Sitting In The Stands Early At The TOC
Most of the amateurs playing the professionals clearly weren't slouches, but you could see just how the professionals have mastery over position and court control, as well as the cardio needed for the game. It wasn't the highest level of the game, but it was enjoyable to watch Gregory Gaultier and Amr Shabana, Alister Walker (and a couple of others who I'm not knowledgeable enough to know of the top of my head,) on the glass court.
I was able to stick around for the "Red Bull Karim Darwish Challenge". (See my last entry.) Karim played game sets of 5 straight points against all types of players. Mostly NY club players that ranged from former top collegiate types to a girl in the sixth grade who already has a long list of titles. (She was really good...) The challenge started off with something offbeat, with Red Bull's Karim playing a top NYC handball player brought in by Redbull, squash racquet against hands. Initially, it felt awkward but nonetheless interesting to me, so I had to walk towards the court to grab a snapshot. (More on that in a bit.) Red Bull didn't seem to have a big presence. They had copies of their latest print magazine available to grab (I took one of course), a couple of coolers by the court and the challengers wearing t-shirts. However, I did see a couple of girls walking through Grand Central with backpack coolers, offering free cans of their stuff.
So I step down towards the court to snap a shot of Timbo playing Karim with his hands. I didn't have anything like a camera set up, just an old GoPro I keep in my laptop bag. As I'm grabbing a shot, the event photographer crouches down next to me and says, "You're going to need a bigger camera." I chuckled a bit and said, "Indeed". We exchanged a few words and business cards. Turns out it was Steve Line, who I know about and who's work I've seen a ton. Great first impression I thought. I chuckled on my way back to my seat until I ran into and did a bit of catching up with Ned Marks, a local pro who I wrote about 2 years ago.
I'm not sure if I'll wind up sitting in the stands next week sometime, but I'll be digging it just the same. The world's best players and Nicol are in NYC... so I'll be following along. (Dig the dramatic promo vid below...)