Fans are dying for some excitement and personality on the professional tennis tour. All cameras and eyes were on the wild Jamaican, Dustin Brown during his second-round match against Andy Murray on Friday. He lost the match, but electrified Arthur Ashe Stadium and won the cheers of New York fans.
The 98th-ranked “DB” moved onto my favorite player list at Wimbledon this year, when despite the “predominately white” rule, he channeled his inner rebel with orange and green, neon, mismatched shoelaces. Gotta love this guy. Flying dreads, earrings, passion, intensity, fans who dance in the players guest box. Great. This is what tennis is missing.
His motto is: “A man with the desire to do something …can do anything!” and I sincerely hope his desire can move him up in the rankings.
Saturday the “we want excitement” factor was reinforced at the Monfils/Tipsaravic match. The Grandstand was packed. People who couldn’t get seats lined up on the walkway above and squeezed into any available space. Neither of these guys are in the top ten, and neither are household names to most Americans, but one thing is known, they are both exciting and fun to watch.
Janko Tipsaravic. Love his name. Suits him, unique, one of a kind. tattoos up the back of his arms, dark Oakley Sunglasses, gun-metal grey shirt, black socks, and a hard-hitting intense game.He played at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles and fans were mad for him, holding up signs reading, “Tweet Me Tipsarevic.”
I’m intrigued by the fact that Janko has a love of classic literature, definitely not what your average professional athlete is probably reading. His left arm has a tatoo in Japanese from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, “Beauty will save the world.” His right arm also carries a tattoo in Katakana, (a Japanese writing system), that represents the first two letters of the names of his father, mother, brother, and himself. No pin-ups or “Mom” grace this players body. If you are a Twitter addict, check out his Tweets if you want to see how he feels about the US Open. I promise you won’t be bored.
Is there something about island life that brings out your own unique character? Gael Monfils, plays for, and lives in France, but like Dustin Brown, is of Caribbean heritage. His father comes from Guadelope, and his mother from Martinique. Nicknamed “La Monf,” Gael is another one of a kind. He’s toned down his crazy hairstyle, but his acrobatic playing style, and sliding technique have earned him the additional nickname of “Sliderman”.
Every match with Monfils promises to be a barn burner. This Frenchy gives his all on every point, shouting and cheering, arms waving, eyes popping. And check out those arms. Wow is my only comment!
I can also personally attest to the fact that he’s even crazier on the dance floor than on the tennis court. Scene; Paris nightclub, huge crowd gathered in a circle dancing , singing, clapping, and in the center, Monfils and friends, break dancing, putting on a great show and having the time of their life.
So that’s it. Having the time of their life. You get the impression with all three of these players that they really love what they do. This is what makes it so wonderful to watch them. People like this inspire us, to do what we love, to enjoy life, march to our own drummer, and most of all, have fun.
Cynthia Lum is one of the world’s most celebrated sports photographers and has traveled the world covering all the major tennis events for 18 years. In addition to tennis she is currently shooting horse racing, golf, surfing, and beach volleyball. Visit her on-line photo archive at www.cynthialum.com where her photos are for sale for professional and personal use. She is available for hire for corporate and editorial clients. She is based in Hermosa Beach, Calif.