For the uninitiated, The Shad indulges in a hobby every August by serving as the stadium announcer and music director for the New Haven Open at Yale tennis tournament (formerly the Pilot Pen). With The Hanging Shad’s home office now in Boston, I’ve stayed at the New Haven Hotel on George St. this week. So here is The Hanging Shad’s “Apropos of Nothing,” New Haven Open edition:
1. “Seriously? An earthquake? A bleeping earthquake? Isn’t this Connecticut? An earthquake?” That was the general reaction Tuesday when the Richmond, VA-centered ‘quake made the ground move and stadium court sway. I don’t do well in potentially tragic situations after going through the ultimate one. But it was my job to get on the mic and direct people to evacuate the stadium (see New Haven Register video). People were calm and New Haven first responders were fantastic—on the scene almost instantly, taking charge and moving everyone outside the stadium while they inspected things.
The only way to describe it was that I felt nauseous, dizzy and thought it was just me—until I looked up and saw the upper decks of the place swaying. One of the Yalies told me the stadium, which is down the hill from the Yale Bowl, was built on a filled-in swamp and therefore more accessible to earth movement. No one was hurt, the response was great but to be honest, it simply freaked me out.
2. The New Haven Hotel is beautiful. The rooms are great with granite countertops everywhere and a huge, LG, flat-screen plasma TV. The bed is like sleeping on a cloud. The parking situation and how the hotel deals with the parking spots in the little alley they own has a lot to be desired. And It would be great if they could expend their restaurant hours and service.
3. It’s sometimes hard to realize that young—very young—star athletes are just regular people off the court or the links. World no. 1 tennis player Caroline Wozniacki and US Open Golf champion Rory Mcilroy are a couple. People fawn all over them and they can’t get a minutes peace in public. Yet yesterday, as I was walking through the players’ lounge, I noticed them snuggling on one of the big, cushy couches, watching TV. They looked like they feared their parents would come around the corner.
They’re pleasant, friendly, well-mannered kids that happened to be wildly famous and wealthy.
4. Coming to this tournament very year is like having an annual reunion. You get to know the veteran players and staff. And there is a bit of a personal connection as well. I ran into Katarina Srebotnik in the hotel lobby. We talked briefly and she disappointedly said to me in her Slovenian accent, “I didn’t get to hear you announce my name this year.” Playing doubles this year, she and had lost earlier in the tournament and didn’t play on stadium court.