Ad Alot HaShachar

February 19, 2010

Loose Translation: “Until the Dawn Rises”. Shachar (Shahar) meaning Dawn in Hebrew.

Last year, we were reading in the paper about Shachar missing out on Dubai, and the debate started. This year, they let Shachar in, so on our side of the dinner table, the debate subsided.

Now that Shachar’s not only in, but playing the tournament of her life, its time to talk about it a little bit more.

One of the reasons for my conversion into diehard sports fan was because of the beauty of its simple reliance on physical skills and brute strength. No focus on culture or knowledge or beauty or anything other than the same skills that every other human being with a physical body possesses. Then we say that it comes down to the socioeconomic factors leading to world class coaching facilities versus Eric the Eel’s African ten foot long swimming pool. Then we counter with the idea that nothing beats raw talent, and see it happen over and over as new kids come to shock us.

The aim of sport is always to unite and reunite, not to divide. The Olympic Games, which everyone in the universe is following at the moment except me who is Australian and doesn’t believe in winter sports other than trying to avoid slipping on ice and breaking any bones, were initiated with the ideology of uniting nations with no considerations.

It’s a crying shame some have forgotten what sport is all about, as the Shachar situation began to escalate.

Our Lady is now playing the tournament of her life because she’s a woman with a goal far beyond that glistening trophy, those always-appreciated ranking points or dare I mention it, that tempting pile of cash at the end. This time, Shachar is doing it for Am  Yisrael.

I am debating whether to stay awake for another hour and a half til the match begins and then see if I need to eat my words in case Venus turns up with a secret potion in the tank.

But all I can say now is Shachar will do it – and at this stage, I will be awake Ad Alot HaShachar.


Not over it yet

February 11, 2010

As you may have guessed, we have one priority here at Court Thirteen.

Tonight I was doing a tidy and realised I really haven’t gotten over those two glorious weeks…. here’s what I’ve got left to show for it.

PS I think those are just mine (R)

All the Aussie Ladies (All the Aussie Ladies)

February 7, 2010

Apparently we should be proud of the fact that our Aussie girls are good enough to be in World Group II. At least we don’t completely suck.

Plus we’ve got Alicia and Casey back in the swing of things, and they’re our girls.

And of course Sammy is there, to give them a talking to when needed.

So we gave Alicia a go, cos that’s what we do. First Rod Laver Arena at Prime Time, then she gets switched from doubles with Stubbsy to a real grown up match.

I didn’t watch the match, but looks like we had some struggles from Our Leesh.

“What was I thinking leaving behind the free facials and spangling sequins for this?”

Leesh did tell Hughesy and Kate one morning before the AO that she prefers playing to commentating. Apparently it’s a breeze – get up and have a coffee instead of going to commentate all day. That might be what she’s thinking right about now.

Our Case didn’t fare too much better.

I’m glad Leesh was there to comfort her.

Don’t get me wrong – I love these girls. They’re our girls, in their Target-wearing, Garnier-slopping, Dancing-with-Stars, AO-video-narrating ways.

But of course Sammy came out, guns blazing, superstar that she is.

Girls, she says, I’ve got this one.

So while Sammy rocked it out on court, Case and Skippy had a look and decided that all is not lost for the Aussies after all.

So the ladies had to try for a doubles match.

Lucky we still have the winning team of Sammy and Stubbsy in the cupboard to pull out when the going gets tough. These girls have won 3 titles as a team and a fair few more with their respective doubles partners so it was a good go from the beginning. They won in straight sets, 6-4 6-2.

We like to pretend we’re good at tennis because for so many years we were. The fact we have a (nearly) top 10 ranked player in Sammy and a huge doubles player in Stubbsy means we got past this one, but what will happen next time?

Come on Aussie, Come On!

Battling Withdrawals: 10 Ways To Pretend You’re At The Tennis

February 4, 2010

So the AO’s over, but you’re all sad like me and can’t believe summer of tennis is over. All is not lost. Get your favourite tennis match queued up on TV, and enjoy the AO experience.

1. Pack your bag

There’s no couch sitting without it. You will need sunscreen – lots of it – water bottles, but of course no glass or cans. On  your way to the couch, allow yourself to be intercepted for a “bag check” by a dimwitted guard who will ask you casually for cans or glass without actually looking. Or worse, someone who insists you empty your carefully packed bag from top to bottom, including your picnic pasta salad and little jar of olives (this did happen to a group of old ladies behind me). Moving along now.

2. Scan your ticket.

Oh wait, you haven’t got an at home ticket scanner. Here’s the analogy, then.

