Time for Tradition: A Visit to Kooyong

January 16, 2011

We do what we can do to do what we do.

Which means, if there is tennis being played, somehow, somewhere, we’ll get there.

Which is how on Wednesday afternoon, after a disappointingly rainy time at Melbourne Park qualies in the morning, we found ourselves speeding along the most beautiful road in Melbourne TM, aka Yarra Scenic Drive, aka Alexandra Avenue, which all visitors to this lovely should check out. Our destination? Why, the spiritual home of Australian tennis of course – Kooyong!

Our deduction was simple. Fifteen courts to dry at Melbourne Park. One court to dry at Kooyong. Play would resume soon after the rain, and it was going to be good: Lleyton and Misha, for example.

After using our womanly wiles to gain entry despite a closed ticket box, we were inside and had the place scoped out. L, resident scoper, had already copped an eyeful of Bec, and I was fixated on Misha and his seemingly deserted capabilities of actually, you know, playing tennis. It was all quite depressing when all I could focus on, as Lleyton closed it out, was how the Australian media would have a field day over Lleyton’s “win” over a “Top-10 player”.

I’m not begrudging Lleyton – I’ve been a supporter of his for years, though not quite a fan. Blood is thicker than water, and whatnot. I will say that in our rush for signatures at the foot of the Kooyong player exit, he was lovely and came round to all our calls – but so did Misha, the loser, which just endeared his gorgeous Russian soldier self to me even more.

Mikhail Youzhny

Not long after was time for Tomas and Kolya. Kolya and I haven’t bonded since his sad twelve-game losing streak to Roger in the Australian Open quarterfinals of 2009, and he hadn’t shown me anything nice in his early loss in the US Open which I glimpsed from the backrows of the Grandstand. I was looking forward to seeing him show us his stuff, but the show was completely and utterly stolen by Tomas.

TOMAS! My first up-close-and-personal view of the man, and oh dear, he is cute. Beyond cute. Like, scoop him up and put him in your pocket and take him and Lucie with you for cheering up sessions, cute. He was chatting with his team sitting in the front a few rows ahead of us, and when Lucie came on, he just melted. They were making cutesy eyes at each other, she was laughing and tossing her gorgeous hair about, and those eyes. THOSE EYES! It’s official, Ladies and Gents. Court Thirteen have a series ladycrush on Ms Safarova, and don’t blame birthday-sharer Tomas for his endless devotion.

Speaking of endless devotion, the best part of any Berdych match in Australia has got to be the glorious presence of the indefatigable Berdych Army.

“Berdych Army, WOO, Berdych Army, WOO…” and the classic, based on the Duck Sauce hit, “oooh wooo oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh… TOMAS BERDYCH.’

They’d been waiting all day for their man to surface, but were still traditionally clad in shorts and bare-chested bodypaint spelling Tomas name. The songs were loud, and Tomas was over the moon to have his peeps back in his hood. The boys started singing, and I knew I was back in Oz – where traditional Czechs and random tennis fans suddenly had no choice but to barrack for their man, and not sway from his side for an entire tournament. Berdych Army, wooo!

Purely Gratuitous: Shirt Change

In other news this morning, the umbrellas now have stands. Very exciting, Channel Seven:

Photos: Court Thirteen (courtesy of @Laypesh).

For more pics, they will soon be up on our Facebook Page. Make sure you like the page and stay tuned for more albums throughout the Open.

Get The Party Started (already)

January 14, 2011

Get the party started

Things I like: I like to start my season with a bang. I like to wax lyrical over the bright blue of the courts, the excitement of seeing blue and white signs all over the city, the thrill of taking the train to Richmond station, the joy of swiping that first yellow Ticketek stub through the turnstiles.

Things I don’t like: I don’t like anticlimaxes. I don’t like to wait all year for a glimpse of my beloved Melbourne Park, try to substitute my Australian-Open-withdrawals with other international slams, and find my own dear city has plotted against me after all this time. I don’t have tournament organisers or ticket sellers or even unsympathetic employers to blame: No, this frustrating anticlimax came from none other than Mother Nature herself.

