With the first Grand Slam of the year underway at the Australian Open, I wanted to take a moment to share my love for tennis.
I’ve been to a few professional tennis matches in my life where I have been lucky enough to see such greats as the Bryan Brothers, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi play.
The best match I have ever attended was in 2006 at the US Open in New York City. It was between Andre Agassi and Marcos Baghdatis. This match was special because Agassi was injured and had announced that this would be the last professional tournament of his career. No one knew what condition he would be in when he played the much younger and probably more fit Baghdatis.
On a whim, my college tennis coach and I decided to make the hour drive to NYC and buy tickets to see the match. However, we didn’t calculate the odds of the match being sold out, and when we arrived we were told that there were no tickets left in the 25,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Always looking to defy the odds, my coach and I decided we had driven too far to be denied our chance to see Agassi play. We quickly concocted a masterful plan to get ourselves in to the match.
A former player from my school was working in one of the luxury boxes inside the stadium and, with one phone call, came down and used her credentials to get us inside the main gate. She warned us, however, that she couldn’t get us in to the stadium without tickets. We thanked her and got to work on the next stage of our plan.
I won’t go into the sordid details of how we secured seats, but willpower and a little chicanery won out and we were able to watch every minute of the action.
This historic five-set match ended well after midnight when Agassi vanquished his much younger foe for what would be the last professional victory of his career before he retired two days later.
The match was one of the most riveting I have ever seen, and I figured that many people had, at one time or another, been able to experience the excitement of professional tennis in person as I have so many times.
I did a little searching on Book of Odds and found that, in fact, the odds a man will attend a professional tennis match in a year are 1 in 103.6 (US, 2005).
I did a quick search to compare odds. What I found astonished and disheartened me as an avid tennis fan. Apparently, minor league basketball attendance is higher than tennis, as the odds a man will attend a minor league basketball game in a year are 1 in 67.85 (US, 2005). And minor league hockey is even MORE popular as the odds a man will attend a minor league hockey game in a year are 1 in 25.73 (US, 2005).
I have never attended a minor league basketball or minor league hockey game and probably never will, but I have been lucky enough to go to some pretty great professional tennis matches. Apparently this makes me “odd,” but the more I think about it…I think it makes me lucky.