Category Archives: Tennis

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I’ve been watching one incredible tennis match for the last few hours.  The Wimbledon final features Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, and it’s shaping into an epic.  Nadal one the first two sets after Federer uncharacteristically allowed his serve to be broken twice consecutively in the second set, but he rebounded to win the third and fourth sets in tiebreakers, and he faced match point in the fourth set tiebreaker only to hit an unbelievable backhand passing shot (maybe his first of the match) to save it and then hit a string of winners to win the set. 

Best of all for any tennis fan is that seemingly every game and point of every set has been high quality and  hotly contested.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a match like this in my life. Incredible.

Unfortunately they just called the second rain delay of the match (the first was in the third set) with the score 2-2 and Federer serving at deuce in the fifth.  With only an hour of daylight left in London I suspect they’ll be playing the end of the match tomorrow.  Next year Wimbledon will have a high-tech, retractable roof they can close over Center Court, so they won’t have this problem again.  Too bad we don’t have it this year.

Update: They’re back on the court and Federer just held serve for 7-6.  No tiebreaker in the fifth set so they might still run out of light.

Update 2: Nadal finally broke Federer and held serve despite Federer hitting one more incredible backhand to save one championship point and push it back to deuce.  Longest Wimbledon championship match in history and definitely the greatest I’ve ever seen, even better than Borg’s last championship.

Behold the Power of Email

A couple of days ago I wrote about an email I’d received concerning the decision by the county to eliminate all but one position at the Tanglewood Tennis Center.  Well, lots of other people received that same email and forwarded it to others, and many in that larger universe of people decided to let the powers that be know that they thought it a bad decision.  That resulted in the following email hitting my inbox last night:

Hi Everyone~
Thank you just seems so small in comparison to the
overwelming outcry of support that you have given to keep our Tanglewood
Community Tennis Center Family intact and running as usual! I just received a
phone call from Mr. Sanders-Pratt (Assistant County Manager) that they are going
to leave me in my current position at Tanglewood Community Tennis Center! All of
the programs that you know, love and support will continue through the season
with the State Combo Tournament in November!
I have heard through grapevines that some are planning
to attend Monday Night’s Commissioner Meeting. You all have gone to such major
lengths for us and I am so thankful to you all for that to be unnecessary now!
All of this could not have been acheived without this
"Tennis Community Family"! Gordon and I cannot thank you enough! It has just
been so overwelming and amazing to see so many people that came together as one
big tennis team to win this match!
I do not know how far all of these emails have reached.
I am sending this to the same ones that I sent to before in hopes that you will
contact those that you have to help spread this great news!
Again, Gordon and I cannot believe the overwelming
support everyone has shown for us! We will never forget all the friends we
truely have in all of the tennis community!
~Gordon, Angie, Samantha and Ryan~

Looks like the lights will stay on for at least the near future.

Personally I don’t think it was the "noise" alone that caused the county folks to reconsider their decision.  It might have enlightened them to the fact that more people use the tennis facilities than they thought, but that alone wouldn’t have done it.  After all, there are lots of public courts in Forsyth County that require no full time staff and are available to all players.  I’m thinking that having multiple people point out the potential revenue lost from events like the BMW Combo is what tipped the scales and helped them realize that cutting a couple of positions would cost more than it would save.

Budget Cuts Hit Tanglewood

Those of you who live here in Forsyth County, NC probably have heard that the board of commissioners asked those working in the government to make cuts in order to keep from having to raise taxes.  Of course they claim that they’re doing this in our tough economic times because it just ain’t right to ask struggling citizens to pay more taxes, but if you believe that I have some swampland in Florida to sell you.  Whatever.  The cuts have to be made somewhere and at Tanglewood at least one of the cuts they are making is in the department that manages the tennis facility, pool and Mallard Lake.  Here’s text from an email sent to the community of tennis players by one of the folks affected by the cuts:

