March 28, 2014

Rafael Nadal

Rafa Nadal
Although world #1 Rafael Nadal holds 13 grand slam titles, he celebrates each victory as if it's his first. This was the scene on the stadium court last Saturday night after he mowed down Australian player and 2-time slam champ Lleyton Hewitt in less than one hour. (That match ended just before midnight -- and there still was one more match to be played that night. Tennis in Miami = late nights!) After defeating Canadian Milos Raonic last night, Rafa has advanced to the semi-finals as he pursues his first Sony Open title. On the college basketball front, my alma mater Michigan State University takes on the #1 seed Virginia late tonight. That will be going on at the same time as the tennis matches. March Madness is indeed underway.  Happy Friday!

March 27, 2014

Alexandr Dolgopolov

Alexandr Dolgopolov 
Currently ranked #23 on the ATP world tour, Ukranian tennis player Alexandr Dolgopolov was swarmed by fans seeking autographs immediately following a relatively easy win over Jarkko Nieminen on court #1 at the Sony Open. Seeing the players up close and encountering them walking the tournament grounds is what makes this event especially fun for me. In this case, I was at the court where Dolgo had just won, so I made a beeline to the players' exit and -- voila -- there he was within minutes of winning his match.   (As you can see from his red face, he hadn't even had a chance to cool down yet.)  I was bumped around a bit by some overly zealous autograph seekers, but I held my ground…got my shots…and dashed off. Dolgo currently is on a winning streak, and I've been keeping my eye on him for the past several years, ever since the SDP Junior Editor prognosticated that he was an up and comer. He's into the quarterfinals today, so we shall see!

March 26, 2014

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

I've seen 4-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova play in person a couple of times and countless times on television. With the exception of winning a slam, her reaction to winning this match on the stadium court at the Sony Open in Miami was the most excited I think I've ever seen her.  After nine match points against Lucie Safarova, Maria sealed the victory (an hour after her first match point) and appeared absolutely elated.  Post-match, it's now customary for the winner to autograph the TV camera lens, and I read later that Maria wrote "Why I play this game!"  You have to respect her sheer grit and determination on the court. Off the court, Maria has ties to -- Sarasota! Years ago, she left Russia to train at the Bolletieri Academy in neighboring Bradenton and apparently she still spends time in the Sarasota area.  People in the know tell me she's been spotted more than once in downtown Sarasota.  Thus, I always keep my eyes open and looking at about the 6'2" level when I'm wandering around downtown.  You never know who you might see!

March 25, 2014

Andy Murray

The SDP crew had a fantastic time at the Sony Open over the weekend in Miami.  They say timing is everything…and we had great timing during the tournament. I hadn't planned on attending the tournament Friday night, until a member of the SDP legal team called announcing that there was an extra (free) box seat available for the men's match which was moments away from starting.  Would I like it?  Um…heck, yeah!  I just happened to be driving by the entrance to the tournament when I got the call.  So, I zipped to my super top secret (free) unrestricted parking space, unloaded my bike, transferred my essential camera gear to a backpack and giddily biked like a woman possessed the one  mile or so to the tournament.  Andy Murray, a 2-time grand slam champion and currently ranked #6 on the ATP tour, was playing under the lights on the stadium court and I only missed the first few games.  In this shot, he's focused on walloping a forehand.  I find it quite challenging to shoot under artificial lights, so I was pleased some of my action shots turned out pretty well.  The Editor-in-Chief hasn't gone through all the tournament photos yet, but after last year's photo file debacle immediately following the tournament, there are rumblings more tennis pics might be posted this year.  

March 21, 2014

One Year Later

Believe it or not, it was one year that the computer at SDP World Headquarters crashed and we temporarily lost all our photo files. I had just downloaded 635 images from the Sony Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne when iPhoto locked up and that was it. It took months (and plenty of Tylenol) to resolve the issue.  But, we're back at last!  This morning was the first time I've really looked at my pics from last year's tournament.  It was quite exciting to see shots like this one of 2-time grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, as the SDP staff prepares for another fun filled photography session at the tourney.  Perhaps most importantly, the Editor-in-Chief is resting easy knowing all our files will be secure when downloaded.  Have a great weekend!

March 9, 2014

Gaggle of Photogs

Bieber sighting?  Waiting for the latest scandal induced apology from a politician?   Nope -- all these still photographers (and then some) were camped out yesterday at Ozzie and Harriet's nest in Ft. Myers waiting for the bald eagles' one surviving baby to fly for the first time.  I've visited the nest only a handful of times this year and was surprised to see so many photogs.  What I didn't know when I arrived is that baby E4 is preparing to branch (that is, hop and/or fly from the nest to a branch) -- and everyone wanted to document the momentous occasion.  I was there for only 10-15 minutes and ended up seeing more activity with roaming still photographers than eagles.  Nevertheless, it's nice to see there's still lots of interest with the eagles.  This has been my longest absence from SDP -- nearly three months.  I can't believe it's been that long!  Between work, play and health, though, it's been unavoidable.  I don't expect regular posts just yet…but, I wanted to check in and let everyone know the entire SDP staff is alive and well.  Hope all's well with you in the blogosphere!