Wednesday 20th June 2007
This was my first ever time of going to Eastbourne - I started out from my home in London at 07:30am and arrived at the sunshine coast of Eastbourne at 10:15am. Eastbourne seems like a lovely place, the beach and sea looked beautiful, the sound of the seagulls, the lovely old traditional architecture in this area - so it was the perfect setting for the tennis.
After buying my ticket I went straight through to see a bit of Nadia Petrova on the practise courts, then I had a look around the little stands, then headed over to Court 1 to see my first match of the day - Sybille Bammer vs. Lucie Safarova. This was a bit of a scrappy match from both players with Bammer taking the early lead and the first set. During the match I could see Elena Dementieva walking towards the players restaurant and Tax Garbin walking to the practise courts. From this court you have a great view over the whole grounds and an especially good view of Court 2 and the match of Sharhar Peer vs. Nakamura. My friend came and joined us and we continued to watch more of the Bammer vs Safarova match, Lucie played much better in the second set, her shots were staying in within the lines, her serve improved and she took the second set. The weather was now very hot, so I decided to go for a walk around the grounds, I went over to the first practise courts. Groenefeld was on there starting a session with the usual stretches and laughing with her friend. Also practising Bethany Mattek, in a much more conventional outfit than usual! hahahhaha ;) I then went over to the second practise courts where I saw Elena Dementia being coached by her Mum, Maria Kirilenko hitting with fellow Russian Elena Likhovtseva, and at the far end of the courts Tathiana Garbin and her coach. On the court behind me was Renee Stubbs and Kveta Peschke warming up for their doubles match later in the day. They do quiet a long practise session here, about 45 minutes-60 minutes, which is the same time as Roland Garros. (At Wimbledon they only get about a 30 minute session as there isn't enough practise courts for them to train longer) I watched them practise for a while and chatted to a few friends, then watched the crazy scrum of people all trying to get Elena Dementieva's autograph. (Eastbourne is a great place to get close to the players and to get autographs, sadly it also attracts many of the awful professional autograph sellers who usually are incredibly ignorant and rude to the players and demand that the players sign multiple photos - they are the worst side of this tournament)
I then went for another walk around - saw Ai Sugiyama and her family getting asked for autographs from a huge group of teenagers. Then went over to Court 2 to watch a bit of doubles, Leizal Huber/Cara Black vs. two British girls. Just the other side of the court was British player Elena Baltacha being interviewed by a TV crew on the picnic lawn. Then I went back over to the first practise courts again - saw Lisa Raymond hitting with Smantha Stosur, Aga Radwanska listening to her ipod, Jill Craybas with a male hitting partner. Then over on the second practise courts watched some sessions of Tsvetana Pironkova hitting ground strokes and serves, in the far distance was Nicole Vaidisova having some serious treatment/stretches with a physio. (She seemed to be having a few problems with her lower back) Tathiana Garbin finished her session, then signed some autographs and gave me a beautiful smile as she left the court. I then went for an ice cream and continued to watch the practises, Vera Dushevina was hitting with another Russian girl, and now Nicole Vaidisova was jogging up and down, warming up and started a long practise session full which seemed to be many focused mainly on volleys and net work. At one point Nicole hit a very wild shot that flew in the air and landed in the middle of someone's picnic at the Pimms bar hahahhaha After the initial embarrassment Nicole was calling over to them saying sorry, but the people seemed to find the funny side in it, so it was alright! ;)
After I then went over towards Court 2 again, saw Nathalie Dechy being interviewed on the picnic lawn, Amelie Mauresmo running towards the locker rooms, also saw Sybille Bammer coming back from the players restaurant eating an apple and trying to sign some photos. Justine Henin was walking around chatting on her mobile phone. Then sat in the shade for a while and watched the doubles match of Maria Kirilenko and Elena Likhovtseva.
As the day draws to an end I then back to the place I started - back to Court 1 to watch cake-loving Marion Bartoli vs. British girl Melanie South. Bartoli took the first set easily 6/1, the second was a bit more tricky for her, South was playing better and Bartoli's serve became a bit of a mess. Bartoli finally won but looked to be exhausted, she really needs to do something about her fitness level if she wants to be more successful at the Slams! After I moved down to the front row for the last match of the day - doubles of Tatiana Garbin/Sharhar Peer vs. Renee Stubbs/Kveta Peschke. This was a continued match from the day before, Tax and Sharhar really tried so hard but they just couldn't compete with the superior doubles skills of Stubbs/Peschke. Though the match was very short, it was fun as the crowd really wanted to see Garbin/Peer win a few games. At the end Garbin signed a load of autographs and seemed to be a huge favourite with the Eastbourne crowd. Before we left the grounds we met up with our friends and spent the next hour chatting and drinking a well deserved jug of Pimm's in the bar overlooking the groundsmen preparing the courts for the following day.
I really had the most fantastic time at my first Eastbourne, I loved the fact that you had great access to the practise courts, there was a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere here very laid back, the weather was was hot sunny with a beautiful sea breeze and seems to be a place that the players really enjoy to visit too - I definitely will be going back again next year!
Update 2 July 2007
SAVE THE EASTBOURNE TENNIS