Today was my last visit to the orthodontist. Teeth are in good alignment, no need to go back unless I lose my retainer, which (as usual) I’ll have to wear perpetually.
After running errands today, I stopped at Chick-Fil-A — it’s my usual reward, sweet tea and waffle fries, after getting all my errands run. The restaurant was PACKED. Were they giving away food, I wondered? Essentially. Bring your receipt in next week and make a purchase and get the same meal on your old receipt for free.
Organized two packages to take to the post office. Photos, gifts, etc., to The Biochemist and The Chemist. A couple books for . I missed my local post office’s hours, so they’ll be mailed tomorrow, along with my bar dues and payment for the beach house next month. \o/
The Boy Uncle stopped by on Sunday on the way to pick up Young Aunt at the airport. He wanted to talk to me about the house and make sure I didn’t feel forced to be interested. No. And I have a checklist and benchmarks, so I won’t made a bad decision based on sentiment. But my timetable has been accelerated because Flaky Aunt has made noises about squatting there as she breaks up with yet another guy who won’t support her in the manner in which she believes she’s entitled. Flaky Aunt is the equivalent of Blanche Dubois in many, many ways.
Okay, the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. Which will be referred in this narrative of my vaguely stalkery tennis adventures hereinafter as LMTC.
First, I should introduce Ignacio, my iPhone. Sadly, most of the pictures he took at LMTC are blurry, which is quite a shock, considering they were pictures of hot men. You see, I’m pretty sure that Ignacio is gay – he’s got a shiny, red, rubber case and contains many, many photos of hot men in his camera roll. Oh, wait, the red case was my idea and I’m the one who stuck him with all those photos…I shouldn’t jump to conclusions about a poor, innocent iPhone’s sexual preferences. Maybe he’s just a metrosexual iPhone. Anyway, Ignacio died midway through the second set Friday night, so I didn’t get any post-match pics, which made me (and Ignacio) very sad.
I bailed on work Thursday afternoon. A lot of people on vacation, so some part of my work is sporadic, while balanced with the usual crazy. I didn’t feel guilty because I’ve worked three weekends in a row and donated that time, so I broke camp. The Metro platform was full and a train was sitting in the station, blocking the Silver Spring-bound track because of a medical emergency, which meant single tracking, yay. An overheated, un-air-conditioned train finally arrived that would take me to Dupont Circle, where I made an interim stop. I love Dupont Circle. Whenever I think of moving into DC, I wish I could afford that neighborhood. [Seriously, I could afford the rent on a studio, but I’d probably be eating ramen to afford the rent for a 1 BR. If I lived in the city, it’d probably be a few stops further out, preferably still on the red line.] On the walk from the Metro station up Connecticut Avenue, it started to rain. And by rain I mean some asshole must’ve been hovering right above me, pouring buckets of water on my umbrella. You know how sidewalks and gutters get when they can’t handle that much rain that fast? Yep, it was like that. I was drenched, even with an umbrella.
After drying out and waiting for the rain to slow, I was off to the Fitzgerald Tennis Center, which is located in Rock Creek Park. The organizers arranged for shuttle service from Van Ness/UDC on the red line, which was cool. By the time I got there, it was after 5pm and the original scheduled start was 4pm, but the info table staff was saying that they’d heard that Stadium Court was finally almost dry and likely the first match would start sometime soon. Except less than a minute later, the sky opened up again. Felt bad for the tourney staff, because their pretty, dry court was drenched in a heartbeat. Everyone stood around, huddled under the overhang or entryways or wherever they could stay marginally dry, which was actually hard to do, given the gusting wind. And there were tornado warnings, which I did not know at the time. Eventually it stopped raining and the event staff got Stadium Court dried off again…only to see it get drenched again. And then again, except the third time they only got it partially dry before it started to sprinkle again. Luckily, the storm moved out of the area, so the tournament staff could reorganize the order of play – all the doubles postponed til Friday and all four courts in action.
I went out to the grandstand, because I wasn’t all that interested in Malisse-Isner. I know little about Malisse – oops, he’s Belgian, not French as I texted the other day – and Isner’s game doesn’t thrill me, being too serve-reliant. Also, I’ve got a big as Texas crush on Fernando Verdasco, in part because he’s hot and in part because he’s part of the Armada and in part because he’s madrileno and speaks with the ‘th’. Yes, I’m predictable and easy in that regard. Stop smirking. We all have our weak spots and at least I’m self-aware about most of mine.
Anyway, Verdasco was set to play Ryan Sweeting, an American qualifier. But first the court had to be dried. How are tennis courts dried? Well, the tourney staff used these huge blower things that look like fans attached to lawn mowers. But first they took giant squeegees and kind of mopped the water into drains around the edge of the court, hidden by the ad tarps hung everywhere. I’m wondering if there is a slope of maybe a degree or two that is invisible to the naked eye? I don’t know. Anyway, after that the K-Swiss Kids came out on court (also known as ball kids) in their red K-Swiss tees (hello, sponsor! love the subtle branding!) with towels. There were eight of them, but at any given time only two of them were actually using the towels to dry the court; the rest of them were flirting or squabbling or snapping each other with the damp towels. The grandstand slowly filled; the awning covered side filled first but eventually both sets of bleachers were FULL. Since I sat down relatively early, I got a seat directly behind one of the player seats (no idea who yet, since they aren’t on court for the drying) three rows back.
