Guys, have you always dreamed of getting close to Anna Kournikova, who earlier this decade was a staple atop magazine lists of sexy and beautiful women?
And ladies, would you love to see in person the powerful physiques of men like Goran Ivanisevic, Mark Philippoussis and Jim Courier?
You'll be excited to know these famous players and others will be on hand for the Citadel Group Championships at The Palisades, Wednesday through Sunday at the Palisades Country Club.
But even if you're not easily starstruck, you might still be intimidated if you've never been to a tennis tournament. So here are some tips – from people in the know – on how to fit in among serious spectators.
Citadel Group Championships
at The Palisades
What: Part of the 2008 Outback Champions Series. Features Jim Courier, Goran Ivanisevic, Mark Philippoussis, Todd Martin, Wayne Ferreira, Aaron Krickstein, Jimmy Arias and Mikael Pernfors; Anna Kournikova and Chanda Rubin will play a special mixed doubles exhibition on Saturday.
When: Various times Wednesday-Sunday.
Where: Tim Wilkison Signature Tennis and Sports Complex at the Palisades Country Club on N.C. 49.
Tickets: $15 and up.
Details: 877-332-8499; www.championsseriestennis.com.
Get a grip on the Palisades
You can't miss the Palisades' grand entrance off N.C. 49, near the Buster Boyd Bridge. Inside, tournament parking is clearly defined and shuttle buses will ferry spectators to the stadium site, which is within a mile of the lots.
While you're in the area, consider looking around the picturesque planned community. The Palisades was honored in 2007 by the National Arbor Day Foundation for its successful efforts to build around existing trees. The community has an equestrian center, and its residences will be part of the Southeast's premier luxury housing showcase, HomeArama (Oct. 3-26).
The Outback Champions Club is the place to rub shoulders with celebs. But most of the tickets to this VIP area – where the players hang out between matches and chat with guests – are sold out. (Get prices for the few spots left at www.championsseriestennis.com) Don't despair if you end up in the bleachers. “There's not a bad seat there,” one insider says of the 2,700-seat tournament site. “It's very intimate. You can see the sweat on their faces, and hear them curse under their breath.”
What to wear
Shorts and a polo shirt are always appropriate. “But I wouldn't wear jean cutoff shorts and a tank top,” says a source. Also bring a sun visor and sunglasses. Mike Harding, director of member service for MatchMaker Tennis, suggests bringing a sweater or jacket if you're attending night matches. “A lot of people have on shorts and T-shirts during the day. But by 10 p.m. … you can see them lined up buying sweatshirts.”
During play, spectators need to sit still (just like at golf tournaments). “There is a level of decorum,” says one insider. “This is a serious match – it's a competition for prize money. But there is a level of interaction that you don't see at other tournaments.” MatchMaker Tennis' Mike Harding adds that you'll be spellbound into silence. “When you see people in person who have the ability to play at this level, it's almost supernatural.”
We can't tell you the name of the host hotel. … Oh, what the heck: It's Ballanytne Resort. Sometimes the players bring their spouses and families with them, but no one we talked to seemed optimistic that Kournikova was going to bring her longtime squeeze, Latin pop star Enrique Iglesias.