Last summer, as many of you may know, I was fortunate enough to work with the World Team Tennis Champions, Washington Kastles, as a team photographer. Back in 2010, I had sent an email to them asking about a photography position. A year later I received the invitation from Abby to join the team for the 2011 season. It had been a while since my last sporting event, a Nascar race in 2009, so I was really looking forward to joining the team. With my buddy, Willis Bretz, coming to shoot as well, I knew it was going to be a fun three weeks.
WTT is a ridiculously short season packed with 14 intense matches in a three week span. The players don’t get much of a break between matches, often traveling to the next opponent in the wee hours of the night and getting right back at it in the morning for practice. What I do certainly does not compare to them but I got a hard lesson in having the proper gear to support you (and your back!) in situations like this.
The first thing I did was cash in my credit with Borrowlenses.com and secure a Nikon 70-200/2.8 VRII for the season. Throwing that over one shoulder with the 17-55/2.8 as my backup over the other quickly taught me that A: I need to stop carrying two cameras or B: I really need better straps. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to get the strap I wanted (http://www.blackrapid.com) so I made do with a DIY belt pouch and went with the one camera approach. My back and shoulders were very thankful that everything now had its own pouch and all I had to worry about was swapping lenses on the fly. This also gave me the chance to bring my Tokina 11-16/1.8 for some fun wide angle shots of the stadium
As I said, the season is short and intense with all matches played at night. And, thanks to construction on 66, this meant long hours for me as well. One thing I learned quickly in this process is streamlining my editing/culling and how to use Lightroom 3 in place of Photoshop Camera Raw Reader.
I found in my many attempts to do a Kastles 2011 season blog that picking the best shots for one post was pretty much impossible. In reading Willis’ blog I enjoyed the multi-part approach and will do that here, though slightly different from his. In the coming days/weeks I will focus on each Kastles player (Bobby, Rennae, Leander and Arina), and of course Coach Murphy, ending with an amazing Championship weekend in South Carolina.