Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Outer Courts Brings The Australian Open to You!

Hello my fellow tennis fans! I hope you have enjoyed the offseason layoff and are ready for a new year of tennis action here at The Outer Courts. It has been a long time since we last saw many of you, and you have likely wondered when we would return to update the site and allow you to read something other than the post on perspective of line judges (admittedly, not the most exciting way to end our last year). But we are now energized and ready to come back on tour with all of our favorite tennis personalities. But first,  we must be honest with you. Your favorite Kentucky bloggers (I say that assuming you don't know a ton of Kentucky bloggers) have been following the worlds of college football and basketball lately (here's an update...UK football had an awful season, Kentucky basketball is pretty good once again and Louisville has hired a serial adulterer for every one of its college sports teams). Thus we are hitting the 2014 Tennis Season in a way that is likely very similar to how you are approaching a new year. Even though there have been a number of early tournaments, we haven't paid much attention until the Australian Open. Yes, I know there were early events and Juan Del Handsome, John Isner and 62 year old Lleyton Hewitt got early titles, but my interest really had yet to be piqued. The other early tournaments are essentially only played in America for tennis diehards, melancholy insomniacs or those knee-deep in a mid-life crisis with little to do in their lonely new apartment communities except watch any television event overnight that is not an informercial rerun. For the rest of us, our lives are more fulfilled and tennis starts under the scorching sun in Melbourne with tennis' first and least-loved major.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Australian Open precisely because it is the red-headed stepchild of the Tennis major championships. Like the PGA Championship in Golf, the Preakness in Horse Racing and the Brickyard 400 in NASCAR, we are told that the Australian Open is equal to the other major championships in its sport, but as Americans, we don't really believe it. The French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open all have the special qualities that make them seem exotic, dignified or patriotic, but Australia is for most of us just a country to allow us to use funny accents and make terrible jokes. Even as a passionate tennis fan, you would be hard pressed to include more than one Australian Open moment in your top ten tennis memories of all time, and chances are you can't remember one thing that happened in the tournament last year except Sloane Stephens. In America, the Australian Open is in a no-win part of the sports calendar, deep in the NFL playoffs, with college and pro basketball hitting their full stride and the weather outside so cold that watching people sweat across the globe seems a bit bizarre. But that is unfortunate, because the Australian Open provides some of the best tennis television of the year. Whether it is the unbelievably passionate crowds that attend, the occasional epic matches that take on a life of their own under the sun or even Chris Fowler on ESPN sharing smirky, inside jokes that only tennis fans would understand (because he knows no one else is watching at 4 am), I find the televised coverage of Australia to be one of my favorite parts of the tennis year.

And with that in mind, we are covering the Australian Open in a different manner than the other Outer Courts tournaments, at home from our couches. Now you could suggest that in actuality we are doing this because it is the heart of college basketball season, Australia is very far away and Tennis Channel wasn't thrilled of the idea of Drew and me racking up an expense account down under (we draw up quite a budget of official tournament pullovers), but I would say that regardless of the truth of those statements, the different perspective is still valued. Since nearly all of our readers here will be watching the event in the exact same manner, why not share the collective "dose in and out of sleep while eating cheetos" Australian Open experience together? Thus Drew and I will cover the event in a way that other tennis reporters could only dream, from the heart of Kentucky, giving you the stories that matter to you the home viewer.

With that in mind, it is important to note how you can watch the event. Here is the television schedule for the first four days of the Australian Open:

SUNDAY:          7 pm - 7 am   First Round Coverage   ESPN2

MONDAY:         7 pm - 9 pm  First Round Coverage   Tennis Channel

                             9 pm - 7 am  First Round Coverage    ESPN2

TUESDAY:        7 pm - 9 pm  Second Round Coverage  Tennis Channel

                             9 pm - 7 am   Second Round Coverage   ESPN2

WEDNESDAY: 7 pm - 9 pm  Second Round Coverage  Tennis Channel

                             9 pm - 7 am   Second Round Coverage   ESPN2

Clearly, over the next four days, you can become immersed in the Australian Open in ways that you never deemed imaginable. For many of you reading this site, such in-depth coverage of an event may not be normal. Staying up in the middle of the night and ignoring your families to watch players you don't know sweat under intense heat (when they aren't being wimpy and playing under a roof) might not be something that you have ever previously considered. So you probably are thinking, how should I attack this endeavor?  Well first let me suggest, why don't you make a bracket with Tennis Channel and have your own picks?  You can find my men's bracket here and from there, you can make your own. Now I will be quite honest, I have no idea who will win most of these matches and many of my picks were made on the, "if I had to hang out with a person with one of these two names, who would I go with." By taking my usual, "the more interesting the name, the more interesting the person" mantra to heart, I picked a group of players who possibly have more letters than skills, but who I will have no problems pulling for over the next two weeks.

So sit back, relax and enjoy The Outer Courts' coverage. We will bring you whatever there is to know about the Australian Open that can be known by watching television. I have the DirectTV package so I can see six matches at once, so I will keep you updated on the doings on the Outer Courts, Drew will bring the jokes/photoshops and we both will make fun of anything and everything that pops up on our television screen. This is our time as tennis fans to revel in the enjoyment of something the rest of the sports world can't understand. It is the Australian Open and let those other meatheads have football, basketball, the Golden Globes and American Idol. We have Australian tennis while we are supposed to be sleeping and that my friends, is why we are better! We hope you enjoy the ride.