Bob the Samurai, a “founding member” of Sam Querrey’s fan club, contacted me regarding a post I wrote last week about Tommy Haas’s negative reaction to the shirtless cheerleaders at the LA Tennis Open. (Click here to read “Tommy Haas loses to Sam Querrey and the ‘No Class’ Samurai.”) The Samurai have even issued an official statement inviting Tommy Haas and his girlfriend, Sarah Foster, to a Beer Summit: “Beck’s of course.”
The Samurai want to clear some stuff up. Here’s what Bob wrote to me:
1. In your article, something was mentioned about a “kegger.” Sure, while some of us enjoy the simple pleasure of a beer here and there, we DO NOT drink at Sam’s matches.
2. We are not a group of dumb frat kids (no matter how much the media wants to paint us as.) We attend a diverse group of colleges all around the nation (Cornell, Boston college, UCSD, UCLA, etc) studying everything from Industrial and Labor Relations, to History, to Music and Film, to Economics, to Philosophy. We pride ourselves on being a well mannered, laid back, and ambitious group of kids, not the kind that would ever take their shirt off in public. The fact that we do, is what makes the group so enjoyable and funny to all of our friends and families.
3. Unlike the majority of tennis professionals, Sam did not attend a Tennis Academy growing up as a child. His entire life he attended public education schools. Andy Roddick once famously referred to him as the “after school tennis kid”. This makes Sam somewhat of an anomaly and may explain why he has such a vivacious cheering squad: Most of us have been going to school with him since we were 10 years old. To us, Sam is still the tall goofy kid in Biology class with goggles on trying to dissect a frog leg.
I never accused the Samurai of being drunk or frat kids (gasp!). I did say the group got on my curmudgeonly, tennis-snobby nerves, though. But enough about me, how do Bob and his crew feel about annoying Tommy Haas and the other players?:
As for the players, there have been a few occasions where Sam’s opponent has decided to focus on us rather than on the match. In these situations, we do our best not to respond directly to the player. Players like Davydenko, Ball, Ram, Ginepri, Fish, Blake, Nadal, Wawrinka, Anderson, Tursunov and many others have all managed to keep cool heads during tough matches against Sam while we were in attendance. All of them had nothing but positive things to say, if any, about our cheering in the post-match interviews. We have tremendous respect for all of the players on tour and hope that they will continue to enjoy the little bit of atmosphere we bring to the stadium.
But is chanting “BREAK! BREAK! BREAK!” while Querrey’s opponent is serving really just about providing atmosphere? Bob says the Samurai are taking that one out of their repertoire:
“Maybe it was our naiveté, but we did not expect that chant to create so much controversy. In our minds, we were simply channeling the chant toward Sam in hopes of pumping him up before some crucial points. Now, we see that his opponents feel like it is being directed towards them. This was never our intention. We are constantly adding new chants and sayings to our repertoire and letting old ones go the way side. We are always open to criticism and new ideas because it is truly not about us. We are only there to provide some boisterous encouragement and support for the Samurai Godfather, Sam Querrey.“
Bob also told me that they don’t have plans to travel to many more tournaments this summer: “we do have lives and they include work, school, and families.” But if Querrey makes a good run at the US Open, they’ll try to get the band back together:
“Hopefully, if (Querrey) has a good run at the U.S. Open, a few of us will be able to skip class and take the red-eye flight from Los Angeles to New York and again cheer Sam to victory. Last year’s fourth round battle against Nadal at the U.S Open is one of our favorite Samurai memories. Getting 22,547 fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium on their feet chanting, “Sam! Sam! Sam!” is a feat none of us will ever forget. Of course we got a little help Sam’s unbelievable play.”
So you’ve been warned US Open fans! Either pack your Samurai headbands or your earplugs. Or maybe bring along your own posse of shirtless buddies. Don’t worry, Bob says the Samurai enjoy “hanging out with fan clubs that support other players.” Rogerholics, Rafanatics, Tsonga-Gonna-Wrong-Yas, see you there.