player lounge entrance (2).JPG
player lounge entrance

Joel Drucker: Inside the Holding Tank

There will only be one picture with this story, and it will be a cryptic one at that. Were there any visuals, all parties, reader and author alike, would face immediate termination.

The greenery depicted is located just outside a 50-yard rectangle located at the north end of Court Philippe Chatrier. Everyone calls it “The Player’s Lounge.” But peer inside and you’ll see much more. Certainly there are players, in these first days dozens and dozens, each commencing a hopeful journey. Here are a few, shuttling back in from practice. Two past WTA top tenners carry boxes, loaded with new shirts. At one table sits a future Hall of Famer. At another, a present Hall of Famer. The ex-players who work in TV are usually easier to tell because they’re wearing blazers and ties. Often seating arrangements fall into nationality. Spend enough time in this place and you can even detect that soon enough it will be match time for a particular player.

For every player in this place, though, there are two or even three times as many others. Parents, friends, new romances hover, in some cases moving with comfort, in others awkward as they navigate this new territory. Agents move deftly, be it towards a tournament director, an equipment rep and beyond. Coaches gain closer entrée to their charges.

It’s in large part a big cafeteria. But in the bigger picture, it’s a holding tank – a place where sharks gather, well aware that each day, some will keep swimming and others will sink to the bottom. It’s the flesh and blood of competition that most of all makes this area so compelling – friends, rivals, enemies and, most of all, opponents, gathered together and soon enough apart.

--Roland Garros Flashback Moment

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