2012 Winston-Salem Open: Fan-Friendly Dash-City Behind-the-Scenes Re-Cap
Lindsay Gibbs, Special to TennisEastCoast.com
First of all, I’d like to thank Steve for inviting me to do a couple of guest posts here on Tennis East Coast. I’ve been a follower of the site since it was Tennis Maryland, and even though I’m biased since I consider Steve a friend, I’m an admirer of any site that aims to give some face-time to those tennis players who aren’t in the top echelon of racquet society.
Now, two days removed from the Winston-Salem Open, I’m still trying to process all that happened. This was only my second tournament as media this summer, and my fifth overall, and having a credential and getting to sit in press conferences and talk with players one-on-one still blows my mind. The tournament in Winston-Salem is extra special for me because, like John Isner, I’m from the nearby city of Greensboro, North Carolina. Though I’ve lived in New York City for eight years, it’s very meaningful to have tennis in (or, rather, near) my hometown. I get to stay with my dad and occasionally watch tennis matches with family members (last year my mom joined, this year it was a second cousin.) Moreover, it’s just fun to watch the Southern community that is so familiar to me embrace the tennis world that I have come to know so well. And it’s neat to feel a part of that in a small way.
I thought I’d take the opportunity to take Tennis East Coast readers on a bit of a behind the scenes look at my time at the Winston-Salem Open… you know, re-live some of my favorite moments and reflect on some of the things I saw in press that stuck out to me. A bit of a personal journal entry that I’m letting everyone read. I’ll leave the dirty parts out. (There were no dirty parts.)
-First of all, let me take you inside the Winston-Salem Media Center:
While lacking in most things technological, the room did have one advantage–a view! No, not of tennis, that would make too much sense. Rather, we got to overlook the Wake Forest University Football Stadium!
This had two perks: a) When there were rain delays we got to see movies on the big screen, and b) The Players Lounge was adjacent to the Media Center and they shared the same terrace as we did, so we often got to see them hanging out there or warming up before their matches! It made me feel like a spy.
I was pretty impressed with all the players in press, especially after losses. Perhaps it was the Southern hospitality, but even Andy Roddick was in a fairly congenial mood after his loss. A few of my favorite moments were:
• Darcis came to press quickly after losing the final 10 games of his quarterfinal against Berdych. We all followed him from the Media Center to the press room (which was down a flight of stairs), but when we got here it turned out he had forgotten his credential and the security wouldn’t let him in, even though we all promised he was a player! Instead of being pissed off (like I imagine most players would be), he apologized profusely to the media and went back up the stairs and grabbed his credential!
• Querrey was extra cheery in his presser after his loss to Berdych too. He had a “Have An Awesome Day” t-shirt on, and was smiling throughout. Afterward, he chatted with tournament director Bill Oakes and played ping-pong in the player’s lounge.
• Right after the Querrey match, we were told it would be 10 minutes for the Berdych presser. Well, a mere two minutes later he showed up at the door of the interview room. Instead of barging in (which he could have done), he knocked on the door casually and asked if we were ready for him. I thought that was cute.
–Even the smallest tennis tournaments are really busy, and I’ve learned that you can’t follow all the stories you want to, as a fan or as a member of the media. I was really excited to get one-on-one interviews with Gulbis, Stakhovsky, and McClune last week, but I wasn’t able to solve a few mysteries. For example:
Late one night I found Tommy Robredo on a practice court feeding balls to a young girl. Was she a local? Was she a friend of his? Was she a relative? So many questions, but cute nonetheless.
A Winston-Salem Open volunteer befriended Donald Young’s family, and sat in the box with his mom and coach during his matches. I saw them walking around the grounds together often, but before I could follow up on the friendship Young was already out of the tournament.
If anyone has any information on the above mysteries, please let me know! (This is journalism at it’s finest.)
–The grounds of the Winston-Salem Open are really fun.
The Grandstand Court is built underneath the overhang of the football Stadium. Also, in the true spirit of Southern Hospitality, all of the bathrooms seem to be dedicated to players. Because I’m immature, I found this hysterical.
There are more cool parts of the grounds, but I didn’t take pictures of any of them. Oh except for this:
–Last but certainly not least, my favorite thing about the Winston-Salem Open, besides everything else I’ve mentioned in this post, is the Doubles Trophy Ceremony. The Doubles Final takes place after the Singles Final, so not everyone stays. Therefore, Tournament Director Bill Oakes invites all the fans onto the court for the trophy presentation! Pretty awesome. Here are my favorite camera phone pics from the special occasion:
(I have no idea what I did to deserve getting that face from Mayer! I swear I was being professional. I SWEAR OKAY.)
Anyways, hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the Winston-Salem Open. Hopefully, Steve will have me back again soon!
Lindsay Gibbs is the author of “Titanic: The Tennis Story“. Buy a copy today! You’re invited back anytime, Lindsay. Thanks for giving us some academic street cred!