Kei Nishikori fans at the 2016 Memphis Open

Nishikori Fans at the 2016 Memphis Open

For over fifteen years, Japanese and Tennessean corporate, cultural, and political movers and shakers have discussed ways of bringing Japanese talent and tourists to the southeastern United States and vice versa, which has in turn contributed to current opportunities for expatriates, emigrants, and enthusiasts in the Volunteer State to partake of Japan-related events. Nashville has hosted a cherry blossom festival every April since 2009, with the goal of planting a thousand cherry trees in the city by 2019. Japanese firms have contributed over 13 billion dollars to economic development in Tennessee, resulting in more than 35,000 jobs (disclosure: I am related to longtime members of the Japan-America Society of Tennessee). There is a Japanese Language School in Memphis and a biannual Bon festival at the Botanic Garden.

And, Kei Nishikori keeps coming back to Memphis in February, and he keeps winning. This brings journalists from Japan…

Querrey d. Nishioka QF

scholars from Indiana University…

Nishikori v. Querrey

and families from near and far, with signs in English and Japanese:

2016 Memphis Open final

2016 Memphis Open final

There are fans with flags…

2016 Memphis Open final

2016 Memphis Open final

and fans with fans…

Friday evening quarterfinal

and some get increasingly elaborate as they return for each session, progressing to customized t-shirts and banners during the trophy ceremony:

IMG_0134

2016 Memphis Open final

Japanese fans celebrating Kei's victory

A few peek through the windows for a glimpse of their man practicing…

Upstairs, I saw fans peering through an unfrosted strip of glass near the stairs.

and many line the hallway path between Stadium Court and the locker room:

Spectators waiting for Nishikori

A reporter asked Kei if he planned to come back next year. The four-time champion smiled and said he would have to, right?

Kei Nishikori

Thanks a lot to Peg for her pictures and reports.

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