Tuesday, January 21, 2014

7 Reasons why the Australian Open is worth the trip

Despite the heatwave this year, the tournament was pretty amazing.  There were so many upsets in the women's bracket, it made for such good tennis.  The first 4 days of the tournament were between 104-110 degrees.  Then the cool weather came in dropping the temperature to 70-80 degrees.

110 degrees out…watching tennis

1. The tennis is amazing.  
For those of you that aren’t tennis fans, it’s a completely different game live.  The balls are so fast, the grunts are so loud and the crowd surrounding you is so vibrant, it makes basketball look boring.

Serena Williams (1) serving it up….

Tomas Berdych on Margaret Court

Venus Williams and Ester Satorova (Berdych's Girlfriend)

2. The knobby-kneed ball boys.  
It must be a prerequisite that adolescent ball boy candidates have giraffe-like knees. Their flailing limbs bolt across the courts retrieving stray balls with an energy that only an 11 year old can sustain.  They receive cheers from the crowd when they retrieve balls mid-air and adorn the goofiest sun-flap (legionnaire) hats and long sleeves with nothing but pride.

Picking up some ball boys!

3. Front row Seats.  
During middle weekend, you can purchase Rod Lever (center court) seats for about $109 each.  However, for $35 you can get ground passes and access to 20 show courts, Margaret Arena and the Heineken Beer Garden.  During the early rounds, big players such as Sharapova, Berdych, The Murray Brothers and Ivanovic all play matches on outside courts.  The outside courts are open seating allowing anyone the opportunity to watch the match from the front row…or in my case, right next to the players box.

Emily, Geoff and Andrew sitting second row for the Berdych match

4. Tennis + Beer + Music = AMAZING!  
The Heineken Beer tent is FREE with ground pass entry or higher.  Although the beers are $8.50 a pop, they are a necessity to beating the 110 degree heat.  Jacobs Creek also has a wine tent and together they liberate the audience of inhibitions and spare change in their wallets.  You can watch the matches or they have live bands and kick ass DJ’s such as Pete Tong that draws crowds of dancers, drinkers and security officials (AKA, the fun police).

Jarek and Emily at the Pete Tong show

Human Hashtag
5. The Australian Fanatics.

One of the reasons I love the Australian Open is that the crowd is a little rowdy.  There are organized cheers, the wave, and the occasional solo positive reinforcement heckler.  The Australian Fanatics, however, are the most magnificent of the bunch.  They are a group of twenty-somethings in wigs and face paint cheering on all Aussie players. They have incorporated the players names into popular songs and their sole purpose is to cheer on their Australian brethren and make the crowd laugh.  “Ooooooh Casey, I think I love you, from head to toe…”

6. Fan Participation and gear.  
If you’ve had too much tennis or just need a break from the sun, you can head out into the concourse to test your skills.  There are ball machines with targets to hit, serving booths to read your serve speed, inflatable twister and several souvenir shops where you can buy everything from rackets to over-sized tennis balls for the kiddies.

7. Finding your doubles partner. 
Who needs Tinder when you are surrounded by thousands of other people with similar interests (drinking and tennis)?  In addition to serving up tennis, famous DJ’s and alcohol, it also served up inebriated singles, giant bean bag chairs and large stalled bathrooms…I did not partake in match-making, not that there weren't offers….

Emily almost getting sweaty balls on her neck
Ah! No thanks!

Australian Open, I love you and I will be back.

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