Occam’s Razor

November 25, 2007

Fanboy Chronicles

For an extended moment after the match I was in a sealed bubble of satisfied disbelief and nothing, absolutely nothing can prick my bubble of joy. Truth be told, I felt that I could dodge bullets or neutralize lightning while I was at that state. I was… happy.

Earlier that day, I was telling TJ that in a few hours I will be realizing dreams that I have passionately held for years. In high school and during the early years of my college life I watched in awe every time Pete Sampras lifted the Wimbledon and US Open trophies or everytime he unleashes that vicious running crosscourt forehand. While watching on cable tv, I believed that I was more nervous than him and secretly I wished that I’d be able to see him play in person someday. I also wondered how it would feel like to be right there, to feel the atmosphere, to be in the same place with them, to see them make their back swing which my tennis trainer(s) have consistently told me I need to improve on.

And then there’s Roger Federer. Perfection come to life. A living tennis royalty. His greatness in tennis rivaled only by Pete Sampras’ record 14 Grand Slam titles. The guy whose tennis matches I mark on my Outlook Calendar and mobile phone alarm. The one who makes me go crazy during those rare occassions that he loses a game. The one whose biography I know by heart. My tennis idol. I wished out loud many times before that I’d be able to see him play in person someday.

That night, two of my dreams came true. Roger and Pete. Me right behind my sports heroes. Cheering them on raucously and sharing some fan moments with them. To cheer them on was the least that I could do in return for the countless times that their careers have inspired me to keep wanting to achieve more in my own life. And when the going gets tough, they taught me to just keep low and to return with slice backhands to keep the ball in play until I find an opening for that drive volley or crosscourt forehand.

I have always thought that Tennis is a perfect metaphor for life. And how these great tennis players conduct themselves on court should be the standard to which we handle the booming serves and gut wrenching rallies we face.

On our way to the stadium, Cullen and I were practicing our Roger cheer. Deep inside I was wondering if our seats were good enough to enjoy this momentous event. The premium seats were sold so fast that we had to settle for the 2nd best seats which turned out to be 3rd best once we got there. The seats were good enough when you want to lay back and enjoy the match as it happens. But I didn’t want to lay back and relax, I did not fly all the way from Hanoi to KL to freakin relax. I knew I needed to make the most out of this experience. I waited years for this to double-decker dream become a double-decker reality. There’s no way I was going to relax. I was gonna suck it all up, have fun and have tons of memories of what happened that night.

I saw a group of kids gather in one corner of the stadium and knew right away that this is where Pete and Roger will be entering the court from. The scene was all too familiar, kids holding huge tennis balls for autographs and people wielding their cameras as they patiently wait for the players to come out hoping to get that elusive signature or at least have them pose for a photo. I squeezed myself in and when they finally came out got these photos:

As the players went on to have their warm up, I scanned the stadium not knowing exactly why but I knew I was up to something. I thought hey, I maybe it wouldn’t hurt if I get near them and take some shots of them on their warm up. Which I did, but once I got to within a few feet from Roger Federer I knew nothing can make me go away. This is it, I thought. Every single movement, every single swing I can now study them up close. Heck, I can even smell their sweat if you wanna get weird about it.

And so I squeezed myself in the premium seats section camped there and boy, until now I can’t believe how close I was. At one time Pete unleashed one of his trademark running crosscourt forehand and I yelled, “Boy, we missed that forehand!” He looked up me and smiled. After all that shot is HIS and over the years he has taken pride on HAVING that shot. Pete looked up at me and smiled. I know I made my tennis hero feel good coming back on court from a five-year retirement. Knowing I was able to return the favor, damn I felt so good.

My fan moment with Roger was more, uh typical of me. Too dense taking photos that I didn’t realize that he actually half-laughed-half-smiled directly at me. I don’t even know if I reacted. I was too busy taking photos. A ball from Pete serve smacked my camera coz I was too busy taking photos, Roger looked at me and laughed/smiled. What did Les do? Kodak pa rin ng kodak! I was able to get a photo of him smiling at me pero naka side na:

Until now I still can’t believe it. While some people have Gandhi or Mother Teresa. I have tennis and my tennis heroes. And for two hours of my life we were close… And that was enough for me. I just wanted them to know that when I get a chance, I would back them up and cheer them on if I could. And I did just that. And they smiled back.

(If you are looking to download the full match here are links that I got from MensTennisForum, unfortunately I can’t DL from MegaUpload so if you could please convert them to torrents and seed for a few days I’d be very thankful. Here are the links for the

Malaysia exhibition:

set 1 – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=XFPLZ3PY
set 2 – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=F6RLONQV and for the

Seoul match:

set 1 – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=C47KSQGE
set 2 – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=71OLW102 and then the match in

Macau which Pete won:

Set1: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=3WMZ7ZTE
Set2: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=92WYAZ4Z

thanks to Reece of MTF for uploading)

UPDATE: Found the torrent for the Federer Sampras exhibition matches. You can find them here and be part of the DL pool so we’ll have faster downloads.

Here are some more photos I took from my seat:

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November 24, 2007

I Was There

No full blog update just yet (on airport wifi waiting to board the plane) but I just wanted to share these photos I capped out of Fox Sports Telecast of the match — well the ones with me in the background goin all fanboy.

