Monday, 1 February 2016

Bye from the Australian Open!

We all get withdrawal feelings after the tennis, it takes up so much of our lives in January. Gee it's exhausting, mostly because we also get gripped by the night matches on the television and stay up really late! We have been lucky to have been down at Melbourne Park six times over the Australian Open tennis championships. We have cheered home our favourite players at round one matches on the outside courts, to the Mixed Doubles and Men's finals at Rod Laver Arena. 

We have not been alone. Over 700,000 people have also been at the tennis in 2016. The players call the Aussie Open the Happy Slam and it's easy to see why. The fans are plentiful, often dressed in fancy dress and completely over the top in favour of cheering in local talent. Although there is mixed support for some of the antics of some of our young Australian men!

The weather is gorgeous, when it's not stinking hot or pouring with rain all day. But even then, we have three covered arenas, two with retractable roofs, so play continues. This year even more cooling and shade has been added for the comfort of the spectators.

It's not only the fans who are well looked after. Whilst the crowds can enjoy easy access to tickets it means the players are well supported in their quest to earn a good share of the $44 million dollars in prize money. There are many player perks which they enjoy such as the free and plentiful transportation everywhere, and the tasty and healthy food available in the player cafe. There is a player party and player gifts which is normally something iconically Australian, this year it was UGG boots, how cool is that?

We are so lucky to see the tournament from the inside. For the past eight years we have hosted professional tennis players competing at Melbourne Park. For the past six years Team Falconi have been a huge part of our lives. We feel incredibly privileged and proud to play our small part. Irina has her adopted Aussie family and team dog, even though she's a cat lover. We have our favourite restaurants and things that we do, she knows her way around the local area and I can't imagine a summer without the tennis.

It doesn't get any more exciting than a Day One win at 8-6 in the third set. Although I honestly don't know how real tennis Mums cope! 

Anyway as I had a fantastic little dangling badge that allows me to show you around before the gates are open, I took a few pics for you whilst it was quiet.

Let's start at the Women's championship board, what do you notice? 

Is it Serena with the trophy, world number one going for another win? Or is it our centre court Rod Laver arena in the background, home to our Aussie Open finals. Or perhaps it is the blue? Blue is the colour of the tournament and especially the Plexicushion courts. Don't you think the ground and the sky practically merge as one? That's our bright blue Melbourne skies for you!

For me, what stands out are the players names on the edge of the board. 

At first glance there seem to be so many, one hundred and twenty-eight to be exact. It's impressive to have your name on this board as one of the world's elite professional women tennis players. But those numbers dwindle quickly and sometimes brutally. There is just one  winner in the middle. 

How exciting this year was the women's singles match. Here is the board with Angelique Kerber's name on Serina's chest!

Day One always starts in a high, it is a happy one with the whole Championship ahead. It is fun to wander around Melbourne Park.  At the gates the crowds are assembled, I hear from the distance an Aboriginal welcome to country and the national anthem.

When the gates open some run. Ahead there is the choice of seats. A ground pass at the Australian Open will get you a choice of a seat in the Hisense arena, or how about one of these cool tennis ball bean bags out in the sunshine watching all the court action on the television screens?

Through out the day, the Heineken area goes off, there is a big stage with many different bands. The party atmosphere certainly helps add a unique character to the Happy Slam. 

It doesn't take too long to fill up, here it is at night...

I could go on for ever about the tennis, but that will do for now
I hope where ever you were in the world you were able to catch a glimpse of the action, 
if only on the television!
I will bring you some more photos later in the week!

Linking with thanks to Sally at Blue Monday 
And Judith at Mosaic Monday

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