© Susan Mullane

Ross Hutchins, Chris Kermode, ATP World Tour players and others watch the eclipse at the Winston-Salem Open on Monday.

Winston-Salem Open Stands Still For Eclipse

Players, ATP officials take in the historic moment presented by nature

The life of an ATP World Tour player can become pretty routine. Wake up. Eat. Practise. Eat. Stretch. Workout. Toss in a match here and there, and you have the life of a player when he's competing at a tournament.

But on Monday at the Winston-Salem Open, players were happy to welcome a historic distraction to their daily routine: the eclipse. Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was close to the path of the total solar eclipse, which cut through the continental U.S., from Oregon on the west coast to South Carolina on the east coast, and players, with the help of tournament officials, made sure to take in the once-in-a-100-year phenomenon.

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They wore special eclipse glasses and stared into the sky, gawking at the moon's ability to shield the sun. Tournament officials purchased about 200 sets of special eclipse glasses so players, ball kids and officials could safely view the event.

“It's cool. It's something you don't get to see every day, with barely seeing any of the sun. We only had 95 per cent coverage of the sun, and it's crazy how much, with five per cent showing, can still brighten the day,” said Steve Johnson.

The American watched the eclipse from the tournament's centre court, along with other players and ATP World Tour Executive Chairman & President Chris Kermode and ATP World Tour Chief Player Officer Ross Hutchins.

Eclipse

Eclipse photo credit: Bryan Pollard

“You get a chance to be a part of history. You'll always know where you were when you saw the eclipse in 2017 here at the tournament,” Johnson said. “Hopefully everybody enjoyed it and was safe.”

Monday marked the first time since 1918 that a total solar eclipse has gone coast to coast in the U.S.

“It was a special moment,” said Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who remembered wearing eclipse glasses when he was a child in Europe. “If it happens once in 100 years, it's just amazing to be a part of, to live this.”

“It was a great experience,” said Joao Sousa of Portugal. “I think being a part of this activity here at the tournament, it's a moment of history... I'm not sure the next time I will have the chance to see this in my life. I hope it's not my last one but as I said, it was a great experience and I really enjoyed it.”

The tournament warned players of the eclipse ahead of time, posting a “WSO Eclipse Day” notice in the players lounge. “Dear Players & Guests: Today there will be a solar eclipse lasting from 1:12PM – 4:03PM. During this time when the sun's natural light is blocked, all courts will have the lights turned on...”

Almost everyone participated in the event, even Donald Young and Rogerio Dutra Silva, who took the court at 3 p.m. for their first-round match.

Dutra Silva

“We're happy,” said Andre Sa. “Something different about our day. Gets you out of your comfort zone... It was nice show by nature. We loved it.”

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