Over the years I’ve attended plenty of professional tennis tournaments and they all have been equally tremendous fun. However, fed cup was something that seemed extra special and entertaining to me and as soon I knew USA was hosting my favorite team of all time, a team that represents the beautiful country of Czech Republic, I knew I had to make it happen. I first prayed it would be in a location that was accessible to me. Lo and behold, they put it in Florida. Not just a random city in Florida… Tampa, an area that I was very familiar with over my lifetime. This was my chance to see some of my favorite players play in a setting unlike any other.
There was only one obstacle I thought that could stop me from going and that’s the one that I ended up having to face. I enjoy watching all of the Czech players play I always have; but of course I’m going to have a few that stand out above the rest that I really wanted to see play. Everyone knows Petra is the one that I love most aka the love of my life. We knew before any of this was possible that she couldn’t play until the final at best if they ended up making it there. So she was out. There were still the other three big players that had a chance to play and it seemed at least one of Bara Strycova, Lucie Safarova, and Karolina Pliskova would play to give their team a chance to make another final. I was admittedly gutted when they all passed on the decision to play. I obviously realized going all the way to Florida from Europe just for the weekend was never going to be easy for them and the decision was understandable. I just needed a bit of time to let it sink in.
I immediately gave no thought (which was dumb) and said it’s not worth it without of them playing. That thought disintegrated from my mind only about an hour later. The Czechs RARELY come to the United States let alone a city I can actually go to. They have only come twice in the last 27 years. 27!! The last time was 2003 and the time before was 1990. So I did not want to take any chances and miss it because who knows how long it’ll be before they’ll be back. I mean yes it could happen sooner next time but I’m not about to wait and find out. Plus by the time they do come back, I still assume the quickest time possible is 4-5 years and my faves could all be retired by then and then maybe I don’t want to go. OK I REALIZE WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO SAY! ME GOING NOW IN THAT SAME SITUATION IS NO DIFFERENT THAN IN 5 YEARS BUT STILL… 4-5 IS STILL BEST CASE! I’m not sure I still want to go when I’m like 40. Anyways so here I am!!
Ok that was my background on my decision to go to this tie. Now the real experience of everything about attending it. The hotel I stayed at it was extremely close to the resort (5 mins drive) that was amazing. Now where they played is an actual resort where people stay and you could see all of the different amenities they had there like nice rooms, a big pool, tennis courts, golf course, etc. it was quite beautiful. The resort only knew they were going to be hosting fed cup for about a month a half ahead of time. So they had to plop a stadium down onto the resort somewhere in that amount of time which they did and it holds about 3,000 people so it’s nice all things considering. If you were curious about how the parking was sorted out, I’ll tell you. It wasn’t that bad actually. With it being a resort, it just felt like being inside a little neighborhood so it was like one big circle. There were different lots around the resort and none of them were that far from each other. You could even walk to them from the stadium if you really wanted but shuttles would come and go from the lots and that was that. Once you got to the stadium, the actual grounds around it were extremely limited. There were basically little plaza square areas around each stadium exit with about 2-3 food/drink stands and that was about it. But you could go way back to the resort where there was much more room (like by the huge pool) if you wanted; there wasn’t an issue with leaving the grounds area and not being able to come back. Because of that, it was never as crowded as you’d expect in those little squares which I liked.
The stadium looked great as far as I could tell and I feel like any seat you had would’ve been terrific. It’s obviously not a gigantic stadium like other events I’ve attended so it makes even the highest seats pleasant for viewing. I sat in one of the corners of the stadium which I love and the action was great. The atmosphere was how you would expect, heavy USA cheering but a few sections scattered about with Czech fans and the biggest group was behind the Czech bench which is usually how it is for visiting teams. The most notable thing about the atmosphere was the noise. I knew it was coming but still, I could clearly tell the crowd around me at least was not ready for the heavy blasting of vuvuzelas, trumpets, and whatever else they had after every point. Especially the Czechs behind the bench. They let them roar after every point they won. I enjoyed it personally but it’s not a typical tennis thing so it had to throw off the crowd a bit. At least until they got used to it. If they ever did.
I’m not gonna talk too much about the matches because you all saw them or at least know what happened. I’ll just say live tennis is as good as it gets no matter who is playing. I didn’t know what I’d get from this tie but it was as intense as I ever hoped. I was also rooting for it to go to a deciding doubles rubber to see what that would be like and it did which was fantastic. Maky showed brilliant strength and mental toughness on the last day with the Czechs down 1-2 to force that decider and as a Czech fan that was the coolest part of the weekend to see someone like her succeed against the tough crowd when it mattered most. That was the match I enjoyed most.
I’m someone who enjoys going against the majority crowd and getting to show my Czech pride was so invigorating. I was fistpumping, pojding, and sitting next to a great group of fans who appreciated how good the Czech girls played despite rooting for USA unsurprisingly. My favorite part of it all was the constant crowd chant battles of U-S-A! U-S-A! Vs ČES-KO! ČES-KO! This is what it’s all about. The players were heavily into it and the crowd never let up either. Regardless of the result, I’ll never forget this weekend and will hold my head high of the girls’ effort. They did their country proud. Good luck to USA in the final as well!
Thanks for reading!