Episode 273a: 2020 U.S. Open Day 0 - Blair Henley, Inside the Bubble


The. Welcome to no challenges raining I am Ben Rothenberg joining my dear friend court in a win Hi Courtney. And we are also joined by our friend Blair Henley who we have not had on the official NPR show before Blair was with us when we did our codenames game for patriotic and was a stellar player with stellar props, the props in the props once more the player. Thank you for being here. You've been someone on our wish list for a long time. So I'm glad you are with finally. We'll. Thanks guys. This is longtime listener first-time caller or its territory. Very, very happy to be here. I'm actually quite shocked that we've never had you on the show. So it. Didn't even occur to me that this was your first. Go Round. It was a glaring omission, glare. Yes, we try in. That's right. That's right. We did try and India well so Indian Wells no more. So here we are well, there you are worth three different places. I'm in DC Courtney's home in California but you are in the bubble in new. York and so we're going to get to that a bit that second half of the show I think pretty much. But I WANNA start started people who I feel like everyone knows you but to get a more formal introduction to player, Henley the the legend and hero that we all cherish. So if you can just tell us Europe your hero origin story a bit how how you started working you're listening to a tennis first and then how you started working in. Tennis. It's an indirect origin story if I had to classify it, I did though I mean I grew up in tennis my dad's tennis rose. So from I mean as long ago as I can remember, I was hanging out at the tennis courts I. was on the court as much as possible. I started stringing rackets I was like thirteen I started teaching little kids when I was maybe fourteen probably even younger than that So I grew up in the tennis world I've always loved it went to play tennis in College at Rice University. And really at the end of that s you I sort of had a maybe a myopic view I always just wanted to be the best at school and I wanted to be the best tennis player I could be, and then I was done with school in tennis and then was like now, what do I do and so I thought tennis a little bit of time, and then I got a job working with a tennis club startup in Houston Texas and worked there got some interesting business experience I was an economics major so it's not like I have. Journalists background, but I always loved writing I. Always loved you know doing anything on camera in every play I could be in when I was a kid like I loved that sort of thing and so got married when I was about twenty five and my husband was playing minor league baseball at the time and I went with him there wasn't a lot that I could do in terms of normal jobs. So I taught tennis in just about every city that we stopped in female tennis pros are a are added premium they're harder to find, and so I could just walk into a tennis club. It was the greatest thing they didn't even. Resume there I was like I'm here for you know I don't know how long do you need a pro and they're like you're hired. So that was so awesome to have have that job and be able to do that for myself wherever we were I think we moved sixteen times in three hour. So isn't it does sound like the Minor Leagues Yeah. Is the minor leagues. It was also like a delightfully simple time in life all our belongings fit in the car, which was which was kind of freeing in a weird way. But. It was during that time that I thought hey, if I wanted to to start writing, this might be the time to do it. So I, I actually started writing for Randy Walker who worked at the USDA for a long time and started world tennis magazine Dot Com at a chance to start writing for him and so I think it was we were in Memphis at the time and I would just go sit at Panera bread all day, and I was mostly writing results stories but that was where I sort of started developing my the writing style and sort of learning and getting better in that department covered my first tournament officially four Randy in two thousand eleven at the Delray Beach Open. Rate Memories in Delray Beach. It's been a long relationship with that girl. Originally from South Florida. So so that was always sort of the home tournaments. It's a very started from the bottom. Now, we here kind of event Frio very, very much so and then I eventually started working after Tyler, my husband was done with baseball. We moved back to Houston for him to finish school and I started working for tennis now, which is A. Website that some of our friends we know in love still work for, and it was there that I got to do on camera worked for the very first time and please don't search the Internet for those I. Those were great. Those are the first place I saw you on. Youtube does Acid star that's where I I saw you as well and also weren't this girl come from and how do we hunter her? This is amazing it at the end I feel like if became really fine I had a relationship I felt like the people who watched the I tried to make fun but also informative I also did some instruction videos that I didn't think anyone was going to watch. They remained thing that approached for the most to the day which is Neat I. Mean when the parent comes up with their child and says, you know all we love you know I helped my daughter learn how to play because of your videos like that is so incredibly rewarding. But that's where I started doing on camera work and thanks to our friend another friend we all know and love Nick mccarville who I had gotten to know through my work at tennis. Now, he recommended me in two thousand fifteen when he could no longer be the MC on court seventeen at the US Open and my boss still my boss, this day Michael Fear. Took a chance on me or was really desperate to not totally sure can be both and and the rest three. Yet I I. It's funny because I started at the US Open. It was much easier to get jobs after that because they're like, oh, well, she's done the US Open, even though I will be the first to tell you I had no clue what I was doing when I was starting I mean I was the DJ I was the stage manager. You know I was the one in charge of like blocking the door as the players didn't go rogue and walk straight out. But there was no better way to learn the fact that I was doing all that like forget time I, started the music before the chair umpire called the score and got yelled at by Fergus Murphy who I now again knowing love. But please do not start to read sick and chill I finished calling the score. Buddy in tennis until you've