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How I helped Alla Kudryavtseva win a match!!!

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So I was there last night (Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008) at the East West Bank Classic here in LA. Kudryavtseva vs. Cibulkova was the last match on stadium court. Why this match was chosen for the stadium court over some of the more intriguing match-ups on the outer courts earlier in the day is beyond me. One thing is for certain, whoever is running the L.A. event doesn’t know what they’re doing – AT ALL! Last night the crowd was very sparse, there were only a few vendor booths unlike years past, and they decided to charge admission for the first two day sessions.

Anyway, so Cibulkova takes the first set and looks like the second set isn’t going to hold much magic for Alla either. As Kudryavtseva’s serving deep in the second set to stay in the match, the crazed fan, from deep within my subconscious, takes over. Now mind you, I’m sitting in the first row in the corner section of the deuce court, so Alla is only a few feet away from me. Without forethought, I yell at her, “C’mon Alla, pretend she’s Sharapova”. Alla busts out laughing and soon everyone who heard me in our section of the stadium (not that there were many people) also joined in on the laughter and began applauding her. This seemed to relax Alla, remind her that people did know who she was and were cheering for her to win. She got the confidence to hold and soon broke to take the second set 7-5.

Why was I rooting for Alla? I became a fan of her after she showed such candidness in the post-match interview after her win over Sharapova at Wimbledon. Having said that, never in my life have I shouted encouragement at an athlete in such a fashion. I simply don’t know what came over me -- how in that moment I became one of those crazed NFL or NBA fans.

Even though it was unusually cold in L.A. last night (I only had a t-shirt and shorts on), my friend and I decided we had to stay and see Alla through to victory in the decider. The third set began with Cibulkova breaking Alla and once again it seemed that all might be lost. But I kept encouraging Alla, cheering her on, and soon she was firing her laser like ground strokes past Cibulkova left and right. Serving for the match, I was encouraging her to, “serve it out” and “you’re only two points from the match”, but she was clearly nervous. Of course she got broken, but then immediately fought back, went up 0-40, then 15-40, and finally closed out the match.

I was very happy for the Wimbledon Sharapove-slayer. She signed the requisite three tennis balls and looked to the crowd before deciding where to fire them off. The first one went in the direction of a few people still clumped together in one section. Then she moved behind the umpire’s chair, (blocking my view of her) and fired off the second ball. My heart sank, I felt I was about to be snubbed…but then Alla peeked from behind the umpire’s chair. She spotted me and then the most miraculous thing happened. She walked towards me, and when she was only a few feet away, gently hit the ball directly to me – making absolutely sure than no one else would be able to catch it. I swear the whole thing happened in super slow-motion. In that moment, I felt like a little kid attending my first ever sporting event and getting a real souvenir to boot to show off to all my friends.

Now, mind you, I’ve never been one to cheer for the tennis balls the players hit into the crowd but boy did I ever want that ball last night. And I got it! So on a cold, windy night in LA, with very few die-hard tennis fans left in the stadium, I felt a closer connection to the sport than ever before and fell in love with this game all over again.

Obviously, despite the thread title, I know Alla did all the work to win the match, but I was genuinely surprised, when on my way out, my fellow tennis fans went out of their way to tell me, “you made it happen for her”, and “she pulled it out because of you”.

So Alla Kudryavtseva you may never read this, but know that you’ve got a fan for life!

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  1. mrjiggyfly2's Avatar
    Wow krutin!! That is outstanding. It's like when Moose encouraged Kohlschriber at IW last year vs. Malisse. The difference is that Alla was way down in her match when you started. It sounds like you definitely had a big hand in the victory. Nice!!!!!!!!!!!
  2. GVGirl's Avatar
    Great read. I so enjoyed it. Will you now head up her US fan club?
  3. Moose's Avatar
    I learned from my encounter with Kohlschreiber that sometimes players need fans just as badly (if not moreso) as fans need players. This is a wonderful story, Krutin, and I can assure you that you'll carry this memory fondly throughout Alla's career.
  4. dryrunguy's Avatar
    KRUTIN! I'm just now getting caught up on the blogs. What a PURE PLEASURE to read this! Meeting Max Mirnyi was one of the highlights of my U.S. Open last year, but it was all quite by accident. I didn't even see his mixed doubles match that day. Anyway, I'm so thrilled for you! You have a friend in the tennis world!