Today I was ushering in the box area, so my view of the Lopez vs. Gremlmeyer match was excellent (better than the crappy cell phone photo above would have you believe!) It was a good match even though the German won in straights. F-Lo has a wicked slice backhand (I love it, because I, too am incapable of doing anything but slicing on the b.h. side!) It’s true what they say about live tennis – it’s the only way to really see the spin and action that the players put on the ball. The other thing that is extremely, painfully obvious when watching live is choking, which F-Lo did when he served for the first set and started double faulting and hitting shots wide. Is it even possible to choke in the second round of the Countrywide Classic? Wouldn’t have thought it, but I guess it can happen.
Or, as a tournament big wig explained afterward: “The top guys want to be in shape for the U.S. Open and they’re not going to burn out playing here.”
I was stationed near where the ball kids go in and out, so I asked a couple of youngsters how things were going so far. “I got hit in the thigh by one of Tommy Haas’s aces!” Did it hurt? “Not ’til today – I have a bruise.” Did Haas apologize? “No!” (said in a “DUH!” tone of voice, and then a boy next to her said “She started crying!” “I did not!” etc. etc.) Is it stressful? “No! It’s hard, but totally worth it!” “You learn so much!” “We should wear football pads!” I overheard them getting a lecture on how to hold up the shade umbrellas. “Don’t just hold it straight up! You have to watch the player and see what he needs!” Seriously, being a ball kid is tough work.
The lines people also came in and out of my area. They love watching the HawkEye line call reviews on the big screen. I asked a couple of them how the system affected their jobs. “We like it. It takes the control out of the chair’s hands.” This seems like kind of a weird comment to me. “So you’re saying that it makes you look good when you get over ruled?” Then one of them got all worked up and started saying things like “Hey, I don’t know if you’re married or not, but you can still tell if another man looks good, can’t you? Don’t you think we look good? We don’t need HawkEye to look good!” “Uhhhhhhh. . .okay, whatever you say, sir.”
Advice for future volunteers – stay away from the lines people.
Player spottings were few and far between today, since I didn’t have a lot of time to roam. Caught Andy Roddick practicing with Juan Martin del Potro (pictured) and Mardy Fish at around 2:00 p.m. Juan threw his sweaty towel at Mardy, who seemed to like it. Also saw Donald Young, fresh off his big upset over Tommy Haas last night, sitting on the ground in the dark tunnel that the public wanders through to go from the main stadium to the practice courts. It’s really dark and gloomy in there and no one stops unless they’re looking for the entrance to the Grandstand court. I don’t know why Donald was sitting alone, on the ground, in the dark, but it seemed kind of sad. I have a feeling he’s shy around the rest of the towel-tossing dudes – like Andy and Mardy who were practicing at the time. He did sign an autograph for a kid who spotted him in the shadows. Weird.