been yelled at by Fergus Murphy's let's. Only legends and legends. He is fabulous and the best I relish introducing him now. But yeah, that was that was how it all started. So this this is where I think most people know you for probably tennis is for your on court interviewer for being sort of court MC, I don't know what the official title on court hosted tunnel US probably. One. So what when you I regret getting into that? What did you think that you need to do to get to be good at that job? What did that job sort of acquire in your mind and how did the expectations meet the reality? Once you're on the ground and having to to run that show and talk to US players make make entertainment for folks I wanted to be creative first of all and I think that took research. I really did try you know I I look at the? Players social media as I tried to maybe some random article that was written about them three years ago you never know what you find what you're gonNA find until you start looking I, really did make an effort to be creative and I feel like I still do also when are fans in the stands you want to appeal to fans that's been one. We can talk about this later when there are no fans, it doesn't inch how you approach the post-match interview because want playing to the crowd anymore. So yes. You want to appeal to the fans and I think my goal was always you WanNa get the nuggets about the actual match. You know that's interesting to me. I obviously loved the technical side of tennis but I, think most fans. May Not care as much why somebody headed down the line. Forehand to all forty love in the second sat. That's less sting to the masses and my goal I feel like has always been instill is sort of maybe expand the tennis Fan Base I. Love It. When something happens in tennis that may be seen by people who aren't like us are not in it everyday and so whether I'm in the stadium or whether I'm doing stuff. Digitally hosts hosting for social media I feel like that's always sort of the goal is to have the balance between the series the technical side I love the mental side of tennis as well. But to also humanize a little because I really do think that is why people become fans for life. It's it's not necessarily like obviously, we can all agree that Roger Federer's tennis is beautiful to watch but it's Not. Listening on audio. Yes. We. All we cannot most devise skin agree on that but I think so often it's you know that one random answer you heard on encore seventeen at the US Open when you know Tomasz Bird, for instance, called someone out for calling out his outfits in a post magic you like that's the random stuff that that happens that I think really does make fans for life because they happen to. That one funnier cooler relatable moment. It's such an interesting contrast. Don't you think like in tennis because that is the thing it is the humanization of the player that draws people in you know. We're all fans of team sports, regular sports that that dominate the state's the big five or whatever it is, and that's team. You know that's down to you and it's a different type of love. You know like it's a love that's familial. It's passed down it's tradition driving's with tribal but. Tennis Fan Dome is a completely different thing what draws people into the sport. It can't be team based because your team only exists for ten years. You know fifteen years and then your team's gone, you know and and it becomes in there. Yeah it's It's a weird thing of being the business of which I'm in the same business. In this way ways Blair, which is selling the sports, selling the players selling the personalities, and it's like a different set of of glasses you have to like bring into that thing compared to like what Ben does, which is reporting, which has different. Say Sometimes, you know what? I what I hope that I've built maybe over the past five years is some level of trust in the players in them knowing that we're on the same team here I am here to help you showcase your personality, I WanNa make that easier for you. I want to open. That's halfway for you and I think you know one of the social media channels that I think are the organizations that doesn't incredible job with their social media in terms of getting the players involved as the European Tour Golf? I don't know if you've ever seen any of their stuff, but the players completely by and there is a feeling that we're on we're marketing you. We are trying to make you look past. We're trying to give you a chance to show people. Decide outside of actually hitting the ball So again, I think over time that becomes easier. Those relationships having seen people on court I think has gotten easier and I think they do understand that most of them are remembered that European european-gulf. They're the ones who had the video with the kid interviewing Royal Rory mcilroy and he gave the Royal mcelroy before his wedding a pair of socks. In case he got cold feet again that was good I remember that. Yeah So you. Should if you haven't noticed this show, you are a woman. Who is not say who's not someone who's not type of person? He's a broad term who has who has been in this role that often in towards I. Introduced a real topic but I. Will Lean into that I I remember being at the Charleston typically I think it was two, thousand twelve or thirteen at Charleston and I was in the stadium and it was a women's only event just female. Only event and remember seeing a couple on court emcees series two different men on court in there was a third male voice has hearing from some sort of PA dresser in the box and I was thinking. It struck me at this very female driven female centric tournament. W Tail in the event that there was still all these male voices preventing presenting the event in urban thinking at them like this feels like to make a change. But for whatever reason, the defaulted always been in a situation in sports men's or women's to have male voices Did you before I guess before you started working in tennis or even as you start working tenants have you run up against that preconception in yourself for another set this is sort of a a man's job and you had a barrier to break through here did it or was it Relatively straightforward. I to be honest and I. It was funny because I just had to sort of think about this. I did Katie Spelman new a little series about women in sports I'm excited for Courtney's answers Tacoma on that by the way But to be honest I guys I never thought about it. I really didn't think about it out. There was one time actually recently that that I may be a moment of just just understanding