Charleston, South Carolina, is home to one of the most unique views of a tennis tournament in America. If you’re lucky enough to find accommodation heading toward the nearby city of Mount Pleasant, the Volvo Car Open will leave you with a farewell snapshot of a lifetime.
As one ascends on Interstate 526 over the Wando River, to the right the current defending champion is seen as a huge billboard attached to the Volvo Car Stadium. The display invites all travelers to slow down enough for just one week in April and witness the magic that is professional tennis.
Unfortunately for tennis fans, a lot of the magic of professional tennis is lost in the translation from court to screen. We rely on our trusted sources and personalities to fill in the gaps, and thereby lose the value that comes with convenience and the process of expediting news. With live tennis, you can see the weather or the surface become a third competitor in the match. Without a camera choosing your focus point, you will notice and possibly learn new aspects about the game of tennis.
I stumbled upon Kiki Bertens practicing with her coach, Raemon Sluiter, who happened to be playing with two hands on both strokes. Simply marveling at that fact lead to discussions on the best two-handed players in the game and whether Sluiter was using two forehands or two backhands. (It’s two backhands, by the way, according to Sluiter!)
That’s the magic of tennis, though. There are a variety of ways to enjoy and spread the exciting and tension-filled moments of this era. The Volvo Car Open does a great job in fostering that environment for media, both amateur and professional, by giving a wide variety of applicants an opportunity to interact with the athletes and tournament.
Personally, I was frequently inspired by seeing other outlets which did not have professional backing create their own form of content while roaming around the grounds. Attending the WTA’s All Access Hour with the top eight seeds is a great icebreaker for neophyte media when approaching athletes with one-on-one interviews. I mean, how cool is it to be a part of Caroline Wozniacki being tight-lipped over being asked for the first time about working with Francesca Schiavone? Or seeing Madison Keys squirming about her ever-evolving coaching carousel?
Being at a tournament humanizes all aspects of tennis. Whether as a fan or journalist, it’s important to attend events and keep these historic tennis sites in the United States. Big or small, their presence is needed to inspire the next generation. I’m extremely fortunate to have a tournament in my home state, but even if you have to drive a few hours or more, I think the perspective will be worth it.