Ine the early hours of this morning the 25th Hyundai Hopman Cup came to and end with the team from Spain of Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina-Garrigues upsetting top seed Serbia, with world number one Novak Djokovic partnering lifelong friend Ana Ivanovic. It was a fantastic tournament in terms of the tennis played but how would one judge the move to the new venue, the much-delayed over-budget and still-not-finished Perth Arena.
As a spectator one thing that has to be addressed is the training of the Arena staff in tennis etiquette. Far too often fans would start moving to an exit not just before a change of ends, but frequently during a game. The paying public may well be ignorant as to the behaviour expected, but it is vital that the Arena staff are aware of it and educate them.
Catering and litter were a massive problem at the event whether you were in a corporate box or a standard paying punter. A cappuccino was requested in a corporate box, 20 minutes later the waitress returned to say that they did not have cappuccinos, only a flat white. The gentleman in question said ‘I’ll have a black coffee then please,’ only to be told that they only serve flat whites!
The design of the Arena is appalling when it comes to obtaining food and drink as a paying punter, and queues frequently blocked all of the walkways as people found access to the food outlets slow and hard to access. Not the Footy Show was also informed that the building has been designed with the food delivery area on the opposite side of the building to the kitchens!
On the evening of the final, it was amazing to be told that the venue had run out of plastic spoons, at this its first major sporting event, and spectators were forced to eat ice cream with a plastic fork! Some spectators were also frustrated that at the end of a long night there was no opportunity to buy a bottle of water as you left the venue after midnight on a hot evening.
It was great to see Harry Hopman’s widow Lucy Hopman once more in attendance, the 92 year old having made the trip from the USA to support the tournament named after her late husband. She has been a regular feature in the front row of the corporate boxes for the past 24 years, but this year at the new venue there was no way to get Mrs Hopman and her wheelchair into that prime position, so she was stationed at the top of the corporate boxes alongside the Channel Ten cameraman. In this day and age who designs a venue such as this without making every area wheelchair accessible? This is another extremely disappointing design fault and will hopefully be corrected quickly.
It was great to attend several days tennis at the new venue and sit in a seat that when you break down the cost of the stadium against the seating capacity cost AUD$27,500. In fact one could say it was a downright privilege.
As a tournament, the screens at the venue, were not the best, with the referral system breaking down on one evening, and the players having to wait for radio confirmation to the umpire. Also when referrals were lost it often took several points for the big screen to update the information. During the final a security alert popped up on the screen stating ‘Windows firewall has blocked some features,’ again all very embarrassing in what is meant to be a state of the art stadium.
The tournament did not start or end well for World Number one Novak Djokovic. First of all when he landed at Perth Airport there was no official from the tournament to meet him, and then of course he lost the final, and then had to stand on court at 0050hrs and endure twenty minutes of speeches from the Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett, the head of Hyundai Australia, Mr Edward Lee and the head of the ITF Francesco Ricci Bitti. It was good to hear the latter acknowledge the work of Paul MacNamee over the past 24 years of the tournament, especially as Tennis Australia, now running the tournament, failed to do so. Mr Lee, as the sponsor for 25 years quite rightly deserved the opportunity to speak and his address was in fact extremely interesting, in terms of how Western Australia has played such a key part in Hyundai’s Australian operations. One has to wonder why the State Premier had to say anything, as regrettably he made a fairly major faux pas. He said how good it was that Mrs Hopman made the long journey from the USA to attend the Perth Cup! This is a horse race, and no doubt official sponsors Hyundai were over the moon that he forgot the name of the tournament they sponsor!
Luckily the tennis was of an exceptional standard and the record crowds no doubt enjoyed all that they saw as day after day they flocked to the new Perth Arena. This was the first major sporting event at the venue and and the management will hopefully have learned many lessons, and the next event will be all the better for hosting this year’s Hopman Cup.