Tournament a paradise for autograph-seekers
By Leonor Vivanco
INDIAN WELLS -- Rule number one: keep your eyes open.
When wandering around the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it’s possible fans can catch a glimpse of their favorite tennis players in the Pacific Life Open, which runs through March 21.
The expression on the face of Matt Macleod, 13, showed focus and determination as he walked around with a marker and an oversized tennis ball souvenir.
Macleod, of Olympia, Wash., was trying to find his favorite player by "going around to all the different courts like every hour."
He was looking for Andy Roddick so he can get an autograph, like he did with Justine Henin-Hardenne. He saw her as she was walking around the venue.
Fans can get lucky and see players even while shopping, said Dee Dee Felich, assistant tournament director.
"Most of the time people get the greatest autographs when it’s spur of the moment and not planned and that’s why I think it’s important to be prepared, to really know who the players are, what they look like," Felich said.
"Normally a dead giveaway for a player is he has his tennis clothes on and he’s got a bag with a lot of rackets in it," Felich said.
But she cautioned that person could be part of a player’s entourage, like a coach, family member or hitting partner. When a player is sighted, fans should be prepared on a moment’s notice, she said.
"Have something for them to sign and always have a Sharpie with you. Never go anywhere without a Sharpie," said Felich, referring to the preferred brand of permanent marker for autographs.
Signature-seekers are also advised to be courteous and gracious. "It’s always nice to say hello, and please, and thank you. Obviously, the players appreciate that because they’re taking time out of their schedule," Felich said.
Jesse Knutson, 14, found complimenting players works for him.
"You say, ‘Wow, you played really well tonight,’ or ‘You practiced really well,’ or ‘You just played a great match,’ " said Knutson, of Seattle.
"They rarely turn you down unless their coaches say they need to go somewhere or if they’re just in a really big hurry," he said.
But I, being poor, have only my dreams
I have spread my dreams under your feet
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams