Thursday, March 7, 2013

Indian Wells...We Have Arrived

As I walked into the tent marked "Credentials", I noticed the sweetest woman working the desk. She was in her 60s, blessed with the combination of bright white teeth and faded tan skin that suggests a life full of either leisure or great stories (or both). Having never attended a tennis tournament as a member of the working media, I approached the table slowly, trying to make sure I was in the right line. The woman looked at me and said, "And what is your name?" I told her I was Matt Jones, gave her a copy of my Kentucky driver's license and continued to attempt my number one mission for Day One of the BNP Paribas Open, not make anyone mad. She glanced at it, looked at me and then said with a warm smile, "you have never done this before have you?" And just like the last time that question was posed to me (Forrer Dormitory, Freshman Year, Transylvania University), the answer was an obvious yes. 

The naivete that was oozing out of my pores at the Media Credential check-in here at Indian Wells is for good reason. I have never covered a major tennis tournament before. I grew up playing tennis (if you are wondering who the Kentucky 13th Region Doubles Runner-Up team was during my Junior and Senior year at Middlesboro High School, look no further), and still enjoy the sport from afar, but my background has not been covering the pro game. Drew Franklin (the other person who will be posting on this blog) and I actually cover Kentucky athletics at our home site, For the past eight years, we have obsessed about every move of Tubby Smith, Billy Gillispie and John Calipari, but have tried to cover it with our founding slogan in mind, "the most ridiculous manner possible." Now we are bringing that view to tennis and writing for Tennis Channel, beginning here at Indian Wells.

Now to be honest, if your vision of tennis writing is a breakdown of the mechanics of a serve, the angles in a point or anything having to do with tennis string tension, then we may not be your best source. But if you have always wondered what goes on behind the scenes in a tennis tournament, what players have interesting stories to tell or photoshops of what Rafael Nadal might have done on his fishing trip this winter, then this blog is for you.

Above is the first example of our goal, as early this morning we ran into Nadal as he was leaving the practice courts. As young women screamed at him, in screeching high voices that made local dogs scramble in panic, I snapped the picture of him heading into the locker room. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my blog cohort Drew was in the background with the unconscious photobomb, ignoring the Hall of Fame tennis player beside him, and instead standing bowlegged and staring obliviously at the flowers. It is the perfect picture to encapsulate in visual form the writing, pictures and videos we will be bringing to your enjoyment of Indian Wells.

We will begin now and continue over the course of the next six days here at the BNP Paribas Open. The tournament is world-class, the weather is great and the tennis will be excellent, We will do our best to keep pace, all the while doing it in "the most ridiculous manner possible." Thanks for reading.