Fool for France

Davis Cup

Oh my readers, I have failed you. Yesterday I went to the Davis Cup semifinals without a camera.

I have been to a few tennis tournaments, but none as fun as this. The French Open is all high style and big crowds, the face France shows to the world. The Masters tournament held in November of each year is at Bercy stadium and is just grubby, unless you pop for a VIP ticket, which I am too cheap to do. Davis Cup, though, lots of fun.

Davis Cup is kind of on the lower rung of the bigger tournaments. I’m sure someone will correct me on that,  but that’s how it looks. Among other things it doesn’t get much television coverage. This is a plus. You see, the best seats are reserved for corporate supporters. No one who accepts a ticket wants to be televised while slacking, so at the French Open, those seats sit empty. At Davis Cup you can slack with impunity so those seats are pretty full, as is the rest of the stadium. Also the organisers hold the tournament in one of the home countries — no idea how they decide which — so the home crowd advantage is huge. Intentional? I think so: waiting at my seat was a little French flag.

Yesterday about a quarter of one level was filled by a dedicated tennis support group. They all wore Davis Cup fan shirts. They had a couple of big banners, so we all knew who they were. Between matches they unfurled a French flag that stretched from top to bottom of their section. Then, beneath it, they danced to the music, so the thing appeared to wave.

I never believed players who thanked the crowd. Now I do. You could see opposing players fluff points when the crowd got especially vociferous in their support of the home team. And at the end of the third set, when we all smelled victory, you could hear it in the cheers and you could watch the opposing player wilt. At the end of the day Tsonga came out to applaud the crowd and bow to the guys in the blue shirts. Now I can see why.

The organizers also encourage this sort of zaniness factor. During one break they played no music over the loudspeakers, so that this four – piece band clad in t-shirts and cargo shorts, blatantly unofficial,  could play instead. Yes, it is totally okay to bring your trumpet and portable drum kit to Davis Cup. They were good and even though I saw them sitting with the Croatians, they got a big cheer.

Did I forget to mention that France played Croatia? Yes they did and they pounded them, too. So Richard Gasquet trounced Thomas Berdych in 3 exciting sets. Then Tsonga took out a guy whose name I forget in 3 pretty dull ones.

I have no clue what will result today.  I am sure, though, that over at Roland Garros,  15,000 people are having a great time.

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