Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Player Profile: Bimal Patel: My visit to Wimbledon

Bimal Patel plays in the San Jose Tennis League.  He is passionate about tennis and plays as often as he can.  He follows the professional tennis and tries to attend tournaments whenever he finds an opportunity. He has been to the US Open, Indian Wells Masters 1000, and the Aptos (California) Challenger Tennis tournaments.

This is Bimal's story:

During a recent trip to London, I was lucky to find some time to visit Wimbledon.  Wimbledon offers a fascinating access to the Lawn Tennis Museum and a guided behind-the-scenes tour which should be every Tennis lover's delight!  Tour takes around 1.5-2 hours and should interest even the non-tennis fans.  It is not exactly cheap (25 pounds ~ approx US$ 31.5), but is well worth the price.  Guided tour takes you around the grounds, players lounge, BBC broadcast booth and visit to the famed Centre Court. There is also a visit to their underground IBM center which provides the digital support for live matches broadcast across the world on TV, Radio and website.

Our group included visitors from Argentina (Del Potro fans, of course !), Czech Republic, India, the US and local British visitors.  As our guide explained, Championships are held during 2 weeks in June-July and the remaining 50 weeks are spent preparing fo the next Championship.  Once the championships are over, all the grass courts are dug up and completely redone with fresh new grass ... no sod is used!  All the courts are surrounded by electrified fence (to keep the foxes out) as they let new grass to grow (see picture). 

Outer courts are surprisingly close to each other (see picture).  Center court is not as big as it seems on TV,  it is quite cozy and has an intimate feel (unlike the Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open).
  Except for the last few rows, I felt that every seat had a great view of the action.  One other surprise was every seat at the center court costs the same (150 pounds). As expected, demand for tickets far far far .... (you get it, right ?) exceeds supply.  Tickets are sold via a public ballot, thus ensuring equal access to a true tennis fan, and if you're lucky you could be end up getting the front row seats on Championship Sunday (or Saturday !)

The Wimbledon museum offers a fascinating view of history of tennis and the history of Wimbledon as it evolved over the years from late 1800's to modern-day tennis which has become a truly global sport.  Here are some images from my visit.  Wimbledon, as most of you may know, is a private club (All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club or AELTC).  Easiest way to becoming a member, as our funny English guide explained, is to win the Wimbledon Championships!  Right on, I've started preparing .. see you at the club :)

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