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).
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…