Young Ladies About Town

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The best kept tennis secret in town

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Young Ladies About Town
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on Thursday, 20 June 2013
Arriving late for Ladies Day at the BNP Paribas Tennis Classic at Hurlingham, I ran to get a glass of water in the press room. Sitting opposite me was a tall, broody but utterly beautiful man who flickered his eyes over to me, and in an instant I was smitten. Ladies, it was Goran Invanisavic – the tempestuous  6’4” Croatian who won Wimbledon in 2001 after entering as a wildcard. Before I could recover my composure, Pat Cash walked in behind me followed by the lovable Henri Leconte and before I knew it I was in a tennis legends huddle.

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After Queens and a week before Wimbledon some of the greatest tennis players in the world assemble for a 5 day tournament held in the beautiful Hurlingham private members club and its 42 acre setting. Managed by IMG, the global sports company, the tournament is the best kept secret in the sports circuit. Small, intimate and truly luxurious, the event offers the players a chance to get together and have fun on the courts and tennis fans the chance to get up close (and in my case, personal) to some of the greatest players the sport has ever seen.
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My Ladies Day VIP invite started with a smart lunch and fashion show sponsored My Wardrobe; we all politely applauded the beautiful outfits and then laughed out loud as my ‘huddle mates’ all took to the stage modelling hats and strutting their stuff. They  can all move like panthers on the court, on the catwalk however…

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On court the laughs and legends didn’t stop. The first match was between ATP players Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, a credible Wimbledon contender currently seeded at 8, and Tommy Haas at number 14. Both were very much ‘warming up’ for Wimbledon and the blistering serves matched the blazing sunshine.  Next up was my new crush Goran, who recognising me from the press room winked at me in the photographer’s area (no honestly he did!!) Compared to Wimbledon, the size of Centre Court at Hurlingham is more like having the players having a knock about in your back garden. Often no more than 2 rows away from the court, you feel part of a private garden party rather than facing masses of crowd straining to see a television screen.

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After a scrumptious afternoon tea the final doubles match was between Andrew Castle, Mansour Bahrami and Peter McNamara and Henri Leconte. Taking the chance to entertain the crowds, at one point the ball girl was on court swapping places with McNamara, Leconte was in the stands telling a lady off for going to the bar for Pimms , Bahrami was showing off his famous trick shots and then they all decided to play the match lying down. I have never laughed so much and I can honestly say that it is one of the most enjoyable days out. This may be the best kept tennis secret in town, but it’s now firmly in my diary as my new favourite event.

For further information please visit www.bnpparibastennisclassic.com

Words and photography by Kitty Buchanan-Gregory
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