that maybe things had shifted a bit and that was I, did Fed Cup did Fed Cup for the first time last year and I did said this year before in Everett Washington which was weirdly I confirmed case of run by the US and nobody could imagine that I remember they had you know hand sanitizer everywhere with notes about washing your hands like. I mean, sure all all use electric sanitizer, right? That's cute. Yeah. It's a nice for auction. No but so I will say in stadium in in terms of the Voice of God that is made me where I think there's even less in terms of female representation in somebody's talking on the loudspeaker as Serena Williams is walking out on the court to a packed stadium people are roaring. That is where I think. I had a moment of like, yeah this is definitely like I hope I can live up to this because there is such an expectation of that loud powerful male booming voice kind of moving trailer. Voice Yeah. Exactly. So I think I definitely bring something different to the table and I appreciate that the USDA gave me a shot at that and even though I mean, that's The Voice of God being a woman's voice is is something that has kind of permeated in other sports a little bit. But still all what relatively recently rightly, and the San Francisco giants the PA announcer is a black woman and it's awesome like you notice it like you know what I mean like not that it it's nothing different. It's but you just notice it that it doesn't sound. Know the way that it always think Wimbledon even started changing it a little bit like their voice. If they're person being like ground closing his now woman has been is now a woman. In years and that felt pretty significant. Yeah. It does feel like kind of that last that lasts barrier that needs to be kind a smackdown. To get back to what you were saying before about the sort of the craft of honing encore interviews and getting the best out of players in those moments. What have you found? Are there are there tips or tricks that worked for you in terms of 'cause you're dealing with a bunch of different players you're not totally sure you're GonNa get before the mashed fifty fifty or Ninety ten depending on the matchup who you're going to get in the in the encore interview how do you prepare to get the best out of them in what you do to make them feel comfortable and relaxed, and also ready to sort of and and and then if you want to highlight some of the better ones at it, who are the people who like a reliably like you know they're going to. Be On when when you're when you need them to be. So I think in terms of the tips and tricks for me, I've learned that a lot of it happens before the camera. Goes on greeting the players saying congratulations. It's great to see you. It's been a while just any sort of like pre interview conversation which. I've grown in that because I will not lie when I first started doing this. It was like so nerve racking that I was like just remember what your first question is. I did not have the the bandits to be able to to check in on the players you know kids at home before restarted. So. So I think a lot of that helps it also helps in terms of if you're gonNA, maybe ask a question that is a little bit out of left field to run that by them before hands in fact I really and I don't know I feel like this is maybe giving this away. I don't know if it's if it's actually going to happen I. Multiple Times had the thought this past week of having my last question be sort of joking with the player like I mean, we're known for our crowds in New York, it Gosh how how did they enter key help you out today at or crickets in the stands I thought that would have been like a fun. Thing to do that would have required me. I didn't feel like I had like the perfect open door to do it. But that's something that I would say to the player beforehand like, Hey, last question I'm going to joke about the crowds are you okay to play along? So yes, it's kind of the pre interview part that has become he in and seeing if you can maybe put wish the boundaries a little bit in the actual interview. I I feel the same way as blaming I think that so much of of kind of getting. To the point where you can kind of tell them and I've said this explicitly some players before hoping on a podcast or whatever of like just try just follow me trust me like I will. I won't do on just just go with me where I'm going you know and over time with certain players, there is still that but I think that the key thing for Blair. is is like they have to win. You know they just played this crazy match. It's Super Hot. All they wanted do is get off the court and when they see you or they see crasner, they seem necker they say whoever is EMC? Andy Lake that they don't go. Like the men at the bats like ninety comes sorry. Some of them still do to be clear by one hundred percent say with me. Like You know like You know when they know that they have to do and champions Corner. There are still players that are like that and I'm like dude, I know which is trust me. It'll be a good time like you know and it's always a good time but it's not in the moment they're just like seriously, I just WanNa go right now and you're the last person I don't want to do this song and dance. And again I think that that as. Blair's kind of doing like way more events these as and she's in difference spaces, not just the encore, but also doing the interviews Like tournament content style. It's like the players know who you are now like it's not. If you pop up they know exactly. Get. School. Most of them I think do and I you know that makes me makes me feel good about the relationships that you've sort of built I distinct. The relationships are huge and I feel very fortunate that enough people have sort of giving me the opportunity to where we could be could be in that place. So it's it's come a long way. You've also done a lot of stuff sort of behind the camera in terms of the offscreen but. Whose Social Media content tournaments and the one I want to ask you on a bunch of great stuff when I want to ask about is Mario Kart. which with? The. Boys and What was the name of the video it was called heart. dvr Car your car with featuring some fantastic mustaches and Yoshida Nishioka and how much how much are you involved in the the ideation of these of these concepts the. Executing them how much through creativity to get on that side? What is that sort of different role like? I love it. You just Haffey really resilient because you get a lot of knows like if only you guys. Would know my list of reject proposals it is very long. But I when I get to no, I