Here's my review from Friday, QF day. Enjoy.
(I also posted this in the tournament forum, but I wanted it to be available to everyone.)
The day started for me at 6:00 AM when I woke up with excitement. I had spent the whole night thinking of how I was going to my first WTA event. Once the rest of my family woke up and got dressed, we left for the Amelia Island Plantation. It was about a 30 minute drive from our hotel, but it felt like 3 hours. Once we arrived at the resort (earlier than almost anyone else), we boarded the shuttle which would deliver us to the tournament site. First of all, I have to say that this is the most beautiful venue I think I
have ever seen. It's such a warm enviroment and the staff are as pleasant as they could be. When first entering the gates, three men came out of the members only area and saw me with my draw/schedule (
) and walked over to talk to me. They asked about the up-coming matches and about who was left in the draw. The oldest of the group took my little brother aside and said, "Do you like NASCAR? Do you know Jeff Burton? Well, I'm his father." My brother, who didn't like Burton, politely smiled and walked away.
The men thanked me for my help and went on.
We had arrived about an hour earlier than the first match so I toured the grounds with my mom, searching for players. I immeditely saw Jill Craybas and yelled, "Hey, Jill!" She turned around to see who was talking to her, saw me, gave a big smile and yelled, "Hey!!!" Later, I would see Bethanie Mattek walking but I was too nervous to say anything. I also saw Alona Bondarenko and her BF/coach and when I said "Alona?" (to wish her good luck) she put hewr head down, completely ignoring me, and walked on. Deciding that I probably wasn't going to see any more players, I took my seat in the Stadium Court for the Cornet/Razzano match. Razzano started so well and really looked to be in full control of the match, leading 4-1 in the first set. She was hitting the ball very
well and very deep. It was easy to tell that both ladies were at home on clay. After that point, something in Cornet went off and she completely raised her game. She now, was the one who was hitting the beautiful shots and it made for a few amazing rallies. She really took full control from that point and eventually won, 6-4, 6-2.
A few times during the match I went around to see if any new layers had entered the grounds. I saw Agnes Szavay's sister practicing with a coach, or her father, on the Grandstand Court and took a few pics. Stupidly at first, I thought it was Agnes and wished her good luck today. She returned the comment with a look of confusion and, probably thinking I was a creeper, looked away. I later saw many of the Spanish players practcing together with, I think, Ai Sugiyama. The person who looked like Ai was the farthest away, so I couldn't tell. I did recognize Ruano Pascual (with her 42-year-old boyfriend) and Dominguez Lino. I took one pic of Virginia but the person I was with started to get impacient, so I left before I took any more pics. After leaving the Cornet/Razzano match again in the second set, I went to see "Agnes" practicing, still not realizing who she really was. Afterwards, I found Alona practicing with her coach, and I must say she looked amazingly good. If anyone didn't know, she has a huge tattoo on her upper back, which is very appealing. I took a few pics, watched her hit the ball (and very well, I might add) and wished her luck against Maria when she came up next to me. She smiled and said, "Thanks" before I walked on. She seemed really nice, even if she ignored me before.
A funny thing happened while I was looking for more players: I walked past a staff member who was "guarding" Mattek and Uhlirova while they practiced. I didn?t even notice the players and when the staff member saw me with my unautographed piece of paper he said, "There's two right here." I told him that I was too embarrased/shy to ask them myself and he did it for me. Bethanie was extremely kind and laughed when she saw how shy I was around her. We talked for a few minutes about her many outfits of the last few years and she told me that she was fined for wearing a cowboy hat during one of her matches at the USO a few years ago. I also told her that I had seen her famous Wimbledon outfit on TV a few years ago. She laughed and later told me that she had something planned for this year as well. I told her that I'll be looking for it and left, completely forgetting that Vladka was there. I later felt so bad that I went back when she was alone with a photographer and said that I had spaced out while talking to Bethanie and asked if
she would give me her autograph. She smiled and said sure. She was very warm and I really was glad I went back to get her signature. I next saw Davenport practicing with her husband, where Szavay's sister had been, and I took a few pics. Then I walked down to
the lower courts where the real Agnes was hitting with her coach. She was smiling when she looked over at me, so I smiled back. She then gave the same look of "WTF" that her sister had given me and walked to the back of the court. Is it wrong to smile in Hungary?
