Thank you, Billie Jean King!

Last week we saw Battle of the Sexes. I was so looking forward to this movie, and it didn’t disappoint. It dove into so many issues, was complex, and paid tribute to a woman who to this day, I don’t think she realizes what a positive and large impact she has had on this world. I could get into A LOT of social themes, but since this is a tennis site, I will talk about the impact she had not only on women’s tennis but on the sport as a whole.


Billie Jean King and the Bryan Brothers at World Team Tennis

This past US Open when Sloane Stephens received her check of over $3 million, she got excited and remarked that it’s so much money. In the stands, Billie Jean King watched, and I wondered if she knew that she made that all possible. Not only the amount, but the fact that it matched the men’s prize. And if it wasn’t for her, would women’s tennis even exist? Would these combo ATP WTA tournements be the amazing events that they are? And would the men’s tour, even the sport as a whole be less if it wasn’t for the inclusion of the most talented women tennis players on earth? Ultimately, what would tennis be like, if there was no Serena Williams.

Billie Jean is visionary that saw an injustice in the professional tennis system. And she took it upon herself to make things right. She convinced a group of women to leave the established USLTA and start the WTA for a contract price of $1 each. Her team grinded it out to build the WTA to a relevant force in sports. While she was doing that, she also participated in a statement match that with her win started the path to the world of tennis we know today. If she had not put herself out there the way she did, in the extreme and public way she did, we would not have the sport we have today.

Because of this there are great opportunities for women in tennis… and for us fans, the best the sport can offer. And this is why, I thank Billie Jean today.




Laver Cup Success

Wow! What an inaugural Laver Cup.  It didn’t disappoint, especially since I was pretty sure our Team World would only win the doubles matches. I could go on an on about the rules, the order of play, and the scoring, but I’m going to give a fan perspective today.

Day 1

When I saw the Team Europe roster (Nadal, Federer, Chilic, Thiem, Zverev, and Berdych) and the Team World roster (Sock, Kyrgios, Inser, Querrey, Shapovalov, and Tiafoe) I was sure Europe would take every singles match. I was going to watch this for the great tennis Europe would produce, the fascination around the brand new event, and the teaming of Federal and Nadal for the first time ever (or as it was called Fedal). And Friday went as expected, Cilic, Thiem, and Zverev taking singles and Kyrgios/Sock taking doubles. Not overly emotional and left the same expectations for Saturday.

Day 2

Saturday started out with a typical Federer win over Querrey.  But then Sock showed some signs of World Team life…He took the second set off of Nadal! It went to a third set tie break. Sock was down, Sock was up, Sock could win this! Team Captain John McEnroe barked at him to Finish This Off! (Of course he had an expletive in there that I’m just going to leave out). Sock did give in to the Nadal fight eventually, but the Team World bench was now ALIVE. And what do you get when you put a bunch of 20 year old, competitive, hyper men together – something short of Animal House.

I was loving all the energy on Team World’s bench. And here I have to add in the Team World’s alternate Kokkinakis and assistant captain John McEnroe’s younger brother Patrick. Patrick looked like he was 25 again. With every great shot the bench imitated every sports metaphor, they even used Shapovalov as a human basketball net. They were up on their feet, falling down, jumping on each other, rushing the court, they were all over the place.

Unfortunately I couldn’t see the next match. It was the home town hero Team Europe’s Berdych taking on Team World’s explosive Kyrgios. Kyrgios got the win. And all of a sudden we had a tournament.

Fedal was next. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the same team for the first time ever. The tennis world came to a stop for a few minutes as the two greatest ever teamed up to play. At one point, in the same Nike blue shirt and white shorts, when the camera pulled back as they waited to receive, I turned to my husband and said “They’re beginning to look alike”. But then when they started to hit, you could easily tell who was who with their signature styles. That and one is lefty – that kinda gave it away easy.  Such two intense players were too much for Team World. And we play another day.

Day 3

Much to my amazement Team World tied it up over the next three matches. It was all down to Federer vs Kyrgios. I wasn’t near a tv, so I was watching as I could on my phone. And then after a gut wrenching loss by one point in a tie break for Kyrgios, Federer took the very first Laver Cup. Fed did his signature jump and scream on the verge of tears. Rafa came running up and jumped into Feds arms. (All I could think is Raf, don’t take out Rogers back.)  What a sight to see the two biggest competitors always on the opposite sides (see my pic above) teaming up to take this competition. Champagne was sprayed everywhere.