tried to come back with a few other options but Devia cart in particular. I. Are Video producer video shooter that week Jacobs Dookie who does a lot of work in tennis he? Just threw out the idea of Yoshi Mario Kart, and Yoshi, I was like wait a second. And he's like shoot what have golf carts. A so the I am not kidding we actually, I was texting him last night anger joking about that because we it almost ended friendships making that video happened because it was I mean from talking to the police to make sure we could be in the street to borrowing their cones and making sure we didn't lose them to you know I think Insanity wallaby Arabic telling the story he's YOSHII's agents who I've gotten to know he's fantastic I had emailed him in advance because listen if Yoshi wasn't in for that video. What's the point right and so I said Hey I don't even want to throw this out as an idea unless I it's a possibility. Here's the concepts. Here's the Yoshi. I love it. You had it already like he's GonNa have to this I. Mean I had already bins you know browsing Amazon for for options though Osama's like I think this will be I think good. Well, Yoshi is on site the first day and I want to make sure everything's good. We're we're ready to go. He's still in. And Stark Oh Greg Sharko of who has worked for the ATP for ages also a legend he went and sort of broached the topic. Yoshida. Sort of find a time go. She has no idea what he's talking about. So fast forward to Greg coming back and saying to me like he'd he doesn't know about this. So. Then I literally carrying the? Yoda. Or as Andy, very with a soft toy soft. Joy, that bat hearing it through the Players Lounge because in del Ray in a players lounge players jam, it's all one big room and marching out Yoshi is on the exercise bike. I am trying to explain this concept to Yoshi. Yoshi head in hands and to his credit he was like, Oh, I love Yoshi. Absolutely. So Yoshi was in. And Jordan Thompson and Steven Johnson are absolutely the best sports I will say that Jordan Thompson was not pleased that Stevie had not shaved. You know he he looked almost like he had a beard in that video because he he stevie has since I was just being lazy I hadn't shaved the rest of it because he still rocking the mustache art. But but Jordan was not pleased. He was like I mean he needs to can get him a razor he needs to. Stay. I love. They were the actors were giving you notes. Intertwined. I mean, we had called Party cities to try to find the star we need the star so were like you know calling various, you know party outlets parties that he's just try to find something that would work We had to borrow the golf cart from the city of Delray locked in some it just the all the things that had to fall into place and and honestly the number one thing was really like huge credit to Greg Jarkko who let that happen because I think in the interest is completely understand and respect the role of the tour PR teams. But I think in an effort to maybe. Protect or to just keep things simple there is sometimes less of an incentive to. Some like this, go forward and again I understand exactly where they're coming from. But the fact that he trusted me to do this and have it be a fun thing and not making fun of because that's always the line right is you want it to be fine. You don't WanNa come making fun of and the players were sort of all in on the joke and enjoyed it and I mean is like dropping bananas re shooting banana draft. I there was a lot of work and by the end I mean there was graphic sky who is staying late to make the Mario graphics it just it was a ton of work because most of these teams are so small like we it is out. So few resources at our disposal. So it's what can you? What is the biggest thing you can make happen with very little To work with and that's that's always there just a lot of factors. I feel like that's the story of the behind the scenes tennis content. army that exists in the sport with the people that we all know on social content development video. All of that is just and you know I will see those comments sometimes or hear the comments from. Of like, oh, but like you know social content tournament contents so wrote, it's so boring. What's even the points you know and things like that and so you know you always Kinda WanNa stick up for the people who are in those positions being light because you overburden them with twenty different sponsor asks. The it'll get to be creative like so ten percent of their time, they can either go and just grab a drink at the beer hunter or they can spend that ten percent of the time trying to come up with something interesting in given the reward. For an end the as you say, like the risk of being able to come up with an even anything execute it. You know more often than not people are just GonNa you know understandably just dial it back new like I do what I'm asked and that's it. So that's why like you become you and nick and you guys have become cult figures in the space because you know Wimbledon as a as a whole you know. Because it's like, oh, well, this'll be worth clicking on because it's not going to be the typical stuff but yes, it takes a lot of effort and I think that was one of the things I think when I saw that video I think tweeted it and I was like the no idea how much lake work this duck like just for me I was just I, wasn't even thinking about the production side I was thinking of like to get agents to agree with this. Like studying work like. Any Onboard to yeah, you their free time and it could be lounging on their phone like you've no idea. The inertia of a tennis player convincing tennis players do anything outside of their mandatory media allegations. Is Brutal it's bureau work. It is it just I just go back to you just have to be able to rebound you active rebounds fully I mean even even this week things that were supposed to happen at that didn't happen at just you just have to be taken he breath. It's it's only wasted time. You just you ended up it just there are a lot of times like, what am I doing but when you get that that good bits of of content that maybe people see outside of the our little tennis face or that were where other people can appreciate how great a lot of these players really are. Personally it's it's a nice reward. Definitely. So talk about this week before we go about your time in New York in the bubble and we talk about all the things you do to engage the crowd and everything like that. You have very what how different is your job description feel right now that they're sort of no here having to entertain. You're basically