Thursday, July 3, 2008



Tennis begins with love, so they say. And what’s not to love about Wimbledon? It is the right mix of stodginess and public democracy. Wimbledon is the only US major that allows the public to “queue” for tickets, with an ultimate chance at seeing a match played on the show courts (at Wimbledon, they show courts are Centre Court and Court No 1).

My Wimbledon experience was unlucky at first. We had a few hours on Tuesday this week, so four of us took the Tube to Wimbledon, about a half hour ride from the BYU London Centre. The station just outside Wimbledon was filled with people going to the tournament or coming home. We knew that there was a queue that formed for the general public to get into the tournament, but we didn’t know exactly where it was.
The queue turned out to be easier to spot than we thought. After a five minute walk from the station, we realized the queue was the line as long as the Mississippi, winding at least a mile through Parking Lot #10, dirt roads, and the British countryside. It turns out, Andy Murray, the British entry into Wimbledon, was playing at the time we arrived. Two or three of the Wimbledon ushers, in their calm and matter-of-fact British-butler way of speaking, told us that we really didn’t have a hope to get in today, as the queue was over four thousand people, and the general admissions only allow around 2,000 per hour (and it was already about 6:30 or 7:00). We decided that we didn’t want to waste our time in London in a line, and so we gave up and went back to the Centre (consoling ourselves with a mint chocolate chip ice cream on the way home). Also on our way home, we ran into three girls from the Centre who were just behind us on the way to Wimbledon. We told them what the usher said, but they were determined to try the queue anyways. Their determination proved successful, and we found out later that night that they were able to get in. My first trip to Wimbledon was a disappointment.

I told myself that I was not going to be slave to the queue. Today, a few of us took off after class and lunch and braved our chances. Whether it was because of the impending, or because there was no more English players in the tournament, I can’t say, but the queue today was nothing. A 2 minute wait, if that. Once inside the gates, I rubbed my eyes a bit, took a few pictures, and we watched a juniors match. Our task was then to get into Centre Court. In order to do that, you must wait in a resell line. As the real ticket holders leave, they put their tickets in a red box that then goes over to another queue. For $10, middle-class fans like me can wait in a line and purchase the wealthy people’s tickets. Serena williams was playing the underdog Zheng in centre court, and all of the ushers in the resell queue advised us that nobody was leaving the court so we should go watch other matches and come back when Serena was over. We wanted to see Serena, however, so we waited. And waited. And waited. As luck would have it, it began to rain. And rain. And rain.

We got a little wet, but so did some of the people in the Centre Court stadium. They had been watching tennis all day, so a few of them decided to leave. They put their tickets in the resell box and—ACE—we were in the gates for Serena. We had amazing seats, the match was incredible, and the atmosphere was unparalleled. Tennis etiquette really is amazing. You could hold a church meeting in the stadium when the play starts it’s so quiet. During breaks and after points the noise is loud but during play—silence. And nearly everyone in the stadium is dressed nice. I felt like a scmuck with my red t-shirt and shorts. Another cool thing about Wimbledon is the ball boys and girls. They are incredibly disciplined. Here’s what wikopaedia has to say about ‘em.

boys and ball girls
In the championship games, ball boys and girls, known as BBGs, play a crucial role in the smooth running of the tournament, with a brief that a good BBG "should not be seen. They should blend into the background and get on with their jobs quietly."[13]. Since 1969, BBGs have been provided by local schools.
Prospective BBGs are first nominated by their school headmaster, to be considered for selection. To be selected, a candidate must pass written tests on the rules of tennis, and pass fitness, mobility and other suitability tests, against initial preliminary instruction material. Sucessfull candidates then commence a training phase, starting in February, in which the final BBGs are chosen through continual asessment. As of 2008, this training intake was 600. The training includes weekly sessions of physical, procedural and theoretical instruction, to ensure that the BBGs are fast, alert, self confident and adaptable to situations. As of 2007, early training occurs at Sutton Junior Tennis Centre, and then moves to the main courts after Easter

As disciplined as they are, mistakes do happen. One of them ran into Serena during the match—Serena’s not a slight gal—I think the poor chap got pummeled by a girl in a tennis skirt. Funny stuff.


Nellie said...

Hey Dave, I loved this post. How exciting to be at Wimbledon! We just got back tonight so I'll email you and Jack tommorrow.

Nellie said...

Whoops I know his name is Jake!

Lyndee said...

WOW Dave that is so cool! i am jealous! You sound like you are having fun in England! We missed you at the reunion!

Amy said...

dave! that is flippin sweet, I love how you are also surrounded by a million girls in every picture. are you getting any ncmo?? haha. well as lyndee said, we missed you tons at oceanside! can't wait for you to move to the exotic state of AZ!