Hi Everyone~
     First of all, let me start by saying how much all of you all have
meant to Gordon and I at Tanglewood Community Tennis Center! I have been here
for 16 years, Gordon 17 and Ryan 3 years. We have had the privilege to meet so
many incredible people. Thank you for such an amazing experience! You all have
taught me so much about myself including my strengths, my weaknesses and have
helped me to gain the confidence I need to move forward from here. I will
treasure this experience and the friendships I have made forever! It is with a
heavy heart and much sadness that it looks like I will be leaving you all at
Tanglewood Community Tennis Center.
     With that being said, I am not leaving Tanglewood Tennis by my own
will. Tanglewood Community Tennis Center as you know it will no longer exist. I
was told today that my job and Ryan’s job is being eliminated as of June 30th. I
have been offered a library position within the County as a way to not totally
be out of a job. At this point I am considering all options and trying to move
forward from here. This is especially hard for us with our budget numbers being
better than ever. Our department, Tennis and Mallard Lake (Pool comes separate),
is up a record 34% with the next highest being golf at 7%. We have also lowered
expenses by $20,000.00. If we had been doing bad financially or had made some
big mistakes along the road, then this elimination would not be as devastating
as it is to us now. The County just said that it was due to budget cuts.
     So what does this mean for you? There are many things still to be
sorted out since this all came to us today. You all have supported this facility
all through the years and helped to make it the success that it is – thank you
for that! We will still try to provide the services that you have come to love
and expect but we will have to be creative with that considering we only will
have one full time staff member and no part-time or seasonal help. With only
Gordon left to manage on his own: tennis, pool and lake, the scope of our
leagues, programs, tournaments and special events will more than likely no
longer exist or will only be able to be offered on a limited basis. We are so
sorry for this for you all have supported and grown these programs for so long.
We are who we are because of you! We will finish up this session of the men’s
and women’s league but will no longer be offering any new ones until we see what
the realm of possibility will be.
     As for the USTA Mixed and Combo leagues, we will still have the USTA
Mixed kick-off on June 13-15th weekend, but this will more than likely be our
last "hoo-rah"! Matches will more than likely be played at Hanes Park and
Visions. It appears we will not have the staff to cater for it at Tanglewood.
    We were suppose to have the BMW State Combo Tournament here again for a
record 4th year! However, with the loss of my position at Tanglewood, at this
point, I do not see how this will be possible. There was a good possibility of
being awarded this tournament for even more years, but that doesn’t seem likely
now either. This tournament brings in 2000 players with $2 to $3 million being
brought in to our community over one weekend through hotels, restaurants, etc.
Thank you to all those who volunteered to make this event such a success for our
     In closing, Gordon, Ryan and myself THANK YOU for your support,
friendships and believing in us as a team all these years. Gordon will still be
at Tanglewood Community Tennis Center to try and carry on as best he can! We
have put too much of our hearts, lives and total commitment into this facility
to see it fail now! We are not asking you to do anything further, but if you
wish to express your supporting thoughts, experiences and hopes that this
decision can be reconsidered, below are contact email addresses for County
Commissioners and phone numbers for the County Manager and the Assistant County
Manager who are over us and ultimately made this unfortunate decision:

Well, the second to last paragraph is one that ought to interest folks.  Although the vast majority of folks in Forsyth don’t play tennis we all have the opportunity to enjoy the park facilities.  The fact that Tanglewood is able to draw people from outside the community to spend money that in turn helps subsidize the park system we enjoy should be celebrated, not put in jeopardy.  Just as the wine festival last weekend drew 20,000 people to the park, the tennis tournaments that Tanglewood hosts draws  thousands of participants throughout the year, and they spend money while they’re here.  Kind of crazy, huh?

Tourism dollars are a hot topic locally because of county commissioner Ted Kaplan’s tiff with the Travel Development Authority (TDA).  I’m wondering how events like the BMW State Combo fit into that picture?  Does the TDA help the park system market their events to the outside world?  If not, is this what Kaplan is talking about when he says he wants to see more TDA funds spent on grants to organizations to be used to promote and host events like this?