Top left, the one on dark blue shirt — that’s me behind Pete Sampras!

And then again frantically taking snaps of Roger Federer here:

November 23, 2007

Teaser…

Alright just a quick teaser… I’m not sure if you’ve seen my throat screamin on tv but I was just right behind Roger and Pete during the match. How did that happen when those tickets were sold out? I’ll tell you more when I get more time to really blog. For now, here:

November 2, 2007

Cocaine

Filed under: tennis — Tags: , , — lesturla @ 4:54 am

I woke up today freezin. Seems like Winter came early — well, that or Autumn is just on exaggerated mode. I went on my daily routine upon waking up, check the weather forecast, go to CNN.com, inquirer.net, check what new countries have been reading my WordPress Blog and check tennis results.

Turns out Nalbandian got the best of Roger in Paris (again). Less than two weeks ago he beat Federer in the Madrid finals, too. That’s not exactly bad news since that means that there are actually players out there who can beat Federer so this one actually makes for interesting match-ups to follow.

The horror came when I saw a news item on Martina Hingis — my other Swiss tennis idol. It came as a surprise since she hasn’t been playing lately due to injuries so I wasn’t really expecting to hear any news about her until the Australian Open come January. She is retiring (again) amid allegations of cocaine use.

Martina vehemently denies this and claims that the testing conducted in Wimbledon (an idenpendent Swedish agency does the testing for Wimbledon) was inaccurate since she has never taken any drugs in her life. She even offered to have her hair tested for drugs (which supposedly has more accurate and long term traces of drugs in the body.)

However, Martina is down and beat. She’s been tennis’ little young girl who took the sport by storm in 1997 at the young age of 16 through 1999 when she established her domination and has graced the sport with the most entertaining tennis style and craftmanship on court. Tennis hasn’t always been good to her, in 1999 she was berated for her petulant behavior in the Roland Garros championship against Steffi Graf. There have been rivalries and criticism on how she can’t match up with the power players like the Williams sisters and Sharapova. Such is sports, when you reach the top, the way down is not always pleasant, in Martina’s case it has been short of traumatic getting badgered on everything she does on and off the court.

So Martina decides to retire yet again. Whatever allegations she is facing now, the fact remains that Martina has provided the sport the best tactical tennis we’ve ever seen in the women’s game. Cocaine or not, her greatness will continue to live on. This sentiment was echoed by the WTA proclaiming her a “tremendous champion” amid this controversy.

You’ll always be our Swiss Miss, Martina! Cheer up! You’re still great!

_____

Martina Hingis’ press statement:

Throughout my career, I have always been open and honest with you.

I have been accused by an outsource testing company of taking cocaine during the Championships at Wimbledon.

I find this accusation so horrendous, so monstrous, that I have decided to confront it head-on by talking to the press.

My weapon on the tennis court is and always was one single thing – the game, the ingenuity on court. And for this style of tennis, there is only one performance enhancer – the love of the game.

They say that cocaine increases self-confidence and creates a type of euphoria. I don’t know. I only know that if I were to try to hit the ball while in any state of euphoria, it simply wouldn’t work.

I would think that it would be impossible for anyone to maintain the co-ordination required to play top class tennis while under the influence of drugs. And I know one other thing – I would personally be terrified of taking drugs.

When I was informed that the A Test I took following my defeat at Wimbledon apparently came back positive for a cocaine metabolite, I was shocked and appalled.

Acting upon the advice of my family and my management, I immediately took the hair test which can prove whether or not someone has taken cocaine.

This test of course produced a negative result, the same negative result as all the countless doping tests that I have taken over the last twelve years.

However, the B Test from Wimbledon once again produced the opposite result – positive for a metabolite that apparently stays in the system for some time following cocaine use.

I immediately retained an attorney. Anybody who even attempts to take on this doping machinery alone has no chance.

The attorney and his experts discovered various inconsistencies with the urine sample that was taken during Wimbledon.

He is also convinced that the doping officials mishandled the process and would not be able to prove that the urine that was tested for cocaine actually came from me.

However, this attorney and others have also pointed out to me that a case like this one can sometimes take years to resolve, especially if both sides repeatedly appeal the case and take it to the next level.

And this is the reason for my announcement. I have no desire to spend the next several years of my life reduced to fighting against the doping officials.

I am frustrated and angry. I believe that I am absolutely, one hundred percent innocent.

The fact is that it is more and more difficult for me, physically, to keep playing at the top of the game.

And frankly, accusations such as these don’t exactly provide me with motivation to even make another attempt to do so.

I attempted a comeback after a three-year break and succeeded in winning three tournaments, bringing my ranking to six in the world.

But in the meantime, I’m now 27, and realistically too old to play top class tennis.

So now I’m standing before you, confronting the situation. Today I also informed my sponsors.

And so, considering this situation, my age, and the problems I have been having with my hip, I have decided to no longer play tennis on the Tour.

Upon advice from my attorneys, I’m afraid I am unable to answer any questions. My answers could insult someone and create even more problems for me.

Therefore, there is only one more thing for me to do – to thank all of you for many years of goodwill, and also to assure you: I have never taken drugs.

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