I was excited when Mardy Fish made a nice little run at Wimbledon because I expected to see him live on July 22nd. I thought he had a chance to get through Nadal at Wimbledon but he lost in four sets in the quarterfinal match.
Julie and I have tennis in common. I became semi-obsessed with the idea of attending a professional match together in July 2010 when I watched part of the ATP Atlanta Tennis Championships on television. Atlanta is a reasonable 7 hour drive to watch a top-10 professional tennis player.
We purchased the evening quarterfinal match for Friday, July 22nd. Mardy Fish, as the #9 player in the world, was the highest ranked player committed to the tournament so I expected he would have the 7 pm feature quarterfinal match in Atlanta assuming there wasn't some major upset. Fish didn't disappoint.
If you get ESPN3, look for us starting around the 3:40 mark. You can also see us also standing in the back if you look between the faces of Brad Gilbert and Cliff Drysdale at about the 4:00 mark. I haven't watched the whole match over again yet so I'm not sure if we made any other brief appearances on screen but we sat behind the player benches. You can see the folding chairs followed by the green bleachers. We sat in the fifth row of green seats four or five seats to the right hand side of the chair umpire.
We had a blast. Julie felt we were out of our league a bit what with all the fancy cars in the parking lot and the attitude we perceived from the other attendees. It was a bit more exclusive than was my first golf tournament experience in May but I didn't think it had nearly the country club feel like some of our high school experiences. Funny note - the guy next to us commented how nice it would be to have 6 new racquets sitting in your bag on the court like the pros and he seemed a bit turned off when Julie admitted that she has had the same racquet for 15 years;)
Immediately following the match we saw the final quarterfinal match between Ryan Harrison and Rajeev Ram. Both are Americans and Harrison has been touted as the next big thing in USA tennis. We've heard that before about players that never panned out so we'll wait and see how it goes but it was another exciting match. Harrison still has some work left on harnessing his emotion into more positive and professional energy but he is young and we won't throw the first rock and condemn him just yet. The final set tie-break took us all the way close to midnight. Tough way to lose for Ram - the final point at 6-5 in the tiebreak of the final set clipped the tape and eluded his approaching volley. That's tennis for you.
I enjoy watching tennis on television and I can try to explain the contrast to watching it in person, but really ... you had to be there.