This is but a small bit of the picture, one that I’m interested in because of my involvement with local tennis.  Is it the end of the world?  No, not at all.  But it does help us understand what budget cuts mean in the real world.  Maybe keeping taxes frozen at current rates and reducing county services is the right thing to do, but it almost certainly will mean hearing multiple stories like this one. Sure we’re each saving some money on taxes, but we will also be losing services.  Most of you won’t care about this particular service, but I can almost guarantee that there will be a service cut that you do care about.  That’s the road our county leaders chose to take and it’s up to us to decide if it’s the right one.

Mr. Flow, I’m Throwing My Hat in the Ring

As part of its Davis Cup coverage the Winston-Salem Journal revealed that Don Flow, the local businessman who spearheaded the effort to bring the Cup to Winston-Salem, is also pursuing the US Men’s Clay Court Championships.  From the article:

Flow is trying to
acquire the rights to the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, which
will be held in Houston for the final time next week and is now up for
bid. If successful, Flow would bring professional tennis back to
Winston-Salem on an annual basis, with a week-long tournament that he
hopes would become a springtime celebration involving various factions
of the community.

The U.S. Men’s Clay
Court Championships is a sanctioned ATP International Series tournament
and has been operated by a private group in Houston for the past seven
years. But it is actually owned by the United States Tennis Association.

So Flow has been making his pitch to USTA executives this week while they are here for the Davis Cup.

It’s an innovative
pitch, too, not just a promise to write a check for the USTA’s $250,000
rights fee. It involves the creation of a non-profit organization to
run and oversee the tournament, with the profits going to local
charities. It involves a commitment to build a tennis complex on the
Dixie Classic Fairgrounds next to Joel Coliseum, with a stadium that
could be used year-round for other community activities ranging from
outdoor concerts in the summer to other non-sporting gatherings.

As a lifelong tennis fan/player and someone who’s spent a large part of his career in the non-profit sector I can tell you that this would be a dream gig.  Mr. Flow, if you’re looking for help I’m here to tell you that I’m throwing my hat in the ring for consideration.  You can find my contact info here.

Winston-Salem Did the Davis Cup Right

Img_0815I spent much of this weekend over at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum watching the Davis Cup quarterfinals between the US and Spain.  While there are a lot of things I could write about (and will) the one thing I really took away from the weekend is that the local folks who organized the Davis Cup experience did a great job.  The Joel holds about 14,500 people and the place was sold out for the entire weekend.  The picture above/to the left shows the crowd for the Saturday doubles match and I can attest that there were very few empty seats on Friday or Saturday.  Even more impressive is that the crowd on Easter Sunday for two matches that didn’t count (the US clinched the win on Saturday) was probably about 80% capacity.  The atmosphere was just amazing.

Throughout the tournament the winning players were interviewed after their matches and all of the US players went out of their way to thank the crowd and talk about how great it was to play in front of such a large, vocal and enthusiastic home crowd.  We were told on several occassions by the announcer that this crowd was the largest US Davis Cup crowd since 1990, and US team captain Patrick McEnroe told the crowd that he and the players were especially pleased because the last time they played Spain in the 04 Davis Cup in Seville the Spaniards had 25,000 fans and they really wanted to see what it was like to play on their home turf with their own large crowd.  In an interview after his singles match on Sunday Bob Bryan said that the players loved it here in Winston-Salem and if they make the finals and end up playing the finals at home then they would be pushing to come back here. 

I was a little critical of the USTA with how they handled the ticket
sales, but in retrospect it looks like they were thoroughly and
pleasantly surprised by the interest in tickets for the event.
Hopefully they’ll take some lessons from this experience and apply it
in the future, number one being that they should limit the number of
tickets per person so that more people get a shot at prime seats.  Given the short turnaround time they have for these things they did a
pretty good job.  And like I said the local folks, led by Don Flow, did a bang up job in drawing the Davis Cup here and then putting on a bang-up show.  Hopefully the Cup will be back in December and then you’ll see a really rowdy crowd.