping partner and I were in the booth for the first two matches on Stadium Court, before the evening slate which included the former UGA star against Harrison's younger brother Christian.  Here are some pictures and video of the day's action:

Harrison leaves the ground to hit a backhand return against Sijsling
Harrison hits a running forehand to set up a miss by his opponent
Sijsling's shot is long, and Harrison wins the point
Harrison shakes hands with his heat wearied opponent
After Harrison won his match 6-4, 6-3, it was James Blake's turn to take the court.
The view was spectacular:
The sponsor's building looms over the Stadium Court
James lets his signature forehand fly
But he wins matches when his backhand is consistent
Blake beat his Russian opponent Donskoy 6-3, 6-2 in plenty of time for the evening's agenda, which included Military Appreciation Night, starting promptly at 7 PM (on schedule for the first time all week). Here was the view over Kennesaw Mountain on my way home last night:
more of God's Glory

Thursday, July 25, 2013

BB&T Atlanta Open 2013 - recap of Wednesday, July 24 pix/video

After a rushed day at work, I got to the tennis tourney to find out that I would be the only one scorekeeping until the evening shift; no problem.  However, it did limit my ability to take pictures and video of key moments in each match etc., and I was too worn out to stay for the evening's slate.  Still, I did manage to get some good pictures and video of the goings-on while I was there.  You be the judge.
Warming up on Stadium Court for his later match was James Blake:
It's pretty obvious that he's not too comfortable at the net:
The first match played on Stadium Court was between Lleyton Hewitt and Rhyne Williams, who had a pretty big serve and a powerful forehand, but lacked the mental strength to close out Hewitt in the first set.  It was actually the Australian that earned the first break and served for the set, but later had to come from 2-6 down in the tiebreaker to win it 8-6.  The American seemed impatient, hitting every serve and shot as hard as he could trying to get the seventh point, enabling the more experienced player to win the game.
I then thought that Hewitt would roll in the second, but I was wrong as Williams held tough until late in the second, when the Australian duplicated his effort at the end of his match the day prior, breaking his opponent in the 10th game to earn the set (6-4) and the match.
Hewitt shakes Williams hand at the end of their match
To see both Hewitt's set closing fist pumps to wife Bec, see my Twitter account. The next match on Stadium featured two Americans - Blake and Tim Smyczek - that (surprisingly) had never played before:
Blake earned the first break (above) but needed tiebreakers to win the first and third sets (and the match) from his opponent.  Today's insider picture features my view of the court (and my workstation, from which 'we' score the matches):
The View from the Top

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

BB&T Atlanta Open 2013 - recap of Tuesday, July 23 w/pictures

The second day of first round tennis matches was a glorious one, until the evening when it started to rain in the second set of the Mardy Fish-Michael Russell match.  Arriving about an hour early from my shift, I had the chance to watch nearly the entire first set on Grandstand between 'Randy' Lu & Kevin King.
Atlanta's relatively clear skyline when I arrived shortly before 3 PM
It was an interesting contrast, not just because Lu is right-handed and King is left-handed, but their styles are different.  Lu hits fairly flat "darts", not unlike James Blake, while King's ball has more loft and topspin.  Having been on tour for a while, Lu - a regular at this tournament - had more consistent groundstrokes throughout their rallies, though (afterward) King told his many fans that it was his opponent's serve to which he had no answer.
Lu is aced by King (to see the ball, look above its shadow on the court)
I posted a couple of pictures yesterday which highlight the strengths of both players:  King's serve, and Lu's groundstrokes.  Lu has an interesting breathing pattern:  he actually exhales before he hits the ball, noticeably without being distracting (unlike some women on the WTA tour;-)
Shortly before Lu would back up his break of King with a hold of his own
Here are a couple of pictures of King finishing his first and second serves to Lu (same point); notice the consistency of his follow-through (and pronation):
King's first serve
King's second serve
After Lu won the first set 6-3, my partner and I needed to get to Stadium Court to score Lleyton Hewitt's match with Ă‰douard Roger-Vasselin.  The men played two identical sets, each holding serve until the 10th game of the set, when the Australian would break the Frenchman to secure the sets (6-4) and the match. Roger-Vasselin did save four match points before losing it. And yes, Lleyton's lovely wife Bec is here; she sits directly across from where he sits on the court. After he won, he turned to her to celebrate with his trademark fist pump.
After the singles, it was time for a doubles match featuring the top seeded pairing of Croatia's Ivan Dodig and Brazil's Marcelo Melo, who'd lost to the Bryan brothers (a no show - due to an injury - at this year's tournament) in the Wimbledon finals. They played the Harrison brothers, and it was evident that their strategy was to pick on the younger and less experienced brother (Christian). Ryan won the doubles final here last year, when he was paired with Matthew Ebden (who is only in the singles draw this year).
After taking the first set 6-3, they ran away with the second set 6-1.  One last item before I go, a real insider look at the Stadium Court:
The view from under the Stadium Court

