NEW YORK – The male players at the US Open can – and do, repeatedly – change their sweaty, drippy shirts on court during changeovers.
But the shorts … well, that’s a more challenging dilemma.
The USTA has added a “heat rule” for the men during the hottest days of this US Open, the first time it has ever done so. So that has given the players an opportunity to go back to the locker room (or somewhere cool) for part of a 10-minute period to grab some cooler air and change their clothes. They could even have a shower. And some have jumped into the ice bath.
But the general rule about a player only being allowed to leave the court for bathroom breaks twice, throughout a long five-set match, looks to remain on the books.
And so young Spanish player Jaume Munar got into a bit of a tiff with the officials when he wanted to change his shorts, during his first-round match against lucky loser Ruben Bemelmans last week.
We’ve seen him get a little tetchy on court (notably during the final round of Wimbledon qualifying this year, when both he and Andrea Collarini both got a little personal with the female umpire about her decisions).
But it seemed to be more a failure to communicate than anything else.
And off Munar went to the conveniently located portable toilet right behind the next court. There are several located along the south fence on the site, for use by players toiling on the field courts.
It’s called a “Callahead” – a premium portable toilet, although the USTA didn’t choose the “spaceship” or the “London phone booth” model.
The problem is, it’s a little jammed when you get a tennis player – and his bag – in there. It’s pretty right quarters when you’re trying to wriggle out of a soaking-wet pair of shots.
We’re trying to picture Ivo Karlovic in there. And not successfully.
As well, there are no visible vents or windows. So at some point, Munar had to have called out to the official to open the door a crack and keep it open, so he could breathe.
It’s not exactly ideal. But at least it gets the job done in a quick amount of time.
Because we’re big on the investigative journalism here at Tennis.Life – and boldly go where no website has gone before – we stopped by later and found an unlocked one to check out the inside.
Yup, tight. Lovely and posh for your basic business. But for extra heat-wave business, not so much.
It’s a crazy thing, when you think about it. You might make seven figures this year. But you have to ask permission to go the bathroom. And you have to ask permission to leave the court and change a drippy, soaking kit.
As well, you have to have someone watching while you do it. And you can only do it twice – when you might be out there sweating for five hours.
And, you probably have to do it in a porta-potty.
Munar went on to win the match against Bemelmans, 6-1 in the fifth set. But he had a lot of issues. And at one point the doctor came on and checked his blood pressure.
During Munar’s next match, it was opponent Diego Schwartzman who went for the Callahead.
Same one, too. It was probably more Schwartzman-size.
The Argentine came back out and won the match in four sets.