Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sweden is More Than Just Ikea and Meatballs: Global Tennis Showdown

Always gravitating towards 'only in LA' activities--or, in this case, 'only in LA or Sweden'--I jumped at the chance to tag along with my friend Jimmy and girlfriend Greta visiting from Sweden to The Global Tennis Showdown charity tennis match & fundraiser to benefit the Swedish School of Los Angeles. The headlining match featuring 80's tennis Swedish tennis star, Mats Wilander and Will 'Anchorman' Farrell (who's married to a Swedish wife and has a couple of half-Swede kids attending the Swedish School.)
Although the match wasn't sold out, the showdown attracted a pretty decent crowd of curious Will Farrell fans and apparently a who's who of the Swedish celeb pack. My Swedish friend Jimmy pointed out Swedish supermodel and former host of 'Sweden's Next Top Model' Mini Anden and Swedish hip hop Grammy winner, Adam Tensta (who later stepped out onto the tennis court for a surprise Swedish-rap performance) in the stands. Prior to the game, famed Swedish stand up comedian Bjorn Gustafsson pepped up the crowd before launching into a stand up routine which made it clear English was his second language. He could very well be side-splitting hilarious in Swedish, but the translated humor was so awesomely bizarre that when I looked over to Jimmy, he reassured me that "This is for real, Bjorn REALLY is a big time comedian back home!"

Haphazardly umpired by comedian sidekick Andy Richter, the showdown adopted the ping pong point system (first to 15), which kept the game flowing quickly. The first half was a decent game of baseline hitters, volleys and occasional aces from Mats Wilander's end. Just when I was thinking I was basically watching a backyard game of tennis between Will and his celebrity fans, they started to change up the game.

A couple of leggy (as in, on stilts) blondes joined in as doubles partners for a point or two before they began handicapping Wilander by having him hold hands with a gaggle of Swedish school-children as he ran around the court.
Still holding strong, Will then brought out his big guns and hit a couple of forehands with an oversized racket.

Finally, at 14-14, the final showdown point came between Mats and his tag-a-long kids vs. Will saddled with another Swedish kid piggybacked to him. Will Farrell--not a bad tennis player.
Funnyman and piggybacked blondie wins! Farrell 15, Wilander 14.

For a musical reprieve before the doubles match, the forementioned Swedish, hip hop artist, Adam Tensta performed his hit single, "Dopeboy (Do I look Like I Sell Drugs)" Again, I glanced over to Jimmy for reassurance this was wonderfully for real. "Tensta REALLY is very popular back in Sweden. But even for Swedish people, this is a pretty weird event."

For the doubles match, they brought out a UCLA alum and Venus William's former doubles partner, Justin Gimelstob and tennis partner, Rainn Wilson (who, like Farrell, was surprisingly agile and decent at tennis for a slightly doughy comedian.)

The charity match also included a post-match BBQ and silent auction and a performance by the Dan Band for those who paid higher priced tickets ($75) but since we only paid for the cheap seats ($25) we pretty much just perused through the display of brightly hued Bjorn Borg underwear before calling it game, set, match for the day.

The Global Tennis Showdown: $25


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