April 5, 2007 – With all the rain this past week in Texas we were lucky that it wasn’t raining, and it was sunny in Houston. When we arrived Massu was playing Dorsch and we went and sat down in our seats to watch. They were playing really good, we stayed and watched a few games and then went to the concession stand. We decided to stay down on the grounds while the match was playing because there were a few pro players walking around. Plus Monaco and Vemic still needed to play after Massu’s match so we had some time before needing to settle in for the exhibition match.
A lot of kids and teens were running around getting autographs. We saw Goldstein, M. Jensen, Ginepri, Delic, Tursunov, and Fred Stolle – no sign of Monica and Martina though until maybe an hour before the exhibition actually started. We were standing in the back kind of away from the crowd funneling through, and we see this guy holding a Yonex bag and walking behind us towards the golfing area – and then there’s Monica walking up from behind us. He greats her and they start walking by and we said hello, and she looked over at us and then we started talking. She loved the doll we gave her, she remembered us, we took photos, we talked about certain things regarding our last meeting, and then said she would see us after the match and went into the players lounge.
She is such a nice person (it’s hard to describe in words), she makes you feel like you are the only person in the world when she is talking with you – she gives you her full attention and seems genuinely interested and asks questions. A wonderful person to talk with. After that we felt like we could go settle in, so we went and watched the last part of the Monaco and Vemic match which was running later than expected.
Soon Monica and Martina were out on the court and we weren’t sitting really close – and we don’t have a good camera so we didn’t get great photos, but we tried. Martina won the coin toss and elected to receive. Monica held serve and they went to 2 all eventually, but then Monica’s serve seemed a tad off and Martina went ahead in the first set. Monica started cracking winners left and right and came back to win the first set in a tie-breaker 7-6 (1). Monica was striking the ball very well, although her first serve was a little off. The two handed ground strokes as usual, were right on. She was even hitting one handed forehand winners at times but mainly using her two handed forehand.
In the second set Martina started doing her thing and playing to the crowd – she even took a drink from a man’s margarita during the second set after Monica won a game (haha)! Monica’s first serve was still missing though and Martina was playing great after loosening up and playing to the crowd. Martina took a quick lead in the second set, but Monica was all smiles though, she got a kick out of it and thought it was funny as did the crowd. Monica got her first serve together at the end and hit a few aces but too late, and Martina won the second set 6-2. Once the third set 10 point tie-break started, Monica put on her game face again and ran away with the tie-breaker hitting winners all over the place and hitting a few more aces to close it out 10-1. Final score being 7-6 (1), 2-6, 10-1.
Fred Stolle asked Navratilova a few questions and she said it’s hard coming out here and playing singles when the last time you played singles was when I played her (Monica), 2 years ago. Murphy Jensen asked Monica how she felt playing tonight and what she missed most about playing professionally. She said the nerves before playing still, but once you get out there you can shake off the nerves and play some good tennis. She said that she missed the excitement from playing great tennis with the thrill of the crowd cheering.
Once the crowd was thanked for coming and everyone was leaving the stadium, Monica was coming through and signing autographs for the fans. We got to talk with her again and we were so elated to see that she had attached the doll we gave her, to her Yonex bag! We mentioned it and she asked if we wanted another pic, so we did. We got hugs and kisses while she asked if we were staying the night in Houston or driving back home tomorrow. We said that we were going to drive back tonight and she wished us a safe drive home and thanked us again for coming and for the doll.
It was another magical experience for us and one that we will cherish for always!