Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Currently in Maryland
I Met T. Blake @ Legg Mason Qualifyings
I was presented box tickets to the Legg Mason Classics Session 2 on Sunday from my Great-Niece and spent a wonderful day of "qualifying rounds" of tennis. I arrived at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center at 12:30pm and the first persons I encountered on the practice courts was James Blake and Todd Martin. They were having a "fun" time and it seems as if they're really fond of each other. I spoke briefly with James as he was on the end of the court nearest me. He was friendly and said he wouldn't play his first match until around tuesday. Todd was pleasant, and I was awestruck with how tall he actually is in person. And, his grey hair gives him an "air of distinction". After a stroll around the vendors I took my seat and was entertained with a match between Huntley Montgomery and J. Benneteau. Huntley lost in a thrilling 3 setter 6/4 4/6 7/5. It was extremely hot and he had 2 medical timeouts for "cramps". But, all in all, the game was great. Good shotmaking and all. A few other quali's on the outer courts were not as good.
On one of my strolls around the outer courts, Andre Aggassi arrived at around 2:45pm, but I didn't get that close to him nor did I see him on the practice courts. The last match of the day was between Thomas Blake and Mashiska Washington. And, was it a good one. Both players were very aggressive and attacked the net often. Thomas played a lot of "serve and volley" points. He was great at net with terrific vollies. He's taller than James, and much more handsome. He's got a really good game. I'm really surprised he isn't ranked higher than he is. His serve is good and as I said before he serves and volleys. Great forehand and really good backhand. Mashiska, Mal's younger brother (I think they look a little alike), is short and somewhat stocky, but quick around the court and with a laser forehand at times. He too, is a very aggressive player, always attacking the net. Thomas won in a hard fought 3/6 6/4 7/5 match that was filled with great shotmaking by both players. Thomas moves on to the main draw on Monday.
After the match, I got Thomas Blakes autograph. There were lots of fans waiting around and he didn't disappoint. He gave just about everyone his autograph, which allowed me time to chat with him. He was very easy to talk to. I told him that I wished the same success for he and James that the Williamses enjoy, and he gave a huge grin and said "that would be really nice". He was just so "cool and casual" and really down-to-earth. He's also much taller than James and as I said before, much more handsome. Although you can see the family resemblance, I prefer him over James. I think we'll be seeing alot more of him around the ATP, now that he's resolved some problems with injuries. At least, I hope so.
My Great-Niece is working on getting more tickets for me from her boss, and even if she doesn't, I'll probably attend some of the later sessions. I had never attended any of the qualifying rounds before and was quite surprised at the level of play. I guess I now hooked on the "Qualies".