Gracias, Bogota by Junior Williams


Gracias, Bogota


By Junior Williams
I had a lot on my mind as my flight from Miami touched down at Bogota,Colombia’s El Dorado Airport Wednesday afternoon. Most prominent was whether or not I would regret my maiden voyage to South America.
A number of my tennis fan friends chose to skip the Davis Cup World Group Play-off between the United States and Colombia, citing U.S. State Department travel warnings and Bogota’s reputation for crime which goes back to the drug wars of the late 20th century.

When a driver from my hotel picked me up and engaged me in conversation -being nice enough not to ridicule my lack of fluency in Spanish – it was definitely a sign of things to come: Bogota is one of the friendliest cities I have ever visited.

I decided to spend my six days and five nights in the La Candelaria section of central Bogota, full of 300-year old colonial buildings,university students and narrow streets. My room at the Hotel Ambala was only $42 a night in U.S. currency, and the staff at the hotel made me feel very much at home.
The trade-off: A very small room with a bathroom you have to squeeze into,and the pulsating beat of bars and nightclubs into the wee hours of the morning. A far cry from the upscale JW Marriott in northern Bogota where the U.S. Davis Cup team is staying, but I’ll take the charm of La Candelaria any day of the week. 



National Capital building at Plaza de Bolivar




My American friend and I have been walking all over Bogota, from the Plaza de Bolivar – home of the national capital building – to the Plaza de Toros la Santamaria, the bullring hosting the Davis Cup. In this city that’s more than 8,600 feet above sea level, I can understand why many cited altitude as a big challenge for the U.S. team. We did lots of huffing and puffing in the hilly parts of Bogota.



Transmilenio/Museo de Oro station



When we weren’t walking, we took the Trans Milenio — a rapid transit bus system masquerading as a subway. It’s a good way to see other parts of the city, with mountain tops looking down over the metropolis.

Bogota is also the home of cheap and tasty eats, where you can get breakfasts and lunches for as little as $2 to $5 US (1800 Colombian Pesos= $1United States). Empanadas, tamales in banana leaves, and sizzling meats are just the tip of the iceberg. Dinners are also inexpensive, but don’t wait too late to go out for a meal. Very few restaurants are open past8pm.
Carrera 7 was a pleasant surprise on Friday night . No cars allowed. It was like a street fair for several blocks.

As far as safety is concerned, there is a heavy police presence in Bogota.It’s not unusual to see officers with muzzled dogs patrolling the streets.

The homeless are very savvy. Expect one of them to come to you and ask for change right after you purchase something on the street.



View of Bogota from Monserrate peak



While dining in a restaurant, I met a retiree who left Chicago to live in Bogota. I asked him for the must-see spots in the city. He mentioned Monserrate, a mountain top where a white church overlooks the Colombian capital.

I took his advice, and the views were breathtaking.


Monserrate Sanctuary



Since we were dining, he also gave me some “tips” on tipping, which is not customary in Bogota (though some eating establishments have service charges). He said if you want to give a tip, give it directly to the waiter or waitress. If you leave it on the table, anyone can take the money.
He also said Colombians are some of the nicest and most generous people you’ll ever meet. “If you ask for one thing, they’ll give you two or three.”
He went on to say that Bogota’s reputation as the most dangerous capital city in the world is unjustified.

I couldn’t agree more. Even when I was walking down crowded streets wearing clothes that screamed out I am an American, I’d get smiles,welcoming gestures and strike up friendly conversations with Bogotanos. 



I didn’t get a chance to see all of the hot spots here, such as the Museo del Oro which I hear is wonderful, but I’ll have plenty of fond memories of Colombia, and not just because of the tennis.
Gracias, Bogota! 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He was in Bogota reporting for Global Village Tennis News covering the US vs Colombia Davis Cup tie.