Next Year

What a fantastic effort by all, exciting to watch, and a successful first Laver Cup.

See you next year in Chicago!


For Your Country…Tennis, that is

Davis Cup is a definite detour from the traditional tennis tournaments. It’s a team playing for their country – and all the fun stuff that comes with that kind of pride playing for the home team.

The atmosphere is more like a soccer (futbol) match in Europe than a tennis match. Between points the crowd cheers, bangs on drums, and toots horns. They dress up in all sorts of crazy costumes with their country’s colors. It’s fun.

The countries play  four times through the year and this weekend it was Australia at Belgium and Serbia at France. I only caught a couple of replay matches and somehow I was lucky enough that they were of one of my favorites, Belgium’s David Goffin. (I’ve included a picture from a prior trip of Brussels above – it was a day trip from Paris when we saw the French Open.) There are 5 matches comprised of two singles, a doubles, and then two reverse singles, where the first two singles matches switch opponents. Depending on how a country does year over year determines if they are in the top tier playing for the trophy.

And, when I turned it on, I was thrilled out of my mind, because for the first time, on Tennis Channel, I heard Gigi Salmon. She is the best tennis broadcaster. I usually hear her on Radio Roland Garros, Radio Wimbledon, and Indian Wells Radio. She is also the Broadcaster for Chelsea FC. Actually, when I don’t get my dose of Gigi at Roland Garros or Wimbledon, it takes a little away from it.

So, Goffin lead his team to victory, and they will be meeting the French in November for the trophy. And I’m hoping Gigi will be bring me “ball by ball” coverage.

Until then, Allez, Allez, Allez!!!




The US Open is…Wet

Hello! Yesterday was our annual pilgrimage to the US Open. And it was a wet and cool one. I wore pants! And if you have ever been there, you will know that you usually melt up there so to wear pants is just wrong. It wasn’t a complete wash out, so we got to enjoy all of the activities this year. We met up with a good friend and as she puts it, this is a tennis lovers Disney World.

Our first stop was to get our Amex radio. If you have an Amex card, there were a few perks you could get. But I’ll get into that later. And then we hit the vendor booths. Since it was raining, I was determined to fully participate in the US Open Fan Pass. If you down load the US Open app and register to get a code, you could get scans to enter you in drawings for prizes. And I got all 20! As we collected our scans, we could get our pictures taken with the Men’s and Women’s singles trophies, collect stuff, play games, get pictures with oversized racquets, in an umpire chair, or with those large Wilson balls, and even have a chat with IBM’s Watson. Watson even gave you a digital portrait. And we were there on USTA Fan Appreciation Day. If you are a USTA member, they gave you a pass to the US Open club and a $10 merchandise gift card. And that came in pretty handy since then it started to pour, so we headed over there.

We were seated right away and started with a little refreshment, Moet and a Grey Goose Honey Deuce – another souvenir cup for home! We had a perfect view of a TV with all of the action under the roof at Ashe stadium. The fish tacos were out of this world. So after we enjoyed a dry cozy lunch, we headed back out.

Version 3

If you have an Amex card – I told you I’d come back to that – or a Chase card you can get access into cardholder lounges. The Chase lounge, you sign up for a time slot, and if they are filled, you can get on a waiting list. While we were sitting at lunch, we got the text that we were off the Chase wait list, and could come on over. The Chase lounge offered complimentary small snacks and soft drinks such as coffee/tea, juice and cucumber water. It was super sleek in there, I have a pic above. So I caffeinated up and we headed to the next attraction. The Amex lounge is more open to all. Anyone can come into the front part of the lounge with photo ops and games. They even have small courts for the kids to play tennis. And then if you have a card, you can go to the upstairs lounge. They had small snacks and beverages for purchase, but they had complimentary hand massages. Apparently my forearm muscles are tight – of course they are, I play tennis!

The sun started coming out so we did a little shopping and then watched some players on the warmup courts. We got to see one of my favs, Del Potro! And the doubles team Mirza and Peng, Indian Wells champion Elena Vesnia, and the Frenchman Julien Benneteau.


And then we finally got to see some tennis. The view from my seat on the Grandstand. We were watching the feisty Diego Schwartzman from Argentina take on the passionate Lucas Pouille from France. Diego won in 4. Nothing beats the sounds of live tennis, no announcers, no commercials, just in the moment tennis with other fans. You’re living the ups and downs, and the momentum of every point.

