There was a tennis tournament that started this week in Miami. Kind of a big one.
The 2017 edition of the Itau Miami Open kicked off on Monday, a day after Indian Wells wrapped up.
There may not be too many more Miami Opens. The facilities are clearly no longer sufficient to hold an event of this size and stature. Not without the major upgrades to infrastructure that are sorely needed–not just to the stadiums and seating, but the practice courts, and auxiliary and support areas like parking, dining and restroom facilities. Of course, considering the tournament is held in a public park, they don’t do a bad job of staging a world class event at Crandon Park, but I guess it’s time to admit facts–Indian Wells has obviously spent its way to the top of the pecking order behind only the US Open among American tennis tournaments.
As a central Floridian, I’m not entirely bummed about the prospect of the Miami event potentially migrating north to the sparking new National Campus in Orlando, Florida, but that’s a long way off yet. For one thing, there’s no large stadium at the National Campus–that will need to built. But there is room, and I suspect there is a plan.
So….I made my eleventh–shit, eleventh, really?–trip to Miami this year, and it was truly spur of the moment. You see, somewhere between last year and this year, I pretty much gave up on tennis. My favorite player–she all but retired this past year to a life of glitz, glamour, and celebrity in the tennis afterlife, and my resulting cataclysmic state has left me totally indifferent to what is happening in tennis. And that meant I totally resolved to just not give a %*&$#$# shit about the freaking Miami Open anymore.
But then I had a “feeling.” Since the moment I first saw my tennis crush, years ago, I’ve wanted to meet her. I’ve never taken that opportunity whenever I’ve had the chance. I always felt like I would never see her again since she stopped playing. But there was this big pre-tournament publicity “happening” in Miami with all of the big tennis stars, and I knew as a local tennis personality she was going to be a huge part of it, and I thought, if I didn’t go to the tournament this year I might regret it for the rest of my life. I mean, what if she was there, not just at the publicity event, but really there, in attendance, at the Miami Open, by chance? Those who believe in Destiny and Serendipity call stuff like that “Fatum”, I believe. So I made one of those Eleventh Hour odysseys you only see in the movies, thinking I might get a chance to meet the girl of my dreams. One of those stupid, crazy things you do once in a lifetime for that person who’ll never realize what they mean to you, and ultimately, will never care. Of course that didn’t matter–she meant the world to me.
I didn’t even have a hotel room booked until less than twelve hours before I hit the road at 3AM on Monday. In my haste I forgot things like my contact lens case and solution, and razor and sunscreen, stuff that had I thought about it, I probably would have realized were more like essentials than luxuries, but all I cared about was that I had a Sharpie and my favorite photo of her that I’d personally taken some five years ago. Priorities. I thought if she’d autograph it, it would be a personal treasure and happy memory of her I could cling to long after she forgot about me.
I don’t think she likes to be bothered by people like me though.
But my hopelessly pathetic crash-and-burn is another story.
Disconsolate, I tried to distract myself with the tennis, and kept busy watching matches and practices. On Monday, the first day of qualifying, I took in matches between Francoise Abanda and Nao Hibino, Magda Linette and Asia Muhammad, Sara Sorribes Tormo and Samantha Crawford, Elitsa Kostova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Madison Brengle and Sachia Vickery, Irina Falconi and Viktoriya Tomova, Maria Sakkari and Anastasia Potopova, Irina Khromacheva and Veronica Cepede Royg, Jana Fett and Julia Boserup, and practices with Garbine Muguruza and Dominica Cibulkova and Andrea Petkovic and Naomi Ozaka. Sakkari had a nice big crowd supporting her. I’m still not sure how good she is, but I came away pretty impressed by her grunt–definitely falls in the “war cry” category, right up there with the Erranis and Schiavones.
Tuesday was even more hectic. The day started with practices featuring Venus Williams, Naomi Ozaka, Julia Goerges and Francesca Schiavone. Following that were matches between Francoise Abanda and Marina Erakovic, Madison Brengle and Sara Sorribes Tormo, Mandy Minella and Kristyna Pliskova, a practice with Taylor Townsend, matches between Lara Arruabarrena and Natalia Vikhlyantseva, Veronica Cepede Royg and Irina Falconi, Naomi Ozaka and Kristina Kucova, Viktorija Golubic and Tsvetana Pironkova, Sara Errani and Belinda Bencic, Kateryna Bondarenko and Paula Badosa Gibert, Peng Shuai and Danka Kovinic, and Beatriz Haddad Maia and Lesia Tsurenko. Didn’t see a lot of the match between Haddad Maia and Tsurenko, which ended in a retirement, as did the late afternoon match on court 1 between Peng and Kovinic, but I was surprised by the fact that Haddad Maia need a wildcard to be in the tournament. She seems to have a pretty big game, and a fair bit of potential. Maybe it was because Tsurenko was compromised by a thigh/quad injury, which resulted in retirement after a set, but the lefty’s game still looked pretty big to me.
I didn’t see as much on Wednesday–took in some of the matches between Jelena Jankovic and Yaroslava Shvedova, Lucie Safarova and Yanina Wickmayer, Louisa Chirico and Risa Ozaki, Alize Cornet and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Heather Watson and Patricia Maria Tig and Monica Puig and Sorana Cirstea. Saw a few of Louisa’s fellow WTA pros/friends in the crowd supporting her at her match.
Yes, there was tennis this week. I did see some of it. And I soaked in the nice weather, and the Miami vibes. And the Miami Open was business as usual. For now.