Shawn is a tennis fan. And even though I played badminton* in high school (stop laughing, I was captain AND 2nd in the state of CT for doubles my senior year), I've never been into tennis. This might have something to do with the fact that 1) I couldn't figure out how the damn thing was scored (and no one knows WHY it's scored like it is so it's not just me) 2) the racket seemed so heavy compared to my badminton one and 3) I always hit the ball directly into the net.
Nevertheless, I asked Shawn if he had any interest in going to the Australian Open, a Grand Slam Tennis Tournament held here in the fine city of Melbourne. Since he likes and plays tennis, (and he actually knows some people that play tennis), he thought we should go.
First we had to pick the day. With my new job, I get off American AND Australian holidays (thebestever.) so we decided to go on MLK weekend. This may or may not have been because I waited to buy tickets until the week before and couldn't get anything for the weekend of the final. He was more interested in seeing men's tennis, so we picked the 3rd round men's, since that's when we could get the best seats at the best ticket prices. We ended up being at the smaller arena, which was fine with me. The only thing with tennis tournaments is since it's an elimination tournament, you have no idea who you're going to see. We thought by the 3rd round, we'd be able to at least see some people he knew.
To try and school me on tennis, we started watching a few days before. One match I watched, starred a sassy Frenchman named Gael Monfils. I instantly liked Monfils because he is French and I am French
|Are you ready for some tennis?|
The Australian Open is held in downtown Melbourne. It's not too far from where we are. Our match started at 7pm, but we got there a little early so we could walk around the grounds and check stuff out. We ended up getting a bite to eat and I got an official Australian open ipod holder. I needed one and it was $10. Done.
|"Shawn you take the picture because you are tall"|
The game prior to ours went a little long, so when we finally got in it was well after 7pm. I was pretty happy with our good our seats were. And even though they were marked as "obstructed view" it was only the judges chair and the cameras.
|Oh goddd, my view is too obstructed.|
Playing Monfils was another guy from France, Simon. So it was really a match of my people. Sort of. Justification: anyone who called their grandparents Memere and Pepere gets to be French and not French Canadian. They had to arrive in Canada from somewhere and that somewhere was France. My people it is.
I was pretty excited because Monfils was a fun player and Simon was a dreamy player, so this match was really the best one Shawn could have taken me to. Tennis is not like other sports I've been to. Other sports bore me. Like baseball. What happens in baseball? Nothing. Ever. It's not like you get to run around the bases in a foam airplane or anything.** I like baseball though, because I like hot dogs. This is a good of a reason as any.
In tennis, things happen. And you have to be quiet while they are playing, so it makes me pay attention. AND this match ended up being pretty epic, so that also helped the situation.
In a tennis match, you are not allowed to get up from your seats while they are playing. So sort of like a play, you can't exit while things are happening. I guess unless it's an emergency. Anyway, during the second game some guys came in and told the people next to us that they were in their seats. The couple next to us pulled out their tickets and their tickets said they were in the correct seats. The game was starting back up....they HAD to sit down. What's the solution? Sit in my lap, naturally.
I'm trying to sit down, I have one guy crouching on my leg and the other in my lap.
Seriously? That's what you came up with? While the game was playing, they were whispering to one another about the ticket mix up. Eventually, they realized that they had tickets for the 11am match. How they even got in the door is beyond me. This time, they just decided to be seat squatters and take the empty seats in front of us. And without a word about the whole 'i'm in your lap' situation, they just sat up there. I should have at least gotten a drink out of the situation, boys.
|Remember me? No?|
Lap sitters aside the game was really great. It ended up going into 5 sets. And I loved every minute of it! It also (at the time) was the longest rally ever in the Australian Open. They boasted 71 shots in two minutes. Nail biting.
|Monfils wins the 4th set!|
|But....Simon won the day.|
Five hours later the game ended. Both players were completely exhausted, and luckily, we caught the last tram of the night home.
The one take away from this is now not only do I like tennis I 1) Understand the scoring! and 2) have now purchased a racket! Okay, it's a juniors racket because the grip is smaller, but when Shawn and I played the other day at the courts near our apartment, I was able to get the ball over the net, and serve correctly! I also have a standing tennis date with a friend. (Side note: i have not deserted my badminton past, I also insisted we buy badminton gear ---YOU CAN BUY REAL RACKETS IN AUSTRALIA!! --- and have been teaching Shawn in anticipation for a game with one of his friends here)
The NEXT day (seriously when I put my mind to something, I commit), we headed down to see the Melbourne Aces take on the Adelaide Bite in the Australian BASEBALL league. Another work perks, they gave us some free tickets to take advantage of for the last game of the seasons. (They're trying to make it a winter league to encourage some American and Japanese players to use it as training). Not many from work took advantage of it, but Shawn and I are always up for free things so we headed down. The stadium is a little ways out of the city an it's not much of a stadium. But then again, the Aces don't have much of a following.
When I arrived we were learned our seats were on the ground level, right on the first baseline. Pretty awesome.
|Seriously good seats.|
My co-worker, who had a contact at the Aces, had signed us up for participating in some hyjinx during the 4th inning. When I found out that I had to run the bases in a race against her, I was busy stuffing my face with American food. I'm pretty sure that was part of her plan. Belly full of hot dog/french fries isn't really conducive to going for a sprint.
And to make things more challenging, I needed to wear a foam airplane to run the bases in. Joy.
|Should I make the plane an everyday thing?|
Because Shawn is a super genius, he filmed it for me! So now I present:
That time I ran the bases during the Melbourne Aces Baseball game!
Let's just deal with the obvious here. That first baseman clearly lost it for me.
Also let's deal with the second obvious thing here, I am a completely awkward runner. And I did pull a hamstring during this. Old lady body, ftw!
As much as I complain about it, I'm sure I never, ever would have this opportunity in the states. So even though it was something where I had to run, and wear a weird foam airplane that was made for giants, and i lost (but did so with a bit of style) it was still a cool experience.
The game itself was uneventful. Well uneventful for the Aces, they lost 9-0 to the Bite. (ouch.) We DID meet a guy wearing a Baltimore hat just like me so we chatted with him for a while. He used to live not too far from where some of my cousins live now, and since Shawn went to school in Baltimore, they talked about that. So funny that you'd meet a fellow Baltimore fan at a baseball game in Melbourne, Australia. I've turned into my dad.
On the way home, we met a guy wearing a sox jersey with an aces hat. He talked with us the whole way to Melboure about sports and the differences. I learned a little bit about cricket (should I go to a game? vote on that), and we talked about American football (or gridiron as they call it here) and baseball. The MAIN difference in fans from here and fans from the states, is they are cheering for their teams, not against the other team. The utter hatred (and seriously the gross language) at baseball games in the US is baffling. Here, I really think you could bring kids to games, it's a family environment. And there's just something about cheering for your own team instead of bringing all this negativity that's really great. I wonder if it's the same for all Aussie sports. It certainly has been at tennis and baseball.
This upcoming year, we'll definatley got to some AFL games (go CATS!), maybe some rugby, and we're up in the air about cricket. Think we should go?