W&S Open 2013

The Western and Southern Open has been going on since last Saturday, so I’ve been really busy but I’ve had some very memorable experiences so far. I got to walk around tournament grounds and watch matches as a normal spectator, and I also got to be on court as a ballgirl.

Center Court
Center Court

Favorite moments so far (in no specific order) :

•This year I was a ballgirl for Angelique Kerber (who played in the finals last year against Li Na), Andrea Petkovic, Su-Wei Hsieh, Shuai Peng, Vera Dushevina, Marina Erakovic, Vania King, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Roberta Vinci, Tommy Robredo, Dmitry Tursunov, Nicolas Mahut, Michael Llodra, and many others.

Rafael Nadal walking through the path to the players lounge, signing autographs along the way.  Bottom Photo Credit: Pritam Jaipuriar
Rafael Nadal walking through the path to the players lounge, signing autographs along the way.
Bottom Photo Credit: Pritam Jaipuriar

•I saw Rafael Nadal in the flesh and blood a few times as he went to the players lounge! Rafa just came back from after winning the Rogers Cup in Canada and seems to be the most popular player this year. Fans swarmed him with cries of “Rafa, Rafa!” everytime he walked by. He also wasn’t here last year, so the crowd definitely loved the fact that he’s back this year. His appreciation for his fans is shown in the amount of time he gives to sign autographs and meet his fans. He’s such a geniune guy, always smiling!

Venus Williams @ practice
Venus Williams @ practice

I also saw Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic practice! Even with all the fans standing around and watching them practice, they don’t get distracted and always give it 110%.

•I was watching another player practice when I noticed that a Wimbledon champ happened to be standing next to me…Marion Bartoli! She seemed so sweet, I was laughing every now and then at some of her comments. I didn’t even realize it was her until fans started asking for autographs and pictures. It’s so sad to hear that she’s retiring, but I give my best wishes to her. Read about her emotional decision to retire at WCPO or watch her announcement:

Getting Ryan Harrison's autograph!
Getting Ryan Harrison’s autograph!
•Along with Bartoli, I also saw Ryan Harrison one day leaving after a practice, and I got his autograph!
•One great strategy at the W&S Open is to get an autograph or picture from anybody, even if you don’t recognize them because you never know, even if it’s a low ranked player they might become famous some day. I tried this out and went up to someone who was leaving a court after practice. I asked for his autograph but he said he wasn’t even playing in the tournament! (Oops…awkward)

•A similar thing happened to me too. I was casually watching a match one day and a man sitting next to me asked if I was a player. I was a little surprised (in a good way) that I resembled a pro tennis player even in the slightest bit, but I honestly felt so cool. If only he had asked for my autograph…that would have been the cherry on top!

Center Court: Li Na vs. Lauren Davis. Aug 14th.
Center Court: Li Na vs. Lauren Davis. Aug 14th.

•When I wasn’t being mistaken for a player, I was watching some matches. I saw last year’s champion Li Na play Lauren Davis on Center Court, thanks to my friend with court side seats. (Those were the seats that got her a signed ball and hug from Djokovic! Wish I had been there for that..)

Federer's wristband!  Top image credit: theguardian.com
Federer’s wristband!
Top image credit: theguardian.com
•Even after all of those exciting moments, there is still one that will define my memory of this year’s tournament: getting Roger Federer‘s wristband! Roger casually tossed it out to fans after a practice one day, and my dad caught it. A few days later, my dad saw him again and Roger kindly signed the wristband — it is now the most prized possession in our family.
Cincinnati really knows how to host an awesome tennis tournament. It’s something that you can only understand after you see it for yourself. You have access to tennis players from all around the world and the opportunity to see some wonderful matches. There are also opportunities to volunteer as a worker in the players lounge, finance committee, information booth, usher, and ballperson. It’s a wonderful tournament — Cincinnati’s finest! It’s sad that the tournament is coming to an end this Sunday, but the finals this year should be interesting. Till then, I will try to enjoy as much tennis as I can!
Court 3 @ the Lindner Family Tennis Center (Home of the W&S Open)
Court 3 @ the Lindner Family Tennis Center (Home of the W&S Open)
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