Davis Cup: Fish Keeps U.S. in World Group By Junior Williams

Bogota Bonus: Some Observations on Davis Cup by Junior Williams

Switch to Fish Completes a Winning Dish by Junior Williams

“Uncle Sam is in Trouble” – USA and Colombia at 1-1 on Day One of the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs by Junior Williams




Bogota Bonus: Some Observations on Davis Cup by Junior Williams

Bogota Bonus: Some Observations on Davis Cup
By Junior Williams

Fenway Park comes to Colombia: The bullring scoreboard consists of cards with numbers on them, and if you want to know the in-game score, you’ll have to memorize the umpire’s count. This is kind of funny when you consider the time of match clock is electronic.
If you want to know how fast players’ serves are, that’s just too bad. There is no serve speed display at this Davis Cup. Could it be because the power of Querrey and Isner creates a psychological disadvantage for the Colombian team?

One U.S. fan on waiting long for his food: “They had to grow the pizza”
The bullring has not been close to being filled to capacity either Friday or Saturday. Friday was not a surprise to me because it was a work day. I was expecting a bigger crowd today. I asked one 11-year old if she was coming Sunday. Her answer was “No.”The reason? “Church.”

If you’ve been watching this Davis Cup competition on television, certainly you’ve been hearing the vuvuzelas made famous (or infamous depending on who you ask) by this year’s soccer World Cup. They are not being sold here … fans are bringing them on their own. I’m sure they’ll be exceptionally loud on Sunday.

Thumbs up to the fans in Colombia who have been giving their American counterparts some good-natured ribbing while being very nice and gracious. It’s time to throw away the “peligroso” stereotyping of Bogota and its people.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He’s in Bogota reporting for Global Village Tennis News and will tweet using the GVTN twitter account over the weekend.

Previous entries:

Switch to Fish Completes a Winning Dish by Junior Williams

“Uncle Sam is in Trouble” – USA and Colombia at 1-1 on Day One of the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs by Junior Williams


Rafael Nadal Photos From his visit to New York City’s NikeTown

September 14, 2010 – NikeTown – New York City – Niketown hosts a Q & A session for 2010 US Open Rafael Nadal with John McEnroe. Nadal fielded questions from McEnroe who also took fans questions for Nadal.


Jamaica’s Dustin Brown Continuing a Career season

Dustin Brown

Born to a Jamaican Father and  German mother in Celle Germany, the current world ranked No. 113 reached a career high 98 in singles in late July. He’s racked up some solid wins this season over very highly ranked players including Sam Querrey and Marco Chiudinelli.

Dustin Brown first played tennis at the age of five while living in Germany and moved to Jamaica at the age of 12. He grew up admiring  Marat Safin. The hard-hitting serve and volleying Jamaican is in New Haven playing the Pilot Pen tournament this week.

As of Sunday Brown reached the main draw by winning three qualifying matches in less than 24 hours. He’ll be playing Czech Jan Hajek in his first round match on Monday.

Global Village Tennis News briefly spoke to Brown to discuss his “career” year and what it took to move up the ATP World Tour rankings and about what are his current goals.

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To learn more about Dustin Brown please visit ATPWorldTour.com.


Saturday’s Player Wisdom By Megan Fernandez

©Enrique Fernandez for Global Village Tennis News

Roger Federer chauffeurs himself, Mardy Fish showers on rain delays, and Marcos Baghdatis takes loses pretty hard—those are among the insights we learned Saturday at the Western & Southern Financial Series Masters in Cincinnati. (Add them to this assertion by several experienced members of the media: David Ferrer smokes two packs a day!)

Federer and Fish advanced to the final, and both have been there before (Federer won in 2005, 2007, and 2009, and Fish lost to Andy Roddick in 2003). But this time, it was as if they were playing different tournaments.

Fish, a wild card entry, barely survived this long. (Federer was barely tested.) Fish started his tournament on Monday, playing his first-round doubles match. (Federer started Wednesday.) He played 18 sets of tennis between the singles and doubles draws before Sunday, including roller-coaster three-set wins in the quarters and semis. (Federer completed only four business-as-usual sets en route to the championship match, thanks to one opponent’s retirement and another’s walkover.) The American was on the brink of defeat Saturday against Andy Roddick, trailing 4-6, 2-5 when rain caused a second stop in the match. Afterward, he won 11 of the next 13 games to complete a stunning comeback and win 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-1. (Federer has yet to drop serve or play a tiebreak this week.)

