strawberries and cream

Wimbledon: The queue

By Cynthia Lum

The British tradition of Queueing is legendary they pride themselves on being exceptionally good at it, and the Wimbledon Queue is  no exception.  As much a part of Wimbledon as strawberries and cream, camping overnight for a chance to purchase coveted Center Court tickets has become the highlight of many fans year.

I spoke to two women in the queue who have been lining up for tickets for thirty-five years!  They originally met in the queue and have made it a tradition to meet every year for a chat, card game, and the fun of camping out.  Sort of a cross between music festival and Scouts Camp, the overnight adventure is as much fun for most as actually getting inside the wrought iron gates of the AELTC.

Up until recent years  the sidewalk along Church Road was the scene of the festivities.  People gave up the comfort of their beds to sleep on the hard concrete of SW19.  A party atmosphere prevailed and part of the fun of it was the outrageous idea of sleeping on a public sidewalk.  People brought portable barbecue setups, music, and games. They drank a lot alcohol, had a lot of fun, but never really got out of control.

It was colorful and cool. Enterprising peddlers would roam the queue selling umbrellas, burgers cold drinks and the local takeaway places would even deliver to your spot! I always enjoyed walking back to my rental in Southfields and stopping along the way for a chat or a beer .. yes, they were very friendly and always invited you to join the party.

Then a few years ago the residents of Wimbledon decided they had enough of the campers, and protests moved the Queue across the street to Wimbledon Park.  Still nice, still fun, but a totally different atmosphere, much more civilized.  Spontaneity has been replaced with organization.  Sleeping on the street has been replaced with sleeping in tents on the grass.  It’s much more Scout camp than Mad behavior.

Burger and cappuccino Vans give an alternative to those that don’t bring or run out of food.  There are even Port-a-Loos.  The stewards give the wakeup call at 6AM when tents and camping gear must be packed up.

The lines when I crossed the park on Monday were unbelievable.  snaking up and down the park there seemed to be no end.  I ask one of the Honorary Stewards how many people were in the Queue and he told me around 8,000.  EIGHT THOUSAND! I couldn’t believe it.  Plus it was only 9:30 AM and the line would surly increase with people who hadn’t camped overnight in the park.  Would everyone get in?  Yes, probably but for many not until around 5PM.  This means that a good number of the fans would have been waiting in line for more than 24 hours.  There is no way any American would do this .. or French for that matter .. the Aussie’s, well maybe, they’re mad enough and they do have that English history.

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Napeague to host pro tennis in the Hamptons Sunday

A first-prize of $10,000 will be on the line Sunday in the inaugural “Gotham Tennis Academy Hamptons 20-Ball Open” at the Napeague Tennis Club in Amagansett, N.Y. The unique single day event, featuring an action-filled, first-to-20-point match format beginning with a ground-stroke feed, will feature a cross section of professional and other high-level players, including players who have represented their countries in Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Pan American Games competitions.

Play begins at 9 am and fans are invited to enjoy the “Breakfast at Wimbledon” men’s singles final on television with hospitality – including strawberries and cream – while watching the live pro tennis. Fans can also tour the Napeague facilities and learn about the tennis programming offered by Gotham Tennis (www.gothamtennis.com). A silent auction will also be held featuring items such as Napeague tennis memberships, lesson packages and summer camp week packages among others. Admission is free.

The event is open to both male and female players of all levels – professional and amateur. Entries close at 9 pm on Saturday, July 4. For information on entering the event, call the tournament director at 917-428-7154.

Sponsors of the Hamptons 20-Ball include Grand Central Racquet, Tiffany’s of East Hampton, Gubbins Sports of East Hampton, Gone Local, Hamptons.com, Montauk Chamber of Commerce, WHEN Radio and Pop Chips.

The Napeague Tennis Club is located at 2145 Montauk Highway in Amagansett, N.Y.  The club features four immaculately-maintained clay courts and one artificial grass court. The Napeague Tennis Club offers excellent tennis programming at reasonable prices including individual and family memberships, corporate memberships, adult and children’s tennis clinics, tennis parties, tennis camps and private tennis lessons. It is the preferred destination for tennis in the Hamptons because of its relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere, beautiful clay courts, close proximity to the beach, and reasonable prices. “Napeague is a very special place” says Tennis Director Brian Helm. “It’s an oasis of calm with high-level, state-of-the-art tennis programming for players of all levels.”

The mission of Gotham Tennis Academy is to provide friendly, personalized, high-performance tennis instruction in convenient facilities for Manhattan and Hamptons clients. In addition to operating the Napeague Tennis Club in the Hamptons, Gotham Tennis Academy has established a reputation for excellent tennis programming at three Manhattan locations — the Harlem Armory Tennis Center, the Midtown Tennis Club and the Riverside Clay Tennis Association. Gotham Tennis Academy offers tennis programs year-round to players of all ages and skill levels. Gotham Tennis Academy’s goal is to help each player improve all aspects of his or her tennis game. More information on Gotham Tennis Academy can be found at www.GothamTennis.com .

