Friday, March 8, 2013

Some Mid-Day Notes from Indian Wells

Your two humble bloggers with Tennis Channel's Lindsay Davenport, one of the nicest people we have met here at Indian Wells

Today has been an excellent day of action so far in the desert, as we have become settled into our media surroundings, while also catching some great tennis action. A few notes from the rather cold afternoon:

--- Today has once again convinced me that tennis truly is a star sport. Virtually all action and movement at Indian Wells is based upon where the stars are at any given moment.  Specifically, the action and movement across the grounds follows the "Big 4" of the men's game, Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray. Throughout the event, wherever huge throngs of people gather, inevitably something is happening with one of these individuals. See a massive group of humans standing in a circle in the middle of a field?  Well it must the Big Four dawning construction hats dedicating the beginning of a new stadium construction:



Are people packed four deep at a practice court straining their neck to view someone practicing volleys?  Well then Rafael Nadal must be getting his pre-match workout on Practice Court 6. Even though action is occurring everywhere simultaneously across the ground, simply seeing one of tennis's stars is a primary objective of a large portion of the people here. And along those lines, the most valued piece of currency inside the walls of Indian Wells is one of those massive oversized tennis balls for which autographs can be obtained. I am convinced that there is a large segment of the Indian Wells crowd that comes and sees no match, but simply walks around hoping to catch a lock of Roger Federer's hair blowing in the wind. For those people, today's first round match between Bjorn Phau and Alejandro Falla (a barnburner on Court 6 that I missed due to a fairly spectacular yogurt parfait I found in the cafeteria) is of no interest. There is a possibility that Andy Murray may be walking to his car, and all focus must be spent on capturing that moment.

--- Today I consciously tried to get someone, anyone not associated with Tennis Channel to talk to me, and I failed miserably. At lunch, I sat next to a group of people dressed in tennis gear, which at this tournament can mean that they are anything from a player in the field to an low-level entourage member assigned to pick the blueberries out of a player's fruit cup, and did all that I could to get them to say anything, even if it were an obscenity, in my direction. I asked to borrow a chair, commented on the weather and even laughed heartily at one of their bad jokes not aimed at me, hoping to win them over. Nothing however could make them deviate from their primary mission, to ignore me at all costs. I then moved to a table of eight for the sole purpose of hoping that someone in the crowded eating space would be forced to come and speak to me and Drew, due to nothing more than a lack of seating options. Finally, a woman came over with a food tray in hand asked if we cared if she joined us.  She was dressed warmly (a sign that she might be choosing comfort over fashion) and her big smile suggested friendliness, leading me to say, "why of course...you are more than welcome!" The woman then reached over, took the table and pulled it ten feet away from us so she could sit by herself and not be connected, even by an eating counter, with the two Kentucky bloggers. The possibility of communication with anyone at this tournament outside of Drew continues to grow less likely. But I am determined and will not give up.



---  Drew and I left the cozy confines of the Media Room at Stadium One and wandered over to Stadium Two to check out the tournament debut of one Jack Sock. Now you probably know that Sock is one of the most promising young American tennis players on the scene and a potential rising star in the field. But honestly, Drew and I wanted to see him less for these superlatives, than for the fact his name was gloriously, Jack Sock (it is the same reason that I initially became friends with a man in my hometown named Dick Tamer...I am very juvenile and easy to please).  I had been warned that if we kept hanging around Jack Sock, we would go blind, but I was not to be deterred, and Sock's match with Ivo Karlovic did not disappoint. Karlovic possesses an unbelievably strong serve and even though Sock clearly had the crowd on his side, he became rattled during a tiebreaker in the second set and was then run over by the Croatian in the third set. The match was my first lesson in how one's on-court behavior can have lead to adverse results for players in hostile situations. Sock became crusty at the umpire after a couple of close calls and let his frustration have a detrimental effect on his play. While the 34 year old veteran stayed calm and carried on, Jack Sock became stiff and was unable to hit the big shots, including missing a backhand down the line on match point. Sock let a potential huge win slip away from him and the elder statesman Karlovic moved onto the next round. The happiest person in the stadium was the elderly man in the "Alaska...Established in 1959" hat sitting next to us who said, "I like Ivo...you don't have to be an American to be a good person." So true, and yet so wise.

We are on a break now before Agnieszka Radwanska and the Bryan Brothers take the court tonight. I am off to find some dinner and give yet another attempt at human interaction. See you soon...