©Enrique Fernandez for Global Village Tennis News

Baghdatis, a nervous 4-6, 4-6 loser to an impeccable Federer today, uncharacteristically hurried past fans without signing autographs as he left the grounds.

Fresh Federer versus a fighting Fish isn’t the final that anyone had penciled in, but it’s far from disappointing, especially given their history. Though Federer leads the head-to-head 5-1, Fish won their last meeting—on hard court in a Masters even, no less (Indian Wells 2009). They even came to their press conferences looking like the same man, both dressed in an orange shirt and black hat.

More player wisdom from Saturday:

©Enrique Fernandez for Global Village Tennis News

Federer on losses: You analyze those matches much more than I would analyze this Baghdatis match.  This one is here today, gone tomorrow. Sometimes also you can walk away from a loss thinking it wasn’t all that bad. It’s [worse] what people write than what it was. Then you get sometimes brainwashed by it.

Federer on Mason: I like to get away from it all. That’s why I like to return to Switzerland, I like to return to tournaments like here, or other tournaments between huge events. It’s less stressful; I drive my own car here, go to coffee shops, go hang out, read some books, spend time with friends, go to the movies.

Fish on grooming: The beard? It’s not much of a beard, is it? It’s just kind of scruff. I don’t save much.

©Enrique Fernandez for Global Village Tennis News

Roddick on the US Open field: You’re gonna have the normal cast of characters as the favorites, and then that next kind of tier of four or five guys—Mardy has played himself into that discussion, and I think with this week I’ve put myself back in that discussion. You’ve got to favor the guys that have been there and done it before. A Slam is a different animal. Del Potro pulling out, I don’t think that has much emphasis. It would have been a pretty tall ask for him to come back and his first tournament be a major player.


’Breaking Away – Megan Fernandez Reports from the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters

’Breaking Away

By Megan Fernandez

Andy Murray – Photos ©Enrique Fernandez for Global Village Tennis News

Thursday at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, every singles player who walked off Center Court a winner took small comfort in his three-set win. Each squeaked by with at least one tiebreak and had something in his craw. Looking ahead to Friday’s quarterfinals, the Andys Murray and Roddick were unhappy with their early start times, and Rafael Nadal was once again not at home on Cincy’s fast courts. Ernests Gulbis complained in defeat—that Murray had served like an old lady and that the courts at the site in Mason, Ohio, are of inconsistent speed—and Roddick was still ranting about Hawkeye as he exited his post-match press conference.

Roger Federer didn’t even get a chance to radiate negativity. He advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament in a walkover when Philipp Kohlschreiber pulled out with a right shoulder injury. Federer should be worried, though—he has played only seven games this week (on Wednesday, Denis Istomin retired with an injury trailing 5-2). The burning question on Friday will be whether the defending champ can find some rhythm in a hurry against Nikolay Davydenko, who has won two tight matches this week.

Davydenko , Marcos Baghdatis, and Mardy Fish were the only winners to avoid tiebreaks. Novak Djokovic advanced in two sets, but needed a tiebreak in the second set to put away David Nalbandian 6-1, 7-6 (7). Baghdatis was a 7-5, 6-4 winner over Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, and Fish sent Richard Gasquet on to next week’s Pilot Pen Tennis with a 7-6, 6-2 win. Davydenko beat David Ferrer 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

The extended matches made the day easier on ticketholders torn about picking from the day’s monster lineup. Eight seeds were in action, including the world’s top seven players, and tantalizing matchups were overlapping—not to mention that each player still in the draw and several who had already lost were practicing on side courts. Fans had to choose between the third-set tiebreak of Murray/Gulbis, the heavyweight Djokovic/Nalbandian battle on a general-admission court, and Federer’s warm up in a setting similar to a high school tennis match.