Wimbledon in New York City

Anyone in Manhattan this week could have attended Wimbledon – from
Rockefeller Center’s big screen. Food, Wii, talking…and oh yeah,
tennis. If you went to watch that. It was a great event for families
to see.
The crowd thinned out from an earlier match when I went a few days ago,
with people interested in eating the free snacks, getting up every few
minutes. And eating. Eating. I felt like saying, “There’s a game on!
Sit down!” If they wanted to do this a week, it might have made a
better idea to run it during the quarter and semi-finals to peak more
interest. The place would have been packed for a grand Nadal-Federer
showoff!
People were talking among themselves, some about tennis, some about
visiting Rockefeller Center.
Recently, I’ve been fascinated by playing surfaces. I took back
everything I said about court preferences against grass that day. You
could walk around the grass court set up for an exhibition match, and
seeing how the grass ripped up, smelled, looked, etc. I understood why
the surface is unplayable for some on a wet day. I asked someone about
playing on clay the past weekend. It’s supposed to create lots of dust
that makes you cough as you play, make a horrible mess for a few wash
machine cycles, and is generally “gross. Grass is better.” I’m curious
now about the benefits of a grass court experience.
I, of course, grabbed a complimentary strawberries and cream the HSBC
Bank employees insisted was “the same they eat at Wimbledon.” It was
really frozen Cool Whip, not anything I would ask for a load of like the
others, but good fresh strawberries all the same. I guess free food
does that to people.
Over in a corner, the bank had set up about six televisions hooked up to
Wiis. The Wii tennis matches were really interesting for me, having
never played anything on Wii. The last time I remember playing a sports
Nintendo game was on an already old back then Nintendo Entertainment
System in eighth grade. I must have been the single person over 18
trying the Wiis.
The row of TVs had kids with full Lacoste sets I am sure will be
tomorrow’s commentators and tennis fanatics. Not our other row. My
“opponents” were an elementary girl and a high school guy who didn’t
follow tennis much but had probably won Wimbledon in the Wiis they had
at home. The guy was winning at the beginning from having set mine on
right-handed! I made sure to correct that to left – I’m right-handed
and forgot I am left-handed in tennis. I played as Roger Federer. I
felt like being someone who has hair left. The high school guy wanted
to be Ana Ivanovic, and we joked about the reasons for that.
The sport? Oh, right. The person I wanted to win lost that day.
Everything is elevated watching it on a bigger screen. The ties, set
losses, the wanting to egg on your player, is more intense than watching
it in your living room. I really wish people would continue this for
another week to watch the bigger matches.

Anyone in Manhattan this week could have attended Wimbledon – from Rockefeller Center’s big screen. Food, Wii, talking…and oh yeah, tennis. If you went to watch that. It was a great event for families to see.

The crowd thinned out from an earlier match when I went a few days ago, with people interested in eating the free snacks, getting up every few minutes. And eating. Eating. I felt like saying, “There’s a game on!

Sit down!” If they wanted to do this a week, it might have made a better idea to run it during the quarter and semi-finals to peak more interest. The place would have been packed for a grand Nadal-Federer showoff!

People were talking among themselves, some about tennis, some about visiting Rockefeller Center.

Recently, I’ve been fascinated by playing surfaces. I took back everything I said about court preferences against grass that day. You could walk around the grass court set up for an exhibition match, and seeing how the grass ripped up, smelled, looked, etc. I understood why the surface is unplayable for some on a wet day. I asked someone about playing on clay the past weekend. It’s supposed to create lots of dust that makes you cough as you play, make a horrible mess for a few wash machine cycles, and is generally “gross. Grass is better.” I’m curious now about the benefits of a grass court experience.

I, of course, grabbed a complimentary strawberries and cream the HSBC Bank employees insisted was “the same they eat at Wimbledon.” It was really frozen Cool Whip, not anything I would ask for a load of like the others, but good fresh strawberries all the same. I guess free food does that to people.

Over in a corner, the bank had set up about six televisions hooked up to Wiis. The Wii tennis matches were really interesting for me, having never played anything on Wii. The last time I remember playing a sports Nintendo game was on an already old back then Nintendo Entertainment System in eighth grade. I must have been the single person over 18 trying the Wiis.

The row of TVs had kids with full Lacoste sets I am sure will be tomorrow’s commentators and tennis fanatics. Not our other row. My “opponents” were an elementary girl and a high school guy who didn’t follow tennis much but had probably won Wimbledon in the Wiis they had at home. The guy was winning at the beginning from having set mine on right-handed! I made sure to correct that to left – I’m right-handed and forgot I am left-handed in tennis. I played as Roger Federer. I felt like being someone who has hair left. The high school guy wanted to be Ana Ivanovic, and we joked about the reasons for that.

