In the past, male players such as Andy Roddick, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tim Henman and Roger Federer have strutted their stuff on these very Surrey lawns. By all accounts, Bille Jean King and Martina Navratilova have done likewise. The point is you do get the opportunity to see stars of the future at events such at this. The men’s event is of challenger level and the Ladies is a $100,000 ITF, so serious business! There are not too many tennis events that you pay £12.50 admission for your day pass. Great value! Also, if you are a bit of a tennis geek like myself, Surbiton gives you the chance to basically mingle with the players, you eat from the same restaurant and sit in the same seats. I might pester for the odd picture when they are walking around but any more is a blatant invasion of privacy!
For the record, the restaurant is very reasonable and the bar even more so. A pint for £4 and a jug of Pimms for £15 is more than acceptable at a sporting event, so, me and the lads thought we would get stuck in there! A word of warning here though, as you sit outside, supping away with the sun and breeze on your face, enjoying the tennis. Don’t forget to plaster the sunscreen on! It evaded our memory! Textbook! Beetroot anyone?
The quality of tennis on offer is decent! The entry list of Dan Evans, Marcos Baghdatis, Dustin Brown, Oceane Dodin, Heather Watson, Robbo and Magdalena Rybarikova show the level of grass court operators on show. A special mention to Sachia Vickery and Evgeniya Rodina who both played some top draw tennis in their first round encounter. When you are as close to the action as this, you really get to see just how good these players are, you are right on top of it! The fact that it is not overly crowded is a huge bonus, tennis for the purists! Whether you want a seat on centre or to stand by any of the courts you have no excuse to not find a decent spot! You can just peruse the grounds at your leisure, walking around the site, passing by on each match. Even more impressive was the fact that all players were top notch for pics and Evans, Glasspool, Vickery and Jaziri had all lost whether it be in doubles or singles. So definite fair play goes out to each of them, they would be in their right to tell you where to go! So a top day out, it’s pencilled in for next year already!
Other trips that I will be making over the coming weeks are Edgbaston, Eastbourne, Wimbledon qualies and SW 19(as per usual). So I’m going to blog it out on these events and share my experiences!
Andy Del Potro