There were a couple of men beside me who really wanted to see Lindsay so I told them where she was practicing and tried to give them simple directions to the court. They couldn't have followed them to save their lives so I had to walk them over to the courts.
One claimed to have taught Ashley Harkleroad when she was little and the other, a creeper, had some sort of mental issue. We arrived at the court, and the first man attampted to talk to Lindsay. She smiled at first, but when he said he knew Ashley and that she wanted to tell Lindsay hello, she turned around and acknowledged the man. The other man would not stop talking to me about getting autographs of players. He said that Ivanovic and Golovin were very kind to him last year, but Hantuchova was "rude" by saying maybe later and walking away. The first man used me to his advantage to escape the other and I eventually tried to get away from him, but to not avail. I again said, "Well, it was nice to meet you" and got out before he could respond. BTW, I later checked pics and no, he's not Mr. Bean.
After that interesting experience, I quickly took a pic of, I think, Voskoboeva practicing and hurried to the Stadium Court where Maria and Alona were about to enter. A score of fans lined up to see the superstar enter and to get autographs, but she signed none and every one went to their seats, dissapointed. My dad was offened by the fact that she didn't even acknowledge the fans. Little he knows.
(I'm just kidding, I like Maria.)
The match itself was the best of the day and I was so grateful that I was there to see it. The first set started with Alona coming out firing and going up 3-0. Maria started to get into the match at that point and leveled the socre at 3-3. There were fe breaks, if any, after this and the tiebrake was very memorable. Both players were playing so well and the crowd was really appreciative. Maria held multiple set points and Alona had one before she finally closed out the set on her second. 7-6(9). At one point during the first set there were about 10, "Come on, Maria." So I, rooting for Alona, screamed, "Come on, Alona!" A large group of people around me laughed and one person a few rows in front of me said, "Good for you." Maria really raised the level of her game and finally closed out the match 6-7(9), 6-3, 6-2. Before the match ended, I walked outside to try to get Maria's signature again (as well as Alona's). I met a lady there who shared my opinion that Maria wasn't too kind to her fans. It turned out that she was the wife of an executive of Baush and Lomb, who joined her later. (We waited a long time together.) She told me about the party last year and how Davenport was extremely kind and made sure to sign for everyone there. She said that Golovin was also very sweet and a really wonderful lady. She signed autographs for those there as well. The lady told me that she didn?t drink or anything as she just wanted to talk to everyone. She asked all where they were from, etc. The lady
seemed to really have been impressed by Tatiana! Maria signed a few autographs after for a few girls and she was walking directly towards me so I said, "Maria, please?" She looked at me and started to stop, but decided against it and kept walking towards the
player area. Mary Joe Fernandez had walked by without me noticing her as I was talking to the lady, but she interrupted and said, "There's the commentator!" as I had expressed my desire to get her autograph earlier, but it was too late, she had already left through the corridor. It was really dissapointing not to have gotten her autograph as I'm a big fan. I did talk to the umpire, Lynn Welch though. She was actually really popular and signed
many autographs. When she walked by me I told her she was the best umpire on tour and she gave me a big smile, followed by a "Thank you."
After that very high quality match, I left to see Szavay and Davenport enter the court. Another large group of people tried to get their autographs but again failed as both players were fixated on the up-coming match. To be honest I watched none of this match as I was roaming the grounds trying to find players. I was told by my family that Szavay played really well and stayed with Davenport for the first set but wilted in the second to go down 5-1. She then started to go for her shots and somehow leveled the set. The tiebrake, though, was all Lindsay who closed out the match 6-4, 7-6(3). I saw Cibulkova a few times but I was so nervous and decided against talking to her, also for fear of being rude
when she was shopping. The next player I saw was Yung-Jan Chan who was practicing with her French coach on a back court. Her mom was sitting in a chair on an outside court and started to chat with her. I must say that she had to have been the nicest person I met
all day. We talked for around 30 min, or at least tried, as her English was not the best.
She did give me a lot of information, though, and was a joy to talk to. She even gave me Chinese lessons.
