After a hotcakes-and-eggs breakfast, we strolled under cloud cover along the outdoor cafe-lined Main Street to join Chrissy at the 20 court state-of-the-art facility, including pavilion and pro shop. The event had a Fair flavor complete with capuchin monkey tricks, pony rides, harlequins on stilts, a samba dancer table, and the fumes of shish kabob. On that hazy, November 22nd, Saturday morning, the uncooperative weather may have dispirited tennis, but we climbed to our box seats and remained faithful, nevertheless.
Shortly after, stratiform precipitation drove us under the pavilion where we enjoyed the circus-like ambient, watched the capuchin disappear dollar bills into his pockets, followed by a swift climb to the donor’s head, and took selfies with Hoda, as we commanded the sun, who slowly made its roundabout to face us. After all, it is South Florida, and no one there would go away disappointed in the yellow melon.
Finally, “tennis anyone” became the order of the day. Back in our South C box seats, the line-up of play for the first set was Jesse Levine, 27 year-old American-Canadian who ranked World #69 in 2012, & partner, Gavin Rossdale, lead singer in the post-grunge rock band Bush whose album Sixteen Stone was a great success in the US, vs. Vince Spadea, American ATP World #90 in 2006, and Timothy Olyphant, best known for his role of Sheriff Seth Bullock in the HBO western, three season, series “Deadwood.”
After figuring out who was who on the court, which demanded a $5 program and wifi connectivity, I sat back to enjoy the player’s personalities. Although they were all wired, not much other than grunts carried over. Timothy, by far the funnest player to watch and the one with the most net errors, was the one who interacted the most with the audience.
Next up were Levine & Vince Spadea again, vs. Rennae Stubbs & Sebastien Grosjean. Rennae is winner of several Grand Slam doubles and has represented Australia at four successive Summer Olympic Games. She was a pleasure to watch, no wonder, she’s won 60 major doubles matches from 1992 to 2010. She interacted the most with the audience and seemed to enjoy herself in a carefree way. Her partner, Sebastien Grosjean, also a retired French ATO, World #4 in 2004 never got in her way, as she dominated the match.
Our time there for the day ended, we never got to see the next two sets in the order of play, including Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova with Timothy Olyphant and Hoda Kotb, Egyptian-American, Today Show’s host, as their respective doubles partners. But we did witness the giving of a big check to a single teenage mom pursuing a college career, and the parading of shelter pets ready to go home with the right owner.
For 25 years the Charity has distributed over $21 million since its debut in 1989, benefiting Florida residents across the state. I am looking forward to next year’s event. Thank Chrissy, I’m dusting my racket. Tennis anyone?