By Brad Hunter
MEMPHIS, February 18, 2011 – I live in Nashville and I climbed in my car at 7am this morning to drive west on I-40 to Memphis. I was treated to clear skies, moderate enough temperature to crack the windows and Tennessee rivers and hills. I passed Loretta Lynn’s ranch and Tina Turner’s hometown along the way. The drive was un-crowded and peaceful, and when I got into Memphis I decided to up take exit 16A off I-40 down the Germantown Parkway. This Germantown Parkway route lead me thru a mix of business and suburban Memphis and to my hotel, which is a few blocks from the tournament site at the Memphis Racquet Club.
Memphis is beautiful right now, with the brown winter plants and the pre-Spring weather. I decided that I wanted to walk to the Racquet Club, through the quiet neighborhood streets. I did get lost briefly, despite the GPS on my iPhone, but found my way quickly and hiked over to the club in about 20 minutes.
The Racquet Club of Memphis has charm. It is a well preserved, historical country club with hard wood floors, a circular driveway that leads to the front doors and well dressed and polite staff with loads of personality. The walls near the media center and the press conference room are lined with tennis history: wooden racquets, newspaper clippings, photos of past champions, antique tennis cans.
The gift shop loaded with deals of tennis clothes and tourney keepsakes and also the lunch/snack/beverage/game room. It reminded me of the large indoor game room at the US Open: video games, raffles, free gifts, a mini tennis court, food vendors, coffee. On the way to Center Court, I also passed through the hall of champions, and large pictures of many of the most recent tennis greats and former Memphis champs:Stephan Edberg, Pete Sampras, Malivai Washington, Jim Courier, John McEnroe, Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport , Andy Roddick, Sam Querrey naming just a few.