The sport? Oh, right. The person I wanted to win lost that day. Everything is elevated watching it on a bigger screen. The ties, set losses, the wanting to egg on your player, is more intense than watching it in your living room. I really wish people would continue this for another week to watch the bigger matches.

Tennis History Tuesday: Bagels at Wimbledon

Bagels – in addition to strawberries and cream – were served on the opening day of Wimbledon Monday as Marion Bartoli registered a “double bagel” – a 6-0, 6-0 win over Yung-Jan Chan in the first round of women’s singles.  On Tuesday, June 23, marks the 22nd anniversary of the last TRIPLE bagel at Wimbledon when Stefan Edberg hammered his fellow Swede Stefan Eriksson. That match – and others – are documented in the June 23 chapter of the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com). The full excerpt is detailed below.

June 23

1987 – Stefan Edberg defeats fellow Swede Stefan Eriksson 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 in the first “triple bagel” at Wimbledon since 1947. ”It’s nice to be able to do whatever you want to do out there,” Edberg says, ”but I felt sorry for Stefan, too. It was his first match on grass. I thought about giving him a game but you never know when you are going to have another chance to win three love sets again.”

2003 – Robby Ginepri of the United States becomes the first player in Wimbledon history to wear a sleeveless shirt in competition in his 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (3), 10-8 first-round loss to Arnaud Clement of France.

1981 – Fourteen-year-old American Kathy Rinaldi becomes the youngest player to win a match at Wimbledon at the at the time, saving a match point in defeating Sue Rollinson of South Africa 6-3, 2-6, 9-7 in 2 hours, 36 minutes on Court No. 2 at the All England Club. Rinaldi, a ninth-grader at Martin County High School in Stuart, Fla., enters Wimbledon fresh off reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open. Rollinson serves for the match twice – at 5-4 and 6-5 in the final set and holds at match point in the 12th game of the third set. Rinaldi loses her distinction nine years later when Jennifer Capriati, at the age of 14 years, 90 days – one day younger than Rinaldi – defeats Helen Kelesi 6-3, 6-1 in her first-round match on June 26, 1990.

1976 – John Feaver of Britain fires 42 aces, a Wimbledon record at the time, but is not able to put away three-time champion John Newcombe, losing to the Australian legend 6-3, 3-6, 8-9, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round on Court No. 2. Feaver’s 42 aces stands as the Wimbledon ace record for a match until 1997, when Goran Ivanisevic fires 46 aces in a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 4-16, 14-12 loss to Magnus Norman in the third round. Ivo Karlovic of Croatia breaks Ivanisevic’s record in a first round match in 2005, a 6-7(4), 7-6 (8), 3-6, 7-6 (5), 12-10 loss to Daniele Bracciali of Italy.

1992 – Jeremy Bates of Britain, a man who Robin Finn of the New York Times describes as being “more prone to be written off locally than to pulling off major upsets on the home turf” defeats No. 7 seed Michael Chang 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the opening round of Wimbledon. The win marks only the second match victory on the season for the 30-year-old Bates, ranked No. 113. John McEnroe, playing in what ultimately is his final singles sojurn at the All-England Club – and unseeded in the Championships for the first time since his 1977 debut – wins his opening round match with Luiz Mattar 5-7, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.

1990 – Eighteen-year-old Californian Pete Sampras, the future seven-time Wimbledon champion, wins his first grass court tournament title of his career, defeating Gilad Bloom of Israel 7-6 (9), 7-6 (3) in the final of the Manchester Open in Manchester, England. Says Sampras following the victory, ”I was very composed, and he got a little tight on the crucial points.” Sampras, however, is not able to translate his grass-court success in Manchester onto the lawns of Wimbledon the following week as he loses in the first round of The Championships to Christo van Rensburg of South Africa 7-6 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (3).

1982 – Prior to teeing off for a round of pro-am golf at the Westchester Country Club in support of the PGA Tour’s Westchester Golf Classic, Ivan Lendl explains that his decision to skip Wimbledon is based on an allergy to grass. ”I sneeze a lot,” he says. ”I take shots every second day.” When pressed about his Wimbledon absence, Lendl says. ”I am on a vacation because I need the rest. When you are on vacation you don’t write stories. I am not at Wimbledon because I needed the rest. This is when I scheduled my holiday and I didn’t want to change it. The grass courts at Wimbledon are also a factor because of my allergy. I’ll probably play at Wimbledon next year. ”

1988 – John McEnroe suffers a second-round straight-set loss to Wally Masur, losing 7-5, 7-6, 6-3, marking the three-time Wimbledon champion’s earliest loss at the All England Club since a first-round loss in 1978. Says McEnroe after the match, “If that’s the best I’ve got to give, I’d quit tomorrow. It’s like my body went into some sort of letdown. I wasn’t even pushing myself to be my best. It’s almost enough to make me sick.”