1999 duMaurier Locker Room Action
by Daisy Aye
For the second year in a row, I have been part of the locker room
staff. What a wonderful experience again! It was a great tournament despite
the last minute withdrawal of Guga Kuerten, the brazilian boy Montreal
spectators grew so fond of two years ago. This year the one to watch was Pat
Rafter, the two-time US Open champion. Let me describe my duMaurier
Day 1: Star struck!
As I was returning from checking practice courts, I entered the players lounge
where Pat Rafter and his brother Peter had already arrived. They were
standing there talking to people and I was unexpectedly star struck. It did
not seem possible but Pat looked even better in person.
Later that day, I watched Rafter practice with Santoro, they were both
cheerful and smiling on the court. The practice courts are great for
spectators because you are very close to the players.
Other practices going on at that time were Enqvist/Lareau and
Immediately afterwards Pat headed downtown for a press conference and an
autograph signing. There he commented on being #1 where he said he was not
sure how long it would last, maybe a week... (laughs) He also commented on
his looks, he said that he wasn't that good looking... You suddenly become
very good looking after winning the USOpen. (laughs)
Day 2: Exhibition Matches
Instead of only having qualification matches the first weekend, four
exhibition matches were played Sunday afternoon.
Pat warmed-up with Max Mirnyi. He then played the first exhibition match
against Todd Martin. They were very friendly, constantly talking with one
another on the way to court central. The set they played was entertaining!
For one point, Todd made Pat run all over the court. Pat was out of breath
and leaning against the back of the court. He turns to the ball girl and
gives her his racquet. They switch places. He throws her a ball and she
exchanges a rally with Todd. She loses the point but Pat thanks her anyway by
giving her two kisses on the cheek.
Another pleasant moment was when Martin hit two service return winners in a
row impressing everyone to which Rafter replied with a beautiful ace. The
atmosphere on court was very upbeat and relaxed. When Martin blasted a winner
which Rafter tried reaching by throwing his racquet toward the ball, Martin
calmly walked toward the umpire chair and demanded he give a warning. The
umpire did not, so Martin reacted by throwing his racquet down to the ground.
The entire crowd was laughing.
Rafter wins 6-3. The other three exhibition matches were LaRose/Stoltenberg,
Krajicek/Novak and Kiefer/Niemeyer.
Day 3: Ceremony
Monday was another beautiful day. I watched Haas and Rafter then Henman and
Martin practice. Later in the day, I spent a few moments watching the
Ivanisevic/Gambill practice. This is the day Marcelo Rios officially withdrew
from the tournament. He was a good sport to still attend the player ceremony
that evening even though he was not going to play. It's become a tradition to
have all the players parade on court central before Monday's first night
match. In the players lounge, we had to get everyone ready for the ceremony.
Every player must sign a tennis ball (labeled with their names) and keep it
with them to shoot into the crowd. It was exciting to see all the players
gathered together and dressed in a different attire. What a fun evening!
Day 4: Dope Test
This was the first year to conduct a doping test for the tournament in
Montreal. Each player is tested following their match if they lose. Tim
Henman had just lost a tuff match against Jim Courier that afternoon. He was
headed into the clinic and came out many minutes later, he did not need to go
to the bathroom... Brad Gilbert came up with a suggestion that drinking beer
might help. So, Tim sat with his beer flipping through a magazine and they
patiently waited for him.
I went to Rafter and Bjorkman's practice. They were warming up with the
doubles lines to get ready for their match against Reneberg/Gimelstob. Fans
showed up in great numbers for that lovely late afternoon match. The sunlight
was golden and the atmosphere was delightful. Each time Rafter would serve,
two guys would stand up and chant "Rafter!", clap-clap-clap, "Rafter!",
clap-clap-clap, "Rafter!", clap-clap-clap.
An advantage to being in the players lounge is to see up-close the relatives
and friends of players. I had the chance to see Lucie, Tim Henman's fiancee
and Lara, Pat Rafter's girlfriend. My first impression of Lucie is that she's
much better looking in person than she is on TV. As for Lara, there's no
doubt that she's impeccable but what I remember most is just how wonderful
After having seen the players for a couple of days now, I notice that
Jan-Michael Gambill (along with his dad and friends) loves to drink Coke.
Sebastien Grosjean likes the pure milk chocolate bars without nuts and
raisins. Rios and Bjorkman are avid ping-pong players. Jonas tends to play
until he sweats. As for Rios, well he yells when he plays, if that says
Day 5: Rafter
Wednesday was my day off. I spent most of my day on practice courts. The
first guys I saw were Chris Woodruff hitting with Bjorkman. They were playing
a set until Pat arrived at 11:30am. Chris left to let Jonas warm up Pat for
his 1:00pm match against Alex O'Brien. This was a very amusing practice.
Someone in the stands held up a sign saying "Aussies are whiners!". Pat's
brother Peter first saw it and smiled. Pat started to hit serves but he
laughed and stopped to ask, "Where are you from mate?". The guy answers
"Philadelphia". Pat shakes his head and says "Where's your Davis Cup team
mate?... Davis Cup is what it's all about mate!" The entire crowd giggled,
they loved seeing Pat smile.
Moments later, Enqvist and Larsson were jumping up and down outside the gate
behind Rafter. As they were warming up, they yelled out something to Jonas.
Pat was grinning and as he headed for a forehand shot, he hit the ball right
at Thomas. But, that did not shoo them away. Thomas still had his face stuck
on the fence as Magnus continued jumping up and down. A hilarious sight that
I managed to capture with my camera.
At noon, I moved to the next court to watch Thomas and Magnus practice. I was
fortunate to see Thomas still there despite his tuff loss against frenchman
Arnaud Clement the day before. Then again, some players seem much more
relaxed and cheerful after they've lost. I suppose the pressure is difficult
to handle and once you don't have that you allow yourself to smile more.