Anyway, about 8:45 the players came out. Now, hot as Verdasco is, I’ve always assumed that his photos are edited or something, because no one can be that hot in real life. But he is. Seriously. He was rocking the monochrome navy look, having abandoned that heinous geometric print Adidas saddled their players with in January. [The only worse look I’ve seen him in is the Ronald McDonald Davis Cup attire (courtesy of C-Note over at Forty Deuce); Adidas is coming out with a FeVer shoe in those colors to celebrate the World Cup victory, which is nice but also sad-making, because red and yellow are okay on a flag but not on people.] IMO it’s hard to look good monochrome, except maybe in Wimbledon whites, but he wears navy well. You could practically hear the sighs of all the women in the crowd when he smiled up toward the bleachers while putting his bags down…about 10 feet in front of me. [As a character in one of Sarah Dessen’s YA novels says, SA-WOOON. The dimples! The crooked grin!] Okay, now, I think Rafael Nadal is charming and adorkable; his body, objectively speaking, is beautiful. I’d like to hang out with him, maybe go sailing, play video games, then send him off with his girlfriend in the evening after getting the double kiss on the cheeks. That…is not how I’d spend a day with Verdasco, even taking into account his occasional foray into cheese and machismo to mask what I assume is some insecurity or perhaps his fear that Deliciano Lopez doesn’t ❤ him as much as he ❤ Feli.
Ryan Sweeting was wearing the Nike US Open kit – red with black bands bleeding to black at the bottom of the shirt – and a backward cap. Memo to American players (Sam Querrey, Jon Isner and Ryan Sweeting, I’m looking at you): the backward cap makes you look like a dumbass. Stop doing that. Not even Rafa Nadal can pull it off without looking like a dork, and he at least seems to know to wear it so only on the practice court.
So, the match. I learned this last year at LMTC and the US Open but had forgotten it in the interim: watching professional tennis live is insanely different from watching televised tennis. On tv, the tennis looks effortless and everything seems slower. As you watch, it’s easy to ask why didn’t s/he get that? Why did s/he make that error? Live you can see how hard it is to get to the ball, how fast the ball is moving, how much it is spinning, and the immense physical effort the players are making. Backhands and forehands that look like slow, bouncing moonballs on tv? Not so much live. Do you remember when Randy Johnson accidentally killed a bird that flew in front of homeplate a few years ago? That’s how some of the forehands were moving.
The crowd was pretty partisan on behalf of Sweeting, even though as a qualifier it’s not like he’s that well known. But then again, it was a pretty knowledgeable crowd and he was an American player, which got him some support by default.
Verdasco was a little loose on the first serve, first game and lost it, but eventually broke back to take the first set. The second set was also a little loose – he was up a break then was broken and struggled on serve. In one game, he could NOT get the down the line, in the corner shot in – must have tried it three or four times in a row before hitting one that was in. During one change over after another just-long forehand, Verdasco stomped over to his chair and tore his shirt off, then dumped a bottle of water overhis head. Holy moly, his back is beautiful. I got a couple of pics but they do not do him justice. The women sitting in front of me took many, many pictures, which I am sure are on flickr somewhere by now.
Eventually, as the second set wore on, Sweeting got a little discombobulated and pouty when some calls didn’t go his way and eventually lost confidence in his serve. Game, set and match to Verdasco.
Verdasco was very fan-friendly, signing lots of balls, caps, programs, even an iPhone case (not mine). I told him buena suerte and got a smile, gracias and hybrid high five and handshake in turn. [Yes, I’ve washed that hand multiple times, I’m not so juvenile or unhygienic.]
Caught the tiebreak of the Malisse-Isner match, which Isner choked, and the first four games of the Simon-Roddick match. I’d’ve liked to stay later, but I wasn’t sure if there was a cab service arranged and didn’t want to miss the last metro, which left at 11:54, so I headed out at 11:15. Which is just as well, because I’d’ve been very disappointed to watch Roddick lose. I never used to like him much (serve-reliant) but I’ve come to appreciate his work ethic and his willingness to change and grow his game.
Because of the rain, all ticket holders were given complimentary tickets to the day session on Friday on a 1:1 basis. I exchanged my ticket, then realized that I couldn’t use it because of light staffing in the office on Friday. Also, I wasn’t really prepared wardrobe-wise, hello, black sweater. But in the end, I went anyway. I caught most of the Berdych-Malisse match. Berdych was apparently not happy to play the first match of the day after a late night, but that’s what you get when you are the #1 seed – the tournament needs to sell tickets and the #1 seed is a draw for a day session that might otherwise not be widely attended.
It was hot. I drank a liter of water in about an hour and a half, then another liter over two more hours. But at least I had a hat and sunscreen.
After the Berdych match, I could go to the grandstand to watch the Bryan brothers play doubles or wait for the Verdasco-Baghdatis match. I like doubles; they are seldom televised but are fun to watch. [I can’t actually play doubles, inasmuch as I like playing tennis; control issues make me a terrible partner.] I stayed to watch Verdasco and Baghdatis both struggle with their serves. Verdasco was wearing the navy again, which seemed like a brave (or foolish) choice, given the heat and sun. If it was 95 in the stands, it was probably 100 on the court. On paper, it should’ve been an easy win for Verdasco, but Baghdatis is a pretty good player, if erratic since being injured last year. Verdasco was off pretty much from the start: double faults, unforced errors. He managed to take the first set to a tiebreak, but double faulted and handed the first set to Baghdatis. He was never really in the second set. It is probably the worst match I’ve ever seen him play, not that I’ve seen that many. But it was UGLY. I feared for the health of his racquet, which I thought was going to get smashed on a couple of occasions.
I think next year I’ll plan on attending the Thursday and Friday sessions. I like the number of matches and variety. And next year, the WTA is coming to DC, too, although I’m not sure if it will be a joint tournament or staged elsewhere or at a different time. 🙂