Oh, the Rain Delay

by Nicholas McCarvel

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Tennis is an outdoor sport. Well, at least at the New Haven Open at Yale – and at a majority of pro events – it is. That means factors like weather can come into play when it comes to play, stopping or starting it with the change of the winds.

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This tournament has withstood plenty from Mother Nature: the earthquake in 2011 followed by Hurricane Irene blowing in jump to mind. This year, there has been minor rain here and there, delaying things at the start of Monday night and then again today, first downpouring in the morning and then coming in fits and starts for much of the afternoon.

Throughout the grounds, however, the tournament continues just as it should: people go and eat in the food court, music blasts over the loud speakers in Stadium Court as the brave camp out under umbrellas, patiently awaiting tennis.

Court crews come out when the precipitation subsides, bringing blowers known as Little Wonders to blast the surface with air for quicker drying.

In the depths of the stadium the WTA officials team works furiously at re-arranging the schedule while they keep one eye on the weather radar. Today, two matches had to be moved to Grandstand because of the ensuing bad weather. Upstairs, in the ESPN booth, Rennae Stubbs and Cliff Drysdale have a snack break and thumb through Twitter as there’s no live tennis to be called.

There are plenty of calls for tournament director Anne Worcester to make as she buzzes from one tent to the next, stopping at the Ooh La La wine bar for a few hellos as the radio in her ear hums with plans for what’s next.

What is next is tennis to come. Players are soon announced back on court and fans stream back into Stadium Court. The biggest question is this: Who can use the break to their advantage? The delay – just like an off forehand or bad movement – plays a part in every tennis match it affects.

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