Watching tennis -- 08/25/07

My entry on Thursday morning had noted that I had to post it and dash off to Newport because Nancy and I were going to the International Tennis Hall of Fame for the Gibson Guitar Champions Cup, a special tournament featuring a competition among eight former top players -- Pat Cash (Australia), Cedric Pioline (France), Richard Krajicek (The Netherlands), Mikael Pernfors (Sweden), and (from the U.S.A.) Todd Martin, Mal Washington, Jim Courier, and John McEnroe.

The Tennis Hall of Fame proudly flaunts its Gilded Age origins... and takes its tennis quite seriously.

The weather forecast had been for a mix of clouds and sun, with a ten percent chance of a light rain shower. It was very cloudy as we set out... and as we entered Newport and began searching for a parking space, a light rain began. I decided to park in the lot at the Newport Visitor's Center, where we could catch a "trolley" (i.e., a public transit bus, but one designed to look like an 1890's vintage trolley car). While we waited, the rain became heavy ... and then, as we began to wonder about cancellations, it diminished and then stopped.
Top photo: Cash vs. Piolini; bottom photo: McEnroe vs. Pernfors
We got to the Hall of Fame just a few minutes after the first match (between Pat Cash and Cedric Piolini) had begun.

The clouds cleared away and soon we were sitting in bright sunshine... After the Cash-Piolini match we went out to Bellevue Avenue and got some sunblock and something to eat (and two bottles of cold water at two for a dollar from a supermarket rather than the three dollar a bottle price being asked inside). We got back inside just in time for McEnroe vs. Pernfors.
McEnroe remains McEnroe... He may be two years away from his fiftieth birthday, but the fire is still there. He is obviously older (at times it seemed almost as if he were in pain) but he is still an outstanding athlete and there were moments on the court when the years just seemed to melt away. He also remains in-your-face confrontational.

We were on the south end of the court where, instead of the few rows of genteel seating around the other three sides, there were rows of bleacher seating towering into the sky. (Okay, so it wasn't Arthur Ashe Stadium, but we were in Row U.)
From up there we could see over into some of the other courts where, mostly, people were playing matches totally unrelated to the Champions Cup activities. During a break between games in the McEnroe Pernfors match, Nancy was looking at the players on the closest court over there and began to comment on how good they appeared to be... then she realized she was watching Todd Martin and Mal Washington warming up for their match which would follow McEnroe/Pernfors. Martin is six feet six inches tall and had been ranked as high as 4th during his career.

We couldn't stay for the third match because we had theatre tickets for that night and had to get back over to the mainland. We went with Nancy's mother to see Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Theatre by the Sea in Matunuck. Very funny. I had remembered it fondly from many years ago and was pleased that they did such a good job. Theatre by the Sea has been dark for the past three or four years but is now under new ownership that is pledged to bringing a full summer season next year. This was sort of a test to see if there was still an audience and appears to be very successful. Many performances have been fully sold out and the others only had a handful of seats left. We had to try at least four different nights before we could find three seats together. (Of course I've become so accustomed to very small venues like 2nd Story Theatre -- and even TrinityRep's two theatres are not huge -- that it seemed strange to be in a theatre that probably holds around five hundred.)

Jill's road trip.

They are in Beaverton, Oregon, spending a few days visiting with friends there, following a 27 hour drive (just a bit under 1800 miles) from Minnesota (across North Dakota and Montana and Idaho). .

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