Nothing’s really going on back there … is it? |

Nothing’s really going on back there … is it?

Hey, what’s going on in there?

6:15 p.m. – There’s not much of a buzz in the media room at Stanford University at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday.

Sure, the world’s top women’s tennis players are in town for the Bank of the West Classic, but the media room is pretty quiet.

It’s like the hushed lull of a storm at a little after six. The early match is done – Venus Willams beat Lisa Raymond – and the late match isn’t starting until 7:30 p.m.

Four or five writers and photographers are here, talking sports and old assignments.

6:30 p.m. – The food shows up, barbecue chicken, potato salad and cole slaw. It’s not glamorous, but it’s free, so we’re all happy.

The stadium is empty. The ushers are taking up their posts.

6:45 p.m. – The television news cameramen are getting antsy. The guy from FOX asks the local San Francisco news shooter what the light is like.

“It will keep changing out there until the sun goes down and the lights take over,” he says. “But they’re daylight balanced, so it will be a bit warm.”

The writer from Inside Tennis is writing a story for Reuters news service. He’s adding color to the results from a men’s tournament in addition to covering the women.

There’s some warming up out on the court.

6:50 p.m. – People are starting to trickle into the stadium.

6:55 p.m. – The coffee cart is doing good business. Cappuccinos are popular – it is the Bay Area after all.

People are milling around the vendors’ row outside the stadium. Kids are carrying giant tennis balls that they hope to get signed by the players.

7:08 p.m. – Inside the media room – now full – the warmups are seen on the big screen.

7:18 p.m. – The photographers from all the papers have all hustled out to the court to jockey for the prime shooting spots. They’re limited, so they might have to trade off during breaks in the match.

“You don’t want to be the guy that misses the shot if something happens,” says a photographer from a Bay Area paper.

7:24 p.m. – The video guys scramble out to the court. They get priority in the shooting areas so they don’t have to go out as early as the still photographers.

‘That makes it a lot easier,” says a local news cameraman for the NBC affiliate. “But we’re just getting a few seconds of play anyway. We roll for a few minutes and then we’re out of there.”

7:26 p.m. – The players – Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters – are introduced. The crowd cheers. They unpack their rackets and begin the official warmup, hitting from the baseline, then volleying at the net and finally dishing up serves.

7:31 p.m. – “Two minutes,” announces the chair umpire..

7:32 p.m. – “One minute.”

7:33 p.m. – “Ladies and gentlemen, this match will be best of three sets. Time,” says the umpire.

7:34 p.m. – Clijsters fires her first serve. It’s over 100 miles per hour and she wins the point. After several more serves in the range of 100 miles per hour, Clijsters wins the first game. Clijsters and Davenport trade games and stay on serve.

7:51 p.m. – Davenport breaks Clijsters’ serve, taking advantage of two double faults.

Clijsters breaks back, but Davenport goes on a roll.

8:05 p.m. – Davenport wins the set, serving it out.

“That’s good tennis,” says a sportscaster for FSBA, the Bay Area FOX affiliate.

She’s right.

Davenport looks solid and this is her first tournament since she was injured nine months earlier, leading to knee surgery.

Clijsters’ game has been lifted to a new level all week. The 19-year-old Belgian plays a hard-hitting game and she can run down shots with ease.

The last time these two players met was in Germany. Davenport won, but sustained the injury that knocked her out for nine months.

8:30 p.m. – Davenport is in good form, blasting balls from sideline to sideline, and takes control of the second set. She goes up 4-2.

8:39 p.m. – Word comes into the media room that all nine of the miners are alive. The talk is no longer about the match, but about the incredible rescue operation.

The photographers and writers now know that their work has been back burnered.

8:50 p.m. – The match has taken a turn and Clijsters wins the second set, sending it into a third set. The writers groan as they see the clock ticking and their deadlines looming.

9:09 p.m. – The photographer from a Bay Area metro paper has trouble sending his photos. Another photographer helps him figure out that the server at his paper isn’t receiving correctly. He scrambles to copy the photos and send them by e-mail.

The media room coordinator gets fidgety now. She breaks out some Starburst candy and offers them around the room.

She doesn’t have much to do until the match ends, although she does field phone calls asking for results.

9:12 p.m. – Clijsters wins the match.

“… I’m a very superstitious person, so I’ll do everything the same,” Clijsters is saying to the crowd after the match.

9:15 p.m. – All the writers rush back in to the media room and nearly all the seats are taken.

The sound of laptops starting up fills the room with whirs and bings.

Questions are being volleyed back and forth.

9:18 p.m. – “She and Venus are 1-1 in head-to-head matches. Clijsters and Venus are 1-1 head-to-head,” announces the media coordinator, Lara Potter. “Lindsay will be in in five minutes.”

9:19 p.m. – The doubles teams are introduced on the court.

9:22 p.m. – Davenport is brought in. She answers questions for about five minutes.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been up a set and break trying to put it away against a top player,” she says.

9:28 p.m. – Davenport goes to the back of the room to do a video interview for FOX.

9:31 p.m. – Davenport is escorted out by tour officials. The television crews leave, too – they ‘re heading back to edit their shots down to about 20 seconds worth of footage.

The doubles match is in the first game.

Writers yell out questions about the stats of the match, quickly answered by Sanex WTA tour staff manning computers at the front of the room.

9:42 p.m. – Clijsters is brought in. She answers questions for seven minutes.

“I’m really happy with the way I played,” she says. “This is, I think, my highest level of play.”

9:49 p.m. – Clijsters is escorted out. There is feverish typing and calls on the phone take on a more intense flavor.

“That’s in … “

“Bank of the West is in …”

The East Coast deadlines have already passed. The midwest is barely going to make it. Only the West Coast will get the results of the doubles match.

10:33 p.m. – The doubles match finishes. Results are e-mailed out.

10:38 p.m. – The final story from the day crosses the Associated Press wire. There have been several other versions already, each including progressively more information.

By now, the media room is almost empty.

Sunday is the finals and it will fill up again and after another round of deadline excitement, the news will get out.

Shawn Swillinger is sports editor at The Union.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User