adatbotw (a day at the bank of the west)



I wrote this post a couple weeks ago the day after attending the Bank of the West in Palo Alto. Please excuse its tardiness! -NM

Eight years ago I attended a professional sporting event for the very first time at the age of 16. It was the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, and my dad and I took in two night session matches on the stadium court(s). Back then, the tennis facility at Stanford kept its two-courts-in-one-stadium format for the tournament, allowing fans to watch two high-quality matches going on at once. While part of that set up was maddening, the other part was refreshing and invigorating: two tennis matches happening side by side and one crowd to enjoy them at once.

The night that we went was a crowd-pleasing one: Anna Smashnova versus Anna Kournikova on one court and Lindsay Davenport versus Anne Kremer on the other. The crowd was highly entertained by the presence of Kournikova, and everyone split their watching time between her match and the Davenport drubbing of former Stanford player Kremer, who got encouraging calls from the bleachers.

Today marked somewhat of a full circle for me as I arrived back in Palo Alto for the first time to attend this tournament again, this time as a member of the media. I feel semi-adult, wearing an “M” media badge and sitting in the press room typing away at important documents (read: “a puppet’s ode to lynn welch“). The thrill is still child-like for me, though. Going from the stadium to the practice courts, I’m not necessarily analyzing ground strokes and checking out who is practicing with whom, but rather just watching the tennis take place, taking in the action like a giddy teenager.

There was plenty to be giddy about on this day: the walk through California-big trees from parking to the tournament grounds; watching Melanie Oudin practice the day after another harrowing win; finally seeing Kimiko Date Krumm in person; judging Christina McHale for her Jersey-ness; wondering what happened to Dominika Cibulkova; Palo Alto-perfect weather; and meeting fellow bloggers along the way.

More than anything, this tournament reminds me of watching my childhood hero, Monica Seles, battle through a tough three-set encounter with Tamarine Tanasugarn from the second row. I could see the sweat beads dripping off Monica’s forehead as she battled that night, and was impressed by the will and determination of Tanasugarn. Much of that was brought back in the Date Krumm-Dementieva battle that occurred Wednesday night, three sets of I-won’t-give-this-up tennis in which KDK fought with all her might to get Elena off balance for the win.

Spending the day at Stanford was an absolute joy, something I don’t think all media folk can say for another weekday at a WTA event. For us tennis geeks, there’s nothing better than a small-time tournament with big-time names that make us feel like we’re running into Madonna on her way to pick up some groceries or her morning coffee. Not much drama, just some pretty good match tennis to take in, and some practice court fun to be had and some players to cross paths with in between. Maybe the WTA should go with that as their new marketing campaign?

(photo by amorimur via flickr)

sunday survey (and a story)



The first professional tennis tournament I ever went to – or professional sporting event of any kind – was the 2002 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University in Palo Alto. My dad and I drove from my Grandma’s house in nearby San Jose for an evening session featuring Lindsay Davenport and Anna Kournikova, and my giddy 16-year-old self mistook all the well dressed 20-something guys in the crowd to be Bay Area gays. It wasn’t until later on in life that I realized they were all just metro straight guys there to watch Kournikova. A boy can dream.

The following night, I ventured to Stanford on my own, scoring a second-row ticket for the evening session that featured Monica Seles and Kim Clijsters on two separate courts. But before I went into the stadium, I took to the grounds, milling about and taking in the sights and the sounds of the tour that I had long dreamed of in my back alley as a kid.

While walking along the corridor of sponsor booths, I felt someone’s hand press against my side gently, and as I turned to see who it was, a large man pushed his way past be. I turned back around to try to understand why he had put his hand on my side, and realized he was escorting a well-known tennis gal through the crowd: Kournikova.

In the time that I realized what had happened, the moment was gone, and Kournikova – cap pulled tightly over her face – made her way through the crowd with little notice, thanks to the shadow the large bodyguard was casting over her.

My run-in with Marat Safin this week reminded me of my first tennis bump-in eight years ago. It also got me wondering: Which tennis player would you like to bump into in a casual setting the most? The least? Let us know in the comments section.

kournikova @ k-swiss



Oh, Anna, you’re like tennis gold! We’re confident about backing you when you say you’re retired, unlike some of the flip-flopping that’s been happening as of late. (What can ya do? It’s a different generation of “retirees”…)

Strut strut: Kournikova did her part as the face of K-Swiss by making a cameo at the company’s Spring/Summer 2010 fashion show last night in New York City.

Looks from the show to come.

(photo by TSF)

public service announcement: anna kournikova



Thanks to reader Richie Rich (of Heatherette?! Probably not, but we can dream…) for this tip:

“Former Russian tennis World Doubles No. 1 Anna Kournikova will be hosting a live chat with her fans tomorrow on her official website. Anna will be available to answer your questions on tennis, the WTA Tour, the French Open, her life, her recent travels overseas, her charity work, and any other questions you might have.

To participate, log on to www.kournikova.com from 3pm EST on Tuesday afternoon. A link will be posted on the homepage of the Kournikova.com website an hour before the event commences. Alternatively, you can click the “Chat Live” link as a registered member of Anna’s Official Community on SportsMates.com.”

If any of you fabulous TSF readers decide to participate, drop us a line and tell us how it went!

shoeless in san jose



By Nick McCarvel

pete-sampras-sanjose09

Pete Sampras has been going exo-crazy recently (perhaps the coffers are a little emptier around tax season?), making a brief cameo at last week’s SAP Open in San Jose, battling it out with Tommy Haas; the German won 7-6(4), 4-6, 12-10.

During the Sampras avoided any talk of coming out of retirement by talking about every relevant tennis player but himself.

On Roger Federer: “He’s young enough. He’s fresh enough. He’s not 30,” Sampras said. “Having a few years left, I see him doing it. But there are going to be a few guys that are going to push him. It’s just inevitable that he’s going to do it here in the next probably year.”

On Roddick‘s and Blake‘s not being “Rafa” or “Nole” enough to beat Roger: “Andy’s got the power but maybe doesn’t have the athletic ability, and someone like James, who has the athletic ability, but doesn’t have the power… It’s kind of a tough matchup for them, for both those guys.

“Seems like James can stay with Roger. I just think they play similar games and Roger is a little bit better than James at it. And Roddick can overpower Roger at times, but at the same time doesn’t move well enough from the back court to really get into these exchanges, that someone like Djokovic can.”

Video: See Sampras’ SAP Open here, courtesy of Doug Schwartz.

And Pete gave the San Jose crowd a little wardrobe malfunction during his match, ending with a loose shoe on the court. He gave fans one reminiscent moment when losing his shoe on court. This time the ball boy didn’t have to dig in his shorts to rescue the on-court necessity like at Wimbledon ’01.

Choo choo: Sampras went on to Boston and downed John McEnroe to take that city’s Champions Cup title, but not before participating in a mixed doubles match with Anna Kournikova, among others. And in this week’s Regions Morgan Keegan tourney in Memphis, he lost to Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 6-4.