Monday, July 25, 2016


Tennis, Anyone?

“In the good old summer time…”

It’s baseball, hot dogs, apple pie…all of those things, and more.

And tennis, of course.

This is the week of the Rogers Cup in Canada: the men are in Toronto this year, the women in Montreal. Not long ago, there was some serious tennis played in London, at a place called Wimbledon. I had the great fortune to be there, for a fine afternoon. I will share a few things that I learned on the excursion, in the hope that you will also get the opportunity to visit tennis’s greatest venue.

The first thing that we learned was that you do not go to the Wimbledon stop on the tube. The courts are more accessible from an earlier stop. By the way, it is a good idea to buy a special travel card called an “Oyster Card”. It gets you through the turnstiles quickly, and saves you a ton of money. Once you arrive at the stop, you follow the crowd, and read the signs that say “Five Minutes to the Courts”. That is, if you are a young Roger Bannister!

Then there is the matter of THE QUEUE. It is simply a method to provide the possibility of securing “Premium Tickets on the day of play”. The directions in the booklet indicate that if you decide to queue overnight, the stewards will awaken you at 6:00am. We had decided to go to the matches on Thursday, and figured it might be a tough ticket.

How wrong we were! We paraded right up to the ticket window and were offered two choices: general admission, which would allow us to tour the grounds, and sit on the grass to watch a big screen; or better still, to purchase seats at court level for Court Number One, for 58 pounds each.

                                        Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza

We saw three fine matches, all quarter finals: Ladies’ Doubles, Mixed Doubles, and Men’s Doubles. Martina Hingis was the defending champion in mixed Doubles. She and her partner Leander Paes from India eventually fell to Heather Watson and Henri Kontinen. Watson hails from the UK, and was naturally a crowd favourite.

As was a certain Andy Murray, who emerged as the Men’s Singles Champion, much to our dismay. He played Milos Raonic in the final, and breezed to victory. Murray is a steady competitor, and returned serve well. Raonic scored an impressive win over Roger Federer to get to the final.

Raonic is playing in the Rogers Cup this week in Toronto, as is Novak Djokovic, the number one player in the world. They are both in the same grouping, and may meet in the semi-final. No matter. There will be some great tennis this week on the grounds at York University.

I took the opportunity to watch some wheelchair tennis as well. Pretty incredible stuff. Great shots, fine returns. Gordon Reid, the number four seed from the UK, took the championship.

It is truly “Tennis Week” in London. There are 20 courts at the site, accommodating tennis at all levels: boys’ and girls’ singles and doubles, and invitational events as well. The city is decked out in traditional attire for the tournament. They do serve strawberries and cream too!

James Hurst

July 25, 2016.                           

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