2014/10/01

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

 

 

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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

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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.

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“Attitude is a choice” – Martina Navratilova Accepts Eugene Scott Award at Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball


Annika Sorenstam, Polly Scott, Martina Navratilova, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe.  Navratilova received the 2010 Eugene L. Scott Award from the three womenat the 2010 Legends Ball to benefit the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Cipriani 42nd Street in NY City on Sept. 10, 2010.

September 10, 2010 – New York, NY – International Tennis Hall of Fame Legends Ball- Cipriani 42nd StreetMartina Navratilova was presented with the Eugene L. Scott Award at the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball. Listen to her acceptance speech  as she spoke about her attitude, cancer and the rules she would like to see implemented in the current game.

(MP3 file)

Download | Duration: 00:06:10

On Itunes:

http://itunes.apple.com/lv/podcast/global-village-tennis-news/id348199009#

From the International Tennis Hall of Fame:
The Eugene L. Scott Award,presented annually since 2006, honors an individual who embodiesScott’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about thegame, and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world. Scottfounded Tennis Week magazine and wrote the most widely read andwell-respected column about the sport, “Vantage Point” until his deathin March 2006. Previous recipients of the award have been: John McEnroe(2006); Andre Agassi (2007); Billie Jean King (2008); and Arthur Asheand his wife Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe (2009).

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Five Minutes with Wheelchair Tennis Pioneer and Tennis Hall of Famer Brad Parks at Legends Ball


©Jack Cunniff  for GVTN                    ©SanClementeTimes.com                 ©International Tennis Hall of Fame

September 10, 2010 – New York, NY – International Tennis Hall of Fame Legends Ball- Cipriani 42nd Street

2010 Hall of Fame inductee and wheelchair tennis pioneer Brad Parks discusses his induction and wheelchair tennis on the red carpet of  the annual International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball.

(MP3 file, party noise in background)

Download | Duration: 00:04:09

On Itunes:

http://itunes.apple.com/lv/podcast/global-village-tennis-news/id348199009#

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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.

MP3 file

Download | Duration: 00:01:49

On Itunes:

http://itunes.apple.com/lv/podcast/global-village-tennis-news/id348199009#

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

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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.

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’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.

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Doubles Talk: The Education of Liezel Huber By Megan Fernandez

©Enrique Fernandez for Global Village Tennis News


Doubles Talk: The Education of Liezel Huber

By Megan Fernandez


This week, Liezel Huber is in Cincinnati hunting for her fifth doubles title of 2010, a stretch during which she led the U.S. to the Fed Cup final and usually stayed ahead of Venus and Serena Williams in the world doubles rankings–all while playing with seven different partners and, by her own admission, not playing her best. After winning her quarterfinal match Friday night after 10 pm with partner Nadia Petrova, the world’s number-one doubles player discussed her “unimaginable” year with Global Village Tennis News before calling it a night.

GVTN: How have you handled playing with so many different partners this year?

LH: I still find myself in awe. If you had told me at the end of last year that this would be my 2010, I would have said you were joking. There is so much that has happened in my life this year, and not just switching doubles partners. But I believe that the tough times make you stronger. Maybe I haven’t played my best tennis this year or won as many titles as I have in the past, but I’m really proud of myself for making the best of a bad situation.

Why did you split with Cara Black, your longtime partner?

I need to work on my game. You get really spoiled when you play with one partner. It’s easy to blame that person. Cara and I had a great partnership for three years, and won so many titles. Who would have thought, two girls from Africa? We formed a great friendship. But all good things come to an end, and it just wasn’t meant to be anymore. I’m not looking for one partner.

What do you want to improve?

Really, I would like to mold my game all around, not just be more in the baseline or at the net. Cara is a good net player, and her game complemented me because I could stay back. Now, we’re working on being more aggressive doubles players, being more versatile, going up the line when I want to, having more variety on my volleys.

But you’re number one already!

It’s not about being number one. It’s about being a better player. I’m not defined by being number one. I’m a tennis player who happened to achieve that ranking. It’s not what I associate myself with. I just want to be a better player, like everybody here. Playing with different people every week, I can focus on what I need to do myself. It’s really a challenge playing with someone with whom I might not have a relationship– or maybe we don’t speak the same language, or she plays the baseline and I’ve got to be the net player. But hey, I think you get better when a challenge is handed for you.

You must be in demand. Do you get a lot of requests to play?

I’ve been very fortunate that people come to me and want to play with me. I’m pretty friendly with everyone on the tour, and I’m on the Player’s Council, so that makes me very approachable. I really feel like we have a big family here. There isn’t a person who can’t ask me for doubles. I have had players outside of the top 100 ask me to play, and there are some young ones that don’t even have a ranking that I have promised to play with. I’ve just been very fortunate that I’ve never had to skip a tournament because I didn’t have a partner.

You’ve played a few times with Nadia Petrova.

Yeah, I really enjoy playing with her. We’re going to play here, Montreal, and the US Open.

Can you convince Lindsay Davenport to play more doubles?

I’m telling her she should play at least one more tournament this year because then she’ll have a ranking. But there aren’t many tournaments left in the States.

Venus and Serena are taking doubles very seriously. How does this affect you?

It’s great for the game, and it’s great for me because there’s a focus. Now people say, “Wow, you took the ranking away from the Williams Sisters—that’s pretty awesome.” They are great ambassadors for the game and are also on the Players Council, so I have a relationship with them beyond competing. I hope that they stay healthy and we can play. We’ve had some tough matches, like at the French Open.

What are you expectations for Fed Cup?

I love the team. When the Bryan Brothers would say they lived for Davis Cup, I would think, “How can you say that? It’s only one or two weeks a year.” But now I understand that passion. I am so proud of what we have built. We’ve had a B team all along, and we’ve made it this far, and last year we made it to the finals, too. It’s what I’m living for this year. It’s going to be my highlight of the year, if we can bring that trophy home.

Will you be playing?

I’m one of the doubles players. I still believe in my ability, and that they are the singles players on the team. I believe Mary Joe has confidence in me to put me in the doubles. I truly expect to play.

With one of the Williams sisters?

Yes.

Do you have a preference?

Oh, no.

Megan Fernandez is covering  both the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women’s Open for Global Village Tennis News. She’ll also be posting updates, commentary and photos on our twitter account – @GVTennisNews .

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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

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