The summer hard court swing is almost upon us, which means the time for our Home Slam — aka the Cincinnati Masters and Premier 5 event — is nearly upon us. You might remember the time we did a daily countdown of cool pics and stories we’d gathered from previous tournaments, and you can revisit that collection beginning with Cincy Day 30 right here.
This year we’ll definitely be sharing more Cincy goodies, leading up to our live coverage of the full event from qualies to finals! Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @TennisInsideOut to keep up with all of the latest news and pics. Check the sidebar of this page on the right — you can enter your email to subscribe to Tennis Inside Out and get notified each time we launch a new Cincy post!
For today we thought we’d give you all a peek at the fan experience at the Western and Southern Open. We’ve previously illustrated some of the fun of hanging out at the player’s entrance for some memorable selfie and autograph experiences, but there’s also the opportunity to get pretty close to your faves at the practices.
Family and friends who aren’t tennis fans may look at you like you’re bonkers if you mention going to a practice, but they are an integral part of truly enjoying the whole tournament. Depending on how good your seats in the main stadium are, this may be the closest you get to the players, and it’s pretty cool to watch their process for getting in form for their matches. You might also get a glimpse of their more playful side, and possibly their backside, as we see with whatever Grigor Dimitrov is doing above.
The first weekend of the Cincy tournament hosts the qualifying rounds, where you can get a glimpse of up-and-coming players as they battle to make it into the main draw. Simultaneously, a lot of the players already in the main draw come in that weekend to practice, so every court is busy all day long. That first Saturday of the tourney, we caught the end of Grigor’s practice with #NextGen-er Borna Coric, and saw Grigor running so hard for a shot he kinda crashed into the back wall.
Grisha then let an inquiring Borna know that he hadn’t broken anything important in his zeal at chasing down the ball. Dimitrov is usually a good bet if you’re looking for a fun practice; the man has the ability to make even the most stoic players grin like idiots with his eternally sunny, perennially boyish enthusiasm. You’ll also get to see that incredible backhand shot up close.
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The other entertaining aspect of practice sessions can be when the players interact with their coaches. It could be something instructional, just joking around, or something more emotional, like when Borna animatedly gestured for a full five minutes while his coach calmly absorbed every word.
Once the practice is over, the player will often stop at the fence to sign autographs and take a few selfies. As you can see above, Grigor is very popular with the ladies, much like Vasek Pospisil of Canada.
Here’s Grigor with a Sharpie cap in his mouth…’cause he’s a dude. Some fangirl is going to be really thrilled or really grossed out to get that handed back to her.
We had wondered how Grigor always looks like he’s wearing guyliner…seems like a quick touch-up with the Sharpie will do it. Yes, we’re totally joking, please do NOT try this at home.
Autograph sessions also provide a nice opportunity to get some great close-up pics of your faves, if you can avoid an elbow to the face from overexuberant fans trying to get selfies. And for obvious reasons, 95% of the pics will be of the player looking down. Just…pretend they’re being coy and enjoy the intimate view of their enviably long lashes.
Another adorable aspect of pics from autograph sessions is the looks of pure joy on the faces of both kids and adults as they get their moment with the dreamy players. And the guys and gals are dreamy, by the way. If you think they’re good-looking on TV, just wait until you see them in person–be prepared to swoon. Even that tough guy in camo above is staring admiringly at Baby Borna’s handsome features.
Didn’t we tell you? Dreamy. Coy. Eyelashes. *swoon*
And just to keep things all dreamy and squee-worthy, we’d like to make a suggestion. Please do not hit the player in the face with the thing you want them to sign. It just seems like….common courtesy. Just imagine walking into work in the morning and someone leaps out suddenly and smacks you upside the head with a magazine. Surely that’s not a fun way to start the day, especially if you haven’t even had your coffee yet.
With few exceptions, the players are generally nice to kids and wary of adults. It’s just how it goes. Being polite and non-aggressive generally helps if you’re a grown-up. And the “don’t hit players in the face” rule is a pretty good idea for everyone, and helps assure your fave will stick around to possibly pose for that hella cute selfie you want.
We hope you enjoyed the Grisha and Baby Borna pics, and stay tuned for more goodies from Tennis Inside Out!