just sort of on a TV set. I think it's fair to Santa feels that way but. What is your job is we would have been and just like on site not just curious for really the whole experience to people who aren't there and normally are at every grand slam a very curious what what the what has been like for you as a as a life this this week and two weeks ahead. I guess you have in New York. I will I let me say you guys are messed it's not the same I hope somebody's eating those patty melts that are being on eaten at the moment because Lord knows I was crushing those things daily. No it's it's definitely it's been. Interesting, it's been from from the creative standpoint. It's definitely been an added challenge because Ben and our saying offline. It's you have these players who haven't really been interviewed in six months who would be willing to be creative but they're obviously that is limited in the constructs of this this bubble that we are working in and. There are things that maybe even could happen. But completely, understandably everybody in particular at the beginning I feel like attention. Media Day, sort of got going there because people want to make sure that this. Works and that we can actually safely play. And so there was definitely. An unspoken. You people were completely professional doing what they had to do but I feel like there is an unspoken level of like you know, take a deep breath because nobody knows really how this is going to work I will. Do Echo at the players have said in terms of I feel like the USDA has done the best that they could given the scenario But yeah, just figuring out how to even stage an interview making sure you sanitize the seat afterward and the player make sure you keep your masks on. We have to do the slate before we start just things that you just never thought of before. You are now thinking of and for the first few days, it was really hard because I mean, you know we if you get a good shot and maybe there's a coach who has the mass below his nose in the background in the far left corner. Yet you know it just is hard. There are a lot of people who have to follow the rules and this is a population who. I mean is not used to having a whole lot of rules. On them so so it just you have to count on a lot of people to do their parts So I think we did the best that we could given the circumstances I will say in particular someone like me I mean I have gigantic teeth. I smile a lot like that. The nonverbal cues in an interview are really important time not having those are not I mean I yesterday I've finished with Novak Joke Mitch and I did like a little like hand bow and I'm like, what are they just do? You. have to as because. I end up doing jazz hands. Yeah. Sanzar, good Yeah it's. It's just like the weird. There are so many things like you could sort of encourage people in your face you really do anymore and if you're GONNA make if you're going to sort of joke about something or say something sort of ingest where you want them to play along. Again they can't. They can't read you. So it's it has been a challenge in that sense but I think once you sort of get through your initial tests, some serious before I got the negative but once you get through that and sort of in rhythm it you kind of can breathe again and it becomes you know. I guess if you could say more normal. but onto the treadmill. Yeah like. I found that the last couple of weeks is that as much as I didn't understand think or or know what it was going to be like covering once you started to do it, you just had so much to do all day. The day was over and you're like, well, I guess I worked today you know and I'm GonNa go to sleep I'll get up and work again tomorrow and you kind of do it doesn't feel normal bite your rhythm. The way that you react to your work triggers I guess just kind of is automatic. Yup Yes. So true. So so that that you definitely sort of get back in the rhythm of that and of waiting for players who aren't where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there. Waiting for play is is the title for all of us all. Insert your particular pet player in there but that's that's the name of it. Yeah. Pet Slow player whether it's your Serena you're off your whoever there are some slow players that are coming depressed I'm curious Blair just if you can describe like more the setup of interviews like normally you're standing there holding mike up to the player, you're pretty much face to face what does that like now there's long poles being used pretty much. They're using the boom mic the long pole with the little fuzzy thing or what we did on courts was we had a like A. Almost like a shotgun might but it was so as low to the ground can pick up distance. Yes. Exactly. Like we're has there So he wasn't in the actual shots of the post-match interview, but it was like right down low in front of them, and then I was six at least six feet beyond that. Some of the pictures that I've seen. Wow, I'm really giving it. Goods good better safe than sorry. Heading an example. The. Other challenge has been you know the the camera people are used to being like, right? I? Mean you can feel them breathing usually now they need to be further back. So they have to try to get their shot over your shoulder but also like. Twelve well, feet away So it's I. Think everybody has adjusted pretty well it's just audio is hard with masks i. think that's been the one. We've all learned if you know agrees to speaking on, you can get over it. Layers are generally knots and so it's just encouraging them to. Be clearly as clearly as possible. And then I'm curious. Also just what it feels like the ground you've been at the US Open plenty of times when it's packed with. Five digit numbers of people you know there's a conservative estimate, just lots and lots of people to energy lots of noise. Now, you're at the like kind of imagine a ghost town in a Lotta ways. Is it serene tranquil? Is IT EERIE I? Mean how does it? How does it feel in terms of just the vibe of being all the above I mean, what? What does it feel like being in this? Very unique. Time in a relatively familiar place, you know in a very different way. I think I to me it airs it goes more to the serene tranquil side of things for I don't some people. Some other people might feel otherwise, but it was funny because during Media Day, you had all these players coming through a lot of them. Sort of getting asked very similar questions and. So. Many of them started off by saying, oh my gosh it's like it's just amazing like we can get. You can order food and get it wherever you want. You can go