Posted by: Tricia | Friday, August 31, 2007

Tennis, anyone?

Oh boy, I’m coming down right now from the excitement that is the U.S. Open. I’ve talked in the past about how much I love this particular tournament, and tonight was another ultimate example of why it is so great.

Although he’s technically not the best American player out there right now, James Blake is my guy. And tonight, he won a big one. And I mean A BIG ONE. Huge. Ginormous. Monumental.

In the last few years, since his comeback from a variety of health issues as well as losing his dad, he has been one to generate some of the most incredible tennis on earth. In his career, he has had matches go to a fifth set nine times. And he has lost every single one. The most recent one that comes to mind was against Andre Agassi at the U.S. Open last year. I remember being torn about who to cheer for, knowing it was Agassi’s last Open, but also wanting the opportunity to watch Blake play more matches in the tournament.

So tonight Blake played his second round match against a 34-year-old Frenchman named Fabrice Santoro. And in tennis years, that’s like getting birthday wishes from Willard Scott. And this poor guy was hurting. He was cramping, or had a hip stinger, or something that had him hobbling on the court between points and getting treatment from the trainer during changeovers. But due to an insane number of unforced errors on Blake’s part, the match stayed close, going to that ominous, daunting, monkey-on-his-back fifth set.

The stadium was electric. The crowd was un-shush-able. The tension and excitement suffocatingly thick.

And Blake finally pulled it off. The monkey is gone. Poor Santoro’s gonna be hurting in the worst way in the morning, but major praise goes to him for hanging in there to see the match to its conclusion. Especially after having resigned matches in 2 out of his last 4 tournaments for health issues.

And true to everything wonderful about this tennis tournament, and the sport in general, the New York crowd were sure to give him his props, and their heartfelt gratitude for an extremely entertaining evening. And when the two players met at the net to shake hands, they had a rather lengthy friendly exhange before shaking hands with the chair umpire. It almost seemed to me that Blake could’ve been offering to help Santoro get off the court and into the locker room for some medical attention.

But Blake was definitely the man of the hour, and now I eagerly await his next match on Saturday against an Austrian named Stefan Koubek.

In fact, the hairbrained idea to hop in my Honda and head east to Queens, NY for the weekend has been planted in my head. Oh, how I crave to be a part of that late-night crowd, yelling myself hoarse, sharing my rush of adrenaline with the thousands of other fans, and even the players. I’ve been known to do wild and crazy things like that before, but that would be a bit much.

But oh….the temptation…

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