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Saturday, September 3, 2005

The Zen of Flushing Meadows

©Colette Lewis 2005--
Flushing Meadow NY

Landed at LaGuardia early, believe it or not, and within half an hour had our luggage, a cab (driver: Indian, practicing a untranslatable one- stringed instrument between fares) and then a perfectly fine hotel room. The jackhammers and car horns were the aural reminder that I was in New York, and by 3:30 p.m. on the subway-John-Rocker-made-famous, the visual assault began. Actually I’m a big fan of graffiti (it beats gargantuan billboards for Hairspray or Wicked) and it enlivened the trip more than the mundane passengers, the most exotic of whom were a rather tame Harley Davidson couple.

Seeing the American Express Andy’s Mojo billboard cluster along the route prompted some fellow Flushing Meadow-bound fans to take a stab at what-went-wrong. Consensus—not hungry anymore. Well, at least they didn’t blame Dean Goldfine.

After scalping a ticket for my husband, we took a brief detour to the junior qualifying, which takes place in the park outside the gates. The competition was winding down, but a few girls were still battling for those last precious spots in the main draw.

Security seemed a bit less onerous than last year, and, no longer a rookie, my anxiety was substantially less too. I knew where to go, who to talk to, who to avoid. I got my credential and locker (a lifesaver) and then, computer safely stored, raced to court 4 to catch the second round doubles match between Alex Kuznetsov and Scott Oudsema and the Spanish team of Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco. The young Americans took the first set 7-6 (1), but in the second and third sets were broken at 4-5, the only two breaks of the match.

The vibe around the grounds was as bright as the weather, with James Blake already having blasted Nadal and Andre Agassi a set up on Berdych in Arthur Ashe. We chatted with junior Wil Spencer and his coach Wolf Von Lindenau, who were doing a little last minute work on court and learned that the junior player meeting was imminent.

But I wasn’t going to miss the Agassi press conference—it’s a lesson not only in tennis but in life,--and I wasn’t disappointed. The most profound statement of several was his answer to a question about his future. (I’m paraphrasing, because, instead of writing I was spellbound just listening.) "I’ve never been 35 before, I’ve never played my 20th U.S. Open before, so all this is new to me too. I’m learning as I go.”

A very wise man, who knows you can’t write a scripts for life.

The junior meeting was substantially less zen, with a machine-gun microphone disrupting Eliot Teltscher, Rodney Harmon and USTA PR mogul Tim Curry, and a bunch of restless teenagers, eager to see their draws, far from attentive. I believe they may have gotten more out of the Agassi press conference; perhaps the USTA should have invited them over.

The junior singles draws are now posted