Postcards From Gang Drug Wars. What is Tennis Tour Doing in Acapulco?

My column on AOL Fanhouse
“Back at the Acapulco Princess. The waves are nice & the huevos rancheros are righteous.”

That’s what Bob Bryan, American tennis player and half of the world’s best doubles team, the Bryan Brothers, posted on his Twitter account the other day.

Player Julia Georges tweeted: “What a nice view every morning here in Acapulco,” and posted a beautiful picture of the beach from her balcony.

Gisela Dulko, another player, tweeted a message to the world’s No. 1 player, Caroline Wozniacki: “Caro! Here is great, so nice. . .you should came sometime!”

The world’s tennis players sound like a travel brochure at their tour stop this week. I’m thinking a new slogan for the place could go something like this:

“Acapulco. Fun, sun, beheaded bodies found at the shopping mall.”

We know athletes don’t live in the real world with the rest of us, but this is ridiculous. I can’t even believe the men’s and women’s tennis tours didn’t cancel the event, rather than risk the lives of their players.

The players feel a false sense of security from their usual isolation and disconnect. No matter what kind of protection the Mexican government has promised, they should be scared for their lives.

“Fun day on the court, in the gym, pool, on the waterslide, jet-ski, and in the waves body surfing …” the Bryan Brothers tweeted, “(S)tick a fork in me.”  

Exactly why are players sending messages to get people to come down there? Do they think that people, as in normal people, might have the same experience?

Is anyone following the news in Acapulco? Gangs are fighting each other, and fighting the police, in drug wars. The gangs have over-run the place. The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning, and some cruise lines, such as Disney, have decided not to go in the area for a while.

Hacked-up remains of men found in highway tunnels. Seventy-two sticks of explosives found at drug cartel camps. Gangs using car bombs on police. Tens of thousands dead in the government’s war against the drug gangs.

Fourteen beheaded bodies at the shopping center.

And the Bryan brothers are running the cutest, silliest photo with a tweet that says, “You know you’re in Mexico when the Chihuahuas are wearing somebreros!”

Yes, as long as they keep their heads.

This isn’t to criticize the Bryans, or any tennis players, other than to just note that they seem to be oblivious.

What’s next? Come Visit Libya, Crossroads to History. Such a lovely desert!

Both tennis tours did issue warnings to their players. The ATP, the men’s tour, suggested that players arrive at the tournament late, stay close to their hotels and leave the city immediately after they lose out of the tournament.

You know, as in, don’t venture out into the real world.

A dozen cab drivers, and passengers, were found dead this past week, according to The Associated Press. Gangs force cabbies to run drugs.

The feeling is that things are safe in the resort-world. But are they?

And does tennis, as an international tour, go through this kind of thing all the time? I asked U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier if he was concerned for the safety of the Bryans, Davis Cup fixtures, and of other players.

“I did read online that the ATP had done a check and certainly consulted with the players,” Courier said. “So, I’m certainly confident that they’ll be well taken care of and looked after and protected down there. It’s not the first time that players have gone into areas where there’s a little bit of strife. I’m sure they’ll be fine.”

A little bit of strife?

“You know,” Courier said, “as a tennis player, we typically live in a bubble. It’s a pretty secure environment. (I remember) being in Peru as a practice partner for my first Davis Cup experience, and we had 24-hour armed security on the floors whenever we went to the courts. We had armed guards in vehicles in front and behind us, and police escorts.

“So you know, it is what it is. It can be part of the job, and Bob and Mike (Bryan) are smart guys. They’ll be safe.”

Defending champ David Ferrer, who won his first-round match Monday, said he had no fears about being there. But David Nalbandian told reporters he was considering withdrawing.

“We are a bit scared about this,” he said. “And we’re trying to decide what to do.”

held discussions with tournament organizers. The tour was satisfied that responsible security measures had been taken, and that the event had the “full support of the authorities of Acapulco, the state of Guerrero, and the Mexican federal government.” 

That’s not good enough. Next month’s Bahrain Formula One race has been canceled because of political unrest there.

See? You can do it, no matter how much money sponsors have already paid.

But the women’s tennis tour wouldn’t even cancel an event in Dubai when tournament officials, at the last minute two years ago, prevented Israeli player Shahar Peer from playing. Apparently, there were sponsors to consider.

You can’t live your life in fear, there is a time to play it smart and just stay away. Of course, if they had done that, then the Bryan Bros., and other players, would have missed, as the Bryans tweeted, “the player party of the year.”

Email me at Follow me on Twitter @gregcouch

About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

One response to “Postcards From Gang Drug Wars. What is Tennis Tour Doing in Acapulco?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: