The Tennis Curmudgeon


Halloween in July

Orange and black. That’s what I saw. Long sleeveless black dress or gown with an orange leaf design print. In July. On one of the hottest days of the summer. That’s what I saw at the Legg Mason tourney, in the heat and humidity that is a typical DC summer circa 2002.

I’m thinking back on some tourneys I’ve been to. And I don’t think I’ll ever quite forget this long haired brunette in her Halloween outfit. I think this is where I first saw that raw, intriguing talent Paradorn Scrichaphan. Kid from Thailand who was basically self taught through instructional videos. I think James Blake, Andy Roddick, were there as well. Andre Agassi wasn’t there for this tournament, I don’t believe. But this woman in her Halloween outfit WAS.

We sat at a sidecourt, watching Scrichaphan play someone who’s name eludes me. Arnaud Clement? Nicolas Kiefer? Rainier Schuttler? Paul Henri Mathieu? I think it might have been Mathieu. The sidecourts at the Ftizgerald stadium complex are rather intimate and small. The stands are right on top of the players and there are great sight lines no matter where you sit. And this young Halloween woman ,staked out in the center near the front, in her Jackie O type sunglasses, would shout out her encouragement to Mathieu during the change overs.

“C’mon, Paul! Allez, Paul!”

I think she was trying to speak French or something. If she wanted to get noticed by Mathieu, I dunno if it worked. But it sure got a lot of spectators’ attention. On a blistering afternoon, where everyone was dressed in white, she was there in her Halloween dress. What the hell was going on? Funny thing is, she didn’t even stay for the entire set.

When the match concluded, and Schrichaphan came out on top, we went to take a look at another match on the sidecourts. And lo and behold, there was the Halloween girl! What was she doing? Yep, shouting out encouragement to another player. Turns out she was doing that for a lot of matches that day.

At one point, while waiting for the big matches with the top seeds on the stadium court, we were walking around the grounds and we saw the Halloween girl and some other girls, who looked like they were dressed up to go clubbing for some dirty dancing, were milling about some of the areas reserved for the players.

Then it dawned on me. Dammit! The life of a pro athlete, man. They, along with rock stars and actors, get more ass than a toilet seat. The host hotel for the tourney is the Key Bridge Marriott, just across the Potomac River from the toney area of Georgetown, DC to northern Virginia. And if you wanted to find them–especially the Halloween girl, all you had to do was just hang out at the host hotel bar or any other bar in Georgetown.

Yeah. Trick or treat, indeed, baby…..

– Bobby

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