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Old Aug 12th, 2007, 01:05 AM   #1
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Confessions of a Linesman. (SAT edition)

I warn you, I'm running on very little sleep. I was having nightmares all night long thinking Rodionova would whip balls at me because I called one of her shots out. And they said that a tennis official's life was glamorous.

The first thing I find out when I get there is that the official parking is where the pay parking is. The pay parking (which as an official I get for free, *cough* worship me *cough*) is about 3 miles away from the tennis centre. And because we had to get there by 8 30 AM and play doesn't start until 10:00 AM there were no shuttle busses. But, if Paris can handle jail, I can handle some (strenuous) walking.

When I meet the other officials I immediately see a few groups. The Canadian Open oldies, the group of 40+ yr olds who've been doing this from before there was such this as the WTA/Open-era tennis, the WTA Chairs, the 20 - 30 yr olds who've got the credentials and aren't afraid to show it as they talk in foreign tongues and have those little Chair Umpire bags with 400 pins collected on them with the names of every single nation's tennis organization (yes put random letters together add a T and you've got one.) , and the n00bs me, a couple 20 yr olds, and a whole lot of 40 yr olds who were new to this whole world of professional tennis and live in Toronto.

My mom was coming for the day and so I was hoping to be on some outer court so she could cheer me on. Yes, even linesmen have fans. Shove it, Serena, atleast I won't withdraw. Sharapvoa, I can shriek two times what your little Russian-turned-American longs can do.

However, as Tennis Canada does so frequently, I got screwed over and was on Centre Court. That wasn't a huge biggie, in fact I was excited at the thought of being challenged, beign seen on tv, and being watched by a pack stadium.

When I first entered the court, expecting a set of applause, I saw a total of 18 people watching in a 10,000 capacity court. 15 of those were volunteers on CC control, 1 was my mom, and the other 2 were waiting to see Sharapova (no one told them that she wasn't a qualifier and that she withdrew). Cute non-tennis folk, one must love them, as much as they love the reetards. There was also no TV. And ShotSpot wasn't going to start till Monday. Within minutes, my dreams were crushed.

The first match was Ruano Pascual v. Yan. Yan hits HURRD but not too hard. I'm not surprised that she's made it throuh qualifying so much this year considering she's got a good top 100 player's game. Not much better however, as she lacks the consistency, and her net game can make you cringe at times. Virginia was all over the place, when in doubt she'd hit a high topspin kicker, which if it didn't push her behind the baseline, would be whacked down as hard as the Chinese woman could. Hence, I called her Great Wall (CHN). Not much got past her, and she made up some great angles. Only problem? Her serve is club-like. Usually when I'm calling a sideline right before serve I get into concentration, I coulda been drinking coffee and talking to friends while calling her serves. In fact, they were worse than Ruano Pascual's. Atleast her's had good slide/kick. The score is deceptive, Ruano Pascual was always in behind Great Wall (CHN).

I'd also like to tell you that I had little rest and that the sun gave me a sunburnt and because I kept bending down and pushing my shorts against my legs I started to rash. Yes, I'm whining. Yes, I want your sympathies/cash donations.

Next match was Schualeva v. Cravero. E-kat was MEH. Decent game today, nothing like the death she had at 25k Hamilton. She was hitting powerful groundstrokes, but the reason she won it was her FH down the line. Cravero was and error whore. And boy was she busy today selling herself... SHORT. She's a bit fat, and I think Warner Brother's sponsors her, because her clothes had cartoons of tennis racquets on them, but she seemed ok. She started swearing in Spanish half way through, and slapping herself, and whining, and tearing. She was too erratic, to say the least, and not nearly consistent enough. E-kat was so happy to win, though she made the silliest of complaints like in an unimportant point where she thought it was left. Yes you're up a break, and you lost a point to go down 00-15. Get over it. She didn't like some of my calls, but didn't bother complaining because I'm like Superman, body of steel, eyes of GAWD.

Next was Gloria v. Granville. The good news: Gloria won the first two games. The bad news: She lost the next 12 straight. Gloria was on fire, hitting everything in sight very flat. She was painting lines. Then she lost a couple points on her backhand. Then her serve lost its accuracy. And it's power. And the end was inevitable. Laura was consistent, but not on. She's such a smart classic hardcourter. Knows where to hit it, when to go for it, and has a very nice flat struck serve. It hurt a bit to watch, and Granville disliked one of my calls which (BECAUSE THERE WERE 40 COURTS GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME) I had to call the FAR side of the court through the net. But my Superman powers came in handy as I was correct.

Lastly, I witnessed Cohen Aloro v. Fichman. I once made fun of Cohen Aloro. She's gotten less pimply. She's gained weight. Lots more. For the first couple of games, I think people thought Cohen Aloro was the Canadian because she was just so... MASSIVE. Sometimes I had trouble calling lines because despite being on the other side of the court, the mass width of her ankle would cover the line. But I will give her credit. She's an excellent striker of the ball. Her serve is so powerful, so heavy... irony? I think not. Her groundstrokes are very powerful, mostly because of how much kick they have to them, but she was just not at all consistent. Moonball Sharon wasn't up to the same old tricks. She had variety, but she was definitely trying to club at the ball. She whined though and complained of flagrantly IN line calls. Towards the end, Cohen Aloro gave up on the match, following the tight 3-3 game, and she smiled more. I think she was getting excited by the smell of the buffet from the players lounge.

Until Monday,

Jesse.
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