So...Queens. It's basically everything you've heard and seen and more. Easily the shwankiest tournament that I have ever been to (yes, I'm looking at you, Madrid). Normally that would annoy the shizz out of me, but given my general love of all things British, meh, it didn't bother me at all. I give credit to the tournament for being able to balance the *heavily* corporate nature of the tournament with still giving hardcore tennis fans what they want: good seats, a great draw, and awkwardly close practice court access.
Not that this doesn't come cheap. I went on the first day and had to shell out 50 pounds for the cheapest Center Court ticket. With the blockbuster lineup on Tuesday I dropped 72 pounds for a second row ticket in a corner sideline. So...yeah. THAT'S FUCKIN' EXPENSIVE, YO. That said, I don't regret any of it.
More like "Out Train The RAIN" amIright?
This is the walkway to the practice courts. They're on the other side of the bushes. If you suck it up and squeeze through the random group of people just standing there and clogging up the entrance (move or leave, people!), then you're practicaly standing on the courts. It's a bit nutty.
Good stuff. The flip side of this is that you're kind of straining to see the far practice courts. And that's when things get blurry:
But it's still coolio.
The grounds are quite perfect, if you like quaint-feeling tournaments with huge monster-dong draws (psst! I do!). Unlike the European tournaments I visited last month, there's plenty of spots to sit and lounge around the grounds, a heavy emphasis on imbibing, all combined with a well-heeled crowd that actually sounded like, on the whole, they knew their tennis. In other words, it's a cool place to chill out and not watch tennis for people who actually do like to watch tennis. And again, these are compliments. Seriously.
But really it's the feel of the tournament that makes it feel unique, especially have months of clay and hard court tennis. Grass tennis is just so quiet in and of itself, and perhaps the tranquility is exacerbated by the fact that British tennis crowds are REAAAAALLY quiet. French tennis crowds can be quiet as well, but their silence seems borne out of apathy. The Brit crowd at Queens (and Birmingham, which is where I am now) weren't apathetic. They were just...polite. It's a noticable distinction.
So here's the upshot: Want to see grass court tennis? Love the ATP? Can't get tickets to Wimbledon and don't want to queue up? Queens is a pretty sweet alternative. I loved my time there and I was sad to have to go.
OH! And one more tip: qualies are free. THAT is a deal and a half.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)