What was a tennis fan to do? We asked Doug Perry, author of The Spin of the Ball, an excellent tennis blog on The Oregonian newspaper’s website. His approach: “I’d go for Murray/Gulbis first. I really like the way Murray works over opponents, constantly probing and adjusting rather than simply trying to blast through each match. Gulbis is also interesting to watch and very talented, so this should be a good match. I’d want to watch Federer to get a better sense of where he is as we head toward the US Open; is he in decline, or has he just not been focused the last few months? I love watching Nadal when he’s being pushed, and I don’t think Benneteau can push him. I would give Roddick/Soderling a look. I really like Soderling–his big game and puppy-dog-like personality. I’ve never been a fan of Roddick’s, and I would guess Soderling will get the better of him.”

Rafael Nadal – Photo ©Enrique Fernandez for Global Village Tennis News

Benneteau did push Nadal—all the way to match point for the Frenchmen, which the world number one swiped away with one of his few hostile forehands of the match—and Soderling appeared to get the better of Roddick during their three-hour encounter, but didn’t convert his only break point in the 6-2, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (5) Roddick win. The American drew out a conversation about challenges with chair umpire Mohamed El Jennati for an entire set. After the match, he explained: “My simple question was, how long’s too long to challenge? He said, ‘Timely manner.’ What’s timely manner? ‘My judgment.’ Give me a number. That’s all I want. I ended up badgering him to where he said 10 seconds; I just had another discussion with other people from the ATP, and they said, ‘Until the other guy serves.’ That’s 22 seconds. We’re talking about a 12-second differential. I’m not asking for a miracle. Just give me a definition.”

Ernests Gulbis – Photo ©Enrique Fernandez for Global Village Tennis News

Murray worked over Gulbis with off-pace shots, soft serves, and demure volleys in place of easy overheads. More than anyone, Murray has the presence of mind to choose a gentle shot when it will do the trick. The match featured unusual patches of silence as the ball was kissed over the net by both players. But later, Murray was quick to sound off about playing so often in the heat. “I’ve played seven matches in nine days, every one of them between noon and 3 p.m.,” he said. Murray requested a later match on Friday, but it wasn’t granted because his opponent, Fish, has to play both singles and doubles.

The fussy attitudes have made it hard for fans to know who will leave Mason as the US Open favorite. Friday’s equally intriguing quarterfinals lineup may see someone start to break away.


Fan Guide For the Cincinnati Western & Southern Financial Group Tournaments

Fan Guide: Cincinnati Western & Southern Financial Group tournaments

by Megan Fernandez

Dates: Aug. 13-21, 2011


Why go? Because Cincinnati is a cut-rate Grand Slam doppelganger–an elite field combined with the top men’s and women’s players in the world, in a venue that’s a lot less chaotic and overwhelming than the majors.


Tickets run $30 to $75 for main-draw sessions. A ticket includes a reserved seat in Center Court and general admission to all other courts. (Usually, there are matches on the other courts through the Friday day session.) Single-session tickets are sold only for the Center Court’s upper-level section (Terrace). For lower-level seats (Box and Loge), the best deals are on Craig’s List.


Center Court’s Terrace seats are decent. You can see the court well from the top row, but you may not be able to see players’ facial reactions. For a view from the top row of Terrace, click here: http://assets.usta.com/assets/663/15/TERRACE_3.pdf


Some notes on specific sections:

  • Boxes 501-504 and 719-724: not courtside, and covered and shaded all day.
  • Boxes 122-126 and Loge sections 224-227: uncovered yet shaded most of the day.
  • Boxes 122-125: behind players’ and umpire’ chair, which obstruct the view of part of the court.
  • Loge 225-226: behind players’ and umpire’ chair, which obstruct the view of part of the court.
  • Loge 208-217 and 221-232: the closest Loge seats to the court.
  • Loge 221-223: actually on the Terrace level.
  • Loge 324-327: as high as Terrace seats, but covered and shaded all day.
  • Terrace 312-314: covered by a canopy and shaded all day.


Avoid the traffic jam on I-71 coming from the south (the exit is shared by the tennis center and Kings Island amusement park) by taking an alternate route: I-75 to Tylersville Road (exit 22) to Fairway Drive. There will be signs to follow to Lot B and Lot C.


