Uncomfortable with 'theatre' silence

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Uniformed volunteers at the Rogers Cup shush the crowd when the noise level rises, but some players welcome it, especially in multicultural Toronto with so many national favourites here.

"We are not in the theatre," declared Serbian Jelena Jankovic of traditional tennis etiquette. "You need to get the crowd to enjoy it. People like to see nice personalities, good athletes and good tennis.

"They motivate you and give you energy at certain points of the match when you need the push."

Serbian and Russian flags have been visible at the Rexall Centre this week and players are often greeted by their old-world first names.

"It's not a big distraction," insisted Russian Elena Dementieva. "I like to play the Federation Cup and the Olympics where people are allowed to express themselves.

"Tennis was the only sport where you had to be very quiet. People should come and enjoy the atmosphere. They have to be allowed to scream and to cheer."

RUNNING FOR COVER

Rain delays are commonplace at a tennis tournament. But a tornado?

Organizers went into crisis management Thursday night as the skies darkened over York University and 5,000 to 7,000 fans, officials, volunteers and, of course, players, had to be herded out of the seats and the sprawling grounds to some kind of heavy shelter.

"It's different than other stadiums, where you're all in one bowl, such as the Rogers Centre or the ACC," said Michael Cvitkovic of Tennis Canada. "Basic shelter was one thing, but as weather deteriorated, Phase 2 was getting everyone inside the stadium. We put them into our Centre of Excellence, the restaurant. We had people in the Tennis Canada offices and in the hallways.

"We didn't know at that point that a tornado had hit (one person died in Durham and there was heavy damage not far away), but we knew about the warnings from Environment Canada.

"We switched our public address system in the stadium to be heard right through the grounds so that everyone knew to get in."


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