So with a full day done, and our train arriving soon, we had to go. When we leave each year it gives me the same feeling I got when as a kid we would have to leave the beach. Until next year…


The US Open is… Open

The US Open has begun…and it hasn’t disappointed. Maria’s thrilling comeback and Alexander Zverev’s stunning exit have made it one to watch. Unfortunately my Trojan, Stevie Johnson is still struggling. Fight on, Stevie, Fight On! Our hearts go out to you right now. And with the weather, how exciting was Wednesday with 85 matches to pull you in so may different directions. We were watching on the ESPN app on the multimatch channel. They kept rotating in all of theses can’t miss matches. I was a kid with a shinny object popping up every few minutes. This was the way to watch Wednesday.

If you are like me, you are yawing though your days  from late night matches and your attention is on your US Open phone app. One of the 8 weeks I’m not so productive at work.

So we haven’t been up to the Open yet this year, but here is what I’m seeing that I’m going to look out for when I get there.

US Open App

There are so many things to take advantage of. And if you have the US Open app on your phone, it make it easier to keep in all in one place. Under the “More” tab there are icons to all the fun. Guest Info has all sorts of FAQs and helpful tips. There is a map of the grounds, but the first tab you should hit the day you are going is the Event Guide. That will tell you all the special sponsorships and events happening that day – like today is Evian Day with a giveaway and there are photo ops with the Emirates cabin crew. It has info on a featured booth and that day’s special attractions.

Chase has a charge and watch. You can pick up a devise and charge your phone while you watch exclusive coverage of the event.

Amex has gone all out this year. If you enroll with  your Amex card, there are all kinds of specials. There is my favorite – the free radio to listen to the commentators on the grounds. And a special on shopping at participating booths with your Amex card. There is the American Express Fan Experience that I’ll check out as well as American Express Air Tennis. They have an Ace Toss Photo Experience to get an overhead shot just as you’re about to serve. And something I’m really hoping to participate in, if there is time, Fan Court Programming – the only full-size court fan’s can play on with player appearances. They even have a Card Member Club.

Bracket Challenge – You can pick your brackets and have your friends pick theirs too. And then see how you do against each other.

Open Access

Another feature of the app is Open Access. You sign up for a QR code and then as you visit the booths you scan the code. Some booths have Photo ops and the photos show up in your app. You can then share them out with Facebook and Twitter. These code scans will earn you badges, and if you earn enough badges you can be entered for prizes.  I’ll let you know how all of this goes.

Dean and Deluca

There is an added public dining option I’m excited about this year, Dean & Deluca. They showed this lobster roll on TV that we are drooling over. Not to mention the other options they have. This will be a must on the food list this year.

And to top off the day…

You can’t pass on the Grey Goose Honey Deuce or the Champagne. I haven’t seen the Champagne bar listed this year, so it may just be Honey Deuces. We’ll see, but it will be a refreshing way to end the day.

So I’ll report back what this all shook out to be. Stay tuned…

Memories tell the story

This week the ATP and WTA are in Cincinnati, Ohio for the Western & Southern Open. When this tournament comes around, it brings me back to the first time we went to a Masters event. I remember wondering if a Masters would be as exciting as the Slams I had been to, if it would be worth the trip to see it. And yes, it was, and they still are today.

Slams are rooted in the event, the tradition of Wimbledon, the excitement of the US Open, the clay of Roland Garros, the celebration of the Australia Open. But the masters are rooted in the pure competition of high level tennis. I remember feeling like I was surrounded by very knowledgeable tennis fans. And so close to the actual players. I felt more like I was part of the competition, not the event.

The venues are smaller, so you can get seats so close to the action. The players are the size of actual people, not the little specs from the upper levels of Arthur Ashe stadium. You can hear the player comments, the chair umpire discussions, and every grunt – good or bad. With so many points on the line, all the top players come to play and are so competitive.

And you can get up so close to the practice courts. At the W&S Open, we were just standing on the side of the court, no fence, watching Petra Kvitova (fresh off of her first Wimbledon title) hit on one side and we could turn around and watch Mardy Fish on the court next to her. There were multiple autograph sessions with players, and the players were more than happy to stop and sign autographs and take pictures at the players car entrance.