Now for those of you who have been living under a rock, Mother Nature is not in anyone’s good books at the moment. She’s been throwing a hissyfit up in Queensland and the results haven’t been pretty – people dying, people losing their homes, and most of Australia in absolute shock, sadness and open-pocketed-sympathy. (Which, by the way, you should all do too.)

She unleashed her fury in Melbourne too, providing me – her recently returned daughter, shall I say? – with sticky, wet weather that’s rivalled the worst of the Roman heatwave I endured in July and the snowpocalypse of New York City just last week (okay, that’s a lie, but close.) Sure enough, with qualies happening in Melbourne Park this week and a gorgeous lineup over at Kooyong, she was still relentless.

I can’t stay that stopped us though. Today – Thursday – of Day 2 was a letdown, but we still got in our bit of tennis yesterday (Wednesday). Despite refusing to leave my house until play was confirmed and the rain gone, I made it for only a couple hours of play before the heavens opened.

Ballkids making a run for it in the first rainstorm of many

We left Amir Weintraub, our new Israeli lover, mid 3rd set,  and ruined shoes, lost iPhones and got soaked accordingly in the unfriendly open spaces of Melbourne Park. We frolicked in the rain under the closed Garden Court Cafe, and tried to make it past security guards to check out practice courts. Rushing back to the car (yes, I had a park. At the Australian Open. Across the bridge. Tres, tres, excitement, and reason enough to attend qualies) we decided to “zip along the river” and “check out the scene” at Kooyong.

Turns out we made it. And scored some fabulous Misha time, a Lleyton sighting (first time for me, weirdly enough), Kolya playing actual tennis, and a Tomas-and-Lucie heart-melting kisscam moment. Need we mention the Berdych Army? Oh, it was good.

Holiday Candy

December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays to all my Court Thirteen lovelies!

I haven’t forgotten about dishing out the pressies either, so here’s some tasty treats for you to chew over during the long weekend.

Fernando Verdasco, doing what he does best: Strutting. Papped at AAMI Classic Kooyong. (Photo credit: M)

Juan Martin Del Potro, biceps triceps deltoids, oh my

JMDP. That wrist doesn’t look too sore there now, does it? Biceps, triceps, delts, oh my!

Djokovic, Federer, Nadal

Our world, summarised. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Novak Djokovic

Feliciano Lopez



Oh My Little Llama!

May 5, 2010

For days the whispers have been getting louder, and that sinking feeling in our stomachs has been getting stronger. Only three days ago on this very site, I mentioned a tribute to our darling llama Juan Martin, who’s been out of commission for way too long and needs to get well better soon! The rumours the damage was more intense have been circulating for a while now and today it was confirmed – Delpo will be having wrist surgery today, and could possibly be out for the rest of the season.

For this lady on Court Thirteen, my first live encounter with the Llanky Llama was at the AO 2009 quarterfinal. While Fed didn’t give the boy much of a chance, it was the first time I’d seen him play, and I found him to be quite the adorable one. He went home that night, but I hadn’t forgotten him, and watched like a proud Mama on my little Livescore box that morning in September. (USO sucks for time differences, I don’t think I’ve watched a match in years – just FYI). At Kooyong this year, the clever ladies at Court Thirteen in charge of scheduling (here’s looking at you, @Laypesh) decided we would attend on day one rather than day two.

Let us now be grateful to the genius of L, who ensured that we saw JMDP in what was to be his only appearance at Kooyong before pulling out to save the wrist – THAT GODDAMN WRIST. That same wrist that had him struggle to Blake over in Hiisense, while poor Mama was only metres away in RLA, watching Juzzy and Lena battle it out in the Round 2 QF. Thanks to the Australian Open iPhone app, we were able to ascertain he’d despatched Jimbo and were certain he’d make it all the way down.

Alas twas not to be, and one gorgeous summer afternoon at Hiisense, the boy showed Marin he just didn’t have the stamina anymore. He headed home with his wrist in tatters, and we haven’t seen hide nor hair of him since.

