Going to tennis matches is something I do alone. I always say I want company, yet I want the freedom to wander at will to any match that catches my fancy. If the match on the main stadium isn’t doing it for me (it frequently doesn’t if I’m in nosebleed seats) then I will venture off to one of the side courts to either cheer on some of my favorites or discover someone new. Still I have wondered if I could share my passion with someone. A few weeks ago, I got myself into a snit as I realized that for all my grand love of tennis, very few of my friends have even offered to attend a match with me. I quickly calmed myself down as I imagined having to negotiate my schedule of matches with another person; it may just be a blessing in disguise.
Still when an old and a new acquaintance excitedly told me that we should make a night of it at the US Open tonight, I was intrigued. As there are fewer matches at night, I thought it would be great fun. But after texting my friends my location and not hearing from them, I was unexpectedly left on my own. I was more puzzled than hurt and wondered if they had been maimed in some horrible transportation accident. After ascertaining that they were ok and were ensconced in better seats than I had attained on my own, I just got angry. How dare they try to ruin my tennis adventures? How could they be so disappointing? Who are these people who don’t know how to use cell phones? The mental rant went on for awhile. Then inevitably I got quiet and thought about what the absence of these two folks meant.
After some thinking I realize that I have been very fortunate. I am spoiled by my friends who are mostly attentive and responsive to my needs. They have known me long enough to understand that it is important that they show up in my life as I expect to do in theirs. So strangely enough, this episode just reminded me of how rarely I am in this situation with the few folks I have in my life; none of them would have left me stranded without a phone call or a text. I think I needed reminding of this valuable lesson, in light of what happened yesterday.
Yesterday– I was lucky enough to attend a tennis clinic with some pros and have access to a hospitality suite at the US Open as well as lower promenade tickets to Arthur Ashe for free! While it was great to attend the clinic with the pros, get their autographs, and see them do their stuff up close and personal, the best part of the deal for me was the hospitality suite (practical to the endJ). It was fantastic to be able to take a break from the heat, go inside, and have a drink and a light snack without shelling out concession stands money. I started wondering if the folks who go through those expensive tours had gotten it right all long. Maybe doing this whole tennis thing on the cheap was really the wrong end of the stick and these luxurious suites are what it is all about. I started imagining always having access to a cool room and loads of great food; what do I have to do to keep this coming??!! Who do I have to get to know?!! I started to focus on the circumstances/atmosphere surrounding the Open, the seductive glamour of it all. Pretty soon my vision of my night out was replete with a rollicking group of new friends and surprisingly little tennis. But I was quickly snapped back to reality when I found myself alone and remembered what I loved about traveling the tour: catching more tennis than I could stand and following the stories of the individual players. Yesterday, for all my good seats at Arthur Ashe, I didn’t make it to the stadium because the side courts had the tales I wanted to see: Wawrinka vs. Lapenti, Verdasco vs. Becker, & Feli vs. Dent.
Sometimes I forget that there is value to doing your own thing, even if you are lost in the crowd. Sure it’s not going be cool hospitality suites, kick ass seats, free flowing drinks, food for miles, and a crowd of could-be friends, but it’s on my terms and a part of a longer narrative, whose ending remains open; and it’s kind of the way I like it.