Boyfriend Jon was on vacay last week and he wrote up these impressions from attending the Family Circle Cup not as a reporter, but as a fan:
• Attending a pro tennis event -- at least midweek -- has to be the best value in sports. The sessions last eight hours or so, you're entitled to move around and, most important, you get a full slate of matches. When the Knicks or Dodgers mail it in, you're out of luck and no amount of dance routines or T-shirt giveaways can mask that. In tennis, if you get a dog of a match, sit tight. The next one will be better.
• The practice courts remain the sport's unkept secret. If a band or a Broadway show opened rehearsal (at no extra charge!), fans would fall over themselves to attend. Funny how Elena Dementieva warms up right near the food court and the same folks who paid $50 to watch her compete aren't much interested in her hitting session.
• There's a reason why companies sponsor tennis events. Even at a modestly sized event, even in the throes of a recession, it was hard not to notice the makes of cars in the parking lot. It was like an S class showroom. Tennis is wise to market itself as accessible. The sport is not, contrary, to perception, expensive to play. But let's not fool ourselves: There are a lot of wealthy people in the stands.
• Sell the foreigners. I was impressed with Melanie Oudin -- can anyone lend her three or four inches? -- and Alexa Glatch has been playing well of late. But let's not fool ourselves: The days of five Americans inhabiting the top 10 are long gone and never coming back. For events like Charleston to thrive, it's really imperative to educate fans. I overheard some variation of this exchange way too frequently:
"Who's up next?"
"Don't know. Two girls whose names I can't pronounce!"
• Venus Williams = grace. I saw Venus lose to Sabine Lisicki and my enduring impression was not Lisicki's vast potential but of Venus' dignity. For as many times as I've seen her play, I was so struck by her dignified comportment. She walks around with her head high, her expression unchanged whether she hits an ace or double faults. No looks to her box pained or otherwise; no fist pumps; no antics of any kind, even now that Roger Federer has made racket-smashing hip. She didn't project indifference, just pride.
So much word on that fourth point. Sell the foreigners you fucking idiots.
Anyway, the rest of Boyfriend's mailbag was pretty good too. In particular, I liked his response to the "WTF? Dina's #1" question.