Memphis Open Has Gone To The Dogs
What started as a marketing campaign has taken over the Memphis Open: The tournament has gone to the dogs.
Sam Querrey and his girlfriend brought their 8-month-old French Bulldog, Lou. Kevin Anderson and his wife carried Lady Kady, their 7-month-old Chiweenie, a Chihuahua Dachshund mix. “Memphis Mo”, the tournament mascot that has had his own Facebook and Twitter accounts to promote the tournament, visited the Memphis Open as well.
“The dogs are great. They're fun, and it's such an engaging way that the players can bring a little bit of home on the tour with them,” Tournament Director Erin Mazurek said. “If we can be accommodating and make our tournament feel that much more friendly and that much more engaging for them, that's exactly what we want to do.”
Fans have clamoured for the dogs. As Mo sauntered through The Racquet Club of Memphis, his supporters shouted his name and snapped photos of the 7-year-old American Lab. Mo was unphased by the attention. “He's just a mild-mannered dog,” said Griffin Lonardo, who, along with Hayley Efird, takes care of the 110-pound pooch.
By now, Mo must feel like an old pro at this tennis tournament stuff. He sat still and stared at the camera while getting a photo for his credential, issued to “Mo Efird”.
But for Lou and Lady Kady, the Memphis Open was their first foray on the ATP World Tour. They're doing just fine, thank you.
Lou watches her co-owner Sam Querrey practise and hardly mutters a noise, lying quietly on the bleachers. The flip side: She's just as quiet when the 29-year-old Querrey seeks tennis advice during practice.
“She probably sleeps like 20 hours a day so she pretty much just falls alseep anytime she's out there watching,” Querrey said.
Lou will have chances to improve. She'll be along for the ride at Querrey's next four ATP World Tour tournaments: Delray Beach, Indian Wells, Miami and Houston. “Hopefully she will be well-behaved but we'll see,” Querrey said.
Lady Kady has a different attitude about tennis: She loves watching Anderson practise, although she mostly stayed back at the hotel during the Memphis Open.
Anderson and his wife had been talking about getting a dog for a while, he said. They welcomed Lady Kady from a dog shelter about a month ago during the middle of a rare two-month stay at home while Kevin rehabbed his right-hip injury.
The dog's previous owners had called her Lady but the Delray Beach shelter already had a dog named Lady, he said. “Of course you can't have two Ladys at the shelter. They gave her Lady Kady and it just stuck. We got her and she was responding to it pretty well. We thought it was an interesting and unique name and it was kind of fun so we just went with it,” he said.
Listed at 196 pounds, Anderson weighs exactly 191 pounds more than Lady Kady. They haven't let that difference hamper their relationship. “We've bonded here really well,” he said.
American John Isner might be who we should thank for the pooch paradise. Isner has been bringing Magill, his 9-year-old English Cocker Spaniel named after the late Georgia Bulldogs tennis coach Dan Magill, to ATP World Tour tournaments for years. Magill isn't in Memphis but he's travelled with Isner to the BB&T Atlanta Open multiple times.
In fact, Isner says Magill is partly to thank for his three Atlanta titles.
“I think dogs tend to bring good luck. They keep you relaxed, keep you in a fun mood throughout the week, which actually can help. It's not all just about hitting your forehand well, hitting your backhand well and tactics on the court. It's about being relaxed throughout the week and that can actually go a long way,” Isner said. “I generally don't like people copying on my idea but if it's the dog one, I do like that.”