Here are ten reasons you should all grab your prayerbooks and hope for a speedy recovery for Mr Juan Martin:

10. He’s a little llanky llama with awesome delts.
9. Adorable half smile on said llama face.
8. His heavily accented English gives good presser.
7. His Spanish gives even better presser.
6. Oh yeah, he plays tennis too.
5. And he’s not too bad at the sport, if I may say so myself.
4. He managed to beat Rafa in a grand slam, and, even more importantly, stayed off the shitlist. Cos we love Delpo.
3. He beat Roger Federer.
2. He beat Roger Federer, in a grand slam.
1. He beat Roger Federer, in a grand slam final.

How can you not love the guy?

Get well better soon, Juan Martin!

Note: Pics copyright by my not-so-talented-self and the lovely M.

Infirmary Update: Miss You

May 3, 2010

Once upon a time, when man was first created, G-d gave them bodies, and fingers, and toes, and arms, and legs. The bones were covered in skin, and muscles, and sinews, and all kinds of other important things that helped man do what he does best.

But there was a rule to having bones, and skin, and sinews, and muscles and other stuff. That rule was that you needed to look after this body of yours, and if you wore it out too much – it would start to break.

Your muscles could tear, your bones could break, your skin could blister and bruise, and worst of all, if you used them too much, your tendons could seize up and give you that dread itis.

Which was all well and good if you were a farmer and needed to look after your land, cos the nice man next door might hop over and take over. Or if you were a hunter gatherer, because you could stay home in your cave and get tended too by the ladies while your next door neanderthal brought home the beef.

But if you were the champion javelin thrower, or gladiator, or fencer, you were in a spot of bother, because it meant time off your beloved sport, and thousands of disappointed fans who’d fill the ampitheatre only to discover it was that second rate dude again instead of the drawcard.

And so it is in that modern game we like to call tennis. With an increasingly harsh and demanding season, the complaints against which grow stronger every day, we’re losing our best men, and the fans are crying out in frustration. You heard the guys like Andy Roddick and Rafa whinge about it in nearly every presser, and rightfully so – and you hear the good folks of the tennis loving universe moan in frustration over the buzz of the Twitterverse.

Bring us back our men, we shout! Let them fight the good fight, and prevail! Heal their aching wounds and repair their damaged flesh. Let them once again take to the courts of Gay Paris, or Olde England, or even just Grandma’s crappy overgrown grass court out the backyard. Let them play, let them show us the love, because for heaven’s sakes we miss them.

There’s my boy Juan Martin. Update from @TennisReporters today is that he may need wrist surgery and could be suffering panic attacks.

(Pics copyright by @mooshime, Aami Classic 2010)

Lovely Tommy, who took the time to get engaged, get naturalised, but not to get that new hip working the way it should.

My favourite Russian, who endeared us with his adorable pressers and then left us hanging. Guess Irina’s happy he’s around more.

Tiny pic, but that’s how he looked the last time I saw him. Losing 12 games in a row to Fed. In full chokage mode at the time. Dude, I don’t care if you keep choking, just come back to me!

Oh and honorable mention to Dima. Fix your feet, defend Eastbourne and try to stick around the top, say, 500? Otherwise professional cocktail making and DJing might be your bread and better.

Nole: It Must Be Love

April 14, 2010

Those of you who have been with me from the start may recall that my sisters, M & LP, are my premier tennis partners and in fact the original tennis fans of this family. They may not contribute to this blog physically, but they are influential in the tennis outcomes of this family, and the Nole Love is no exception.

LP will tell you the story of Nole hugging her but that is for a different day and time. This is about Kooyong, and a Day in the Life of Stalking Nole.

First of all, all Non-Nole Pics have been condensed into here

It started at his match, where we lined up to watch him walk in with Tommy. I was desperate for Tommy’s attention – LP was all over Nole.

He played Tommy, and then the stalkerage attempts began.

Signing her tennis ball did not suffice. LP was on a mission, and she found the perfect partner to join her.

After following Nole back to the clubhouse, he was discovered to be pumping those muscles in the gym upstairs. Note the one way glass up on the first floor? He was there all right, because a crowd soon gathered and the Djoker had a grand old time waving at his fans in a queenly fashion. (This was the grass of Kooyong of course, it totally fit.) Most people gave up after a few minutes (I did after a few seconds – Fernando was on court, I have my priorities) but LP and Miss Novak persevered. They even made the lovely signs you see above.

