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Irina Falconi blogs from Court 3K event in Atlanta

November 30, 2011 06:20 PM
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (right) and Georgia Tech product Irina Falconi celebrate together during the Court 3K dedication at Grove Park.
Irina Falconi takes time to hit with the kids at the Court 3K dedication ceremony at Grove Park in Atlanta.
Irina Falconi, who reached the third round of the 2011 US Open and was the No. 1 college tennis player for Georgia Tech (2008-10), participated in the festivities celebrating the refurbishment and creation of a record 3,000 tennis courts in 2011 at Grove Park in Atlanta. Falconi, ranked No. 84 in the WTA Rankings, shares her thoughts on the event in this exclusive blog for USTA.com.
Happy Wednesday, everyone! Irina Falconi here, checking in from the Dirty South, the one and only Hip Hop Capitol of the World, the wonderful City of Atlanta.

As many of you may have read, the Court 3K Initiative took place today at Grove Park in Atlanta. And guess what? Yup, you guessed it, I was there! Not just like in spirit, I was actually part of the ceremony!

All right, let me take you down memory lane, even though it happened just this morning. First off, the park was a solid hour away, which meant we needed to chip in another 45 minutes to the drive because of morning rush traffic. No biggie. Liam, Kim and Jeff's 8 month old, was all bundled up in his car seat, which meant we were ready to go. Once we arrived, 20 minutes earlier than scheduled, per usual, we saw all the hustle and bustle happening. Now, you may think that I've been to many events such as this one, but believe it or not, this was my first. Hopefully my first of many.

I got there, and I was greeted like a celebrity. I was shaking hands left and right, and I was remembering names like it was my job. Oh, and please keep in mind the fact that it was around 35 degrees outside. I wasn't wearing something TOO warm, which wasn't one of the wisest decisions of my career, but hey, you can't always be hot, can ya? (Solid joke, come on!)

Right before the 10 am start, Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta arrived, and I was able to make his acquantaince. He was genuinely a very nice gentleman. And hey, he can hit a pretty good ball! But don't worry, I'll get to that later.

After some pre-initiative mingling, we waited around for the real sha bang. The speaking started promptly at 10 am. George Dusenbery, the Commissioner of Parks, was the one that started the show. He introduced himself and spoke a few words before introducing the man of the hour, the mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed. After a very enthusiastic and nice speech by the mayor, Derrick White came up on the podium and took the mic before eventually passing it on to me. Oh yeah, I had to give a speech right after the mayor--how you doing with that? No pressure, right? Yup, there were a lot of people watching, video recording and taking pictures, but it was all good. I gave a quick and sweet little speech and gave a shout out to the kids who were going to be christening the courts. They were cold, so I figured a shout out would be nice :-)

After the speaking, it was time for the coolest part of the day. Now, you know how everyone has that one thing they've always wanted to do? Some obviously want more than just one thing, but hey, one thing accomplished is better than none. Ok, so, one of the things I've always wanted to do is to cut a ribbon. Oh yes. It might sound like a silly thing, but I've always found it so cool when I watch the news or I'm watching a movie, and they cut a ribbon to a brand new place that just opened, or a huge initiative that is taking place with one of those JUMBO-SIZED scissors. So today, I was able to accomplish that little dream of mine!---except it was just a plain ole' scissor. Boo! But alas! I grabbed my scissor, and I made sure that I was the first one to cut the ribbon! I am pretty sure I kept part of the ribbon, as well...no one has to know that, though :-)

After the ribbon cutting, it was time for the kids and Mayor Kasim to wreak havoc. Oh yes, Mayor Kasim had a racquet that was given to him so he could hit with the kids and me. Near the end of the teeny tiny mini exhibition, we decided to hit a couple of balls down the middle, which was fun. I obviously couldn't miss, right? Right, I didn't.

Racquets were brought for the kids to use, and sure enough, they put those sticks to use! All the kids were smiling and enjoying the time on the courts! It was honestly one of the coolest experiences of my life to see so much happiness come from so many kids! I was very excited and thrilled to be part of such a huge initiative that is bound to revolutionize the future American tennis. Yeah, you can quote me on that.

Well, friends, that was that! The rest of the time spent in Grove Park was for interviews and fun photo ops.

Keep doing big things, USTA! Let's make a new chapter in the American Tennis Book.





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