Davis Cup, Buenos Aires: tennis or fútbol?

This week the Tennis Channel was replaying Davis Cup matches from a few days before, when the Czech Republic defeated Argentina 3-2 in Buenos Aires.

I noticed several things onscreen that made me happy. First, the red clay and green walls brought to mind the French Open, and I remembered exciting matches I had enjoyed watching during this year’s tournament in Paris. Second, although it’s still early spring in Buenos Aires, the sun was shining and fans were dressed in short sleeves. Weather data on the internet said it had been 75 degrees last weekend, so I made a mental note to look for off-season airfare to Argentina– maybe I’d find a bargain.

But what intrigued me most was the Argentine spectators’ passion. They voiced approval and encouragement throughout the match. After every point there was applause, shouting and horn-blowing. Some fans even beat drums or blew whistles. Occasionally spectator emotion erupted between first and second serves, or on an impressive shot, even though it didn’t end a rally. See for yourself in these highlights from Juan Del Potro’s match vs. Radek Stepanek.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EKHCiYiMN4

 

The sound of the Argentine horns resembled the vuvuzelas that garnered notoriety during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. I don’t know whether they were actual vuvuzelas, but they certainly lent the tennis matches in Buenos Aires a rowdier atmosphere than would have been tolerated, for example, at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. New York fans are sometimes criticized for brashness and noise at the US Open, but Argentines bring the concept of spectator participation in tennis to new levels.

 

vuvuzela2jpg

 

The difference between New York and Buenos Aires fans, as I see it, lies in the fact that the Argentines appear totally engrossed in the match itself, and their cheering stems from their passion for the sport and the players. While a lot of US Open spectators are there to see great tennis, quite a few come mainly to enjoy a good party.  [Read more…]