I attended the Mirnyi/Johansson match. It was thrilling to see Max serve, he
just might become a very dangerous player. Johansson was serving for the
match at 7-5, 5-4 but Max hung in there and broke to even it at 5-all second
set. Feeling the momentum change, I wanted to see a three-setter but
unfortunately Thomas was too consistent for Max and he won the second set in a
tie-breaker. I think people should watch out for Max because he could one day
make it in the top 20.
I made a quick visit to the players lounge to see if anything was happening.
There I saw Pat playing with a little blond baby boy. He was picking him up
and swinging him in the air. He also sat him down and tried giving him tennis
balls. I do not know who's baby it was but he was very adorable! It was easy
to see that Pat loves kids. A memorable moment to witness.
Day 6: Hanging out
In the morning, I watched two matches that had been rained out the evening
before. I saw the Damm/Mirnyi vs Krajicek/Siemerink match and wondered if Max
would get better luck in doubles. Indeed Damm/Mirnyi won the match even if
the crowd favourite was Krajicek. Following this match, I strolled on the
upper deck of court central to watch the grueling Courier/Ferreira match.
Spectators really got to see a gripping battle which Jim managed to win in the
I went to see Haas and Ilie play each other on court 2. The match had already
started. Tommy was in solid shape, Andrew seemed like he could never keep up.
I sat in the second row and despite having the lead, I saw that Tommy would
get very easily upset and swear. I never like that kind of behaviour.
I headed to the players lounge to start my shift so I followed the
Rafter/Novak match inside. After Pat's match, he hung out in the lounge with
Lara until his evening doubles match. They played pool, the putting challenge
and they also used the computer. Jonas and Peter played baby foot soccer.
Rios was playing ping-pong again. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.
Jan-Michael and his friends really loved the Crispy Crunch chocolate bars,
they kept asking us for more but we ran out of that particular kind. They
were telling us about it not existing in the States, so the thought of sending
a box to Cincinnati came up, but I don't know if they ended up doing
Day 7: Heart Wrenching
During Pat's practice with David Rikl, a girl somewhere in the crowd screeched
in amazement! It was a bit scary to hear her but Pat did not even blink.
There was an overwhelming number of girls that day. At one point, as Pat
headed mid-court to pick up balls, someone in a sweet voice said "Do you need
any one of us to run down balls for you?". Everyone laughed as he
Jonas and Jan-Michael were hitting on the next court and Jonas asked Pat about
his leg. I assume he was referring to the hit he got from Lareau's serve the
evening before when they played their doubles match. Pat looks at it and said
there was a little bruise. He shook his leg and added: "Turning soft these
old legs..." in his aussie accent.
Immediately after the practice, it started to drizzle. Then came the four
hour rain delay. Nothing much happened. Most of the players no longer in the
draw had already left and so did Lara.
However, the evening session was packed with tennis action. Following
Agassi's quick win over Santoro, my friends and I stood on the upper deck
where we monitored three matches simultaneously. On court 1, we had Martin
against Kafelnikov. On court central, we had Rafter commencing his match with
Kiefer. On court 6, we had Koenig/Olhovsky playing Black/Ferreira. We had
been in attendance for that match until we could no longer take the constant
cheering of a braided blond lady (clearly Black/Ferreira's number one fan)
seated in the middle of the front row.
I was somewhat disappointed that Koenig/Olhovsky lost in two close
tie-breakers. Robbie Koenig was so kind and truly a great guy to talk to
whenever he was at the counter because he always managed to make the staff
laugh. That same night I remember having a slight heart attack watching
Rafter lose to Kiefer. What a match! It was surely the best and most
exciting match of the tournament. A very memorable night!
Day 8: Enjoyable Day
In the morning Kiefer was in very high spirits. He heard the GooGoo Dolls
song on the radio and asked one of the staff what the name of that song was.
He said he'd heard it several times throughout the week and he absolutely
wanted to know the title of the song. So the entire staff started researching
it. We made sure that the title was "Black Balloon", which it was. Someone
had even called HMV, the music store! After Kiefer's loss to Johansson, he
still seemed in a good mood. The staff got him the GooGoo Dolls CD as a
surprise which he was very happy to get. He said that he could finally listen
to some good music. Nicolas was very gracious upon leaving the city. He had
a great tournament and he enjoyed himself the entire time.
Between Rafter/Bjorkman's victory over Adams/deJager and the evening match-up
of Agassi and Kafelnikov, I had some spare time to play tennis on the indoor
courts. Then, I watched Yevgeny easily beat Andre. Back again in the players
lounge, I saw Yevgeny holding his baby girl. She was too cute and in his arms
she looked so small.
The day ended with my trying out all the video games and playing ping-pong
which we usually can't do in the presence of players. We had a great time
race car driving and hanging out in the lounge.
Day 9: Last day
The last day commenced with a rain delay. Pat entered the lounge looking very
relaxed wearing checkered burgundy pants. Pat played backgammon with Yevgeny.
He also loves playing pool and golf. His brother Peter spent most of the
time virtually fishing.
Players and staff were laid back that morning and afternoon. I watched the
first final inside but I did go to court central to watch Pat and Jonas win.
It wasn't too difficult to spot the crazed blond Black/Ferreira fan sitting
directly behind the players in the third or fourth row. She was imagineably
the most emotional person because you could actually tell the score of an
entire game simply looking at her react.
Pat spent some time in the physio after the match. He had ice wrapped around
his right shoulder. But, it didn't keep him away from signing a few dozen
items like posters, balls, and magazines. He also accepted taking pictures
with staff members moments before leaving. He definitely lives up to the
reputation of being one of the nicest guys on tour.