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  Post Office Box 67
  Fulham Gardens SA

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World Tennis Challenge 2012


Jan 11 2012

In the last 12 months I've been to all the big non horse sporting events in Adelaide (one day at each) and of the bike race, Clipsal 500 and the World Tennis Challenge this event was the most entertaining and the easiest to recover from.  After watching last year on TV and then Tuesday night on TV (its broadcast live on Foxtel Sports) I went along on Wednesday and although I cannot watching normal tennis - 3 hours and endless serious silence just gets boring especially on TV - this event is different.  Though most news reports are all about the serious side and who wins and loses over the three days this event is a chance for even the non tennis fans who only know the names from the sports on the news to see how entertaining the sport can be.  Each night fans had the chance to arrive early and get autographs from some of the legends and current players of the game as well - and didn't realise it but they were all so tall and easy to pick when they went through the crowd early.  The first match is between current players on the two adjacent courts over 2 sets followed by a one set match between the legends and then a one set pairs match which has teams with one legend and one current player where all 8 players are on court at once.  For TV they usually mike up a 'legend' during their singles match and talk to them throughout and then the real fun is usually during the doubles matches - with the swapping and 'court invasion' no idea how the scorers keep up but they find a result in the end.  Last year there was stripping and going through McEnroe's bag - this year was probably a little cold (though it didn't stop the French on the last night - Llodra is well on his way to following in the footsteps of Leconte and Bahrami).

On court 2 the night started off with Michael Llodra vs Tommy Haas and within the first few minutes a nearby spectator copped a Haas serve to the head - Llodra did apologise (I guess for missing it - he hit a few others on the same trajectory later) and then now and again told the bloke to 'be ready' for later serves.  These early games do appear serious but some of the interaction and 'trick' shots show the players are human and these exhibitions are more social for glory not like what will be on TV next week.  The crowd is also allowed to talk and laugh (yep you know something is happening on the oher court  when the crowd starts laughing) during the games too.   Next up was John McEnroe vs Henri Leconte and the latter was probably the most serious in this game as he was for the whole competition with only the odd few comments to the umpire by both (John McEnroe is famous for it and its what the crowd was waiting for).  Leconte raced away with the lead early but John McEnroe kept his winning run intact to win right at the end - and then impressed his fans by stripping off his top and throwing it to a member of the crowd.  The doubles match was Australia (Rafter & Dolgopolov) v Internationals (Wawrinka and Bahrami).  It doesnt take long for Bahrami to put on a show (and despite it all he rarely stuffs up a shot) some of the images below show Bahrami with an impossible amount of tennis balls while serviing while later as Rafter and Wawrinka had their own mini match he and Dolgopolov decided to have their own at the same time - in one of the shots below you can see Rafter trying to concentrate to serve while smiling at Bahrami's antics at the other end of the court.  Later Henri Leconte and Michael Llodra during a break in their own game decided to head over and help the court 2 doubles match with Leconte hitting the scoring shot (as seen below).  And for the final tiebreak points of the game Leconte took over the umpires chair adding his own commentary at times as well.

Next year for those not all that interested in tennis try watching the coverage on TV on the first night (especially the doubles) and if you find yourself laughing and entertained by the antics and the tennis on display go along to one of the other nights and see it live (its better when you are there and if you have no idea plenty of tennis fans will help you with questions) and if you are a tennis fan in Adelaide make sure you go as this event really is fun to go to and though it doesn't get the promotion the bike and car race do it is easier to get to and the venue is small enough that you are right there amongst the action.



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