It's mildly sunny here at 11 as the first matches get underway on the real grass tennis event in the world (I think we saw this year at Wimbledon, that whatever that green turf with brown patches at the baseline is, it certainly as hell ain't the kind of grass that's on these courts and the kind we used to play on as kids) . It is 70's and very pleasant here. As I write this from the press room, I am looking out at the practice courts and seeing Lleyton Hewitt hitting with Big John Isner. Hewitt is at the net hitting his distinctive volleys, looking pretty spry as Big John has to reach low (he doesn't really bend his knees) to scoop up returns. Both players have a coach standing at the baseline, watching and feeding the next ball in play. Danai Udomchoke (I'm not going to check for spelling in this piece--a forewarning) is out there, too. Milos Raonic is hitting down the line on one side of one court, while Jesse Levine hits on another. The shaven-head Ollie Rochus walks out and he's tapping the strings of his racket ready to go out and hit. He is small, but solid as he moves in to his 30's, almost looking like a bench-pressing Flemish Andre Agassi. Another Belgium player, its Reuben Bemelmans, I had to look up his name (only real tennis geeks knows guys' faces and names like Reuben Bemelmans. If you know how to spell his name without looking it up, you are a supreme tennis geek. And I say that in a nice way, but really now, get a life) who plays Ryan Harrison in the last match today in the stadium, is now kicking a mini soccer ball around with Rochus and another player who I have no idea who he is (actually, I'm told by Greg Sharko, the major stat guy for the ATP, that the new guy is David Goffin, who got to the fourth round of the French and played a nice match against Federer. Goffin is dressed in pristine white like the guy thinks he's still at Wimbledon. Bemelmans has his hair tied-up in a knot in the back of his blond head, and I noticed this morning as I sat and ate breakfast at the B&B I'm staying at, that he has a gorgeous girlfriend or wife. She's now walking around as Belmenman continues to play mini-soccer (Rochus has good feet), in hot orange shorts.And that's one of the things you see when you're at an event like Newport and not the U.S. Open where the players are not as carefree and easy. (Raonic is now returning serves against a tiny Asian guy, I think it's Nishikori, everyone looks tiny compared to Raonic, the guy looks like Dave DeBusschere of the Knicks only not with the clothes-hanger shoulders Dave D. had that allowed him to play against Wilt Chamberlain in the post even though the guy was like 6-6. Raonic doesn't play around with his first shot in a rally. Either hitting his return or serve, he crushes it.) This is a life for these players, particularly the ones at this tourney who can't take off a full month or two during the year, to rest up and kick back. These guys take their lives on the road every week. I've seen Sam Querrey with his girlfriend (Querrey lofted back his head back and laughed with his sunglasses on this morning when I saw him), that Indian-American dude, Ram, and his girlfriend, Bemelman and his girl, only Guilles Muller, Raonic and Istomin I've seen around Newport without their girls and maybe they're around, but I just didn't see them. I even saw Chris Guccione (he is huge, by the way, and red-headed, with his wife, I assume, because she was rolling a baby carriage along. Guccione was playing in the qualis and lost to Sergei Bubka, who is also huge, but no one's as huge as Guccione, he's huge and thick, almost like a red-headed Shrek. The average rally in the Bubka-Guccione match was two hits. You cannot win Newport without serve and volleying, I don't care if you're a Federer or Nadal, you're going to have to s + v and I love that.)Apparently, in this Olympic year, this is the best draw Newport has ever had. And there are lots of Olympians here. You've got Isner and Young from USA (Donald Young story, his father never got back to me about Vince Spadea coaching Donald Jr. I ran into Davide Sanguinetti, a really nice dude with premature grey hair, but once a very fine player--I ask him if he hits with his charge, Go Soeda, who he has up to his highest ranking this week, No. 53, and he says he'll hit with him here on the grass, but otherwise, no, because he's got pain in his wrists, elbows and knees. And Sanguinetti's not that old, early-40 tops maybe, but it shows you the toll playing tennis longtime on the tour, which Sanguine did, does to your bod. These guys may not incur concussions like pro football players, but their joints take a beating. Anyway, Sanguine told me that DY's mother just will not let anyone else coach her son because she gets jealous when he does well without her. He's No. 50 now, Sanguine says, but he's about to lose a lot of points quickly and then he's in deep shit, those are my words, not his).I'm going to go watch Jack Sock play who's taking on the Russian, Igor Kunitsyn (great name, huh?). And then, I supposedly have ATP media guru, Greg Sharko, setting me up with a Raonic for a one-on-one, that's not tennis, but an interview. I wonder if Raonic will take my questions and smash them away like he does return of serves. (Any questions you want to ask Milos?) Then there's a bunch of other phenomenal players playing today, Mahut, DY vs. Michael Russell, Dudi Sela (another great name, right?) against Frank Dancevic and then Harrison, who's brother, Christian, lost a close match in the qualis here. (Denis Kudla, who got to like the semis here last year, was out 0 and 4 to the ageless Michael Yani, who also had a fine Newport last year, in the qualis).It's a tough life out on those real grass courts, (not the rye grass at Wimbledon where 10-shots-and-more rallies are now a reality not an exception like here at Newport). But right down the road is St. George's Prep School, where all the Kennedy kids went, John's, RFK's and Teddy, and maybe, who knows, Roger Federer or Andy Roddick will send his kids, too. It's a tennis Camelot for those guys, they've made it. Even with all the Olympians here, and Hewitt, a former Grand Slam champ, it's a grind. They've either not made it yet or made it momentarily, in Hewitt's case much longer than that, but he's an anomaly here, and then dropped back down the rankings. It doesn't matter how hot your girlfriend or wife is, you're going to have to earn those victories out on the low-bouncing, thin bleached-blond grass. Raonic waits for Nidshikoi's return, he pummels it down the line on the ad court, Nishikori runs it down like an antelope and Raonic pummels another forehand down the ad deuce court sideline for a winner. Four hits, that's a long rally at Newport. The points go fast, but you have to get down low.