Over the last 12 days, the 2013 NCAA Championships have been the catalyst in helping create life-changing moments and memories of a lifetime for all of those involved or have attended this fantastic event. As I write my last entry, these are my favorites!
— Holly Stalcup, director of event management, deserves a raise and a paid vacation getaway where it never rains. She knocked it out of the park, all with a continuous smile on her face. Holly was always smiling!
— Derrick Burson, sports information director for this event, did an outstanding job of keeping all of the media happy, informed and well-fed. I learned a long time ago, a well-fed reporter is a happy reporter.
— Seeing the ever-neutral and always-in-control ITA and NCAA officials actually smiling and having a good time! How often does that happen?!?
— Hummer golf carts for all of the parking lot attendants. They were always friendly, kept all sizes of vehicles in a straight line and would remind everyone to wear sunscreen.
— The University of Virginia cheer ... WHOOOOOO! Always made me crack up and would at times scare the pants off me, as I always seemed to be sitting next to a UVA fan who would out of nowhere just start screaming it as if they just couldn’t control themselves any longer.
— Fans tailgating on a Tuesday afternoon. At 1 p.m. It’s always tailgating time in Champaign-Urbana!
— I’m so sick of rain, I stopped drinking water.
— The front desk staff: Ben, Julie and the other guy whose name I could never remember. They handled every phone call and crazy question thrown their way. If you have a front desk, hire them!
— The size of a player’s tennis bags. They’re the size of their dorm rooms, maybe bigger, and they seem to carry everything they own in them. Any back issues won’t be from playing tennis but from lugging around their homes.
— People kept asking me what the biggest difference about the game is today compared to my college days. More power. Stronger. Taller. They just pound the ball and with such precision. And I’m just sure Thad Matta’s practice squad is the men’s tennis team.
— Players eating during a match. Gum was frowned upon when I played. Today, they have a picnic during changeovers.
— Hearing a player say to a teammate, “I just saw my grades online and my GPA went up to 3.2 (out of 4.00)! I’m so excited!” Really? I was just happy to have a GPA.
— I stink at doubles. And after watching these doubles matches, I realize I really stink.
— Watching a father taking care of and helping his handicapped son so he could watch and enjoy the tournament atmosphere. I choked up every time I saw them together. Priceless.
— Watching an assistant coach stop coaching, come over to the fence and demand to know who on his team had just been heckling their opponent. Then told them to never do that again. Can you hear Tom Crean doing that? “Hey, you in the third row, that wasn’t nice. Please be quiet and cheer for the other team as well.” Only in tennis!
— The large number of international players. There were days I thought I was at Epcot Center.
— Being asked by the California group what my favorite treat is at Darlings. Now, I’m blond, but even I picked up on what they were talking about ... Jarling’s Custard Cup. And it’s the peanut butter snowstorm.
— And my favorite? Hearing a little girl ask, “Dad, can I take tennis lessons when we get home?” I’m betting we’ll see her at the 2023 Championships hosted by the University of Illinois!
— I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the Court Report as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! Thank you to The News-Gazette for this amazing opportunity as I’ve appreciated being an honorary sports reporter. Your department is simply the best!