Last year, I ventured to the USO to check out the qualifying tournament. I think I learned about it on tennis.com and I thought I’d see what got Pete Bodo so excited. It turned out to be a great way to wander around the USO site without the massive crowds and to catch some intriguing matches. The great find last year was catching Xavier Malisse!
Today, I went out for the first day of qualifying matches. After too long a rain delay (up to 3 hrs), I watched Ryan Harrison of the USA, whom I had heard of, play a young Frenchman, Jonathan Dasnieres De Veigy. Ryan took the first set quite easily at 6-1, but had a bit more trouble in the 2nd, winning 6-4 after trading serves. Of the two, Ryan was clearly the better player with surer ground strokes. I did think Jonathan made some beautiful shots but he couldn’t seem to string together successive points to really do much damage. I followed up with Robert Kendrick (USA) vs. Matwe Middlekoop (NED) but that match didn’t have enough pop to keep my attention. To be honest, it was cold, windy, and wet and I decided to head home. However, I saw a crowd of Black folks around court 11 and figured someone of color was playing, so I stopped to watch Sloane Stephens (USA) take on Anais Laurendon (FRA). When Stephens missed a chance to close out the first set at 5-3, I took my leave.
Clearly I’m a slave to the pros because I got distracted by Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco practicing on Armstrong and sat and watched for 90 minutes. The weather didn’t seem to trouble me much then! I did chat with a lovely older black woman who was an avid Federer fan, who tried to talk me into picking up tennis and learning language before I got too old like her. Hmm, I might have been inspired.