I learned to play tennis when I was a little kid. My dad took me out to the courts in Franklin, Tennessee for the first time on a Sunday afternoon. It was sunny and warm. We each had a wooden racquet. That must have been at least thirty years ago. I certainly wasn’t a progeny but I remember having a good time. Enter love for Tennis stage left.
I didn’t play much after. A little in high school. Not until college where I had some buddies who played every day. In order to be at all competitive (I never was) I decided to take a class. I played almost every day during that semester. After that, not so much. When I met Linda she encouraged me to play. There were courts right across the street from her apartment in Culver City, CA. We’d walk over most weekend days and play for an hour; sometimes two.
It was also around that time I got back into watching Tennis on television. While I knew all the big names, as Linda watched, I watched, and I picked up more and more of the less famous and upcoming athlete’s names. Once you know the names, it’s much easier to get into the action. That’s true for any sport. This is why, for example, the Olympics take such great care with their athlete highlight profile pieces.
With a few years of television viewing under my belt, I had the opportunity last year to attend the opening week of my first Grand Slam in person (My Tips). The US Open in New York City. It was really an amazing experience. I’m not there live this year but you can bet I’ll be watching; as much as time allows.
Here’s who I’ll be rooting for and why.
Federer – I haven’t exactly rooted against Roger since he won the French but I haven’t felt bad for him loosing. It’s not that he broke Pete Sampras’ all time Grand Slam Titles record, but the way he started acting afterwards. A little smug and self important for my taste. For a Tennis legend that is. Just my opinion.
Nadal – I always enjoyed making fun of his guy’s muscle shirts and clam diggers. That was kind of hard to get past. Maybe it was the wardrobe update, but whatever the reason, the more I watch the more I respect the guy. Not only for being so good, working so hard, but for being so gracious. For a while there I felt like he was the anti-Roger; not talking about head to head competition, but in his attitude.
Soderling – The Big Swede. The Giant Killer. This guy lately has been going for it against the big boys; goes for broke on every serve, every groundstroke. He crushes it.
Monfils – This Frenchman is a hoot, that’s what he is. He plays like a madman sometimes.
Roddick – Andy would have a half dozen titles if it wasn’t for, well, the Fed Express. Fun to watch, always gives a good post game interview, and I follow him on Twitter. He’s one dryly funny dude.
Fish – How can you not root for a guy who recently lost 30 pounds. Why? He realized that for a professional athlete he was overweight and out of shape. Really? Well, he did move from like 200 to the top 20 and made it to the finals in Cincinnati. His reward? He got to face Federer. Oh, well.
Sharapova – I own her camera. Can’t wait for the comeback!
Oudin – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, duhh. Great story.
Williams – Who doesn’t love a gal who plays tennis in her pajamas? Venus is there without her younger sister this year. At least Serena won’t be threatening the lives of any lines people this year.
Stosur – Having taken out Justine Henin, Serena Williams, and Jankovic, only to be beaten by Schiavone (who?) in the finals of the French Open this year was heartbreaking.
Safina – Okay, so if you’re counting Dinara is actually number eleven. However, she doesn’t count since she’s already out. I’m not sure when the last time she’s made it past a first round of a Major but with her talent I’m pretty sure it’s time for her to cut out the partying (one would have to assume) and get down to business. Maybe she’ll show up for the Australian Open.
Happy Tennis Watching!