11 March, 2015

Winter Is Going

 Last night 14,894 Feder-I mean-tennis fans piled into Madison Square Garden for the 8th annual BNP Paribas Showdown. The exhibition event, the centerpiece of World Tennis Day, starred Hall of Famers Gabriela Sabatini and Monica Seles, alongside 17-time major champion Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov.

Given the bracing cold of this New York winter, the sight of tennis, with its perpetually tanned competitors, doing (something approximating) battle in midtown Manhattan was as sure a sign of the spring thaw underway as the sudden vanishing of our street corner slush ponds.

So how did this Showdown fare as an exhibition event?  Let’s go to the checklist.

·      Witty banter between opponents? Check.

·      Circus shots, including a tweener or two?  Check.

·      Cute kid “randomly” plucked from the audience? Check.

·      That kid being a ringer who knows how to wield a racquet well enough to take softballs from the pros? Check.

·      Some spellbinding tennis that almost makes you forget that these aren’t fully competitive matches. Check.

All in all, the event succeeded.