For many, especially in the UK, tennis means one thing: Wimbledon. The images of strawberries and cream, freshly mown grass and the fluorescent green balls hit the national consensus for two weeks a year. TV is full of it, and now we have a genuine contender for the crown, in Scotland…I mean Great Britain’s Andy Murray, it’s a lot more exciting and thrilling to take part in as a nations, plus god knows the next time our lacking football team will ever do anything again!
As an avid sports fan, one of my goals is to make it to Wimbledon one year, with this year it slipping my mind to enter the general sale ballot, I instead picked up on a free tournament taking place in Nottingham, relatively nearby to where I live. It was the Aegon Trophy, ran for a week and was a Challenger event, a couple of rungs down the tennis tournament ladder from the bright lights of Wimbledon, but it was on grass courts, featured players I’d just about heard of and was FREE!
Visiting last Monday, watching 5 games of women’s, men’s and doubles, I had a great time. The sun was out, uncharacteristically for a British summer, the courts were fresh and the players were appreciating both the support of the crowd and the fine conditions. That’s what I liked the most, being courtside and so close to the players, who whilst they might not be at the highest level of the tour, are still decent enough. You could hear every argument, every ‘C’MON!’, every bit of emotion. I saw a gigantic Serbian break his racquet with his bare thigh, before hurling the net a couple of points later. Then there was the case of Daniel Evans in his Quarter-Final, just yesterday, on Friday afternoon, during my second visit (told you I liked it!).
The British No.7 had already confessed to playing some of the best tennis of his career during the week, reaching the Quarter-Finals and setting up a match against the Australian Matt Ebdon. Initially I wanted the Brit to win and he came roaring out, literally, from the first point onwards contesting calls and generally proving to be a nuisance. His little rants were turning the crowd, and myself though, as he became more and more cringeworthy, and losing the first set tiebreak by a sizeable margin. The second set was lost as it began, with Evans far too angry and irritating the crowd ever moreso. It was probably the pressure of the tie, Evans coming off the back of a successful Davis Cup tie a couple of months earlier, as comparatively so, Ebdon was quiet and got on with the job, allowing Evans to wind himself up. By the end, the match ended with an anti-climax, given that Evans played some genuinely great tennis at times, but allowed his emotions to get the better of him. Still, the player just nestled inside the top 300 made some strides forward, strides that the LTA recognised with a wildcard entry to Queens in London, in a couple of weeks time, the prestigious Wimbledon warm-up tournament.
But all of the drama added to what I have discovered I enjoy about tennis. The shouts, the emotion, the passion of the players, all of which can be viewed from courtside, adds so much to just their initial skill, which is also a joy to watch. And this was from players, many of whom hadn’t even breached the top 100 of their respective sections, god only knows what it would be like to see Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic or Rafa Nadal!