Tag Archives: Christina McHale

12 hours at the U.S. Open make me deliriously happy. And a political video that may move you

I turned 37 two weeks ago.
And yet, every single time I walk through the gates of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY, I turn back the clock 30 years.
I become a 7-year-old again. I want to do everything, see everyone, and run around like a kid set loose in Willy Wonka-ville, for as many hours as they’ll let me stay.

Tuesday, that number of hours was 12. My fiancee, my mother, and stepfather all arrived around 11 a.m. for a sensational day of tennis, the second day of the 2012 Open (God bless her, my wonderful bride-to-be stuck it out with me until 9 p.m. and was a total trooper as I schlepped her around from court to court, only leaving because she had to go home and do some work. Mom and stepdad pooped out around 4 p.m. But hey, they’re no spring chickens anymore. I digress.)

Many, many thoughts on my mind from today as I sit down to write this, including…

— The single best thing about the Open in the early days of the tournament is getting to walk around the outside courts and literally stand five feet from where top pros are competing. You don’t get that in ANY other sport.
At one point Tuesday I was in the first row for a doubles match involving great American comeback story Brian Baker, and a serve ricocheted off a racket and flew right at me.
With the dexterity and timing I rarely showed in the Commack North Little League, I snagged it with my left hand, drawing a few cheers from my fellow spectators. Sadly, as is the rule in tennis, I had to throw the ball back to the ballboy.

— Speaking of ball boys and ball girls, how bizarre is this? During my match tour on Tuesday (I saw parts of 12 matches), I saw not one but two ballpersons who had prosthetic limbs. One male, one female, both who seemed to have no trouble bouncing around and performing all ballperson duties. Never seen a ballperson without two natural legs, and now I saw two in one day. Crazy.

— Another awesome moment: After the aforementioned doubles match featuring Brian Baker, I was on line for the bathroom near the court and saw a white-haired guy with a “Player guest” credential and the last name Baker. Yep, it was Brian Baker’s Dad Stephen, and because I’m me, I chatted him up before we got to the urinals.
He was super nice and thrilled his son was getting the chance to play at the Open again.
Again, I ask you: You think you ever run into Derek Jeter’s dad waiting to pee at Yankee Stadium? This is why the U.S. Open rules.

— Most dramatic singles match we witnessed Tuesday was between two players you’ve never heard of, Fabio Fognini and Edouardo-Roger Vasselin. Again on an outer court, we watched the end of the fifth set, both players fighting for a few thousand dollars a win would provide. It was competition at its finest, and the 75 or so people huddled around the fence watching were enthralled.

— Jack Sock. I’ve mentioned his name a few times on the blog before (he’s on the right, above), and the young American phenom (he’s 19) scored a huge win in doubles Tuesday, as he and partner Steve Johnson beat the No. 1 seeds. This kid is a future star; he won his first singles match Monday and is back in action Thursday.

— Really impressive wins from famous people: Jo-Willie Tsonga, Venus Williams (though that dress was, um, weird) and Andy Roddick. Impressive win from a future star: Sloane Stephens (above in photo). She can really, really play and has a great personality.

Bad losses: Christina McHale, a young American ranked No. 21. Blew a winnable match.

— Finally, cell phones and tennis matches. People, is it really that hard to turn the damn thing to vibrate when you go watch a tennis match? Three times Tuesday a phone went off during a point. Just makes me mad.

But only for a moment. It’s hard to stay mad when you’re a kid in a candy store. God I love the U.S. Open.

**OK, time for something else. This was definitely unusual; a political parody video set to the tunes from “Les Miserables,” about Barack Obama. Weirdly compelling.

A glorious 10-hour day at the U.S. Open. And Bill Nye, Science Guy defends science on Fox

Very few places in the world make me as happy as when I’m at the U.S. Open.
The Grand Canyon. Anywhere surrounded by family and friends. And maybe a few other places.
But it’s a short list. So as I write this, just getting home after 10 wonderful hours at the Open on Wednesday, I’m still kind of floating on a high. I’m a little redder than I was this morning (hey, I used sunscreen, but still, some rays penetrate), and pooped from walking around the grounds, but indelibly happy.
Not going to bore you with too many tennis details since I know not all of you are tennis fans (which puzzles me; it’s the greatest sport there is! But that’s a conversion conversation for another day.)
Instead, some scattered shots from my brain from a day of people (and tennis) watching in Flushing Meadows.
— This kills me. So many people I sat near today had absolutely no interest in the match they were theoretically watching; instead they were playing on their cell phones. Texting, emailing, surfing the Internet, all of it.
People, you are AT a live sporting event! Presumably you paid money to be there. There are 19 courts of live, professional tennis being played in the vicinity! You are mere feet away from some of the best athletes in the world!
And you’d rather text or play Angry Birds or whatever?
I mean seriously, some of these people never once looked at the match. I know because I watched some of them for five minutes at a time, astonished.
— Maybe I’m getting older and wiser or something, but the food prices at the Open, which used to offend me greatly, don’t seem so horribly high anymore.
— Totally underrated feature of the Open: Every time you move from one court to the next, you make a new friend. Meet a couple from Greece Wednesday, two ladies who live like 2 minutes from where I used to in Saratoga Springs, a retired guy from Michigan at his first Open, and two teenagers who kept looking around for a security guard that might throw them out of their primo seats.
— Still cracks me up how many fans wear “tennis gear” to the Open. Boys and girls, you’re not playing, you’re just watching.
— Jack Sock. Remember that name (that’s him, above). I know, his name sounds like a comic book character. But he’s an 18-year-old American playing the Open for only the second time, and he’s got all the goods to be a star. I watched 2 sets of him Wednesday and was highly, highly impressed. Also 2 young U.S. women impressed: Christina McHale and Madison Keys. Not anointing them the “saviors of American tennis” yet, but they were awfully good.

**For another perspective on the Open, here’s Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal, with a beautiful piece on taking his father, a 38-year tennis coach at a high school in Mass., to the U.S. Open for the first time.

**This clip really depressed me for a few reasons. Bill Nye, the TV celebrity/genius known as Bill Nye Science Guy, went on a Fox News subsidiary (Fox Business Channel) and had to argue with a nincompoop anchor about science, climate change, and if it really exists. Then at the end, Charles Payne (the host) claimed Nye “confused their viewers.”
What a farce. Every single anchor I’ve seen on Fox is a smug, self-righteous fool, and for Nye to go on this show and dignify it with his presence, only to be denigrated, just saddened me.

Judge for yourself.