play Miniature Golf there's a gym outside, and then you can sort of see the wheels turning they're like Oh but you know we really miss vans and the energy like let me let me pull that in rain that in just a little bit because I listen do do they miss the fans? Absolutely I think the energy on the court I, think it is I mean when you play great point that that is that must be i. don't I don't really know personally what that's like but that must. Have that feedback that reaction. So yes, I think that is absolutely missed. I think the players are really enjoying the the luxury of being able to move around freely at and even for me honestly like if I have to run from. you know ash to strong to not have to be doing. You know going through like an action sequence to get there through through people is is nice. There's there's less energy expended there for sure but yeah, I mean I you everybody says the US Open is the energy. The energy is is just not the same did stay actually that he hopes there are things in particular one of them I think was being able. To each like you could order your food and they would bring it to you wherever you are He that was one of the things. I think he said he hopes that some of the things they've done this year will be implemented in your calm. The one complaint I've heard from players is that they cannot you can't leave your bags in the locker room you have to carry all of your Oh wow wherever you can airport. Yes yes. Exactly. So so that is in terms of. In that was a that was sort of a it's not like this person was complaining they were to say, yeah, it's not something I'm used to the league this thing everywhere I go but that but that's been the only downside that I've heard. Schooler with a huge backpack. And you know they have like the backpack, the man to sell full. Backpack guys it's they have a lot. You're going to have to start actually bringing the airport carts five bucks baby charge of make money. Always the hustle good work courtney. Curious also with the evenings are like so once you clock out in your normally you're in new. York missing usually have in Manhattan, during the tournament are know what? Yeah what are your evenings like now I've been in Queens? We have been Yeah. Close by which has its benefits especially when you're late night to not have to get on a shuttle. You know drive over half an hour usually to get back to the city So yet actually that's why I'm wearing a Mike for you guys today because our hotel might as well be in the media and of the Long Island Expressway. there. I, mean so that we don't hear street noise this entire time I were Mike you guys so so we are in Queens Once again, I, have a car and while I'm here and drive their drag back and for me honestly, this doing incensio is doing sort of double duty I was doing the digital content and I was doing the core hosting. And trying to prepare for some of the projects this coming week. So I there wasn't much I would've done even if I could So just you know it's it suits the home-bodies I'm always sort of a like. Is it worth the energy? Yes. Maybe I should go juicing in the city but I'm just tired. Fair. People are like, Hey, what's going to perish? Let's go into London one night during slam like no no I will be sleeping sleep is my treat for sure. So you're so just to. Last, thing on the bubble I think for me at least when you're in a tier two of the bubble or a person, how does that has a designation where compared to the players in those sorts of things? So I mean. The the most clear differentiation is I'm not at the player hotel. And and I do believe that there are also locations on site that I cannot go into haven't tried to go into I will say the one one place I tried to enter yesterday to ask questions my as much as I love the on court stuff I like in another life by would have been a private investigator I. Love. I love I mean one of. Your bag buying gift will pull it out. I guess. No I I love does asking questions in in finding out if there might be a story I I loved sort of the first part of my journalism tennis evolution. Yeah that's another story wrote a lot about doping at the beginning. I love all. Of. It. I went into, ask a question to the stringers because they have a really cool setup. They had these like almost Florida's ceiling dividers. To separate spaces but I tried to go into ask kind of what their process was into learn more about that and. I thought I was breaking into like a bank there. You can't buy somebody came up at like rob the door handles you can't a miniature and that is the stringers have a bubble within a bubble because I I was I I was gonNA treat about they. So I guess if you think about it, there's some of the more essential workers here because if one stringer goes out there in the same room all day with each other, that could be a prom layers rackets can't get strung So. But again, in terms of in terms of the difference for Tier Two versus tier one that is I think the main one is just that you're not at that main player hotel. That's hilarious. I didn't think about the string thing I mean it's yeah. It's true. It's just amazing. How many different things you have to think about like in terms of how you to reimagined like who is essential to protect the stringers at all costs they are like. The the yeah. The maintenance they're gonNA get. Tablets. When the entire string operations go down there's GonNa be like hold up. Getting Luck Salon, I, got this I was thirteen you guys I was all over this. Attention do you need I'll change that for your good. That's not the tension you need actually. There you go. Yeah. Let's let's hope. Iraq. That would that would mean things become dire. Things are going going pretty well I. Mean, what do you think like? Buster thing for me than anything else trump and I gotta go relatively in. But what it's been like player morale been like, what what are you sense from these from these players is are they has it changed over time? Were they nervous? They excited nervous excited. Chill nutshell what what is it puts the player attitude unlike compared to normal quote unquote normal tournament I do think the excitement of the initial. We can walk all over the place I do think that his waned. In some ways realizing that. They really can't go anywhere. It is an again for someone like us where you like killing ourselves all day on the going to sleep. That's not that big a belief. But for the players who who generally have as much freedom as they want that that I do realization. I. Think is thinking for the people who have been here since the very start