So it didn’t take long for the below video to happen. Yes, we are the girls yelling. And our accents are Aussie. And Nole, totally, loved us.

As expected.

For more Nole pics, try this

Kooyong – The Spiritual Home

January 17, 2010

The Aus Open hasn’t even begun, but already we’ve had two glorious days of tennis that makes me think things can’t get much better than this.  Wednesday at Kooyong was the perfect day, and one which Colin Stubbs should be proud of – it’s a shame the rest of the tournament went a little unplanned. And today’s charity match at Rod Laver was beyond epic. It was the reason I follow this sport. It had every element – the funny bits, the human bits, the amazingly well played shots, and the incredible crowd camaraderie that you only get at the happy slam.

It started on Wednesday, day one at Kooyong. With a lineup of 80% top ten, we figured a day one trip meant the chance to see everyone play, even if it wasn’t at the ‘finals level’. Turns out we made a good decision, with all the withdrawals happening on day two.

As a newbie to Kooyong the exciting factor was all a bit much. First, I got excited because I realised how close to home it was. Then, I got excited with my free cardboard visor from the lovely people at AAMI. Then, I got excited because we were sitting so close to the court. Then some more excitement abounded when I hear Portuguese being spoken behind me and noticed no corporate insignia on the box – clearly we were hanging with Del Potro’s contingent (at this stage still not confirmed)! Then play started, and it was like January was only last week, not a full twelve months ago.

Well, I say that because the smell and taste and feel of being near a tennis court was still just as awesome. But you could tell a lot had happened since last January. Let’s start with the lovely Juan Martin, who strode out to the court with waves and cheers and loped out like the tall man he is. Aside from the US open final, which I had only listened to thanks to an unsympathetic employment situation, the last time I’d seen the man was in the quarters at Rod Laver, where Roger finished him off nicely in the late hours. Not many people stuck around for that match with my little RLA corporate tickets appropriation tactic doing nicely. But it had been a nice match to watch, very balletic on Roger’s part. Seeing Juan twelve months later, he’s come a long way baby. He was unapologetic finishing off Lubjcic, which was fine with our crew who were “sick of” old Ivan after seeing him a fair few years in a row at Kooyong. Each to their own. I was sick with excitement over the fact it wouldn’t be long before I got to view my beloved, Fernando Verdasco, in the flesh. The anxiety came and swirled around, I was like the girl going to Chadstone to queue up to see Taylor Hanson back in 1997.  We went through the motions for the next match. After all, it was time to see Novak, and my co-bloggers on C13 are pretty big fans of Mr Djokovic.

I decided to support Tommy though of course, being the classy lady I am, completely unimpressed with the level of German swearing coming from the south end of the court. Nole played fabulously and that was when M and I realised we would make fantastic careers as tennis commentators. Being that this blog was not in existence at the time, I can’t say I wrote down all the observations we would have loved to share with you… but hey, there’s always next time.

As a newbie to Kooyong, I was warned that come lunchtime, the corporates start getting noisier as the wine is being poured. I realised what was going on when halfway through Tsonga vs Soderling I heard an adamant, “Cash flow mate! It’s all about cash flow!” coming from the box behind me. Corporate entertaining at its best. I think I was still shaken from having been close enough to Fernando in the flesh. Top moment was when Gonzo hit the lineslady and ended up patting her on the end, Fenja hanging over the net shaking in laughter.

I left Kooyong wondering why on earth Aussies don’t come along to what is one of the best tennis days out. Sure, it hasn’t got the flashy excitement of the Open, but if you’re into your tennis, you can’t go wrong. Six out of eight are top 10, the tickets are a mere 30 bucks, parking aplenty, and you get way up close and personal. And for the little teenybopper inside me, I got me piccie with Novak, my autograph from Fernando, and I was happier than a tween at Jonas Brothers. Stay tuned for the accounts of the Kooyong veterans who might have more stories for you. Meanwhile – here are some of my pics. M will fill in with the rest from her talented lens.

Del Potro

When they say the guy is tall... he seriously is damn tall!

Novak Tommy

Novak and Tommy talking to the boys at SevenGonzo in action


Up close and personal with The Fenja


Jo Willie and his French utterances

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