My tennis season began with the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club in Barons Court, London. Overall thirty matches I photographed in a week long tournament which ultimately for both players and photographers was the preparation for the up and coming Grand Slam tournament at the All England Club, Wimbledon.
This year my photography position was on the East Side facing the Umpires Chair and the backdrop of the Queen’s Club House.
My workhorse lenses was the 400mm USMII f/2.8 and 70-200mm USMII f/2.8. I’m always hesitate on bringing the 400mm lens to any tennis tournament because depending on where I’m positioned, the 400mm USMII f/2.8 prime lens is too tight when focusing on a forehand shot to the nearest corner of the court or a backhand shot at the net, your bound to cut off some part of an arm, hand or the top part of a racket in your frame. However, by timing it right & picking your moments carefully and observing where the player will run and what type of shot he will commit to, you’ll have opportunities to capture some pretty decent racket action.
Theirs a lot of similarities between tennis players and sports photographers, despite athletic physique ;). Principally you have to stay calm, focused and commit to your action. As a photographer I’m sitting next to eight (out of twenty plus) other photographers all very close to each other so you don’t want to at the last second swing your lens to the other player before a serve is hit or much worse follow the ball with your lens. It’s also important to understand you can’t photograph everything at one moment. So before every match I make a plan in the photographers room or the night before on where I’ll be (photo position wise) on certain matches. Thankfully at the Fever-Tree Championships, the East side court position was not the only photo position I was allowed to photograph the action from. I had the photo credentials to photograph from the TV Gantry, top of the East Side stand or on the West Side court position. So it was important to not panic about missing any tennis action, it was a week long tournament so I had plenty of chances and position to capture the action.
With grass court tennis starting in the summer, it was very important to drink plenty of water and put on loads of Sunscreen. There were matches that went on for more then an hour or two under very hot temperatures, so taking loads of water and Suncream prevented me from being very dehydrated and my face looking like the colour of a tomato.
Lastly, I want to say a big thank you to the organisers on providing excellent media facilities and offering any assistance, see you next year Queen’s.