These venues also have stepped up their game on accommodations also. There are multiple food options, and the W&S open has improved since we’ve been there. And of course there is shopping. Individual labels such as Fila or Under Armour have their own shops and then there are full gear shops such as Midwest Sports. There are shops with tennis themed gifts and some slams even have tennis artists exhibiting their work.

The Masters are like mini-slams, but give a passionate tennis fan so much more. I’ve been to a couple now and look forward to going to more. Next year, Montreal, or maybe Miami. We will see…



Serving Freedom

Last night we got to go to the the final home match of the Philadelphia Freedoms. One of the longest running teams in World Team Tennis. The legend Billie Jean King played for the Freedoms when she played WTT, and she has kept this team alive. Elton John wrote his 1975 hit Philadelphia Freedom for Billie Jean and the team.

A couple of years ago we were lucky enough to see her at one of the Freedoms matches where the Bryan Brothers were playing that night.

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Last night the Freedoms were playing the San Diego Aviators. They had Rio silver medalist Rajeev Ram playing for them. He won the silver in mixed doubles with Venus.

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The Freedoms moved there home court to the Hagan Arena this year. The stadium was nice, with comfortable seating. Also, they had the stadium concessions open so there were pretty good food options. It’s smaller than past stadiums, so there wasn’t enough room to have as many pre match attractions. Chadsford Winery and Victory Brewery did offer wine and beer tastings.

The Freedoms have had a pretty good season this year. Last night they had Sloane Stephens, Taylor Townsend, Fabrice Martin, and Darian King playing for them with coach Craig Kardon. It was an exciting evening of play, and I can’t remember the last time the crowd was this into a WTT match. I love watching the heart Taylor puts into her games. And the Freedoms hung in there, took it to extended play, but the Aviators were just a little too much for them and they ended up taking it from the Freedoms.

With just a few more matches left, I’m looking forward to see if Philadelphia can pull themselves back up.


Day off or off day

Yesterday started out with the usual plans of hitting some tennis balls at some time during the day. But then in the afternoon it hit me, it looked like rain. All of a sudden the skies just got dark. I said to my husband, we need to go to the courts NOW or we won’t be able to play today. He assured me it was just cloudy and we’ll be fine, until he checked the weather and it said that storms were coming in and lasting until 9 pm with high winds. So we gathered ourselves up and rushed over to the courts. And that just set the tone.

I couldn’t hit the ball with the center of my racquet to save my life. And hubby was spraying balls everywhere – hit one clearly over the gate and into the trees sending a bunch of birds flying and losing the ball in the brush forever.

Not to mention you could feel the impending storm. We even saw our area Eagle flying for cover. I put a picture of him above, but you can’t really see him. By the time I snapped the picture, he was well on his way.

But this bring me to my point about how the littlest distraction can throw you off your game, even if you are just out hitting balls. It has always amazed me how these players can keep a cool head with so much on the line while packed stands cheer, and millions more are watching on tv.

How do the minds of players like Andy Murry, Serena, and Federer keep them in the game, with all of this going on and sometimes on the losing end of a match just to end up pulling out an astonishing win? They all have different approaches and what works for one doesn’t work for the others. But they do one thing, as the football coach Pete Carroll says, “Always Compete!”. Something I admire, and can’t always do myself. Murray mutters to himself to psych himself up, Serena roars, and Roger quietly focuses to pull his game back to a laser perfect attack.

So as it started to rain, growing dark with street lights coming on…that was the end of our tennis that day. We got in the car and it started pouring by the time we got back home. 45 min of tennis is better than none!


Doubles Partners US Open and WTT

So many good things happening and just the day after Wimbledon. World Team Tennis has started and the Philadelphia Freedoms have their home opener tonight. And our US Open tickets arrived today!

This year we’re taking Amtrak up to New York and then we take the LIRR over to the stadium. We tried the subway one year, but found the trains was easier and more enjoyable to use.


What an end. Roger Federer got his 19th major, a record 8th Wimbledon. Marin Cilic put up a great fight, what a competitor. Congratulations to Jamie Murray and Martina Hingis for the mixed doubles title, love seeing a brit win at W. And congratulations to all of the men, women, boys, and girls who took home titles in all of the events and who played to make this the tournament what it is. The strawberries are gone, the scones are devoured, and the tea is drunk. Until next year. On to the US hard court.