Tennis Anyone?

Aug 18, 2011 by

Wake Forest and Don Flow usher in a new era of professional tennis to Winston-Salem.

I moved to Winston Salem over eight years ago from Massachusetts.  While my assimilation into the South was rather quick, I still missed some of the comforts of home: decent cold cuts and the opportunity to watch my beloved Red Sox any time I wanted. 1   Good friends helped me through those difficulties, but I really felt home when I realized Winston Salem and I share a passion for…Tennis!

Winston-Salem offers 114 public courts, indoor tennis facilities, numerous instructional programs and tournaments for juniors and adult players.  Wake Forest is ranked 22nd nationally, and we have two state championship high school tennis teams in Bishop McGuinnes and Reynolds. We’ve even had the Pros when Joel Coliseum hosted the crazed patriotism of fans cheering the US Davis Cup team against the likes of Spain and France. 2

That’s enough Tennis to keep anyone happy, but as August quickly approaches, I am positively giddy with anticipation.  The inaugural Winston Salem Open will be held August 20th – 27th at the newly constructed tennis complex next to BB&T Field.  It promises to bring many of the world’s top players to our backyard as they gear up for the US Open, the last Major on the tennis calendar.

Never been to a live professional Tennis match?  Let me tell you why you should…

  1. The first few days of a tennis tournament are like engorging yourself at the brunch buffet.  Think multiple stages at Bonnaroo, you can choose to go where the action is.  The stadium court will feature bigger names and higher ranked players, but the outer courts offer a chance to see the lower ranked or rising stars in a much more intimate atmosphere.   You roam from court to court, partaking in as much tennis as possible.  Often the most competitive and exciting early round matches are on the outer courts with lower ranked players grinding for advancement (and additional prize money).
  2. Unlike a typical fall evening at the Dixie Classic fair, a tennis tournament is great people watching because of the high level of attractiveness.  Most notably, the players and the players significant others.  Women can enjoy the rugged good looks of the South American and European players, and the men can ogle their stunning girlfriends (Wear sunglasses so you don’t creep them out).  Search the stands, nine times out of ten the most attractive woman is the girlfriend of the player you’re watching.
  3.  Sponsors are the reason tennis tournaments become a reality.  Stop by their booths and thank them, maybe they’ll toss you a complimentary company logoed koozi.
  4. Watch two career perspectives of American tennis players unfold right before your eyes.  Ryan Harrison and Marty Fish have made early commitments to play here this year.  Harrison, the 19 year old who hails from Shreveport, Louisiana, is reluctantly characterized as the future of American tennis.  Fish, on the other hand, is experiencing a drip from the fountain of youth, showing strong results in the twilight of his career.
  5. John Isner will be the most loved and recognized player at this year’s tournament.  He’s a local kid from Greensboro but he also stands 6’ 9” tall, making him one of the tallest players on the tour.  Last month, at the French Open, he put the scare into the king of clay, Rafael Nadel.  Isner is the only player in history to push Nadal to five sets at the French Open.  He also made national headlines last year at Wimbledon for some reason.
  6. Want to see the players up close and personal?  Hit the bars in and around downtown.  Tennis players are no strangers to having a good time. 3 During a stint in Winston-Salem, while playing for the US Davis Cup team, Andy Roddick was seen at Recreation Billiards as well as hosting beer pong challenges at the former Freddy B’s.
  7. Beat the heat.  For every two beers you consume, drink one bottled water.  You’ll thank me later.
  8. There will be numerous special events throughout the week along with plenty of kid’s activities.

Since it’s been some time since our area last hosted an ATP tournament, I’ll give you a few pointers about what not to do.  Like a golf tournament, fans have rules they must obey.  If you ignore these rules you’ll be thrown out faster than Bobby Cox. 4 If you’re unaware of any of these rules please read the first two points below before attending.  If you plan to ingest a few cocktails during a match, read it twice.


  1. Cheer, take a picture, or get up in the middle of the point.
  2. Keep the ball that bounced its way from the court to your hands.  This is not baseball, folks.  A tennis ball caught in the stands does not hold the same significance as catching a foul ball.   A line drive could knock out your teeth; a tennis ball is yellow, fuzzy and cushy.  The ball boy will ask for it back, give it to him.
  3. Tap into your inner Earl Woods and think your child can be a professional tennis player.  Eliminate the thought from your consciousness before risking your life savings sending your child to Bradenton, Florida 5.  This especially rings true if your child is over the age of five and has never held a racquet.  However, don’t let my cynicism stop you from bringing your kids to this tournament.  Similar to a Dash game, a tennis tournament is a wonderful event to expose your child to; it meshes many different cultures from around the world.  Your child learned to count to ten in Spanish from Dora, now they can learn to swear in Russian from Igor Andreev. 6
  4. Try to figure out why they score games the way they do.  The origins of tennis are a mystery, but even more mystifying is who the heck created the scoring system.  Leave it to the “non-progressive tennis powers that be” 7 to never change it.  Love, 15, 30, 40, ad-in, ad-out…..Really don’t worry about it, it takes nothing away from this sport.
  5. Save a trip to the chiropractor and try to watch the action from locations behind the player on either side.   Sitting mid-court seems like the ideal place to view the action but following a tennis ball back and forth for hours can cause some discomfort to your neck.

I Hope to see great crowd support from tennis and sports fans alike at this long overdue event.  Special thanks must go out to Don Flow, Wake Forest University and the many sponsors for offering this tennis tournament to our community.  Also I want to thank my father who introduced me to this game that he so truly loves, and for that I am forever grateful.



  1. Sure you can purchase NESN from Time Warner Cable but they blackout the Sox games so you have to buy the ridiculously priced MLB package instead.  Thank you Time Warner for thinking once again about your customers. 
  2. My first Davis Cup experience was right here in Joel Coliseum.  I hadn’t witnessed that type of heightened enthusiasm from a crowd at Joel since the Chris Paul led Wake Forest teams of the last decade.  I was convinced right then that this town needs more professional tennis events.
  3. Collectively, per capita, or any other metric to compare against other players from professional sports, tennis players have always had the stigma of living out a rock n’ roll lifestyle.  Aside from Pete Sampras and Arthur Ashe, tennis players might enjoy their time away from the court a little too much.
  4. Bobby Cox has been ejected from 132 baseball games.  More than any major league manager in the history of the game.
  5. Bradenton, Florida is the home of Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy.  It is a place for the top juniors in the world to begin the process of becoming professional.  You basically train all day and if time permits they  attend school. It’s also the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training complex.  Not sure if complex is the appropriate word here.
  6. I am not sure if he is in the draw but nonetheless.
  7. Can we just make John McEnroe head of the ATP!
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1 Comment

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