Monday, April 19, 2010

Like Oil and Water, Tennis and Rain don't Mix

US Open rain delay: what’s a girl to do?

From Jean Kirshenbaum: I wrote this story about the rain delay at the 2009 US Open for last September. That tennis website folded last December and I now contribute articles to and Although I am eagerly awaiting the French Open, this US Open update of that article will have to do for now.

It has happened to me three times – rain delays at the US Open. Two years in a row it rained all day and not a single match was played. We couldn’t leave early because we were on a bus trip and the bus wasn’t leaving until 6:30. If you think it’s rough to keep children occupied in bad weather, it’s no easier for adults. There is only so much coffee or iced tea that you can drink. It’s not like we had books with us. It also rains when we recreational players are scheduled for a match. Very disappointing.

The question is, what do you do when it’s raining and there are no matches to watch, even on television? Beat up on Zeus, god of rain? Is it all doom and gloom? Looks that way.

When there is a long rain delay, the matches already played will likely be televised just to fill scheduled air time, but who wants to see those again? I was there in person on two days and watched most of the others at home. I stayed tuned for some of the matches I missed — those that I am really interested in, such as an encore of the Bryan brothers loss to Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy, which was fast and exciting.

I was there to see it but I left Arthur Ashe Stadium before the Yanina Wickmayer-Kateryna Bondarenko match to soothe my disappointment with the PG50 match on court 4, where coaches Billie Jean King and Ivan Lendl coached a team tennis format with such old timers and middle timers as Stan Smith, Guillermo Vilas, Todd Martin, Luke Jenson, Tracy Austin and what I call the Wizards of Ez — Mary Joe Fernandez, Gigi Fernandez, and Conchita Martinez.
With the rain in New York and at home, I couldn’t play tennis or watch it. So what’s a girl to do? I’m not working so I could go shopping, but there is absolutely nothing I need or want to buy and I couldn’t afford it anyway. Grocery shopping? Nah, my husband does that.
What about cleaning the house? Nah, I keep it messy during the majors. Read a book? Good idea. I recently finished "A Terrible Splendor", Marshall Jon Fisher’s outstanding account of the tennis history and outstanding tennis players and matches during the Hitler era and earlier, and I am part way through the Monica Seles book, "Getting a Grip."
I could do that. Although in the summer I do most of my reading on the beach or at the pool. It’s raining, so I can’t do that either. And we have no leaks in the roof (patched those several years ago) so it’s not raining in my living room! Looks like there is no excuse. I could read sitting in the armchair, which is where I usually watch tennis.

What nerve I have to groan about the weather! Think of what it’s like for the players, as well as the tournament director, who has to figure out how to salvage the schedule, taking into consideration the players, television schedules and executives, ticket refund policies, and all the other intangibles that make up the nightmare of rained out matches during THE US OPEN — one of the biggest tennis events of the year — if not the biggest. For sure there are protocols and backup plans. But it’s those intangibles that would make you want to hurl tennis balls at the gods.

And the players. What about them? They come first, of course. Most of them have already washed out of the tournament. However, of those who are left — what do they do when it rains? That’s what I would really like to know. Work out, practice at the indoor courts or go shopping? I have always wondered why in their interviews the women say that one of their favorite pastimes is shopping. What could they need to buy? They wear mostly tennis clothes and it’s doubtful they buy those in stores.(By the way, all the Wizards of Ez were wearing pink and black, which suggests that they might have gone shopping together.)

With all the traveling and playing time, the female players have few occasions to wear civilian clothes. Maybe they shop for gifts for their friends and families. Once in a while, a player will admit to reading a book. They also have regular interests such as music and movies. Some do media and marketing stuff such as interviews and commercials. These pros travel to the great cities of the world. Rain would be a good time to go to a museum or take a guided tour. Or sneak a piece of chocolate, and be the envy of Dinara Safina (left), who did a great ad about her weakness for chocolate in the series of "It Must Be Love" TV spots.
Speaking of tennis ads, I like not only the Safina ad, in which she demonstrates her dilemma over choosing chocolate or tennis (she chooses tennis), but also the Venus Williams spot about Harold, her dog, "who doesn’t even like tennis." He just "waits for me to get off the court." He didn’t have long to wait this year. And Roger Federer is simply charming in his "what they call me" spot. He settles on "just Rog." On the other hand, I really detest the Andy Roddick Lacoste ad, with Ivano Icardi’s s driving, irritating "Go For It" music, and the not-so-attractive stick figure models strutting down a not-so-visible runway. I just despise it, not only for the anorexic look of the models, but also because it’s shown so often that the music gives me an irritating ear worm. What agency dreamed that up? Relief from this ad is the one upside of the rain-out.
And just maybe the players are as perplexed as I am when the weather wrecks the day’s tennis plans. What I find really aggravating is when it begins to rain in the middle of my match, although not nearly as aggravating as the suspension of the Rafael Nadal-Fernando Gonzalez match. When we last left Ashe stadium, Nadal had the edge. The break may help him get a more solid footing for a sprint to victory. But somehow I think that the rain and wind will blow this one Gonzales’ way. Given his knees and his stomach strain, Nadal does not seem to be up to par.

I hate thinking about all this. Zeus be damned. I’m off to the armchair with my Seles book. It’s near a picture window where I can watch to see if it’s still raining.

No comments: