It was a privilege last night to attend the Hopman Cup Ball for 2012 celebrating 25 years of the unique tournament in Perth. Most of the players were in attendance and were incredibly approachable and accommodating when it came to photographs with fans.
Although the entrance to the ball and the decor within the Grand Ballroom was less than understated it was disappointing to see the males of Perth let their female counterparts done by failing to adhere to the black Tie dress code. Black tie does not mean a grey suit with blue shirt and tie!
The opening of the evening saw this year’s players paraded on stage and The Serbian and French teams showed their class, with Novak Djokovic escorting Ana Ivanovic on his arm, as did Jo Wilfred Tsonga with Mathilde Johansson. All of the other players walked out individually, but then again Tommy Haas had no choice with his partner having returned home injured and John Isner from the USA going solo with Venus Williams not in attendance.
A film compilation was shown on the big screen looking back over the past 25 years, but it was regrettable that Tournament Director Steve Ayles in his address failed to acknowledge the man who had the vision for the tournament, and who kept it going and ran it every year up until 2012, Paul MacNamee. It was a great shame that Tennis Australia who now run the event could not put past differences behind them and give credit to the man who will forever be associated with the Hopman Cup.
Also regrettable was the failure to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which the Ball was held or where the tournament is being played. That is disappointing and shows a lack of respect.
One of the highlights of the evening though was the poem written and read out by Rupert MacCall to acknowledge the career and the contribution to Australian Tennis made by the man after whom the tournament was named, Harry Hopman. This was clever, amusing and truly moving and deserved the standing ovation that it received.
Now let us hope that the excellent tennis can continue and the crowds flock to the Perth Arena for the remaining games; the Serbia v Italy game on New Year’s Eve breaking the record for the highest crowd for a tennis match in Western Australia. No doubt that record will be gone by the end of the tournament.