Red clay and coffee

It’s 6 a.m. Wednesday morning and I am in my glory. Not because I am writing a little blog. True, that’s always fun, but today it is even better because I am writing a little blog with the Madrid Open on TV in the background.
What’s the Madrid Open?
I figured you’d ask that.
The Madrid Open is a tennis tournament. It’s played in Madrid, Spain (duh) and is particularly special because, one, it is played on European red clay, and two, it is the lead-up to the French Open, also on red clay, which starts May 26.
I’m guessing little of this matters to anyone still reading. Someone is still reading, right?
Being a tennis fan gets lonelier and lonelier as the years go by. The tennis “boom” – yes, there was a tennis boom – in America came and went in the ‘70s. These days, being a tennis fan is tantamount to being in a cult.
For those of us who still think watching a yellow ball go back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth, is exciting, matches played in Europe are extra special. The clay has something to do with that. It’s a whole different game, slower paced and far more grueling than the hard courts of America or the slick grass of Wimbledon (that’s “don” with a “d”, by the way, not “ton” with a “t”). But the best part, if you ask me, is the time difference. Madrid, as well as Paris, is six hours ahead of us. Which means I can wake up early and watch live tennis while doing push-ups, sipping coffee, or, well, writing a blog. What a way to start a day.
And the French will be even better because it is one of the four Grand Slam events and, this year, will mark the return of Roger Federer who has not played on clay since 2016. Roger is my favorite player.
My friend and long-time tennis partner Mike Caputo, who has moved to Colorado to be close to his grandkids, and I will be texting constantly during that one. He’s a Roger fan, too.
If this sounds a little nerdy, it is. Here’s proof: decades ago, Mike got to play on the red clay in Italy. He took off his tennis socks, stained with red clay, never washed them, and put them on display in a curio cabinet in his home. Every time I visited, I’d marvel at those socks as though I were looking at a moon rock.
I’m sure they have a place of honor in Colorado Springs and that Mike looks forward to the day when his grandchildren ask him about them.

Ed Ackerman