of. Cincinnati. It's weird in some ways, I think not having fans seems to. kind of like in Trenton and the butterflies you have even as a media member as it's getting ready to start. I don't feel like I have those quite as much and I think that that may be a result of not seeing you know after qualifying would have been over the influx of fans coming in on on day one, which would be tomorrow you obviously that's not going to be the case. So it doesn't set what set. The tone generally is not bear, and so I I don't know if that affects how the players feel on the inside but I feel in terms of of the outside, those those outside factors are not there to sort of be the impetus for this butterflies, the adrenaline or any of those things. You have fans make you make the thing feel relevant right like ESPN broadcasting we understand is actually what is relevant in terms of the broadcast money and stuff, but we don't see the. Nine hundred thousand people who are tuning into a match like that's a completely existential. Theoretical thing but you see the fans, you see the kids you see the pacts Is it still the Heineken Bar I don't know the Heineken bar that's on top of the the US Open store but you feel it constantly raid and end the palm and everything and every single. One of those fans at walk through the turnstiles makes you feel like your job is relevant for the day. Of across the board, all of us who who's front facing or you know in the business of the sport or in the business of putting the sport on so. Yeah that that that would be that would be weird. I. Almost wonder if like covering things remotely actually inoculate. S-. Like ben and from it because we don't see the loss, we don't feel the loss us were just watching. Matches like we would on any other remote type week where we're not really except that now, we actually are covering like visit a vacation week. It is still some. Still, some work to try to negotiate I think it'll be different during the US Open to and I think also maybe you're adding crowd noise I heard during Uso actress that sets me a little different. But like I do think like I've watched plenty of challenges and stuff were like low stakes will not rotate different low tier tournaments like the stakes are not about the crowd or it's about like the opportunity to get ranking points and move up and make it to the big show. But it's a little different distance for me when it's like Andy Murray on a big court and it's a great winner and you hear nothing it's like the stakes don't match the environment in this way that's new indifferent free, and that's where the distance comes in. So I'm curious in the US. Open. We'll change that when it starts next still be a grand slam for the first time. I don't know I. Think it'll be weird to ash. Like we've seen court seventeen, we've seen grant and we saw a little bit Armstrong. Put from a player perspective not from visuals but just from a player perspective talk on that Stadium and Zach Court and play match with no crowds. It's wild. Yes. It's funny though one of the things that Johanna Konta said during Media Day which I actually agree with. When ashes empty a doesn't feel as big, which is the weirdest but I obviously have been out there. I've watched some practices this week it it's a very weird sensation and in having the players in the sweets to where they're just you know waved to the neighbor you're looking up. Way All all of that stuff. It has almost like shrunken it in a way but yes, I mean it's cavernous on any day But Weird weirdly I feel like they're when there aren't actually people in the stands. It's hard to scale it to our like hugh rains. It's true. It's almost like it makes the court seem smaller. Right. Because it's this, it actually takes up. So little space of that. Iraq Iran. So Me Yeah I, I can see the logic there. That's interesting but who but I don't know that that could have been A. Thing I it very easily could have, and we know that Joe is always thinking things through very carefully very carefully, very carefully, very precise to do what he wants to do, and we've had a very precise. We wanted to having you on the show Blair. Thank you for being here. any closing thoughts look for anything coming up during the. Least Fourteen days. The US Open that you want to tease or get folks excited for. Home I'm hoping again there I kind of not totally sure how the schedule is. GonNa work out as we have we have three grandstand is not in play for the US Open, which I still haven't heard exactly why that is. So it's there are three MC's Andy Taylor will still be the voice of cash Andrew, krasny myself, and condos in Fuqua who is usually in Cincinnati India miles who is the absolute best we're GONNA kind of be rotating between seventeen. Armstrong and my hope is to maybe work with US broadcast and I'm hoping we have fun idea for for us chase social to maybe do some stuff for them when I'm not on court. So but again, it's nothing it. Things are never sure thing in the content world that is even true. It's more. So in this scenario where a million things can happen between now and then I mean. Last week, and since guys that was that was a roller coaster. Of emotions and feelings, and it was again like I try to remind myself. This isn't really historic thing in a lot of different ways since he was historic for for a lot of bigger and better and in greater ways than. So I try to hurt my on the days where I'm like This is this is a lot. It just remind yourself that you know this is history in one way or another in the very simple way of tennis. Perhaps in bigger ways we'll see how the US Open plays out but just trying to appreciate it and I'm extremely thankful Berry thankful to be working again as I know you guys are that it's been a long road for the WHO work in a lot of different areas better. Sports was very directly impacted and thankful to see. You is very thankful to be working again and it's the Best I love it. Tennis is the best. As, that guy is guy. Would say, who is the Best Blair is the best layers the best who is the best if we could get one fan on the ground in him? Out Best Guy I don't know I feel like the sky is now officially my number one, my number one. Powering Fano. The ONYX Cup. Victories bff who's been dancing on the changeovers throughout every match in Cincinnati? He is amazing. Yes. Love. He's gotten a lot of screen time, but before we leave Ben. I can't leave without asking you to give me. The. ATP A. And Popcorn or me lives. So, she clearly heard according to reaction according to bracing this courtney. We're not doing a video chat. When