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.

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