By Jane Voigt
Washington D. C., July 30, 2013 — The District of Columbia might be a pinnacle of political power, but it’s at the bottom of the heap when speaking haute couture. The same goes for tennis-court togs.
The high-end tennis playing demographic that populates chic country clubs just north of D. C. — Columbia, Congressional, and Chevy Chase Country Clubs trend well with Nike, especially amongst the younger members. Their well-kept figures sport the Nike cling in style.
The bigger public park tennis population doesn’t seem so bound by tennis fashion. They’re more concerned with getting a court rather than what they look like on court.
But neither group pulls off tennis fashion as well as the pros at Citi Open, or any other stop on the summer’s U. S. Open Series.
“Every girl likes fashion, right,” Angelique Kerber said, when asked about her new blueberry-blue adidas outfit she wore on Stadium Court this afternoon in her first-ever match in Rock Creek Park, which she won. She has not collaborated with adidas designers, yet. That’s in the plan for next year. “Right now I wear their Zero clothes, but next year we will work more together.”
Andrea Petkovic, fellow German, and adidas sponsored pro wears its designer outfits created by Stella McCartney. The dominant color scheme is a summery tan and white. But splashes of a wild orange are set them off. And her shoes!! The same orange color and they glow.
Kerber and Petkovic are lucky. They are stars and are treated like stars through various endorsement deals. But there are those here that don’t experience the same privileges.
Alexandra Mueller, a 25-year-old American qualifier, is ranked No. 499 by the WTA. She wore a bright orange skirt today, but nothing else matched. Her Nike shoes looked ready for the dumpster. Her plain white racer-back top had no discernible logo. And she played with an out-of-date Babolat Pure Drive tennis racquet. Tall, talented and fiercely competitive, the American lost 67(5) 64 63 to Heather Watson of Great Britain. You have to wonder if she would have done better decked out in K-Swiss, the sponsor for Watson.
The answer to that question is undeniably no. On the practice courts, the pros dress down. Little stretchy shorts are the thing for women. Baggy too-long shorts are the draw for men. Tops run from sloppy t-shirts for guys to the ever-present skin tight tops for women.
When this tournament first got its teeth into the community locker rooms were a dream. Now, players arrive wearing work-out gear, dress up for on-court appearances, and then shower and pop on another set of casuals to take them into the night, or, more probably, to their hotel rooms.
Mardy Fish in K-Swiss sets the tone for American-lead court wear from sunny California. Just recently back on tour after a long struggle with a heart ailment, Fish has won two matches since. His debut last night started cranky, but ended well. Next up for the California cruiser: the No. 12 seed, Julien Benneteau of France.
The French players, both les hommes et les dames, are lockstep with Lacoste, which was originally conceived in the 1920s by the alligator himself, Rene Lacoste. Alize Cornet, who proceeded to the second round today by defeating Yanina Wickmayer, wears the clothes well. However, those skirts are a tad short. Ou la la.
Benneteau, Michael Llodra, and David Goffin suit up in non-assuming shorts by Lacoste — white or navy — and a non-assuming polo that makes you forget they are on court. Very nice. Very French.
American John Isner is also sponsored by Lacoste. And at six-nine the shirts come in too short and baggy; he’s always pulling on the shoulders. No one cares in D. C., though. Isner has risen to the height of a folk hero. He’s a North Carolina boy that graduated from Georgia, got a wildcard into the 2007 Citi Open (Legg Mason Tennis Classic, at the time) and served his way to the final where Andy Roddick took charge and the title.
The 35-year-old German Tommy Haas has taken lots of ribbing about his choice of tennis clothes; he’s scheduled to play tomorrow. At Sony Open this spring, the topic came up after he hung around long enough to upset Novak Djokovic. Haas didn’t have a clothing sponsor, but wore Nike shorts. His shirt selection ran the gamut from pink to pale green to neon yellow; and he changed them often. He wore black and neon green Asics shoes with black socks. Haas was such a mixed-up fashion statement people had to smile, and so did he.
Of course the clothes don’t make the champion. It’s only something to show off and feel good about wearing, for most tennis fans in D. C. However, when you are a touring professional tennis player with more at stake than style good fitting and quality constructed clothes could change attitudes just enough to matter.