Randy del Valle has been residing in England since the late 2009. Since his transfer from Cebu to London, he’s been watching sports nonstop. His current craze? Of course, the world’s most prestigious tennis spectacle…
“We went to Wimbledon last Thursday (2nd round),” said Randy, a top executive of the oil giant Shell. “This was the day after the big storm where a lot of players retired and got eliminated — King Roger, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka (injury), Ana Ivanovic, John Isner (injury), to name a few, and two days after Rafael Nadal’s big upset.”
Together with his wife Christine and son Luigi, he watched plenty of grass-court tennis. “We did not have tickets to the big courts but were able to see some good games in Courts 3-18 (Jeremy Chardy, Bernard Tomic and Sam Stosur plus doubles match of Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek). It was a good afternoon until the rain came at 5:30 which eventually postponed the games to the day after.”
Apart from Wimbledon, Randy has watched plenty of sporting events in London. The Olympics of 2012. Formula One in Silverstone. And, for soccer followers, he’s a Chelsea fan. “My sister sometimes gives us tickets as she’s with Samsung – I was also able to watch a Barcelona game at the Camp Nou in Barcelona this year.”
But his favorite sport is tennis. This year will be the fourth time that Randy has entered the hallowed gates of the All-England Club (Wimbledon).
His passion for tennis started when his late father, Ruel Sr., got him and his siblings to play and follow the game. “I remember my dad to be an Ivan Lendl fan,” Randy said. “I got interested during the Sampras-Agassi days and cheered for Andre, even practicing his double-handed backhand in college.”
GRAND SLAM. To all tennis fans, if you think the story thus far of Randy’s Wimbledon visits are enticing, listen to this: Randy has watched — in person — all four Grand Slam events. Yes, no error in typing there; all four: in Melbourne, Paris, New York and London.
“I’ve always wanted to experience and watch the four Grand Slam events,” Randy narrated. “Last year, I realized that our planned holiday in New York coincided with the U.S. Open and took the opportunity to look for tickets on the first week and got lucky to get one.
“Early this year, I happened to be in Melbourne for work and took the opportunity to watch it over the weekend with my friend Joey Baring who lives in Melbourne. My friend Joey, who is also a tennis fan, watched the tournament everyday (Australian Open has this 2-week daily ticket available)!
“And having watched the three consecutive grand slams, I asked myself why not make it a ‘personal’ slam. I asked my family for to us to drive to Paris to watch the French Open in May and at the same time have a holiday in France since Luigi is also on a school break. This time my sister Ruby’s family joined us.”
How does Randy describe each of tennis’ four majors? The Australian Open, he says, is very sunny, relaxed and free (people wearing shorts and drinking a lot of beer while watching). The French Open is “very strict as they monitor tickets thoroughly.”
“Fun and free and the venue is huge—I find the night matches better than day matches as it is cooler and yes, the crowds yell a lot!” he described the US Open in New York. Wimbledon follows strict tradition, says Randy. That — plus the grass courts — make the London grand slam event extra special.
How he’d score the four? “If I were to rank them, I would say: 1. Wimbledon, 2. US Open, 3. Australian Open, and 4. French Open.”
With his favorite Grand Slam event that’s currently played in London, here’s one final word to keep all of us envious. Randy has tickets to watch the Wimbledon men’s final this Sunday. “We were fortunate to get a couple of tickets from Luigi’s allocation at the British Tennis-Lawn Tennis Association (LTA),” Randy said. “Hope it will be a Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray finals – and Andy finally winning his first Wimbledon.”