By Alan Wright and Matt Ankerson
Photographs by Bowman Gray IV
Splashing the wine
With all the rain dogs
Shout out to my little friend Vincent, you’ve got a great family and a lot of folks looking out for you; you’re going to be alright.
We’re at day six of the Winston Salem Open and the weather again played havoc with the schedule. Gael Monfils defeated Fernando Verdasco during a typical North Carolina day of high heat and high humidity, while the later matches were plagued by downpours and delays. Jurgen Melzer defeated Dmitry Tursunov handily after enduring delays that pushed the Sam Querrey/Ricardis Berankis start time to almost 9pm.
Querrey, who is 6’6, played the 5’9 Berankis in a match that was a David and Goliath tale told in the way you would expect without biblical involvement. Querrey handily won the first set 6-3, which prompted me to tell Matt the second set would be done in 10 minutes. It proved to be more interesting than that with 4 consecutive service breaks, but no one watching the game had any doubt Querrey would put Berankis away. Sam was in control of the match at all times; playing aggressively when necessary, while also laying back to conserve energy. The match finished shortly before 10:30 with Querrey winning 6-4.
As usual, the tennis was exciting, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I had a little more fun watching the activities during the rain delay…
First of all, I would like to recommend Tennis take on the technology we baseball fans call a tarp. I understand there are some facility and logistical issues involved in doing so, but it will greatly reduce the energy and time involved in clearing a tennis court of rain. The Winston Salem Open grounds crew did a fantastic job of clearing the court, but I fully admit I have no idea what exactly they were doing. There were at least 20 people on the court, many of them wielding machines that looked like wet/dry vacs, but appeared to just move the water around while the rest of the crew used push brooms to do the same thing. At one point, some staff members sitting behind me swore they saw soap suds, as if the crew was giving the court a good scrub down. This is in no way meant to disparage the men and women doing their job to make play safe. I just couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on.
The second best part was the bar scene. Tennis is a gentile sport, at least the way we play it here in Winston. The bar outside of center court has maintained a steady flow during the tournament, with folks sneaking out during set breaks to grab a quick one and return to the match. With the rain falling and the tennis paused, the bar was packed with distracted fans pounding beers and those magical little mixtures of Corona and Margarita. It definitely more closely resembled the sporting events I’m accustomed to attending. My favorite overheard conversation was this margarita recipe:
“I take a blender and pour in a bottle of tequila, a bottle of triple sec, some everclear, two cans of orange vodka and a frozen can of food lion limeade. You blend that on up and you have a perfect margarita every time.”
That’s right; apparently orange vodka comes in cans.
All in all it was a fun, if long, night of tennis. I’m stoked to see what comes next. With Matt’s prediction already blown, I’m going to say the Winston Salem Open Final will come down to the power play of American Sam Querrey and the athleticism of the Frenchman Gael Monfils. We’ve still got to get through the semis to see this happen, but if it does, Winston fans will be in for one hell of an exciting final.