Go to your front door. Ask a random stranger to attempt to open the door ahead of you, using the key to your neighbour’s house (i.e. tomorrow’s session not today’s) and inserting it the wrong way (scanning barcode wrong way up). After twenty five tries and half an hour, give him your key and squeeze in behind him.

3. Time to watch your tennis match.

I know you’ve got a comfy leather couch at home, but now

is not the time. Find a nice solid board – something guaranteed to leave your ass, even the “most famous” of asses, in absolute agony by the end of the day. If you’re a prima donna, you can find a piece of foam – ideally emblazoned in a bright blue corporate logo – to cushion your tushy. This only applies if you’re about to watch a lame, grown up audience match. If you’re planning on joining the party on Margaret court arena, there’s no cushy tushy for you or you’ll be laughed out of the Freakinator section.

4. Feel like a drink?

No worries. First, fill up your fridge with freezing cold beer. Put a lock on the fridge. Add a contraption that only allows you to get a beer if you wait for 26 minutes out front and insert seven dollars of hard earned cash. Beer must be poured in a leaky plastic cup which is completely spilled over by the time you get to your destination. You can sit on the couch with your half full cup of beer knowing that each sip equates to approximately sixty three and a half cents. If you want a snack with that, add another forty two minutes to your wait time, and make sure you pay a minimum of two dollars thirty per bite. It’s the only way.

5. Need the bathroom? Wait. Wait.

Wait. What are you waiting for? Changeover, of course. This, of course is the time that the game will go to seventeen deuces before you can walk out. Go to your bathroom. Then wait. And wait. And wait a little longer. After fourteen minutes in line, you can go in, but make sure there are liberal amounts of unidentified liquid on the floor, crap all over the seat toilet paper everywhere (bonus points if it sticks to your shoe), and none in the actual cannister. No liquid soap either. On your way out, make sure you bump into someone on her way in – sisters can be borrowed as props.

6. Simulate sunburn.

Stand in front of a hot oven for thirty minutes. Sixty or more if you’re game. Rub your skin with sandpaper. Try to make your burnt, raw skin feel better with a tiny dollop of aloe vera that wouldn’t cover a baby’s bum because you’re rationing the stuff. Watch it peel for the next two weeks. That’s right. Two weeks. (Mine is peeling as we speak).

7. Player Stalking.

Go for an hour run up hills, weaving through people, down stairs and across crowds. Make sure that your target isn’t certain – this is because you’ve caught a glimpse, or heard from someone, who heard from someone else, that someone you love is on the other side of the park.

Run for your life. Get there and there is a crowd of a hundred people. Stand on top of a concrete pot plant and nearly break your neck. Catch a glimpse – it’ll look something like this – and declare yourself happy and all your wishes fulfilled.

For extra points, find a glossy magazine that you in no way want ruined or damaged. Try a mint first edition of Great Expectations, but a signed AO Program will do. Insist on holding it out at a certain angle, on a certain page, for a full fifteen minutes, exercising your triceps and squashing any thirteen year old who gets in your way. Lose your precious Nole-fingerprinted Sharpie in the process.

8. Nailbiting.

Get really involved in a five setter. Intensely involved.

Then watch the clock tick over past 12.10 am. That’s it folks – you’ve missed your train. Now you might be at home, but if you want to live the experience properly, it’s not just about toddling into your bedroom when it’s over. You have one of two options:

9. The joys of public transport.

As soon as the clock strikes midnight, make a run for it. Brace yourself for change of ends, then run for your life. Hail the tram out the back, or if you miss it, race as fast as you can, listening to your thongs flip flopping against your sweaty feet as you race past Lexus Centre, Hiisense and MCG carpark. Get to the station and feel your legs seize up on you as you try to climb that last bit, the ramp, while you hear the train honk and know that it’s pulling away from the station.

10. Taxi rank.

Think of the longest queue you’ve ever been in – airport security before a public holiday, maybe? Multiply it by ten, then change the people to the kind waiting outside a club on a Saturday at 3am. Make everyone exhausted, drunk and sunburnt. Wait. Wait. Wait.

That was my attempt at therapy.

But no… bring on the hard seats, the long lines, the toilet queues and the never-ending shuffle inside RLA concourse… bring on the noisy Hellas and the fabulous freakinators in MCA, the nosy corporate attendants and the tired ticket scanners….. the chattering fuchsia-clad ballboys, the towering Russians and flag-clad Serbians, the wannabe wags in homemade singlets and sparkly banners, the foreign coaches wearing passes proudly stalking the grounds, the ITF officials strolling around in fluoro yellow, the dancing penguins in Grand Slam Oval, the “programs programs” kids out front.



