Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wimbledon? Wimbledid.

So Wimbledon is this tennis competition that happens every year in London. All the best players are there and the courts are grass.

Yeah, that's right. See how much I know? I'm pretty much a tennis expert, now.

But it wasn't long ago when the bulk of my knowledge about the sport came from playing Super Nintendo Tennis. When John McEnroe could have been a celebrity chef or a mandolin player. When a Grand Slam was nothing more than an egg-heavy breakfast dish served at Denny’s.

But now I've been to Wimbledon, so I know lots of stuff.

First of all, I know that it takes a loooong time to get into Wimbledon.

In order to buy day-of tickets to the tournament, you must wait, for several hours, in what is affectionately and accurately called “The Queue.” Thousands of people stand, sit, or stretch out in The Queue as it winds its serpentine way around a huge field. As we took our place in line, we were handed a queue card, designating our position and eliminating the ever-present temptation to cut, and (I kid you not) a pamphlet on "queuing etiquette." Aren't the British just so cute?

Newspaper vendors walked up and down between the folds of the line hawking their wares. There were plenty of coffee stands and toilets. Next to us, in a patch of open grass, a football (soccer) game started up. It was nice. You can't fight the queue, man. You gotta embrace it.

Here we are in the queue: Me, Jonny and Tomoki.

And here's Mina...and a giant tennis ball. Awesome. These pictures are actually all Mina's because I was a dork and forgot to put my memory chip in my camera.

Fast forward three hours, and we're through the gates, ready to watch some tennis.

Secondly: The real show is on the sidelines.

I don’t mean the fans. In fact, I think that tennis ranks second only to golf for most boring fans ever.

What I mean is that it truly takes a village to run a tennis match. In the match we watched, there were five line judges, six ball boys/ball girls (ball people?) and a small army of teens in green polo shirts on rain patrol.

The ball boys and girls were fun to watch because I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone scurry that much in real life. They ran everywhere they went – even very short distances. And when they weren’t running or crouching at the net, they were standing “at-ease” at each end of the court, with tennis balls in their hands to give to the players. It was a little silly looking, but I gotta admit, a very smooth system.

Here they are in their natural habitat:

I learned some other stuff about tennis, but I think that I’ve covered the bulk of the important info.

Wimbledon’s over now – the men’s finals were on Sunday in one of the best championship matches ever. Federer, the reigning champ who has won Wimbledon for the past five years, was trying to be the first person to ever win six championships. But he was beat out in a match that lasted nearly five hours by a Spanish guy named Nadal. I watched the highlights because I’m such a tennis fan. On the women’s side, I think that Venus Williams won again in a championship match against her sister, Serena.

Feel free to forward me any of your tennis-related questions.


Greg said...

First off - I should tell you that my name is Greg Whitworth, and I work with your brother Tyler (I am not sure as to how many brothers you have); now on with the comment.

"First of all, I know that it takes a loooong time to get into Wimbledon."

When I first read this I was expecting a detailed synopses as to how an athlete manages to grace the 'grass' of Wimbledon. But no - you threw us a curve ball that left me laughing for quite a while and marveling at how you write. Keep it up and I look forward to reading your book. Take care.


Abby said...

I'm debating as to whether or not I should tell Ben that you went to the tournament... he's going to be soooo jealous.