The Rakuten Japan Open in Black and White


Have you ever been to a tennis tournament?

I remember the first time I ever saw a real tennis match was at the Japan Open Tennis Tournament in my third year of college. I only had a vague idea of what the rules were (keep inside the lines?) and knew of only the super famous players (Agassi and the other hairy guy).

But I wasn’t there to just watch though. I was there to work as part of the court management team at the tournament, which was even better! Our crew was responsible for keeping all the matches in all courts running smoothly. And in between delivering extra bananas and running after players to retrieve tournament towels (yes, it happens)…I even got to learn a thing or two about tennis!

So here I was again, another year at what is now Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Tournament. The local favorite, Kei Nishikori, who’s had an amazing year (or so they tell me), played against Canada’s Milos Raonic in the finals. It was a good game (or so they tell me). But like two years ago, Nishikori fought off the pressure and went on to win the tournament, to the delight of the home crowd! Whoop!

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos:

Happy for Kei-kun but even more happy I got to see everyone here again! x

The Blackout

Did you hear about the blackout at the super bowl this year?
Sunday night football usually means
Monday morning football for us in Japan.
And I couldn’t take the morning off.
But I did hear about the 34 minute blackout.
Did I mention I love blackouts?
Especially inside a big dome or stadium.
All that energy packed inside the darkness.
It’s pretty awesome if you’ve ever experienced it.
When helping out at tennis tournaments every year
we always have days that turn into a rainy day at center court.
The thing about these tournaments is that
they are suppose to be outdoors.
So even if we know that the rain is coming
we literally have to wait until the last minute to close the roof.
But also, the roof takes 30 minutes for it to close.
And also all the lights go out while it closes.
I took these pictures on my cellphone last year
when we were opening the roof for the second match.
It went pitch black for a minute.
(we got everyone to wave their cellphones)
Then the light came streaming down into the court
as the roof started moving out.

The Other Tennis Tournament

Fall is the season for tennis.
At least for me.
This time is the All Japan Tennis Tournament.
These stairs were brutal when
we were working here all week in college.
We actually taped our knees.
But now that I only go on the weekends
I’m pretty much there for support.
Oh the memories…

Our days are filled with umpires,
bananas, and score machines.
And also a great views
from the top floor of the colosseum.

The Tennis Tournament Finals

Today is the final day of Rakuten Open.
And this is what’s going on behind the scenes.

We were all so proud when Kei-kun won the tournament!
He’s the first Japanese player to win this tournament
and he ended up being youngest player to win
an ATP tour tournament this year.

I say this year will be my last every year.
But who knows.
I might be back again next year.
It’s an addiction.

The Tennis Tournament

“Tennis is an addiction that once it has truly hooked a man will not let him go.”
– Russell Lynes
That quote is so true.
It’s fall and here I am again.
It’s an addiction.

This year Andy Murray is here again.
He won the tournament last year
so he’s the reigning champion.
The tournament this weekend went smoothly.
We got to go home around 7pm
because all the matches ended early.
Most ended in just two sets.
Thank you tennis players for crushing your opponent.

That Weekend at the Tennis Tournament

Back at the tournament again this year!
I always think it’s going to be my last year
but then they invite me and I can’t seem to say no.
I really love my peeps.

My sister Y was here again this year, too.
So much fun seeing old friends back here every year.

This was the finals match.
A beautiful Sunday afternoon.
A full house always gets us all pumped up.

The final match was between
Nadal and Murray.
Somewhere along the way
I started rooting for the Spaniard.
Maybe because he smells so good even
right after finishing his match?
But he lost 36 62 60.

Hope he comes again next year.
And I really hope our team
can get together again net year, too!

That Tennis Tournament in Ariake

Every fall since my first year of college
I’ve been here in Ariake, helping out with the tennis tournament.
And every year without fail…it rains.
The minute the rain lets up
we rush out to the courts with wipers and towels.
Even though it sometimes just rains again
we do this over and over throughout the tournament.
Some of the other things we do:
We check if there are enough drinks, bananas, and towels
for the players as well as the chair umpire.
We look for missing cellphones.
We work with the referees in announcing
changes in the order of play.
We determine when to turn the night lights on.
We hand out coffee and snacks to
the off duty umpires and ball kids who drop by.
We oversee every court keep updated on the status of the game.
We run with the doctor to the court
in case of a medical emergency.
We set up the court for singles and doubles matches.
We fill in for the campaign girls
who hand over the drinks to the players.
Pretty much anything and everything to keep the tournament running smoothly.

There are food trucks around the main stadium every year.
My favorite is the Okinawan soba.
This year something was different though.
My sister was there, too!
The players lounge was looking for someone to help out
so I offered my sister to them. haha.
It was a lot of fun having her here.
Another thing that happens every year.
The one day you want to go home early?
The players end up hashing it out past midnight.
Thanks guys.
But it’s all good, we make do.
By taking silly pictures, of course!
The final game this year was
Nadal vs Monfils.
The crowd was loving it.
But by the end of the tournament
everyone is pretty tired.
Especially the ball kids who run around under the sun all day.
They get their zzz’s where ever they can.

Nadal won the tournament!
And we all sighed with relief
as another tournament came to an end.
See you all again next year! x
(We did not win the pair tickets to Johannesburg…we were helping out the event!)