You can do better, TA: A Whinge

February 3, 2010

It’s already been over 48 hours since the final, and the articles have come thick and fast. It’s all been covered: The mind@#$ing from King Roger, followed by complete lack of manLove during Andy’s teary moment; The “was Andy not bringing his A Game or did Roger screw him from the start” debate; The “How many titles will the GOAT win now, or will he run back over the bridge and get eaten by the troll”, the “Will Rafa ever come back” which is not a debate but an emphatic, OBVIOUSLY, otherwise we will never look at this sport again. So, been there, done that.

Meanwhile, the Aussie media’s been up in arms over what many are calling the “demise” of tennis in this country.

You’ve got genius like Rebecca Wilson letting us know that “tennis has lost its lustre”: “Tennis fans are growing tired of watching tedious match after tedious match, between players who are, at best, robotic and, at worst, soft.”

Of course, the lovely moderators at Heraldsun wouldn’t dare to post my response, since I had several bones to pick with Miss Becky. I’m sure she just skipped over that page, and the next page, of the paper that had all the people complaining about Seven cutting short the Serena – Sammy match, or showing everything on delay. Seriously!

Anyway this rant isn’t even about the television coverage. As people who live away from the action 99% of the year, streaming has become a way of life.

I’m here to talk about the Happy Slam. The Happy Slam which we pride ourselves on because Tennis Australia don’t just put on a slam – they put on an event, and we LOVE it. For the price of a few beers (beers may run a little exy, but I digress) you can head inside on a day even in week 2 and catch live bands, exhibits all over the shop and have an incredible time.

Back in the day the excitement was all in one spot. There was Garden Square, where the mums and dads and little tennis freak children came to watch the tennis with paddle pops and chicken nuggets while shirtless bogans in Aussie flags drank their nineteenth beer for the day and shouted Aussie Aussie, all watching the massive screen. It would get so loud during Aussie matches – e.g. the Jelena-Safina Q.F last year – that you couldn’t hear the sound. And the RLA crowd would get jealous – hence the screening of people outside in the crowd on TV. (Ok, that was just my segue into the fact that YES, your lovely bloggers were on screen last year live from GS, woot woot).

Pic is from last year’s Roger-Rafa final.

This year, they decided to separate the fans from the rabble. Grand Slam Oval was built, and although nothing will replace the freebies from Garnier World (you may think it’s a tennis tan, but the bottle of Ambre Solaire knows different), the freebies from ANZ’s scratchie tent (portable fan, anyone?), free face painting, and a little Optus house where we get our favourite bright yellow “What a shot!” signs, GS Oval is pretty cool. The Jacob’s Creek and Heineken Beer Gardens are MASSIVE, with huge screens, except you actually can’t hear a sound. It became party central, with queues to get in each night at 6pm when the bands came on, and masses of people dancing along to Nova music, who broadcast from there all day long.

So far, so good. The grandparents and the kids are separate. Right?


Firstly, the atmosphere. Any other year, come in to Melb Park during a QF or Semi and the place was rocking. Garden Square had tension you could cut with a knife. This year? Lame as.

Let’s not even mention the final.

For years in the past, the lineup of live bands on the final afternoon have been huge, and the crowds huge along with that. People come to see the Veronicas (love those girls), then hang out afterwards to watch the final. No worries there, right?

Then last year our mates at TA find a cash cow. They decide to shove all the smelly plebeians who usually hang outside into the poor barren Hiisense arena, empty since round 4, and charge them a fortune to watch bands that are just a tiny cut above those who play free. They’ll charge 60 bucks and call it “A Day On the Baseline”. They’ll market it heavily and expect the world to turn up, and then have to cover half of the arena in black cloth because it is completely, embarrassingly empty.

This year they went the opposite. Knowing that no one will pay the money for the Baseline scam again, they didn’t bother promoting GS Oval or Garden Square either – leaving a mediocre crowd with nothing like the hype and excitement felt in previous years.

What a dismal way to end what was otherwise a perfect two weeks for spectators at the Happy Slam.

Wisen up, guys. I’m thinking next year, we get all our live bands, we get all the people in the door, we watch RAFA win, and we all go home happy. It can’t be that hard, could it?

PS – If you’re reading this blog it’d be awesome if I could get some comments. If I get none, I’ll assume it’s gone nowhere. Which is cool…. I suppose…

Purely Gratuitous

February 2, 2010

I can’t remember what else I did on this day… except see Rafa. A lot. And talk to him. Not that he answered. And feel like I was ten metres away from him. Which I was. Lucky I know heaps of Spanish, like vamos. And lucky the guy sitting next to me at MCA had taught me how to pronounce it properly. Like, Bamos. Did anyone else know that?

