Reliving a Trip of a Lifetime; Attending the 2016 Miami Open

Hello everyone! Last year I had the opportunity to experience the Miami Open in Key Biscayne for the first time in my life for five days. What an experience it was. It made me realize I had to come back again ASAP and this year I did something I couldn’t have imagined would happen so soon but I made it work: attending this great event for nearly the whole two weeks. 12 days to be exact; including my first ever final on the WTA side. It was absolutely incredible. The best part was Petra was here this time after sadly skipping it last year due to fatigue and needing a mental break from tennis. No event is the same without her. That was the only negative of last year but all was well this time! I will try to recap all of my greatest moments here, any fun stories while on the trip, what it was like to be here for an amazing 12 days, and anything else I can think of! Hope you enjoy reading!

First a quick background for you, I stayed about an hour and 15 minutes from the park and with the traffic it added up to about 1.5 hours every day there and back. Compared to Cincy where the drive is only about 20 minutes for me every day. I don’t know how many of you do something like this when you are attending live events but it’s not something I see people do often. I told some fans here about this and they were stunned I would do that. Some people within a half hour of Miami even wouldn’t dare to tackle that traffic everyday like that it’s so rough. The traffic in Miami is one of the worst in the country and that was easily the toughest part of every day. I’m a good driver though no worries. Doesn’t mean that everyone else there is though 😉

Not much changed from last year regarding the scenery, player access, practice schedule chaos and such and most of that is never a bad thing. As always, coming in my mind was set on getting to see as much of my favorites up close as possible and I think I accomplished that mission in a huge way. I saw at least one of them every single day except the first day and the last so it definitely made the trip that much more enjoyable. One of the funniest things about coming every day was some of the staff members especially the parking and ticket people started to recognize me pretty easily. Like every day I came through it was “back again?” Or “Welcome back nice to see you again!” I brought the same stuff every day a little green bag and a camera so it wasn’t the hardest to spot me out I guess.

One of my favorite parts of last year was media day and how close I got to be to Simo as she did various interviews; most of which were funny and interesting so plenty of smiles were involved. This year was no different. This is a very rare time at an event where you get to be up close to players where they aren’t so serious practicing or playing a match and just relaxing and talking and having a good time. It’s quite exciting to watch and just in case you didn’t know, Kvitty and Simo are every bit as relaxed, beautiful and smiley as they seem on TV 🙂

Two moments stood out on this day that were pretty hard to describe how amazing they were but I’ll try. First, right before media day started at about 11 I was walking around looking at the practice courts for my faves because that’s what I always do during a lot of my time. Like last year, the practice schedule was nowhere to be found anywhere so you basically had to walk around to every court every hour to have a chance to find someone you wanted to see practicing. There’s two sections of practice courts, one near the entrance and one way across towards the back of the park so they were far apart. It just created much more work for people to walk all of that way back and forth. That’s the one huge flaw this event has but to give them credit, it was only for the first 4 days or so. Then they had the schedule viewable to the public.

Anyway, the first story. Like I said I was walking around the practice courts and all of a sudden I hear Simo’s grunt and I’m like really… Looking at the time it was just about 11 so I figured I missed all of it. I literally stopped in my tracks and ran over there and sure enough, just as I got there they were walking off. So I found an open spot by the gate where they come out and since there weren’t too many fans around, I got a selfie. That’s never happened and I never expected to get a selfie from a fave after missing their whole practice but that’s how it went and I’m not complaining. (Well I would’ve liked to see some of the practice at least) Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good as they say.

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During media day another moment I’ve dreamed about for the longest time happened for a brief moment.  Kvitty was the first to do her interviews and I was watching her do them and it was of course mesmerizing to watch, and I quick turn around a little to the right of me and pretty much right next to me Simo is standing there! No warning! Kvitalep were so close to each other and I was right in the middle of it bye. She went upstairs shortly after but I have to say that alone was worth the trip. I was screaming inside and not breathing I’m not kidding. You just have to know me and something like that does not come around often if ever. Even if it was for a second.

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I also watched Petra practice that day which was great as always. The stunning part was that she practiced with Genie that day and she’s probably at the bottom of the list of people you’d expect Petra to practice with but it happened. It was just a bit awkward I have to say… Not very long after that I saw fed practice on stadium court and what a delight that was. It was funny because Lucie was on before him and at the end of her practice while she was still hitting, fed came on and the crowd roared and she was laughing because it just happened suddenly. They passed each other later and there may have been some other words exchanged who knows. As for Roger’s practice, it was great to see him back in action after a couple months missed due to a knee injury sustained after the Australian Open. This practice was the highlight of my experience with him here because I didn’t get to see much else of him sadly the rest of the event after he pulled out of his first match with a stomach virus. He was crisp, moving great and happy, he put on a nice show for the fans.

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I had many selfies during this event and the perfect day regarding selfies came on the third day when I got selfies with Kvitty, Simo, and Lucie. All came out pretty good I have to say. Kvitty and Lucie practiced together that day and I was a bit surprised I could get pics with both considering it doesn’t always work that way if they come out at the same time. I also told Petra about me being in the fan book she got for her birthday and she smiled and said it was very nice. We knew that but I doubt she expected someone in it to say something to her about it so soon after she read it. I was just glad to put a smile on her face because she put so many on mine 🙂

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The next day was the first match day for Kvitty and Simo but I think those will all be separate articles like I’ve been doing since those are a whole different story. But it’s always an amazing experience seeing those two play live, it is such a joy. Win or lose it’s a dream come true.

The best day of the whole tournament I have to say was the exact day I could’ve hoped it would be; my birthday. I was hoping before it started that Kvitty and/or Simo could’ve played on it but neither did which was fine since it probably was better they didn’t considering what happened. The beginning of the day was a bit strange because I thought Petra’s practice was at 11 so I started to go over to her court at about 10:45 but checked the practice schedule again just to make sure. In yet another misunderstanding it was actually from 10-1130 so it wasn’t the end of the world since I could see the second half of it still, but I was just a bit annoyed that I missed some of it again.

Anyway, I watched her practice and it was easily the best one I saw of the week as she was laughing constantly with her relaxed and goofy team. When it’s not a match day you can expect a little more of this and it didn’t disappoint. My favorite part was when they threw around a nerf football and Petra threw it over the fence and they lost it. Boy that got some great laughs 🙂 Most of you know what happened after but I can’t ever say it enough how happy and amazed I was during it all. I came into the day hoping I could get a birthday wish from her and I told her it was my birthday and she did indeed wish me a happy birthday and then I had a picture of her and she was very nice to write happy birthday on that I was just speechless pretty much. After she signed it I was too out of it and in awe to get a selfie but that didn’t matter. I tried to take a video of her doing something else after it was over and if you ever see it, you can tell how much I’m shaking because I still couldn’t believe what happened.

I could’ve tried to tweet her for a birthday wish and probably wouldn’t have got it, and even if I did it wouldn’t have been anything close to as special as one in person. Like I said I will never be grateful enough I had the opportunity to do this; the fact I could even see her hitting and smiling right in front of me on my birthday was such a great gift already. She is such a wonderful human being as I already knew to take the time to do those things for me, to make a dream come true. It’s so normal for her to be nice but we appreciate it so much for every little thing she does because she never has to be perfect for everybody, it’s just in her nature.  I can look at this photo forever and remember exactly what happened and remember it actually did happen, it wasn’t a dream. My year had been made thanks to her and usually she makes it anyway. I want to praise her much more but can’t because it would take way too long 🙂

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Simo practiced later in the day and I tried the exact same thing but there were much more people so I didn’t say it because it wouldn’t feel like the right moment. I got the picture I wanted most signed though by her and that was her gift to me 🙂 I received two perfect birthday presents.

