Lleyton and his three girls at an earlier tournament.

Lleyton and his three girls at an earlier tournament.

I spent a week at Newport watching the professional (ATP) tennis tournament there. It’s held at the International Tennis Hall of Fame facilities…the only grass ATP courts in America. Was able to play on the public grass courts there as well, though I lost every game in two sets to a player more used to that surface. The ball does NOT bounce much at all…

After losing in the Hall of Fame finals for the two previous years, Lleyton Hewitt at age 33 was able to win the championship singles trophy. He did it in doubles as well. I was very happy for this Australian who is making a comeback…He was world number one in 2001 and is the youngest male to ever hold that distinction, when he was just 20.

So here is my amusing story. We were given two free seats in a box of six. Upon returning to the box after a break in one of the matches–this was earlier in the week, maybe after the quarter finals–I discovered that most of the seats were taken by three young guys and two or three kids. I really wasn’t paying attention. Sometimes ball boys sit anywhere, until the ticket holder chases them away. Other times there are tennis fans who sneak by the staff members who are supposed to check tickets in each area.

Anyway I guess I said simply, “Excuse me, but these are our seats.” “No problem,” one of them said, and they all moved to empty seats in the adjacent box. As we sat down in our assigned seats, my friend informed me that I had just chased Lleyton Hewitt away, and that if I had been thinking clearly, I would have not said anything and just sat in the empty seats nearby myself. Of course!

I give her credit for recognizing the famous player, particularly because he wasn’t wearing his usual baseball cap turned around with the peak in the back over his neck. We always saw him on the court, which was yards away, and facial details aren’t that apparent. I have to tell you that up close he could have passed for a teenager. And then I realized that one of the other young men was his doubles partner. No idea who the third fella was.

Most tennis fans want autographs and pictures with their heroes or tournament champions. I am now officially known by some friends as the passionate fan who made the former ATP number one and the current winner of the Hall of Fame Tournament move over and be inconvenienced, so that I could have “his” seat. Pretty embarrassing…but worth retelling. We all make mistakes…this should be my biggest one. Sorry Leighton…

By the way, after he won the championship, his three girls plus another little girl all came out on the court, while he received his check and trophy. So adorable to watch them do cartwheels on the grass and play nonchalantly, while their dad said some words to the crowd and cameras.

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