I spent the last few days in my version of tennis heaven – driving lots of players, coaches, ATP officials, girlfriends and anyone else who got in my car for the 2013 U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships tournament at River Oaks Country Club here in Houston. This is my third year driving and every year my experience just gets more fun. So here are the highlights from this year:
Tennis Celebrities In My Car – I was thrilled to get to drive, in my opinion, the biggest tennis celebrity ever! I got to pick up Micaela Bryan, daughter of Bob Bryan (of Bryan Brothers fame), from the airport. Oh, and I picked up her mom too. I think I have previously posted about Micaela because her Twitter feed is so funny and so dang cute. You can find it here: @MicaelaBryan. Just FYI – Micaela is 14 months old and all she tweets are photos with prominent tennis players and hilarious captions.
And More Celebrities – Another tennis celebrity I got to drive, again in my opinion, was Pete Holtermann who is in charge of media relations for the tournament and who tweets at @HolterMedia. I'm sure he thought I was some kind of freak that I knew who he was and was excited when he got in my car. Anyway, he was so nice and invited me to come back to the media room when I finished driving. Which I did. So I got to see where the player interviews take place and how all of the information you see in the newspaper, on the Internet, on Twitter, etc. gets generated and put out there. My goal for next year is to figure out some way to get a job working for Pete Holtermann at this tournament. And Pete – I will work for free!
And More Tennis Players (etc.) In My Car – So here's the list of noteworthy tennis players, etc. that I got to drive:
- Sam Querrey – always sweet, unfortunately had to withdraw due to an injury
- Fernando Verdasco (photo above) – well, he's already out, but he was in my car so I'm listing him here
- Ivo Karlovic – I wouldn't feel right if I didn't get him in my car at least once during this tournament, I didn't think it would happen because he didn't make it through the qualifying rounds but then he was the “lucky loser” (because of Querrey being injured) so he made it into the main draw and I got to drive him!
- Steve Johnson – American player, partnered in doubles with Jack Sock, so cute and I hope he does well this year
- Franky Moser – German player who partnered in doubles with Tommy Haas and big pals with Ivo so I have to include him, plus he talked to me a lot which I always like (that's mostly how you make this list)
- Paolo Lorenzi's coach – whatever, right? But I drove Paolo last year and he was very nice and chatty so when his coach got in my car, I told him how much I liked Paolo. He's moving up in the rankings from somewhere in the 100's to No. 59 as of a few days ago. Hopefully, by next year, he'll be ranked in the Top 25.
- Some ATP Chair Umpire – Honestly, I don't know what this guy's name was but he explained to me how he is an employee of the ATP and travels all over the world being a chair umpire for tournaments like this. The people doing the lines are USTA officials so that could be someone like me one day! (Unless Pete Holtermann gives me a job.)
- Gael Monfils' friend – I don't know who this guy was but he had credentials and he appeared to be in a complete panic so I gave him a ride. It turns out he was an Air France pilot who was due to fly to Paris that day and needed to get back to his hotel and couldn't find a cab. He's a friend of Gael Monfils and was in town for the tournament. So the lesson here is if you have credentials and look like you're about to have a breakdown, I will probably give you a ride.
Finally, I have to post a few photos that were taken by my new Facebook friend, Beverly Balowsky. Here's a collage of photos from this year's tournament, featuring Gael Monfils, Ivo Karlovic, John Isner and Tommy Haas:
Beverly spends her vacation out at the tournament taking incredible photos. All of these are her's and I want to thank her so much for allowing me to use them in this post.
I had so much fun at this tournament and I can't recommend doing a volunteer job like this highly enough if you are a tennis fanatic like I am (which I assume you might be since you're reading this).
If you want to follow the last few days of this, or any other, tennis tournament, you must get the ATP/WTA Live Scores app. I wrote about it here: Keeping Up With The US Men's Clay Court. This is the app I use throughout the tournament since I can't keep up with the live scores while I'm driving. This app is pretty close to live. I also highly recommend following the Twitter feed for the tournament which is @mensclaycourt and the hashtag which is #USClay. I happen to know that Pete Holtermann is doing the Twitter work (or supervising it) so it is accurate and up-to-date.
I'm pulling for the Bryan Brothers to win in doubles so hopefully we will see another Micaela tweet of her sitting in the trophy making a cute baby/tennis remark!
Photos via Beverly Balowsky