For the best parking, buy a Lot A pass online from a season-ticket holder. Lot A has a dedicated entrance.


Cincy is often 90+ degrees, and it feels hotter in the stands. Wear plenty of sunscreen and drink lots of water (you can bring in one closed bottle).


To cool off, check out the on-site museum. You’ll be surprised at how much history the tournament has: At more than 110 years in Cincy, it’s the oldest tournament in the U.S. held in the original location.


Score some shade in a covered box seat on the Grandstand court when there aren’t matches in session. Skip the table in the sun at the food court and eat there instead. This is also a great place to wait out a rain delay—everyone else will be packed inside the retail tent!


Kids can take watch an exhibition with pros, get player autographs, and more on Kids Day (Aug. 13, 2011). Tickets are half-price and include a seat for the matches.


When you arrive, first check the practice schedule posted on an electronic board near the player entrance, west of Center Court, and at the information desk. For the top players, stands fill up at least 30 minutes in advance of the practice time. On the day of the final, the players usually warm up separately on Center Court, starting a few hours before match time.


The best place for an autograph is in the breezeway connecting the main building to the player’s entrance.


Players often sign autographs and take photos after a practice session, at the fence by their chair.


Keep your eyes open for players walking near the south and west sides of Center Court. Does that tall guy in tennis gear walking alone look familiar? Could be Victor Hanescu or Mark Knowle. It’s okay to stop someone in a courteous manner. Often, players who aren’t in the spotlight like to be recognized and talk to fans.


To be on TV, get to the ESPN broadcast booth right after a semifinal or final. It’s set up outside of Center Court, on the southeast side. The commentators broadcast from there before and after each televised match, and fans are allowed to stand behind them. After a match, the winner is usually interviewed at the desk immediately. When the desk is not being used, fans are usually permitted to sit there for a photo op.


During matches on Center Court, coaches and entourages often sit in Box 130, in the northwest corner. They have also been spotted in Box 111, on the east side.


Spring for a room at the Marriott Northeast in Mason, the official tournament hotel. Stay there (or just go to dinner there), and you’re likely to see players and tennis insiders. For a good pool and restaurant, try this writer’s favorite hotel: Doubletree Guest Suites in Blue Ash, 7 miles from the site.


Gates open two hours before the day’s first match. Matches start earlier on qualifying days, which means the grounds opens earlier. If you arrive early, you might have a semi-private viewing session of a top player’s practice.


Eat the local cuisine in the food court: Graeter’s ice cream, Skyline Chili, and LaRosa Pizza from the food court.


Favorite souvenir: Stick-It-Wear?! t-shirts, featuring a stick-figure profile of top players past and present. They aren’t ID’d, but tennis fans would know Nadal’s high-knee fist pump anywhere. Look for them in the retail tent.


If you’re a roller-coaster junkie, make time to visit Kings Island amusement park, just across the interstate from the tennis center. (And keep an eye out for players.) It’s home to the longest, tallest and fastest wooden coasters in the world.


On Friday and Saturday nights, look east around 10 p.m. to see Kings Island’s fireworks show.


Megan Fernandez will be covering the Cincinnati tournament for Tennis Panorama News.  In addition to her online articles, she’ll be taking over our twitter account @GVTennisNews providing updates, commentary and photos during both tournaments.

Updated 8/10/2011


Meet The Wimbledon Poet – Matt Harvey

GVTN Approach Shots:

Meet The Wimbledon Poet – Matt Harvey
By Karen Pestaina

For the first time in its storied history, Wimbledon has hired an official poet to capture “the flavour and fervour of the world’s leading tennis tournament.”

A lifelong tennis fan, Matt Harvey is known by British audiences for his Radio 4 Saturday Live broadcasts. As “The Championships Poet” for 2010 he’ll be writing a poem-a-day on all things Wimbledon. Along with the daily poems he’ll have a daily audio podcast, a blog and will interact with fans via twitter (@WimbledonPoet ).

