They never quite got the air conditioning working to full effect.
You couldn’t see the stars in the sky, or hear the crickets and smell the trees.
The lady with the bee-shaped inflatable pool toy was there, though.
You could still get one of those monster lemonades from the Mike’s Hot Dogs concession stand.
And the New York Buzz played some pretty good tennis.
After 13 World TeamTennis seasons at Central Park in Schenectady, the Buzz and their fans experienced a match at the Washington Avenue Armory for the first time on Sunday.
New York christened its new home by beating the Boston Lobsters, 23-16, to improve to 3-0. General manager Nitty Singh said they sold over 1,000 tickets, but an unofficial head count was about 500, and there were some opening-night glitches, like the sweltering conditions and TV scoreboards that were impossible to read.
Singh promised to have these issues ironed out by the time eight-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams comes to the Armory on Wednesday to play for the Washington Kastles, for which there are still some tickets available.
“It’s a learning experience,” Singh said. “There’s a learning curve.”
The Buzz essentially finance their entire season off ticket sales for the one or two marquee player appearances they get each season.
If that match gets rained out, the team has no chance of breaking even, which made playing at the Armory, which seats 2,300 for tennis, about the same as Central Park, enticing.
There are drawbacks to playing indoors, but the overwhelming advantage of being able to guarantee that the marquee match will be played was too great to ignore.
“Everything, so far, is good,” Singh said. “The sponsors like it, the fans said they liked it. Hey, it’s a good move.”
Singh said she expects to have a manual scoreboard that everyone can see in place by Wednesday, and the air-conditioning glitch was due to the fact that the doors to the
Armory had to be opened late in the day to get equipment and the concessions into the building.
She was quick to point out that parking should not be a concern, since the 1,100 free spaces in the CSEA lot a block down Washington Avenue are monitored by an attendant and 12 security cameras.
“This is a test run for everything,” she said.
The team, meanwhile, has settled into a nice groove right out of the gate.
Australian Nathan Healey said he liked the atmosphere at the Armory, after playing two road matches in Delaware and St. Louis.
This is his second WTT season, after playing for Philadelphia in 2003, when the Freedoms came to Schenectady and had to play at the Schenectady Racquet Club because of a rainstorm.
“I think this is the best venue I’ve played in yet,” he said. “It was a little dark in one end, but it wasn’t bad. The DJ played incredible
music. The last couple of places we played put everyone to sleep.
“The surface is great, it’s easy to move on. It’s similar to some of the tournaments you play during the indoor season in Europe.”
Healey said this was an important match to get through since the Buzz didn’t get to bed until 1 Sunday morning in St. Louis, and had to get up at 4:30 for the flight to Albany.
The Buzz didn’t look fatigued against Boston, winning the first two sets to take a 10-6 lead before Amir Hadad beat Healey in singles, 5-3.
Healey and Patrick Briaud
answered by beating Hadad and Jan-Michael Gambil, 5-3, and Yaroslava Shvedova put it away by hammering Raquel Kops-Jones, 5-2, repeatedly serving hard to Kops-Jones’ backhand.
In mixed doubles, New York took control by breaking Marie-Eve Pelletier’s serve for a 2-1 lead, and closed it out by breaking Pelletier again.
Hadad’s win over Healey cut it to 13-11, then Briaud won four straight points on his serve to give the Buzz a 5-3 win in men’s doubles.
In Shvedova’s last two service games in singles, she won five points on unreturned serves to Kops-Jones’ backhand.
“We’ve been sailing in doubles,” Healey said. “We’re all having fun together. Patrick and I have played once before in a tournament, so it’s fairly new, but we’ve picked it up right away.
“In singles, I was a little tired from the travel, but if we win matches like this, we’ll have a good chance of making the playoffs.”
New York Buzz 23, Boston Lobsters 16
Women’s doubles: Yaroslava Shvedova/Gabriela Navratilova (NY) def. Raquel Kops-Jones/Marie-Eve Pelletier, 5-4. Mixed doubles: Nathan Healey-Shvedova (NY) def. Jan-Michael Gambil-Pelletier, 5-2. Men’s singles: Amir Hadad def. Healey, 5-3. Men’s doubles: Healey-Patrick Briaud (NY) def. Gambil-Hadad, 5-3. Women’s singles: Shvedova (NY) def. Kops-Jones, 5-2.
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