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TENNIS 10SBALLS SHARES CRAIG CIGNARELLI’S PERSPECTIVE OF THE 2017 U.S. OPEN

Photo by Brett Connors Photography
Photo by Brett Connors Photography

 

 

When I was young, the term “flushing” meant I was using the facilities properly. By college, it was a phrase from a card game. Today, it means the US Open Tennis Championships and I prefer this version to either other type of flush.

 

The massive metal globe hovering outside the grounds calls your attention away from the throttling buses breathing fumes in the drive. At the entry gate, several security folks greeted me with a scan, a search, and then a smile. Inside, Arthur Ashe inspires, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”

 

I am here now, seated atop metal bleachers recently constructed with a several million dollar stimulus grant by the USTA. In the distance, small children bat around red dotted balls and foreign tourists snap photos before a wall of legendary winners like McEnroe and Graf and Pete. A few hundred people test out the local food vendors while music blares out across the courts. Beneath the hot New York sun, several Irish-looking women slather on sunscreen like cake frosting.

 

From my youth, I remember when Mom would put the sauce on the stove to let it simmer all day in preparation for the evening meal. That is what the Open feels like today. There are constructors constructing and ball kids balling (?) and umpires seeking the shadier courts. There are players grunting on the practice courts and in the gym and large crowds of children and elderly people taking photos of Rafa and Roger as they “have a hit” on Stadium Two. There are cases of unopened balls stacked beneath the stadium and if you open one just to hear the hiss-pop, a security guard will appear and yell at you and chase you even if you have a bad knee.

 

On the courts, the simmering pot is heating up. Primal screams ring out from players like two-time NCAA champion as she battles to work her way back into the main draw. Note: The difference between a first round main draw loser and a first round qualifying loser is about $45,000. Her opponent is Francesca DiLorenzo and if this girl ever learns to come forward, she has a future. Today though, Gibbs’ experience took her down. Out on Court 5, USC alum Daniel Nguyen succumbed to a few jitters and headed to the practice courts for more work. Another American, Mitchell Krueger went deep in the 3rd set today. Krueger was down 4-3 in the third to Canadian player Breydan Schnur when he lost serve with some very shaky tennis. Schnur then proceeded to drop the next four games with nerves not seen since Marat Safin tried to write a love letter.

 

The point is, even though the sauce is still cooking, there’s a lot to see her right now. And you don’t need a ticket. Just show up. As with much of life, sometimes that is all it takes. Just show up.