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TW Staff
03-15-2004, 06:29 PM
Winners go Behind the Scenes of the Pacific Life Open with Tennis Warehouse and the ATP

The winner of our ATP Behind the Scenes Tour of the Pacific Life Open was Josh Halpin from Bakersfield, California. For the tour, Josh brought along his dad, Phil, and his high school friend, Nathan (Nate) Smith.

All three are avid tennis players, and Josh and Nate play on the varsity team at Garces Memorial High School.

The behind the scenes tour for this Bakersfield trio starts at the ATP Administrational offices, located deep in the heart of Stadium court.

As they weave their way through the halls, a photographic gallery of previous champions lines the walls. Just past the offices, the guys come to the stringing room. Inside, stringers are working diligently to get racquets ready for the next round of matches. The guys peer in, check out the action, then cruise on over to the player's area.

Heading through some glass double doors, and about the fifth security check in as many feet, they arrive at tournament check-in. At the check-in desk players and coaches schedule practice courts, check the schedule of matches for the day and hang out to catch up on the latest happenings.

Heading upstairs to the player's lounge they bump into Mahesh Bhupathi, the Indian doubles specialist. ATP tour guide Robin Hutchinson, introduces the guys to Mahesh, and he poses with the three for a quick photo.

Heading over to the player's lounge the guys spot Martin Verkerk relaxing with friends. WTA and ATP Tour players are everywhere, and the guys don't know which way to look.

Robin gets word that Andy Roddick has just won his opening match of the tournament and will shortly be in the interview room for a post match press conference.

On the way up to the media room we cruise by the area where the players arrive at the tournament. The parking lot is filled with a variety of shiny new Mercedes Benz cars. Robin informs us that the top 16 seeds in the men's and women's draw get a Mercedes for the duration of the tournament. The guys learn that this is just one of the perks that comes from making it to the top.

The tour continues on to the media room. Inside, Phil spots famous tennis journalist Bud Collins. Bud is working on an article for the Boston Globe, but is happy to take some time out to chat with the guys from Bakersfield. He stands up to greet the guys and is full of energy. Few people have as much enthusiasm for the game as Bud, and he soon reaches into the great tennis encyclopedia that resides between his ears and mentions the names of some professional tennis players with Bakersfield connections.

By the time the tour heads out of the media room everyone knows a lot more about the Bakersfield tennis scene.

Andy's press conference has been delayed, so the guys head to the ATP Tour office to get a soda, relax, and wait for the interview room to clear. It seems Andy has the same idea, and as the guys turn from the refrigerator with sodas in hand, in walks Andy. There is a bounce in Andy's step, a smile on his face, and he is obviously still feeling the rush of victory.

Andy exchanges a few words with some ATP staff members, then greets the guys. Phil is a huge Andy Roddick fan, and the two strike up a conversation. Phil asks Andy about his junior tennis, and if he has any advice for the boys. I wont repeat what was said, so the guys can keep the sage advice secret for the next high school tennis season, but be warned Bakersfield, Josh Halpin and Nate Smith are going to be tougher to beat from now on.

All three guys get to ask Andy some questions, pose for photos, collect an autograph and chat in general for about ten minutes. Andy talks about meeting Joe Montana while practicing with his coach, Brad Gilbert at the La Quinta resort earlier in the day. Andy mentions being taken back by getting to meet such a great sportsman. Meanwhile, the guys are feeling the same way about talking to him.

The guys get word that the interview room has cleared and head in. Andy leads the way, followed by Josh, Phil and then Nate. As Andy takes his spot on the stage the guys join the assembled journalists for the press conference.

During the conference Andy talks about his expectations for the year, his form right now, what he feels is working well for him, and his chances for the rest of the draw.

At the end of the conference the guys follow Andy back into the player's area, say goodbye and wish him luck for the rest of the tournament.

Itís been a long tour, with a lot of walking and the guys finish the tour off with a visit to the player's dining area.

Nate gets to hang with Guillermo Coria in the lunch line and then heads over to the table.

"He's a really nice guy," says Nate pointing back to Guillermo. "That was really cool."

Josh looks at his dad, "I can't believe we were just with Andy Roddick," he says shaking his head.

"Josh has always been an Andre Agassi fan," says Phil, "but now I think he'll be following Andy as well."

After the lunch the guys head over to the Tennis Warehouse tent and promise to keep in touch when they get back to Bakersfield.

We hope they do and wish them all good luck with their tennis.
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