Saturday, January 08, 2005

My visit to an ATP Tennis tournament

The game was Carlos Moya Vs Garcia Lopez ( a freakish cross between Andy Garcia and Jennifer Lopez). I went to Chennai Open yesterday, which enters its fifth year (?) as India's only ATP tournament. The tournament was held in a pretty awesome stadium in Nungambakkam. Night lights, cool breeze, Amazing crowd, I had one of those super evenings! Personally I would have liked the tournament to be named differently than Chennai Open. Nungambakkam is not a bad idea for a name ( like Wimbledon) and my personal favorite ( a safe one too since this stadium won't be shifted to ..lets say.. choolai medu). But since names like Salem open exist, Chennai Open seems to have its own merits.

There was Charu Sharma, the Krishnans , the Amrithrajs, Paes (lost the first round.. was hanging in there because of the doubles) , Mahesh Bhupathi ( ditto) and some cool chics from spain and other places in Europe.

The crowd was pretty vocal. Surprisingly Carlos Moya was not getting that much support. The C'mon garcia's meant that the Chennai crowd was going for the underdog again. As soon as Moya took the first set, people got behind Garcia like anything. Toddlers, Children, hobbits, Sareess, Veshtis all were chanting for Garcia urging him to make a comeback. He did make a comeback and we all went delirious. After being 4-6 down, Lopez ( feels good saying this name ..I always liked the second half of jennifer.... jennifer's name that is) came back 6-2.

Hearing the song-like the chants "Garciaaaa Garcia! C'mon Garcia", I felt like throwing some of my own c'mon's, like for example " C'mon Rajinikanth", " C'Mon Meenakshi Sunderrajan", ' C'mon Thalaivar MGR", " C'mon Vijaykanth". But then realized this was Chennai. Strict parents crowd here. Parents chaperone their kids in this part of the world till the kids are 30 years old. I was almost afraid if I made noise, some parents would take a notebook out and ask " what is your father's phone number?" Parents here are bold enough to take over the cricket stadium and start moderating other people's children ( I was not suprprised at all when there was no crowd trouble when Pakistan came visiting.. just too many parents inside the stadium). And this was tennis so you had to shut up when they started playing ( a hard thing to accomplish in India), so when some enthusiastic 8 year olds didn't stop their c'mon-garcia's in time, you'd hear a dozen parents shouting " Sridhar keep quiet", "AVINASH ( pause) SILENCE ( pause)"

90% of the kids were from the Padma Seshadri school ( the snobs). The PSBB'ians as they call themselves were ball-boys, cute " your seat is on the 3rd row sir!" girls, toddlers, c'mon garcia'ers, sometimes even parents. I was almost searching for their ex-principal YGP to see if she had also come. For all the snobbish, boasting tennis training and facilities PSBB seems to offer, I don't see many PSBB'ians in the circuit. Paes is from Madras Christian College, Sr.Krishnan was from Thirunelveli and Jnr Krishnan definetly looks more Vidhya Mandir or P.S than PSBB. I am sure the Amrithrajs never went to PSBB ( if at all they studied in Madras). So I am thinking " hey snobs! So whats the fuss all about". Given that even the cricket arena is mostly St. Bede's Vs Santhome ( the sriram's and the badanis) and even Cheeka was from Vidhya Mandir. Don't know where Umps S. Venky or Saddu Ramesh schooled in. PSBB simply has no claim to fame ( I'll think of some more anti PSBB things... hey ya ! Viswanathan Anand also is not PSBB.. or is he ?).

Okay digressing too much here, I almost spent a para on PSBB. But they are the high-society snobs! SBOA rocks any day :-) ( we had a couple of Miss. Madras way back in early 90's)

So when Garcia began to go neck and neck with Moya on the final set, it was interesting to hear some crowd discussions ( I always listen to what the crowd is discussing). There was no empty " play backhand " or "Play forehand" discussions ( I was half-expecting to hear that). The quality of discussions reminded me of the intesity of Tennis focus around here. For example a argument in the crowd, for which I am stll struggling to find an answer to is; The speed gun which shows the speed of the serve in the Electronic Display. There were five such speed guns, two people were arguing on how it measures the speed. Over what distance does it get measured. The speed when the ball leaves the racket should be around 320 Kms/hr and the speed when it reaches the receiver should be around 100 kms/hr . So is the average taken and put as 200 odd km/hr. Do all the 5 guns measure the same thing? The discussion turned to be more interesting when the conversation veered to how many samplings were done by the speed gun. Just two! ( server and receiver.. then what if the receiver takes the serve within the baselines.. 1 sample is lost ? ) or some N thousand smaplings and the average of the 5 X N thousand samples was given as the speed. Interesting! discussion maybe I should google for this!

Anyway the final set went for the tie-breaker and suddenly Moya fans from nowehere came into action and pumped him up. He took the tie-break and the match with ease. Well ! I was rooting for Moya. The Garcia dude was too flashy and played some awesome strokes once every 2 games and then just seemed to hang around. The only pity was Garcia won more games than Moya in the entire match. So maybe if he had spread his high points more evenly, he could have had the game. To inconsistent to deserve support.

As I walked out there was gigantic board that had the tournament progression in diagrams, looked kinda cool. Mercedes Benz is the official sponsor. Man! what cars!


Suresh Ramani said...

Saddu Ramesh - Santhome.

Are you sure the Benz was not a 'Premier Padmini'? ;-)

I think the highlight of the Chennai Open was when Boris Becker played in it (3 or 4 years ago) - although he lost in the early rounds.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bharath

Just found your blog. Very interesting read!

Vijay B

Anonymous said...

Landed on this recently. Enjoyed it.

Vishy Anand is a Don Bosco Alumni

Anonymous said...

Geez, look who's insecure!

Ah yes, you might think I am too; for not revealing my name or just responding to your insecure act.

But hey if I explain myself you're gonna think I'm a snob, why bother:P

Anonymous said...

Ehm... excuse me for saying this.. but duh.. haven't you realised that the greatest ever music director A.R RAHMAN is from psbb? Or have you forgotten that Sharat Kamal was a psbb alumni.. or Anuradha sriram(Singer)or.. K.R.Sharadh Cricket Player ?? No school IN THIS WORLD can ever beat PSBB.....