It's been a lovely couple of days down here in Carlsbad, an idyllic resort town with impossibly ( and sometimes I'll-advisedly) tan men and women reminiscent of Indian Wells. This the first year the tournament has been in Sam Diego in two years, having moved to ugly as fuck Carson in the interim. Ugh, I'm still getting the smog out of my lungs from last year.
With the hiatus come some hiccups. It hasn't been the most smoothly organized tourny I've been to and there are definitely some organizational decisions that left me scratching my head. $15 dollar parking with no in and out privileges? Port-o-potties on a fancy resort like this when you're clearly trying to court the wealthy clientele? Completely tarped off practice courts? None of these things are "wrong" or anything, but they do put you, as a fan, on the defensive. After dropping our cash for parking I turned to Steph: "Interesting. How else are they going to try and gouge us?". Not exactly the mindset you want fans to have when they first set foot on site.
But all that aside, the tourney has been great. The grandstand courts are small and intimate with courtside bleachers. Much better viewing than what we had at Stanford, where we were limited to watching from concourse bleachers. And what SD lacks in practice court access they make up in "players mingling about" access. The time that I would normally spend at the practice courts has been replaced by hanging in the food area. Players have to walk through there in order to get from the players' lounge to the practice courts. I've seen everyone walk through there except Sam and Ana. Clearly they heard I was here.
There's also a viewing terrace for the players between the lounge and Center Court. It's fun to see the players come out there to hang out. You get a pretty hilarious combination of players.
Center Court is much bigger than Taube, holding around 5,000. The ambition is admirable but this tourney is nowhere close to being sold out and the matches are awkwardly empty. Dead silence and no cheering unless I'm in the stands. I don't know if the players care, but it definitely makes for an odd viewing experience. It reminds me of the early rounds of IW where Center Court is often deserted for WTA matches. Though, at IW, it's because everyone is roaming the grounds.
So that's my initial rundown if the tourney. I'll regale you with my favorite stories so far later.