SMASH!-tastic: For all the attention it gets for being a tennis town, New York hardly has a lot to claim when it comes to tennis that happens on the island we all (well, most of America, that is) think of first when we think about the city: Manhattan. Courts are hard (and expensive) to come by, and availability — good luck, tookums. But a couple of weekends ago, downtown Manhattan not only got its tennis on for the day, it did so in fashion. Gargyle and United Bamboo fashion, that is.
The boutique (Gargyle) and fashion line (United Bamboo) teamed up to host SMASH!, a day-long tournament, for a second straight year, this time venturing a bit west from the East River Park courts to those at Seward Park, on the fringes of Chinatown. SMASH! is what you would expect tennis in Chinatown to be like: fun, quirky, oh-so hipster-esque, relaxed and above all — cool.
Above: a wall of celebrating. TSF contributor and fashion extraordinaire Troy Venechanos and I ventured to the day’s worth of events to check things out. Troy snapped some TSF-worth shots while I chatted with Don Vu of Gargyle about the event, which the store has approached a bit like throwing a dinner party at their house. “Tennis is one of the inspirations for Gargyle and you can see that in a lot of the lines that we pick,” Vu told me while we took in some of the round robin tennis. “We decided to take that part of us and make a tournament out of it. For fun. It’s pretty casual, but once you get on the court it’s pretty competitive. It’s relatively mellow overall, though.”
All you need is you: The mixed doubles teams (15 of them total) were all told to dress up for the occasion, some going all out and others choosing toned-down looks. But this is no Wimbledon folks: these outfits are colorful. The teams were broken into groups of five, playing one another in a best-of-three match-tiebreak format (first to 10 points) where the top team from each group would advance to the semifinals and one wild card (Team Lisicki?) would be chosen to participate as well.
“There are similar events [around New York],” Vu told me. “For the most part there is nothing like this for tennis. It’s a social event. We’re not raising money for anything — it’s just to hang out and have fun. It’s friends and friends of friends who are playing. We run Gargyle just down the street.” While Gargyle operates a few blocks away, the Hester Street Fair was happening just next door, so Troy and I trotted over a couple times throughout the day to snack on donuts (from Wonder City) and a specially-made macaroon called the SMASH! Sandwich. The guys at Macaron Parlour and Melt Bakery knocked heads (at Gargyle’s nudging) to create a tennis-ball looking macaroon that was downright delicious. This pup below is drooling over the thought of such things.
See the SMASH! Sandwich and more on the Gargyle event after the cut.
Fashion friendly: But since Gargyle puts on the event, their own store inspired by tennis, it’s no surprise that the teams’ fashion choices would be put up on a board to be voted on by their peers. Our fave? That’d be the Dos Tigres duo of Jason Jones and Mimi Eayres, who was giving us a sort of Bethanie Mattek-Sands animal-print look to go along with Mimi’s Argentinean accent and Jason’s flair for tennis.”It’s some cheesy thing I found last night … at Loehmann’s,” Mimi told me of her animal-print top, giggling. “He’s a tiger guy, I’m a Spanish girl, so Dos Tigres is kind of like a compromise.”
The court rulers: There would be no compromise for who was going to claim the SMASH! titles as they day wore on. The defending champs — Boris and Venus — took their second straight SMASH! victory, ending Saturday with sun-kissed smiles. We were still concerned that Mimi might ditch Jason for Federer. “Federer? I like always Federer. Yeah, I kind of had a crush on him before. His game is so effortless. Rafa, I like him a lot — but you can see him working hard through it.” Most everyone — 30 players in all — worked hard through the day, too, slurping on Vita Coco to stay hydrated and snacking at the street fair next door. “When we decided to change venues, one of the reasons was we were missing a food component last year and it’s harder to do that in the park,” Vu explained. “We decided to partner with people who already have food set up and have great vendors there.” | More: Hester Street Fair | Gargyle’s men’s collection
What are bright green and delish? SMASH! Sandwiches.
Above: “Dos Tigres,” amidst battle: So what’s next? Gargyle was mulling putting on a Wimbledon-inspired event with a nearby pub. Or perhaps another go at SMASH! a different time of the year. U.S. Open, maybe? Jason was more interested in what would be happening across the pond come July 3: “I have a feeling that Fed is going to come back. I think he’s due. He’s going to turn the tide after struggling with his demons. He’s a master on grass — it’s a different game. He’s so suave.” That’s a good case for a doubles partner — not that Mimi is looking.
More: Gargyle video of the day’s happenings.
(TSF photos by Troy Venechanos; video by Gargyle/Naoto Ono)