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Last but not least about this day, I want to say thank you again to every single person who wished me a happy birthday it means a lot. I am lucky to be a part of such great fandoms and not just for Kvitty and Simo but everyone else on tennis twitter that I’ve gotten to know. You make it all more exciting for me and I’m thankful there are people who are so kind enough to say nice things to me and I always want to do the same for you when I get the chance. Much love to all of you 🙂

It was kind of a surreal feeling once we got to the second week because pretty much every event is only a week long besides slams and these in March. Plus, the longest I ever stayed at a tournament was five days so when I woke up on the second Monday it was quite a feeling to have another week of tennis left. Not all of my faves were still there but more tennis is never a bad thing. I have to say it was a bit tougher walking around the grounds once Petra was no longer there but I knew this wasn’t her best event and she might not be there long. The week I had with her was everything I could ever wanted.

The hardest day of the week for me besides my last day of the trip was the day after Simo lost and I had no more faves left. In fairness, I was happy with nine days with them and I can’t say I totally expected that many so I was satisfied. However, it stung walking around the grounds without any of them to look forward to. They make every event even better and it was just kind of an empty feeling. Also by this point all of the practice courts were pretty much empty most of the day and that was depressing too. When you know the end is near… but at least there was still great tennis to be played for those that were left!

The last part I want to share with you is my last day which was the day of the women’s final. I had never been to a final before so I thought it would be cool to try it once even probably knowing that neither of my faves were going to be in it. I’m an optimistic person yes but with their form not quite where it needs to be yet, it was hard to expect it. I didn’t care because I knew it’d be fun either way. The only weird thing was there was a possibility that my drive there could be longer than the actual final and I think the final was only a few minutes longer. Knowing who was in it and how the two players were playing, the result never surprised me as Vika was on a mission and wasn’t going to let Sveta get another upset. It was clear from the beginning she would win in straights as most could expect. She gave a nice speech after she won and I congratulate her for a spectacular month of March. Her matches against Garbine and Angie were the best ones I saw here so I’m glad she was able to play well throughout this event.

Then, the saddest part of the whole trip was leaving Crandon Park for the last time and knowing I wouldn’t be back for a whole year and that’s a maybe. Still, the memories that were created for me during these two weeks were unforgettable. I had a brilliant run here and I knew it would end eventually no matter I didn’t want it to. I lived the dream. That’s as best as I can say. I saw the top players in the world play and my favorite people right in front of my eyes as I dream every day. I only hope other fans can experience something like this because you all deserve it. I thank all of my friends on twitter who experienced this ride through me and all of my favorites who gave me things so hard to imagine. It wasn’t all about the results, you just have to hope for the best in that regard. Seeing their personalities up close and their friendliness is what mattered most. I got it all.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed and hope you all get to experience your favorites in the near future and enjoy them like I did!

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2 thoughts on “Reliving a Trip of a Lifetime; Attending the 2016 Miami Open

  1. Fantastic article Jake! Always love reading about tournament experiences and look forward to your matches article. It must be amazing with it being a two week tournament, particularly in the early rounds being there. There’s always so many matches and for it to be spaced out must be nice! Although that may be a negative later in the tournament when there’s not as many players around and many extra days left.

    Glad you had a great time enjoying seeing your faves and had great memories of getting those autographs on your birthday. Must’ve been so special! To see them all for most of the tournament does make the trip even more worth it. Great perspective in saying that you can only hope that’s the case and just seeing them at all makes the trip. I got lucky my faves did well in Cincy last year, but the year before, the last two days did suck without them. Didn’t even want to get up to go there. But the experience of a final is incredible. No matter who’s playing and what the result is. Glad you got to experience that. And you got a good winner too in Vika! 😉

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  2. Oh yeah, forgot to mention the commute. That is quite the effort to drive that much every day to the tournament. But definitely worth it to save some money! I even think the 20 minute trip to and from Cincy each day is too much and I get annoyed by it lol. The first year I went to Cincy, I stayed in one of those hotels right by the grounds and it was amazing to be that close and not have any commute. But they’re much more costly than the ones 20 minutes away, so just have to deal with the longer drive to save money

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