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BB&T Atlanta Open 2013 - Tuesday start #bbtatlantaopen

Some pics from 1st round match btw King and Lu

BB&T Atlanta Open 2013 - recap of Monday, July 22 with pictures

Because of a conflict at work, I was unable to get to the tennis tournament site until after 3 PM, meaning that I had to split my scorekeeper duties with my partner Lisa; she took the first half of our shift, and I took the second.  As it turns out, I didn't miss much because of another rain delay.  In fact, Robby Ginepri had just taken the first set (6-2) from Kevin King, and was tied 1-1 in the second when the rains came; the match resumed shortly after I took my seat in the booth at 3:30 PM.  Unfortunately, because I had to score all five sets played until the end of the shift, I was unable to take very good pictures (all posted on Twitter) until the evening's exhibition.

It was a frustrating match to watch, especially if you were a Ginepri fan (or Ginepri himself), as the play was punctuated by more unforced errors than winners.  Of course, give credit to King who seemed to be able to retrieve every Ginepri shot, making winners hard to come by.  King evened the match by taking the second 6-4, and then outlasted Ginepri, who was obviously struggling physically only a few games into the third set, stretching and bending between points, and was eventually visited by the trainer just before coming out and trying to hold serve trailing 4-5 in the decider.  Unable to do so, Ginepri lost the set (4-6) and the match to King, who earned his first main draw appearance in an ATP event.

Next up on Stadium Court was the first non-qualifying match, a first round contest between Ryan Harrison and Marinko Matosevic.  It was obvious that the Australian wasn't ready to play as the American raced to a 4-0 by breaking his opponent's first two service games; Harrison took the first set 6-2 with an emphatic service hold of his own, including three 120+ MPH aces right down "Peachtree".

But the second set proved more difficult for the youngster; not only did Matosevic pick up his service game, but his return game enabled him to break Harrison twice to end the second set, taking it by the same margin that he'd lost the first (6-2).  Harrison's frustration was evident when he slammed his racquet to the court early in the third after failing to earn a quick break of serve, however he regrouped and closed out the match by winning the deciding set 6-3.

Because the time was now nearly 7 PM, and the much publicized "Bro Down Showdown" - an exhibition doubles match between tennis-playing brothers featuring the Bryan brothers - was scheduled to begin at that time, a first round doubles match was moved to the Grandstand Court so that the show could begin. Unfortunately, the Bryans had withdrawn over the weekend, but that meant that King - with his Georgia Tech teammate Juan Spir - would get to participate.  They would play a thrilling 10-point tiebreaker against James and Thomas Blake, saving match point trailing 9-10 on the point of the night before succumbing.
James Blake (foreground) with brother Thomas
Then it was Harrison's turn to return to the court with his younger (heartthrob) brother Christian; they were to play Eric with his younger (more famous and accomplished) brother Jack.  The Socks won that one fairly easily, but not before Christian impressed with some blind, backhand over-the-shoulder overhead shots.  So the finals of the "Bro Down" were set:  The Socks vs. the Blakes, and the former prevailed 10-8.
Jack Sock (left) with brother Eric - winners of the Showdown
I didn't stay for the second first round match of the day on Stadium, between two qualifiers, and because I left early, I got to take this beautiful sunset picture on the way home.
Sunset over Kennesaw Mountain

