Welp, summer is officially over in NYC but before I busted out the booties and sweaters, I was able to take in one of the quintessential late summer events in the Big Apple for this edition of BTW Presented by Heineken – the U.S. Open, baby. I’ve had the pleasure of attending a few times but this year was extra special as I was able to take in the action with none other than NYCFC’s Anton Tinnerholm.
Ahead of our adventure to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting former US Tennis great and US Open Champion, Lindsay Davenport. As an official Heineken ambassador and commentator for the Tennis Channel, Lindsey was in town the days leading up to the tournament for The Perfect Serve event and I was tasked with participating in an exercise of humility, which was attempting to return a serve from the former No. 1 ranked player in the world. Truth? I was terrified. Having never played tennis more than recreationally and having not picked up a racket in oh, 10 years, this was, shall we say, daunting. So I did what any sane person would do and recruited my good friend and MLSsoccer.com counterpart, Calen Carr, to tag along, mostly for moral support but also because he actually really loves tennis.
When my moment came, I surprised myself by actually making contact with the ball! Hooray! And after a few other failed attempts I managed to actually return one of Lindsay’s powerful serves in play. She might have been going easy on me but whatever. And being the outstanding sport she is, Lindsay even engaged in a game of soccer tennis with Calen and me, and I have to say, her soccer skills are far superior to my tennis skills.
Over a few Heinekens, Lindsay, gracious and absolutely lovely, spoke about her experiences at the tournament, her memories of winning it all back in 1998 and gave me the inside scoop on what not to miss when I go. I was stoked.
Sadly for us (and mostly my hair) the weather gods did not cooperate the day I brought Anton to the U.S. Open but that didn’t stop us from having a tremendous time. We braved the rain and made it to the Heineken suite (natch) and talked about the different mentality of soccer players vs. tennis players, and both of us agreed that we fare better in a team situation rather than 1-v-1. Fun fact for you all—Anton is quite a skilled tennis player himself and played competitively in Sweden when he was younger.
We also had a chance to talk about his time in NYC and how it’s become home for him and his lovely wife who was also with us and who is expecting their first baby (a girl!) in November. Only days earlier it was announced that he signed a multi-year contract extension in NYC, keeping him and his growing family in the Big Apple for a while longer. And he couldn’t be happier about it. As NYCFC look to make a deep run in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, Anton is one of the cogs in that machine but was quick to praise his teammates and pointed out that the contributions this season have come from everywhere on the pitch. A team effort personified.
The rain finally stopped and we toasted to what was a pretty perfect NYC day. We said farewell and I told Anton I’d see him in the playoffs. He smiled and said he looked forward to it, but that he might get a few games of tennis in before that and I was invited. Maybe this time I can bring Lindsay Davenport along for moral support?? Sorry, Calen.
Cheers to Lindsay, Calen, Anton, and most of all, cheers to you for watching! Have to go buy a racket now.