Nothing like a good old bum pick before you ascertain your rulership over the universe.

Who else was playing that day? Oh yeah… Anyone wanna see a pic of Karlovic? What’s that? Can’t hear anything… Oh well here it is anyway.

Check the long midday shadow situation.

And Isner too. Though Muzza did kill him, I do like the guy. The man is like a tree. Karlovic is a crane. There’s a difference.

We even made it to see ARod and Gonzo and sing our best chi chi chi le le le. Not sure why I haven’t got any Gonzo pics.

Further moments of joyness, with some nailbiting thrown in

February 2, 2010

I think I was supposed to be inside RLA that day, watching Lleyton and Sammy do it for the Aussies. But Baghdaddy just put on too much of a great show. Let’s hear you sing it now… marco le ole.. Ah as if I can pretend I know the lyrics. M has made up her own fabulous version. I know one word is “parking lot”. The one I can guarantee to get right is Marcos Baghda-tis (clap clap clap clap). Awesome.

It’s worth the ground pass just to see those guys go.

Here’s Nole, before he had a sore tummy…

Our Lleyton, finishing off Donald Duck and shutting up the Americans behind us “dynamite goes tick tick tick” like summer camp all over again.

Fenja doing his best to make a glorious twilight tennis match boring – how? Lucky for MCA crowds.

Taylor and Jo Willie leaving little breathing space in Hiisense with all the testosteron-erone present.

The next set of matches gets its own post. You will see why momentarily.

Moments of Joyness

February 2, 2010

Well its once thing to hang up your sunhat (yes, I did purchase an Australian Open branded sunhat on one emergency sunny afternoon) and say, tata to a summer of tennis, it’s time to reset our body clocks and watch random overseas tournaments on livestream with Portuogese commentary. I mean, I will most certainly be falling into that category in a week or so.

But for now, we’re Aussie girls, and we don’t get tennis very often. (Watch us count the days to Davis Cup against – that’s right – Taiwan – in March.) So we’re going to milk this a little while longer, with a few more recaps and photos from the summer of tennis.

It doesn’t feel like only three short weeks since the girlies and I loaded up on sunscreen, confirmed our (MY!) credit card details on Ticketmaster and packed our everpresent “tennis bags” for what promised to be an awe-inspiring summer of tennis.

Here are some of our favourite moments from what has been an incredible whirlwind, of train rides and ticket “appropriation” and umpire chasing and sunburn and phone-charging in RLA concourse and toilet queues and big screen cheering and Aussie Aussie Aussie and hot Spaniards and live bands and IBM Slamtracker and EPIC EPIC TENNIS.

It started out with Hit for Haiti, where we remembered just why we love this sport, even if we only get it once a year. It was described so perfectly by one of the tennis writers I read avidly but who’s name I can’t recall, who reminded me it serves those tennis geeks among us who just love to remember that these people actually have, you know, personalities. And stuff.

Hit for Haiti

The teams squaring off on each other...

Kim & Andy

Kimmy & Andy

Team FabulousSo we had Kimmy and Andy sizing up Rafa, Novak, Serena and… who’s that in the yellow? Why it’s L L Lleyton… Awkward, anyone?

It has been uttered, perhaps blasphemously, that Hit for Haiti was probably the best part of the whole two weeks. I’m inclined to agree. Here’s hoping they do the same every year.

What else happened during the week?

– We nearly melted from the rain, and we got to know Little Bernie just a wee bit better….

Day 1 brought all the rain... and the dressed up awesome people of Australis to MCA.

We became riveted by the racquet stringers in the middle of garden square

And watched “our Jelena” crack it, despite being surrounded by a Stadium full of Love (true story).

On Day 2 the sun was shining, so we abandoned our post in the RLA concourse and went out to find adventures. Which we did. For example, one particularly hot, Spanish adventure on Court 16, who proceeded to sign LP’s tennis ball binoculars, my AO program, and essentially our hearts for good.

And our favourite celebrity on the circuit….. FETTE TONI!!

Some of his mates joined him too.

We watched the Magician’s Swan Song…

Caught up with Target-wearing Casey

Sang “we just had a barbecue noweh, noweh” and other assorted Greek favourites with Marco

Located our favourite umpire…

And watched Soda Water get bitten by of all things, a Granola Bar!! Happiness and Joy!

Found some hunky Spaniards on Court Fourteen, always a favourite location:

And most importantly, harnessed the power of DAVAI MIKHAIL to prevail over intense fifth set cramps.

To be continued

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