Sunday, July 21, 2013

BB&T Atlanta Open 2013 - 1st day qualifying recap

I got to the BB&T Atlanta Open tennis venue at Atlantic Station a little more than an hour early for my scorekeeper duties yesterday; truth is, I thought my shift started at noon (as it does Monday), but it really started at 1:30 PM.  So, I posted my first picture to this blog shortly after I arrived, even though it was dated as having been posted on Friday.  Not sure how that happened, but I'm learning how to use my new smartphone to update blogger and twitter, so bear with me.
View of Atlanta's Skyline from BB&T Atlanta Open 2013 Stadium Court
In any case, as I usually do, I looked for and located my seating for the finals come Sunday, July 28, so I could see how things will look that day, and took a picture to share with my friend who will be attending with me.
3rd row seating - sweet!
Not bad, eh?  As luck would have it, someone already had the seat yesterday, so I had to wait until a break between sets (when he left) to snatch the photo above.  The new custom stadium looks great; the front two rows (much too pricey for me) have Lexus-branded seat-and-back cushions ... really nice!
Robby Ginepri & Andrew Carter taking warm up serves
Unfortunately, some rain started to fall right after Atlanta's own Robby Ginepri and Andrew Carter finished warming up, but that worked in my favor because - instead of starting my shift in the middle - my partner and I got to do the whole match.  I did the first set, which Ginepri won 6-3, and got to blog an update during the second set, which he won 6-1.

After Ginepri's match, it was time for another Atlantan - that normally receives a bye into the main draw of this tournament - to play:  Donald Young (vs. Romania's Catalin-Ionut Gard).  Again, I scored the first set, which Donald won 6-2, and then tweeted a picture of the lefty serving during the second set, which was interrupted for 4 hours due to the rain.
Kilwins at Atlantic Station ... only thing missing was Butterbeer
However, because we're at Atlantic Station, there is lots to do.  Firstly, we ate the catered meal for volunteers (Sonny's BBQ), then we ventured to Kilwins - which reminded me of Honeydukes in the Harry Potter series - for some chocolate delights!  Yum, yum!

Young's match resumed about 8 PM, and we expected that the rest of the day's scheduled matches would be played.  That meant we'd have two more matches after Young's (he went on to win the second set 6-2), and the prospect of a very late night loomed.  However, we then learned that wildcard Eric Sock's (Jack's older brother) match with Zimbabwe's Takura Happy (I kid you not) would be kept for an earlier-than-originally-scheduled Sunday morning start, which meant that the doubles specialists' match-up between Australia's Matthew Ebden and Mexico's Santiago Gonzalez would be the last match on Stadium Court.
Gonzalez serving to Ebden
Not many fans left for Day 1 of qualifying by 10 PM
By now it was pretty sparse fan-wise at the Stadium Court.  After a slow start, during which he fell behind a break, Ebden (who played here last year) took the first set 6-4 by breaking Gonzalez in the 10th game.  He then went on to win the second more easily (6-1) against his obviously dejected opponent.  Had I not stayed until the end, I would have missed this fireworks display, which appeared to be coming from Piedmont Park.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

BB&T Atlanta Open 2013 - Ginepri takes 1st set

Now leads second set 4-1, about to serve up two breaks.  Opponent Andrew Carter a visit from the trainer.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

BB&T Atlanta Open 2013 qualifying starts next Saturday, July 20

Just one week until this year's BB&T Atlanta Open begins and men's professional tennis returns to Atlantic Station.  Here is a look at the new stadium construction in time-lapse video:

For the most current view of the stadium, click here.  For individual tickets to this year's event, click here.

Once the tournament begins next Saturday, I'll be posting daily insider updates complete with pictures from the event right here, so check back often.