WimbledonPoet I caught up with the very busy Mr. Harvey to ask a few questions in regard to his new appointment:

Karen Pestaina: How did you get your start in writing poetry?

Matt Harvey: I’ve written poetry since I was a teenager, secretly to begin with. I began to perform in public in my twenties, self-publishing chapbooks which I sold at gigs. I went full-time as a ‘writer-performer’ in my late thirties. In my early forties I had my first ‘proper’ book (The Hole in the Sum of my Parts) published. Definitely a late developer.

KP: Which poets influenced you growing up and who are your favorites now?

MH: Growing up I loved Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Mervyn Peake – a little older the ‘Liverpool Poets’, Roger McGough, Brian Patten, Adrian Henri.  Then it was into anthologies and reading e e cummings, Edna St Vincent Millay, Betjeman, Stevie Smith, Auden and Borges.

These days I love John Hegley, all the above, Roethke, only recently discovered Shel Silverstein, can you believe it?

KP: What was the process that led you to becoming the poet of “the Championships.”

MH: The All England Lawn Tennis Club had previously had Championship Artists –all painters of one kind or another – but this year they decided to try something different and invite a poet. To this end they consulted The Poetry Trust, active in the promotion of poetry in the UK, who recommended me. A seed was sown, then a few days later someone at Wimbledon heard me on BBC radio. A month or so after that I was invited to Wimbledon to talk about the form a poetry residency might take. And here I am.

KP: How difficult do you think it will be to write a poem a day? How will you approach it? Will you walk the grounds, stay in the media areas?

MH: How difficult? Somewhere between ‘quite’ and ‘very’, though some days I’m sure it’ll be ‘extremely’. People have asked if I ever suffer ‘writer’s block’ and the answer is no, but I frequently experience ‘good writer’s block’.

I’ll definitely walk the grounds rather than stay in the media areas. By the way, I should say, before anyone gets too jealous (mild jealousy is, however, appropriate) that I don’t have access to the show courts – Centre Court and Courts 1 and 2 – but otherwise can roam freely. A free range poet. I shall be writing about the place and the people as much if not more than the tennis. Poems about ball boys and girls, umpires, grass, strawberries, oohs and aahs, the queues, the roof, what proximity to people at the peak of physical fitness and beauty does to middle aged English people, well, men.

KP: Do you think other major championships (Australian Open, Roland Garros and the US Open) should employ a poet?

MH: I wouldn’t presume to know what such august institutions should do – but I’m all for the employment of poets in public places. From a poet’s perspective it’s an excellent idea.

KP: How do you think tennis fans will react to your poems?

MH: I have no idea. Well, I expect many to be indifferent, some maybe intrigued, irritated, amused, bored. Perhaps some, frustrated by my rank inability to evoke the essence of their beautiful game, may be inspired to write their own poetry. I’ve been taken aback by the interest generated by my appointment – when visual artists were invited there was a lot less fuss. Still, I’m not complaining – it’s nice to be sought after by the world media once in a while.

KP: Do you have any advice for future tennis poets?

Having barely begun my first ever tennis residency I’d hesitate to offer advice. In fact if there are any tennis poets out there with advice to offer me it’d be gratefully received. But I’m not sure there is such a thing as a ‘tennis poet’. There are just poets, and sometimes one of us gets lucky and is paid to write about tennis and associated phenomena. I’m thrilled just to be going there, getting to watch the world’s best players in such a splendid setting.

About Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live program and for two years wrote the Desktop Poetry slot in the Guardian. He is the creator of Empath Man on Radio 4, the contemporary superhero who fights crime through his advanced listening skills.

His latest book of poems The Hole in the Sum of my Parts – published by and available from The Poetry Trust – is in its 4th imprint. His next book Where Earwigs Dare will be published by Green Books in October 2010. He will present a new series, The Wondermentalist Cabaret, on BBC Radio 4 in early 2011.

