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Robert Brown and Bluffton HS Girls Take on New York

September 8, 2009 07:47 PM

Nothing better than a happy girl

By Robert Brown

I am recovering from taking a good portion of the Bobcat girls’ tennis team to New York for the U.S. Open. After surviving an over-sized tube of toothpaste security scare and a foggy w e a t h e r delay, 12 girls, myself, my wife and a parent c h a p e r o n attacked the Big Apple for a lifetime of memories.

Some of us were first-time flyers, most first-time visitors of the city of 8.3 million inhabitants (as compared to the 4 million people who live in our entire state).

The trip included our first stop at the Arthur Ashe Kids Day, a tour of NYC including Ground Zero, shopping in Chinatown, some legit New York pizza, Nathan’s hot dogs and Day One of the Open. In case you think the kids are growing up too fast, they killed flight time by coloring.

If you were watching the Sunday before the start of the Open, you may have seen us and thousands of other kids. Will Ferrell and stars of music as well as the tennis world celebrated Ashe’s impact on us all. I now am so cool that I know who Honor Society, Justin Bieber, and Jordan Sparks are.

Thanks to Mr. Lunde and Hilton Head’s own Judy Levering and Kurt Kamperman for arranging for us to be guests for a private United States Tennis Association behindthe- scenes tour of the Open facilities. Some of the highlights included being in the interview room during Andy Roddick’s live talk, the players’ lounge, the stringing center and literally rubbing shoulders through narrow halls with Jimmy Connors, Juan Martin Del Potro, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Murray, Ivo Karlovic and Swetlana Kutnetsova.

We hailed a cab, hired a bike, commandeered the subway system, had tennis balls signed by Victoria Azarenka and walked for miles. We were lucky enough to see Roger Federer dominate his opening match.

Ground Zero stirred us and the plans under way for rebuilding inspired us. This city is indomitable and its people as helpful and polite as possible (as we were often needy).

The most interesting thing about the U.S. Open is that any reader or Bobcat could play in it. Here’s some more U.S. Open fun facts we learned in our travels:

— Total Prize money: 2009, $21,664,000; 1978, $552,480

— Total Acreage at the Tennis Center: 2009, 46.5; 1978, 21.6

— The Open is ranked No. 1 among annually attended international sporting events.

— It takes six months to create the U.S. Open trophies.

— 41 percent of all fans live outside the New York metro area.

— There are 46 courts at the Open, which is the largest professional tennis complex in the world.

— There will be 8,000 big fuzzy tennis (autograph) balls sold at $40 each.

— There are 270 ballpersons used, 20,000 cans of tennis balls recycled, 60,000 U.S. Open hats and 64,000 Open T-shirts sold.

Finally, while away, we were happy and proud to find out that for the second time in six short years, the Bobcat home courts were named the “Best of Bluffton” in BT. Why the new color? Look at the Open courts. Our courts are U.S. Open blue, but our Bobcat girls certainly are not.

Going to the Kids Day was a dream come true for me. I am proud to be an American, a member of the USTA and the tennis coach of these fine young women.