Chris Fowler (L) interviews Serena Williams after she won the 2010 Women’s Australian Open.
(Ben Soloman/ESPN Images)
Editor’s note: On Monday, Jan. 7 in Miami, Chris Fowler culminated his season on College GameDay at the Discover BCS National Championship. This Sunday night, tennis fans can start their season with the Australian Open on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (6:30 p.m. ET). And they’ll be watching the same Chris Fowler on the screen — he has a brother, but not a twin — live from the other side of the world.
In his own words, Fowler describes what’s it’s like to make such a quick transition from sport to sport, role to role, winter to summer and North America to Down Under. Here’s Fowler’s take as told to ESPN Communications’ Dave Nagle:
It is a jarring transition on many levels. The two sports are very different. There’s absolutely no overlap. It will be my 11th Australian Open, so while jarring, at least it’s familiar.
I remember my first trip, in 2003. I’d never been to Australia and was fairly new to tennis. I clearly remember trying to sprinkle in some tennis prep during the college football bowl season. I still do a little. When Rafael Nadal pulled out of the Australian Open at the end of December, I was printing out stories and talking to people on the phone.
During my time in Miami for the BCS title game I caught up on what’s been happening since the US Open. Plus, it’s a 14-hour trip to Australia. You can use that time with focused preparation. The phone doesn’t ring and emails can’t come in.
Plus, my role is different. I go from hosting a pre-game table setter to calling matches. The focus and concentration are different. GameDay is multi-task juggling. During the BCS bowls, our shows are often loosely formatted with plenty of ad-libbing. You focus in five-to-seven minute bursts between commercials.
(L-R) Desmond Howard, Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit on the set of ESPN College GameDay Built by the Home Depot during the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game. (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)
In tennis, it’s intense focus on two players. The matches often last more than four hours and the changeovers are only one minute. For last year’s men’s final — the longest in Grand Slam history at nearly six hours — I was in the booth close to seven hours. It’s all you can do to get a bathroom break in. continue reading…