Matt Harvey’s web site is www.mattharvey.co.uk.
Follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/WimbledonPoet
Follow the Championships at www.Wimbledon.org
Read more about The Poetry Trust – www.thepoetrytrust.org

Grandest of Slams
By Matt Harvey

Excuse me. I’m sorry. I speak as an Englishman
For the game of lawn tennis there’s no better symbol than

The place where the game’s flame was sparked and then kindled in
Where so many spines have sat straight and then tingled in

Where strawberries and cream have traditionally been sampled in
Kids’ eyes have lit up and their cheeks have been dimpled in

Where tough tennis cookies have cracked and then crumbled in
Top seeds have stumbled, have tumbled, been humbled in

Where home-grown heroes’ hopes have swelled up and then dwindled in

The Grand Slams’ best of breed, it’s the whizz it’s the biz
The temple where physics expresses its fizz
There’s one word for tennis and that one word is

© Matt Harvey, The Championships Poet 2010

Related article:

Wimbledon appoints Championships Poet


“The Court Jester” – Mansour Bahrami

Mansour Bahrami – The Court Jester

Ana Ivanovic is not the only tennis pro who learned to play the game in an empty swimming pool. Meet Mansour Bahrami who is probably one of the most talented tennis “legends” you may not know. He first learned tennis in Iran in an swimming pool using a broom handle as a racquet.  In his book The Court Jester – My story by Mansour Bahrami (2009, AuthorHouse, English translation by Nigel Forrest) Bahrami examines his life from childhood to the present day as a favorite on the Legends circuit.

Bahrami, born in 1956, played on the ATP tour from the mid-seventies through the nineties attaining career high rankings of 192 in singles and 31 in doubles. Bahrami, along with his doubles partner Eric Winogradsky reached the doubles final of Roland Garros in 1989.

I first had the pleasure of seeing him play during the US Open many years ago during the Legends doubles events before it changed to its current World Team Tennis format. He both impresses and delights audiences with his athletic ability, trick shots, showmanship and genuine love for the game. I recently spoke with him on the phone from his Paris home about the book.

The inspiration to write The Court Jester came from former pro and former coach of Roger Federer – Peter Lundgren. During the course of a three-hour car ride with Lundgren, Bahrami told his life story. Lundgren urged him to put down on paper saying – “it’s not a life, it’s an adventure story.”

Bahrami who was born in Iran, was on the cusp of entering the ATP circuit top tier level in the 1970’s when political turmoil exploded in his country. The Shah was deposed and with the Ayatollah Khomeini ruling Iran, tennis was banned throughout the country. Despite many barriers he was still able to achieve his dream of becoming a professional tennis player competing with the likes of “Borg. McEnroe, Connors and the rest..”

“Came the revolution and then we couldn’t play (tennis) anymore.” So Bahrami left Iran for France for the opportunity to play professional tennis again. “When I came to France for three and a half months not being able to play because with an Iranian passport I could not go anywhere. I started on the ATP Tour after 30 years old.”

His family still remains in Iran. He calls the state of tennis in Iran “terrible”  and feels the government is not doing much for sport in general, especially tennis. “Tennis is at the bottom of all the sports. The president of the federation was telling me that they have budget of 40 thousand dollars year.”

So who are Bahrami’s favorite players to watch in today’s game? “Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and (Jo-Wilfred) Tsonga.”

The book is an autobiography, historical novel, and adventure story all rolled into one. Along with engaging stories about how he overcame all of his challenges in life, the chapters focusing on being on the tour with Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Guillermo Vilas are priceless and not to be missed.

The Court Jester is available at AuthorHouse.com and Amazon.com. He also has a fan page on FaceBook.

Bahrami continues to play a very full schedule, which includes Legends events at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and many other smaller events around the globe. He intends to keep playing tennis as long as he is able to perform. If you have a chance to see him play or rather, “perform,” do not pass up on the opportunity – he is a magical showman on court whom everyone will enjoy, tennis fan or not.


Andy Roddick and Marat Safin News Conference From the Caesars Tennis Classic in Atlantic City

Listen to the Andy Roddick-Marat Safin news conference from the Caesars Tennis Classic

(WMA File, low level depending on computer)

Due to some technical issues, we will posting our reports on the Caesars Tennis Classic  late on Sunday. Thanks for your patience.