Friday, August 31, 2007

US Open 2003: Fish Heads

Back on August 25th in 2003 I needed some cash. Thats it plain and simple.

Junior year at Columbia was about to start in the next few days when looking on Craiglist under miscellaneous jobs I saw a particularly interesting post entitled "Fish fans paid for Tennis" or something along those lines.

I was never a big tennis fan, but the opportunity to see the US Open AND get paid was mighty appealing. Showing up around 11am near one of the entrances a group of six guys haphazardly took form. We weren't really sure who the other paid "fans" would be, so it almost became like an awkward blind date where you think you see the girl you're waiting for, but aren't really sure who is who.

Our sponsor told us to take off our shirts. Thats when it got interesting. We would be representing Mardy Fish that afternoon. We each had a large letter painted onto both our chests and our backs. I had the letter F brilliantly written across myself.

Having walked through the crowds and past our awaiting seats in Arthur Ashe stadium we strode to the very top of the bandstand. The match was miles away.

The six of us began the match with some light hearted banter. Yelling at the opposition while shaking plastic fish in the air and manufactured signs that the PR company had created.

Initially we were met with stares and glares by tennis fans. After the first set things had changed dramatically. Fans were joining us in our otherwise desolate section of stadium and chanting and yelling alongside us. Television cameras and reporters were similarly interested in our antics.

Who were these guys?

The PR company did not do a decent job of prepping us for questions whatsoever. The first reporter wanted to know our names. The second reported wanted our names and why we had come. The third reported wanted our names, background and the association which we represented.

It was pretty funny to watch as our conflicting stories baffled the press. Were we PR stuntmen or genuine fans? After a while I wasn't sure if I was a fan at this point or just a guy getting paid to sing songs about Mardy Fish.

Through the third set and onward we had our shirts off. Burning in the sun we showed our pride - "G-O F-I-S-H".

He won the match much to our happiness. We all had our pictures taken at the end of the match with Marty. It was a great way to not attend orientation for my senior year of college. I made $80 and had my picture taken a bunch. I was interviewed. Best of all I was able to attend the US Open for free. I would do it all over again too if I had the chance.