Off the Bucket List

“America’s promise as a nation of immigrants” has been stricken from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services mission statement and replaced with “protecting Americans” and “securing the homeland”.


Well no, it’s not an actual, tangible list, but rather fairly frequently thinking of something i want to do while i still can, and i can now mentally check off my bucket list watching from the gallery as Roger Federer slaughters an opponent.  I’m a passionate Federer fan, and i watch him on television routinely, but i’d never seen him play live.  And yeah, yeah, i can drive a thousand miles and see him at Indian Wells, but have you looked at the price of tickets there?  Not to mention the cost of accommodations.

So yes, i was understandably ecstatic when i learned that Roger would be playing an exhibition match in San Jose to raise money for his foundation, and i immediately bought a ticket.  I thought about buying two but then remembered my experience some years ago back when when i was attending every year’s matches at the SAP Open (formerly the Pacific Coast Championships) and bought a second set of tickets for the evening matches only to have great difficulty finding anyone willing to accompany me.  Hell, one of ’em who finally took me up on my offer did so only as an expression of our friendship, which i realized after play had started and i discovered that his passion for the game was at such a level that he didn’t know how it was scored. Sigh. So i went by myself.

This was one of those exhibition matches in which the appetizer was watching a major player teamed with a celebrity play a doubles match against another major player and his celebrity partner.

Roger was paired with Bill Gates.  His opponent, Jack Sock, partnered with Savannah Guthrie, an American news anchor.

There was great hoopla as the players came out, what with flashing lights and smoke, and the party atmosphere continued with brief courtside interviews.  Guthrie was asked what her strategy would be.

“Don’t look at Roger.”

To which Sock responded with his.

“Don’t hit it to Roger.”

Team Federer strategy? Gates “knows numbers very well, so he never makes a mistake on the score,” Federer said. “I’ll do the running and he’ll do the thinking.”  The crowd thundered.

The doubles play was ludicrous.  Gates clearly hadn’t played in years, and it looked like Guthrie had just barely ever played.  Still, the crowd got behind it and cheered hysterically every time Gates or Guthrie got a ball back.

The singles play between Sock and Federer was actually interesting in that you got to see professionals imitate a real match as Roger took both sets.

It was an entertaining evening, and i read in the paper the next day that it raised $2.5 million for the foundation.  Not terribly surprising considering the cost of the seats.  Mine, in the middle of the lower level was probably in the second of three tiers of pricing and was $150.  It was a sellout, nary a visible empty seat.  The only time i’d ever seen that arena even close to as full was one night back when Andy Roddick was at his peak and every teenage girl within thirty miles cajoled her father into taking her.

Meanwhile, here’s a video clip.


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