Friday, October 19, 2007

Keep Your Eye on the Ball(Girl)

No Bad Bounces at Madrid Tennis Tournament



Genius. Absolute genius.

All week I've been glued to the Tennis Channel watching the 2007 Madrid Masters series event. The matches have been top-notch affairs with all the big names and rivalries on display (Federer-Canas, Lopez-Ferrer, Djokovic-Ancic, Federer-Lopez, Nadal-Nalbandian, etc.), but even better than the action on the court is the action on the sidelines. That's where you instantly notice something different about the ballgirls. They're not kids scurrying across the court to scoop up loose balls.

They're babes.

And they exhibit more bounce to the ounce than any freshly opened can of tennis balls. And speaking of things that pop open...



Not only that, they're decked out in hot florescent-pink and babe-y blue outfits designed by tournament sponsor Hugo Boss. That's means they're not just hot - they're fashionably hot.



Yes, here the crowd enjoys watching the ballgirls as much as the stars on the court. That's because, starting in 2004, the Madrid Open organisers teamed up with Hugo Boss to bring in young models to act as ballgirls instead of the usual young volunteer tennis fans. Critics call it an unholy union of sexism and crass commercialism. I call it Marketing Savvy meets Continental European Flair. A win-win for fans and sponsors alike!

As the UK's daily Mail reported, "Despite drawing the ire of Spanish government officials, equality groups and even American hero Andre Agassi, the marketing stunt looks set to stay. Not that this year's testosterone-fuelled male tennis stars seemed to mind."


When his girlfriend isn't looking, Federer applauds the ballgirls


"Me squeeze, please?" Rafa requests two tossers.

No wonder Rafael Nadal got bounced off the court by David Nalbandian in his worst defat in three years (6-1, 6-2) - who can concentrate against that backdrop? (I noticed that he hardly even picked his butt, like he usually does between points.) I mean, c'mon, we're talking about a sport in which players get miffed if someone coughs during a serve (and remember when McEnroe went off at the French Open because a photographer camera click was too loud?) As if the competition between the lines wasn't enough, Madrid models ensure performance anxiety for the sweaty tennis pros who must make sure they look cool in front of the babes on the big stage. Not that I'm complaining. It's quite simply the best new idea in tennis in years. Olé!

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