It has been a big two weeks in the Piedmont Triad area for sports. First, Tiger Woods played in the Wyndam Golf Tournament in Greensboro. Then, the Winston-Salem Open Tennis Tournament geared up aficionados for a bigger tennis event, the U.S. Open, coming soon to a major American city.
Watching sports, for me, is up there with having a root canal or (sorry, Dad) getting my impacted wisdom teeth extracted. Just sayin’…
So, when I was invited to go to the Winston-Salem Open Tennis Tournament, I respectfully declined. My friend who invited me, would just not take “no” for an answer, and so I embarked upon another adventure. As with almost all of my final, negative responses that I have to take back, I found the experience to be…wait for it…a lot of fun. When will I ever learn?
About tennis, I know nothing. I played twice in my life, sometime around 1970 or so, and I am not joking. I wasn’t even remotely good. I doubt if I ever touched the racket to the ball, but maybe I did. My thoughts about tennis are attached to the cartoons of people’s heads turning back and forth as they watch a ball, something that actually happens. I was in London in 2003 while Wimbledon was happening. You see my point.
It’s all about the clothes, so I was interested to find out that Wimbledon is the only place requiring all white outfits. The kids and spotters (I don’t know what those people are called) wore matching Champion shirts, shorts, socks, and ball caps. I know they were Champion because, hello, Winston is the home of Hanesbrands who makes Champion, which is a sponsor. And they announced it.
Surprisingly, to me, I was captivated by the energy and endurance of the players and the ball kids. They ran, crouched, tossed, rolled, and in the case of the players whacked the balls. Some of the serves were clocked, I don’t know how, to be 138 mph. There seems to be a kind of tennis-player superstition about the balls. The ball kids would toss one player three balls, he would examine them, and toss away two. The other player would examine them, pocket one, and toss one. What is that about?
The scorekeeper/line referee announced the score, which meant “love” to me, and he also announced “advantage” periodically. The players were both tall. I wonder if that is an advantage. And sometime around sets and matches and games, between all of those parts, the ball kids would go stand at a military “at ease” position facing the line ref’s fancy covered chair. Finally one of the guys won! Yea! Kevin Anderson, a South African, went out on the court, joked with the announcer, and that part was over. I took my exit at that point, and got to see my new sports hero, Kevin, sign tennis balls after the game, I think, but maybe it was the match.
All in all, I learned some things about tennis, though not much as you can tell. I got to sit in a coolish, late summer breeze in a stadium with politely enthusiastic fans. I got to be with really nice people. What’s not to like about an Open Tennis Tournament?