we did the recording of this yet so the there's a new organization boys only for now allegedly the professional tennis players association PTA whereas it's pronounced. Bow Found. Ingrid Ultra Song there. Oh Yeah. I die when I heard it and also I don't I know we're wrapping up but on on that note and plus this on. INSTAGRAM. But yesterday in the middle of press, Novak Djokovic was doing his post Title Press Jeff Utah Tell The story. This is a good interest openess Graham. Yes. He left is we're waiting you know as we do we do automating. We I was waiting along with US Open broadcast who had their allotted time with him before the US Open and we we thought he was coming at a certain time that we were told. It's probably going to be like forty five minutes after and I'm told that you know he left he had to go to a meeting and I was like, oh. Like like a meeting and I was told guess like a meeting. And I of course, had I known I have tried to peer into to grandstand to see what with? Yeah exactly. Breakout. Magnifying glass I because I, just I love I, love all I just think it's the whole thing is so fascinating to me on so many levels but left his post idol press to go do that to pose for the picture and walked back in walked up. Sorry to keep you all waiting. Sat Down and did his I mean and the guy can hits the interview notes when he? His former. Yes and he gave a great interview to the US Open Usda and then came did western southern, open social and was. Mr Personality finished with I was I was like Novak. Would you mind one more thing could use give message to the he fans I mean and He he can do it. He's real good at it and was just couldn't have been more. And then walk I mean this is like within twenty four hours I heard reports that he was throwing up in the bathroom and was barely beat RBA comes back looks like he's GonNa get crushed by Milosz ends up winning the match I I mean it was it was just like a rollercoaster of of Novak Djokovic but I wish and this is the frustrating thing sometimes about social media is that you can't the journalist side of me would love to maybe dig a little bit deeper by. If you don't catch people. John Social Media from the first sentence like your house. So you know I I wish I could have gone a little bit deeper than but the fact that he can do what he does on the tennis court as well as he does and have, and this is not unique to today this stuff has been simmering and bubbling and for for the two years almost two years of his presidency. The fact that he's been able to do that and still play. In just the best tennis that there is is mind boggling. Wimbledon last year when he was in the. Aftermath of the Gimelstob fall out and was in a much the nation from the council and we were like Novak is like really investing a lot of energy in this like during his title like won't this affect him as a poor use of energy and he like wins like what people consider like one of the more epic Wimbledon finals ever and it's like m fine I'll save matchpoints against veteran when thirteen twelve in the fifth like no problem I'm I'm fine. His ability to like do gets to like am doing interview. Brief intermission I some political insurgency coming back finishing the interview like the multitasking of this guy to the compartmentalization of the sky is the phrase that that Blair used in terms of his ability to compartmentalize and I think a lot about it. They just in tennis and just. With him like kind of how I often think like not we but the tennis world created Novak like Novak is what he is because he is constantly had to be dealing with distractions good or bad while constantly in this like. Like primal chase for greatness and all that and so you evolve in this dude leg it's like his his X. Men power like he evolved faster than any like I've ever seen anybody in terms of being like, okay. Yeah. No I'll just become this to survive and he has. It's crazy. It it's amazing to witness I just I've never seen. I, just I don't I really is like I mind blown Emoji like that's how I feel when I when I think about it because it just kind of defies. Logic. But you know it's it's fun tennis to watch I'll say that. Enjoy watching the tennis this week at the US Open Blair enjoyed on all of our behalf in person say to the two, hundred, fifty, six players for us and the doubles folks to and We will hopefully have you on the show again real sinew Benjamin. Thank you very much Blair. Keep your shirts on infest conferences. Oh. My God have I said. Cap I've seen the screen gap. You didn't send it to me have seen it and I WANNA get made my day or ruin my day that was everybody's reaction was. Is is the greatest thing I've ever seen or is it very much not? But it's I will never forget it that I go. But no best of luck in zoom world guys listen fun. Thanks. They say. Yes. Say It's a massive thanks to Blair for joining us on another US Open podcast here no challenges remaining Blair is great. You should follow her on twitter at Blair Henley instarem she's on Instagram to she is that kind of double triple quadruple threaten that's world to check out there and thanks her again for being on the show and we hope that she has a great time and stay safe in the bubble I. WanNa thank all of you for joining us for these first few open shows cranking out as we planted A. Lot more during this open and thank you for a bunch of support with had from backers already as new backers as we round the corner into this new frontier of having a Patriot during a grand slam and also covers life and try to make those at about those. So I appreciate all the shows were doing in want to help us unpatriotic hugely sport that that'd be tremendous are patriots, Patriot dot com slash no challenges remaining several new backers to thank just in the last days to show. So thank you to them. They include Anita Neil Riley chantal carrier, lower duos, and. Sims. So thank you to those five new backers and thank you as always to our patriotic slam champ level backers. Thanks on every show. They are lives can all Jonathan Wind Bom Mary? Carillo Chong Win Betty Audrey. Wellens Sean mcelroy. Joseph. And Susanna W. as well as our backer J. O. D. think you'd all those folks and again Patriot Dot com plush no challenges raining three can support us that way also just follow us on twitter at NCR underscored tennis since questions comments anything no challenges remaining at Jamile Dot? com. Is the address there I think that's it for this show. Thanksgiving to Blair hope you have a great time carding along the US Open. I. Even.

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