So if you follow my Instagram stories, I'm sure you know that I recently had the awesome opportunity to attend my first professional tennis tournament, the Australian Open.
Shortly after I arrived to Melbourne, I began to look up things to do in the city. Unlike New Zealand, I decided to stay in one city for the duration of my visa. Australia is a much bigger country and to try and see it all in a year would be... a lot.
The Australian Open, hadn't factored in to my decision to live in Melbourne, but it seems kismet. When I was younger, my grandmother and I would watch tennis together. She loved and played the game herself. Although, I never pursued it, I still appreciate the game. My grandmother lived abroad early in her life as well and my appreciation for travel (as well as other things) is not doubt due to her influence.
The office in which I worked when I first arrived to Melbourne was literally across the street from Melbourne Park where the tournament takes place. I made up my mind early on that I was going to go. The tickets became available in October.
As it went, I didn't know who I would be seeing play until the day before the match. Coco Gauff happens to be from my hometown of Delray Beach, Fl. Naomi and Serena were in the tournament, so of course I was hoping to see them. I crossed my fingers and wished on a star. Alas... the stars didn't align. All three played on different days.
Now, to be honest. I've had a lot going on lately, and I hadn't really gone over the specifics of attending the tournament. I took into consideration the advice of some of my local friends and did it. To my elation, the stadium ticket did include a women's match and a men's match.
I went with Jo, member of the TFF network. It was both her and my's first time at a professional tennis match. We both were able to geek out at the surrealness of it all. Sometimes I think: What is life?
The match was Warwinka (15) v Seppi. I've been to several professional sports games. I will say, the Tennis fans were the most polite thus far. Granted, I haven't gone to (and don't have immediate plans to attend) a golf game, but still. The match started at 7pm with the women's match of Svitlonka(5) v Davis.
I was hoping to see Coco because we are from the same city (you know, to root for the home team), but Davis is American and she actually lives now in my area (Palm Beach County is a hotbed of professional athletes). Seppi is from South Tyrol which is a stone's throw away from where I studied abroad in Innsbruck. When there is so much more of the world I want to see, it feels like I've only scratched the surface with my travels. In these moments, the world really doesn't seem as big.
The men's match was great! It was not an easy win for Wawrinka. The match went 5 games and the the sets were long as neither player was admitting defeat. I was very impressed with their acumen. Some of the serves exceeded 200 Kph (124 mph). They battled for over three hours. Seppi, who was ranked 85, should be proud that he went toe to toe with former AO champion Wawrinka (currently ranked 15). The epic match between Seppi and Wawrinka pushed the women's match back to start at 11pm.
A few things worked out in my favor...
The city had been blanketed the week prior in smoke from the Australian Brush fires, but the rain from the day before had cleared out some of the smoke and the weather was perfect. Moments like this I have to express gratitude because the week prior, I was wearing a mask to filter through the smoke.
The city was a lot busier with all of the tourists being brought in for the tourney. The AO actually had several stages and exhibits set up inside the grounds and at Federation Square. If you don't have stadium tickets, available is a grounds pass that allows you access to Melbourne Park and all of the aforementioned performances. In the early days of the tourney, you can ever watch the stars practice and possibly get seats in the smaller courts to see some qualifying games. Those seats are first-come/first-served; my advice is to be strategic about it.
My initial plan was to go with some friends with the Grounds pass one of the first days of the tourney and enjoy the atmosphere. Unfortunately the stars didn't align and I had made my peace with 'only' going the one day that I had the stadium seats, but God...
In true TFF fashion, the network came through! Jo, whom I had invited to the stadium seats with me, was offered some comp grounds passes during the semi-finals. Guess who got to tailgate anyway...
It happened to be 104°F (38°C) that day, but was I going to complain? No, because this year I am actively practicing gratitude. Granted I nearly died of dehydration but, that just motivated me to increase my water intake.
The commentary from my Melbourne friends is that it gets bigger and bigger every year with live performances and the tailgating experience that they set up. I hope it does. It was amazing to attend, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I would come back in a heartbeat.
Until Next Time,