When I told her that I was a big fan of Chan she went and got her daughter and asked her to sign an autograph for me. She was an extremely sweet girl, but also very shy. When I sat back down her mom told me a bit more about Chan. She even told me about her English name, "Latisha," obviously not knowing its WTAWorld
famosity. She said that Asian players call her Yung-Jan while the Americans call her Latisha. It was a cute story and I was really glad I had met both of them. Before I left, though, she asked if I would like a picture with "Latisha" and of course I said yes.
Unfortunately she took it on my phone so I can't share it with you all. It was one of the best parts of the day, for sure. When I started to go back to my seat, I met my brother and my dad. They said they had just seen a television interview that featured a tall, blonde player and they attempted to describe her to me to see if I could identify her. They were really bad and I had no idea who they were referring to. They took me over to see her and it was Elena Vesnina! I was really excited and asked her for an autograph and she said sure. Elena was very kind as well.
I forgot to mention that the group of people sitting around us at the matches were very kind and we were very lucky to have people like that surrounding us. One man even was helping me take better pictures as he was like a pro. They had expressed a desire to see
Amelie Mauresmo, so when I found her practicing I went up to get them. Amelie was hitting with Loic and seemed to be struggling. She was missing many shots and expressed her anger a few times. It was a relatively short practice and before she left, I asked for an
autograph to which she said yes. Before, though, she sat down and drank a bottle of water. She was obviously exhausted and I felt for her. She autographed a few things for various people and we thanked her and wished her good luck in the night match vs. Cibulkova. It was no surprise to me that she lost as her form was nothing like that of the Amelie who won two GS.
After seeing Amelie, I restarted my search for Cibulkova. She was one of my favorites left in the tournament and I really wanted to meet her before I left. After a long time searching, she finally showed up on a practice court. I shyly walked over to where was
talking to a friend and her coach and asked for an autograph. She was very happy to sign for me and gave me a huge smile the whole time she was signing. It was really nice to see how kind of a person she was. As I walked back to meet my family, my little brother became angered at the fact that I didn't get him an autograph from Dominika like he wanted so he got my dad to take him back to get one from her. They told her the story, which she thought was pretty funny, said "No worries" and signed for my brother. I got a perfect shot of my brother walking away with Domi beaming from ear-to-ear at his desire for an autograph. She also looked extrenely beautiful.
Before we left for the day, I wanted to try and get Lindsay Davenport's signature after her match (of which my brother took great pics for those who want them). That's when the scariest part of the whole day occured. They were clearing a pathway for people so the players could get through and everyone was kind enough to follow directions...except one lady who walked in right before Lindsay was to come through. When asked to step aside, she went ballistic and said she was going to the stadium and tried to force her way through (heading towards Lindsay) and when security tried to physically stopped her she started hitting them back! What made it even more pathetic was that she had a little girl with her
who was witness to her mother's behavior. She eventually was stopped by a large security guard before Lindsay came through. It turned out she had a press pass, but she was still supposed to stop for the players, like everyone else. Lindsay, unaware of the
aforementioned drama, signed many autographs before walking by me and signing for the girl next to me. Before she left I said, "Lindsay, please" and she turned back and signed for me. It was very kind of her as the staff was telling her to keep moving. It's very sentimental for me to get her autograph as she was the first player I ever saw playing in the Wimbledon 1999 final vs. Graf. I became a huge fan afterwards until recently when Golovin became my favorite. Szavay had left before Davenport and when I said, "Agi" she looked at me but kept walking, where her sister joined her and put her arm around her big sister. They walked off together like that. I must say I was really dissapointed with Szavay's behavior throughout the day. She acted very rude to many fans, but I can
understand how she feels as a professional athlete, constantly being under the public eye. Also, she was told to keep moving by the staff the last time I saw her, so I don't blame her
for not signing.
There's really so much more I would like to tell you all but I'm trying to keep this short. Yes, yes I know, stop laughing. But seriously, this was a day I'll never forget. I knew that it was going to be a fun day, but I really had no idea. There were so many memorable events and I'm sure it's a day I'll remember for the rest of my life.
(BTW, I took around 100 good pics and as soon as I am able to get them up, I will. It will be sometime within the next couple of weeks, but I really want to get them up for you soon, as I'm proud of the pics I took.