The world of a volunteer usher is rife with intrigue, including when so-and-so takes his break, who keeps avoiding the spot in the sun, and who brown noses the staff to get dismissed early. I’m trying my best to stay out of the politics and keep my job simple – checking tickets, explaining what a changeover is to antsy patrons waiting on the other side of the plastic chain (I do get a little power trip from working that chain!), and scoring my free diet root beer at the end of my shift.
But what do you care about the petty goings on of the elderly and unemployed volunteer staff at the Countrywide Classic? You care about Marat Safin, Carlos Moya, Fernando Verdasco, F-Lo, Andy Roddick and maybe Juan Martin del Potro and Amir Delic! I had the chance to see all of these fine athletes play or practice today. Here’s what I observed:
Marat Safin’s prime shirtless hours fall at exactly the same time as my ushering gig, so I have yet to score a photo. But I managed to take some amateurish shots after my shift, when I watched him and his partner, Igor Kunitsyn beat Americans James Cerretani and John Isner in the doubles. A quick note on the unknown Cerretani – I thought he was European at first because he would scream BRAVO! when Isner hit a good shot. The guy was super intense, literally climbing the fences at times, and lots of fun to watch – keep an eye out for him if you’re ever at a tournament. (Sorry, no photo!)
Here’s a pose you may have never seen from Marat before:
The man wearing red in the photo below is Hernan Gumy, Marat’s coach. Sitting next to him the entire time was this lovely uber-blonde. She could be Marat’s first cousin, spiritual adviser or publicist, but I was getting definite girlfriend vibes off of her. She was clapping, cheering and sitting at attention more than anyone else in the entourage. Let’s look for her at the U.S. Open.
The undisputed dreamboat doubles team of the week is what I like to call the Harlequin Romance Doubles Feature: Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez. They lost today to the keen pairing of Juan Martin del Potro and Fabio Fognini, but I couldn’t resist taking a few shots of these two Spanish stars.
Okay, enough silly stuff, I promise. To review the day’s matches – Juan Martin had a good day, winning both his singles and doubles. Moya went down to the ex-University of Illinois star, Amir Delic, in three tight sets. I like Amir’s game – he has some serve and volley going on – and I think he’s one to watch at the U.S. Open this year. This is what’s interesting about visiting these small tournaments, you notice talented players that would fade into the background if all the big dogs were out to play.
Donald Young couldn’t build on his upset victory over Tommy Haas a couple nights ago, going down to Frenchman Marc Gicquel in straight sets in the blistering mid day heat (believe me, I was sweating through my uniform while they were on court!) Like many of you, I don’t know what to make of the young Young and his prospects on the pro tour. I just really hope that he loves the game and the competition enough to work hard on improving himself. He seems stalled right now, and at 19 years old, a few years behind the likes of a del Potro, who is the same age.
Andy Roddick (the tiny, shirtless guy pictured at the top of the post) takes on Serbian lucky loser Dusan Vemic in tonight’s featured match. I hope Andy wins, so I can see more of him tomorrow – it will be my last day in uniform!