The American Grand Slam tennis tournament is underway again — the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York. It’s one of my three favorite tournaments of the year, and it must mean that Labor Day is right around the corner.
Tennis is my favorite sport to play and to watch. My Uncle Brian was quite an influence on me as a young boy. He was the cool uncle who was a professional tennis player, and he was not only athletic, but to me and just about everyone else, he seemed like he was the big man on campus, with a full scholarship to the University of Michigan where he played #1 Singles. He went on to become a very well known tennis coach and continues to teach at the Atlanta Country Club. Two of his more famous prodigies were Aaron Krickstein and Luke and Murphy Jensen, the brothers who antics on the court made them well known. Their tennis was excellent, too, winning the French Open Doubles title and many other majors.
How I wish I could have been that good at tennis. I practiced and took a lot of lessons and tried and tried, but while I wasn’t shabby, I was never destined for something great. I still love the game. My favorite three tournaments of the year are Wimbledon (of course), the U.S. Open, and what is now called the BNP Open which is in Indian Wells, California. Indian Wells is just outside of Palm Springs and it’s always held the first and second weeks of March, a great time to be in the desert and escape the cold. And most of the top players are there because it’s the fifth largest tennis tournament in the world, meaning the prize money is just a hair shy of the Grand Slams.
My favorite male player has to be Roger Federer. He’s got the all-time record of 16 Grand Slam victories and seems to be well on his way to several more. And he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, not even after recently becoming a father of twins.
Did you see what may be the best shot of his career? Yes, it was through the legs, and not only that, the placement of the ball, where it landed on the other side of the net, was unbelievable. That’s when if you’re playing him you simply have to say: “He’s too good!”
As for the women, I have my favorites. Growing up, I was so into the rivalry between Chris Evert Lloyd and Martina Navratilova. To this day, I don’t think there’s been a better rivalry in tennis, and perhaps not in all of sport.
Steffi Graf was a machine and must be included in a list of all-time greats.
But my personal favorite to watch is/was Lindsay Davenport, now in retirement and a mother of two children. She may not have won as many Grand Slams as she could have (thanks to chronic back injuries and mental issues, some would argue). But she hit such a clean ball! It was a thing of beauty to watch. Still miss Lindsay today. And she was always a class act on and off the court.
- Past champions Venus Williams, Roger Federer earn first-day victories | U.S. Open tennis (seattletimes.nwsource.com)