Happy New Year!!!

Written By: achangeofends - Jan• 01•11

So it’s officially 2011. Hopefully this means good things, like the fact that A Change of Ends is back and better than ever. However, I’ll talk more about that later. For now, I want to revisit a few of my favorite moments from 2010. Generally, I ring in the New Year from my living room before getting ready to head back to school. But last year, I was in the beautiful city of London, about to embark on my first real international adventure. If you had told me then that 6 months in London would somehow lead to a life of obsessively checking tennis scores, watching for twitter updates on my blackberry, and following the tennis tour around the world, I would have laughed.

For me, the 2010 tennis year began with sleepless nights watching the Australian Open on the Eurosport Player, not exactly the best way to start the tennis season. Somehow London was an even less convenient time zone to watch the AO than St. Louis. However, things got off to a quick start in February. I was due to start my job at a bank, but my start date was delayed by a very substantial background check. Rather fortuitously, my week off coincided with the ABN AMRO ATP 500 event in Rotterdam, so I hopped a plane to Amsterdam. Not only was this to be the first of many tennis tournaments this year, but the first of many very hastily planned trips. I had a nice visit with a friend in Amsterdam and then boarded the train to Rotterdam. I was hooked. After rarely traveling alone, I found myself spending all my spare weekends wandering around Europe and the US watching tennis, and it was amazing. I ended up attending a challenger, 2 250 events, 2 500 events, 2 Masters 1000 event, and 2 Grand Slams.

So, here are five of my very favorite experiences from 2010…

Rotterdam Practice Courts – When I blogged about Rotterdam, I called it a spectator’s dream. It is. You can pretty much sit on the practice courts and for some reason no one bothers. This meant watching the likes of Robin Soderling, Tommy Robredo, Feliciano Lopez, Gael Monfils, and many others very close up. But one of my very favorite moments was watching Michael Llodra practice. I was literally the only person in the audience. There was singing and dancing and wagers galore. It was pure awesome and totally jump started my love of Mika.

A man in a panda suit is escorted off the court in Rotterdam (February 2010)

The Panda – I’m betting most of you don’t watch the Rotterdam tournament, but I couldn’t be more glad that I was there to witness this. During one of the night sessions, a man in a full out panda costume rushed the court. While this was amusing, it was even more amusing to watch the flustered staff try to catch the panda man, which took a surprisingly long time.

French Open – Um, I got to go to the French Open. I think that deserves a spot on the list no matter what. However, I didn’t just go to Roland Garros, I had an amazing seat, just a few rows up from the court and got to watch two incredible matches (Soderling/Cilic and Murray/Berdych) all for only €35. If you’re wondering how this happened, refer to my May post about the French Open. Long story short, they resell the tickets of patrons who leave and you can get incredible deals.

The W Bar in DC – So the W was the official hotel of the Legg Mason tournament. Not only is it a fantastic hotel, but the rooftop bar is super cool. The skyline views were great, but the tennis player scouting was even better. It was fun to see players like Tomas Berdych and David Nalbandian in such a casual environment, but by far the best part of the night was watching D-list tennis players try to hit on women. I never really considered it, but the “I’m a professional tennis player” pickup line is probably very hit or miss. It sounds like a  lie. Honestly, I can identify most pro players and I had no idea who most of these people were. Some seemed successful, some definitely weren’t, but overall it was very enjoyable to watch. P.S. I am way less creepy than I sound from this account.

Court 5 at the US Open – I had an awesome trip to the US Open, but the main stadium can be a kind of overwhelming place. I spent a lot of my trip camped out next to Court 5. I love watching players practice and I turned up late enough in the tournament that Court 5 was being used as an extra practice court now that a lot of the outer court matches had ended. Again, I don’t think people really consider the benefits of being able to stand courtside during a practice session. The players are relaxed and fun and you can almost always score some kind of memento. Where else can you watch Feli, Gilles, and Mika share the court and chat with Thierry Tulasne? Or snag a photo with Sammy Q while watching a doubles match on the court next door?

Like I said, 2010 was fun and I have every intention of topping it in 2011.

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