Monday, June 1, 2009

Why the Roland Garros emblem reminds me of Starbucks...

What a time I picked to travel! I was so out of sorts that I missed seeing most of my friends and ended up playing tennis only twice. To make matters worse, I lost to a man who hasn’t played since I last saw him in December. And then I forgot that my return flight was on Saturday and had to buy a whole new ticket to get back home on Sunday. Yes, I have been entirely out of sorts, and it’s all because I missed the first week of Roland Garros.

If you are a serious tennis fan, then you can appreciate that I anchor much of my life around four Grand Slams and multiple other tournaments. I have not dated a man who did not have to accept that he couldn’t speak to me while any of these events was on. Not if he expected me to answer him anyway.

Tennis is a part of the glue that gives my life meaning, that keeps me sane. Granted, it drives the non-tennis folks around me bat-crazy but I accepted long ago that that is their problem, not mine, and I am even willing to pitch in for the therapy.

This is all by way of saying that the last week of my life just was not in sync. I felt entirely off-kilter. Yes the Tennis Channel helped in that featured matches were archived on the internet. But there is no substitute for Tivo, or for being glued to one’s own TV while the rest of the world carries on with their inane non-tennis activities.

Like many tennis fans I can be utterly narcissistic and come to believe that the fate of my faves depends on my single-minded devotion. Would Rafa have lost had I been at home when he faced Soderling? I think not. I blame myself that he seemed so out of sorts, that his performance so completely reflected my own internal lack of consonance.

And would the Williams sisters have lost to the likes of Mattek-Sands and Petrova in doubles had I not traveled? I think not. And really, could Venus have looked any worse on a doubles court? It’s like she forgot that she had a partner with whom she was supposed to be coordinating. I accepted a long time ago that the Williams sisters don’t have a clue about how to play doubles and win through sheer physicality and pounding aggression. But no amount of the latter could make up for Venus looking like a lost idiot out there. It was my fault. I should have been home.

I take responsibility too for Venus’ individual loss to Szavay. Did you see the kind of patty-cake tennis that Szavay was playing? Really Venus, what the heck were you thinking? Oh, I forget, it’s all because of me. I picked the wrong time to travel and threw the tennis planets out of alignment. I am so sorry.

Thank goodness I came back in time to help Federer recover from his two set deficit against Tommy Haas and roar back to victory. And for Serena to utterly thump her latest opponent and redeem herself from all of those close calls she suffered in my absence. I have been a negligent fan. My faves have been challenged while I was busy drinking Stella Artois. At least I chose a beer that supports tennis. Cut me some slack OK?

But of all of the weird observations I made while I was off cavorting and not minding my tennis business, the silliest was how similar the Roland Garros logo is to Starbucks. When you’re desperate for tennis, it’s amazing the kind of mental connections you will start making just like that, out of the blue, while standing in line for another venti espresso light frappuccino. I drank one every single day last week. Now I know why. Back to the tennis courts so that I can burn off the calories.

But most of all I am glad that I made it back in time. It’s anybody’s French Open. Azarenka is hungry for it and she’s willing to take down Safina if she has to. (She'll have to get past me). And all of the remaining men know that Rafa’s departure (thanks to me) means that any of them has the chance to win their first French. Thank goodness I made it back in time to help out Roger.

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