I played a Tennis Europe tournament - this is what happened!!
How I made the Tennis Europe tour a reality
Playing in Europe can be tough and arranging trips abroad tougher. Working parents have limited holiday entitlement and going abroad with a coach can be expensive. A great solution is pair up with a mate to save cash.
Getting injured before we left was tough
Earlier in the year I had arranged to compete in a Tennis Europe Cat 2 event in Tel Aviv during March with a good mate of mine and training partner Pat Brady. However, a freak training accident and a bent thumb put paid to that. Shame as Pat did really well winning the singles title and the dubs with partner Leo Borg.
Finally I played my Tennis Europe event
Another opportunity came to team up with Pat and his dad John at the end of the summer holiday to play the TE Cat 2 Juan Fuster Zarogoza in Alicante. We both made main draw and I managed to stay accident free. With bags packed I had a sleep over with Pat the night before as we were flying out from Gatwick at silly o’clock in the morning. We flew out on a one-way ticket as we had no idea how long we would be in the tournament for. Knowing when to book a return flight before a tournament is a lottery so we left that decision for another day.
As we were in a Cat 2 event half board accommodation was thrown in. The rooms turned out more like boarding school but decent enough. The food however, was awful and breakfast on day one of competition would be our last. The evening meal was poison. Say no more.
The art of waiting
Day 1 – We turned up to be informed that there were no practice courts and it was raining. Not a great start but I wasn’t too worried as I had a bye in the R64 anyway. The morning rain meant the first 8 matches were delayed until 2.30pm. Frustratingly only these matches were completed as the rain returned before the second rotation was in full swing. So that would be it for day one, 24 matches behind. A lot of hanging around for not much tennis.
On day 2 I start to play some tennis
Day 2 – Oh no, raining again! When play finally got underway at lunch time the revised tournament scheduled had both Pat and I scheduled to play not before 7.30pm. Unbelievable. Normally we would be thinking of tucking into a nice evening meal by then. In fact the matches didn’t start until much later at 9.30pm. I beat my Italian opponent 6-0 6-1 and Pat has a tussle with a top Spanish lad Jules Matossian
6-2 3-6 6-4 that went on until gone midnight. Rooms secured for another night.
Day 3 starts with more rain
Play scheduled for 1.00pm with me on at not before 3.30pm verses Spanish boy Marcos Navarro. I won that 6-2 6-3 but Pat unfortunately went out to another decent Spanish boy Pinto Sansano. The goods news is that by this time we had managed to find a great local restaurant bar that had wall to wall flat screen TVs screening the US Open 24/7. It also had a chef that cooked whatever we wanted at a reasonable price. Life was getting better.
Day 4 schedule – A tough QF match up verses no. 8 seed Corban Crowther followed by our first doubles match. Unfortunately, I lost to the New Zealand number one in a tussle in the 35-degree heat! I was knackered and I knew our doubles wouldn’t come easy either! However, we came through to win that match 6-2 7-6 after being 3-0 up in the second set! I was on my knees, I had nothing left, yet we were scheduled to play another match due to the rain. I couldn’t believe it. This was surely more about local politics and giving the home players an easier ride? We were not having any of it and went straight to the referee’s office and told them what we thought of their scheduling! The main reason however, John (Pat’s dad and coach) was spitting feathers was that Pat had previously sustained a bad wrist injury during a singles match after previously playing two, three setters and playing a doubles match on the same day and had to take 3 months off tennis. Finally, after more than an hour of negotiation talk they gave in and we were scheduled to play at 12.30 then next day. We let out a sigh of relief!
Day 5 - Quarter Finals doubles day
Day 5- QF doubles day! We woke up at 9.30 and went to watch the intensity of the singles semifinals and then popped down the road to get a decent breakfast. Minute by minute it was reaching 12.30! I was so excited to go on court to teach the Spanish a lesson! However, it did not go to plan and we lost
6-2 6-3 to the Spanish people’s delight. It’s fair to say the quality of all the Spanish players was every bit as high as we had expected, if not better. A good lesson learnt, being solid wasn’t good enough at this level. When we get home it would be back to the drawing board and a lot of work required on the practice court!
Playing football was fun
With the tournament done it was nice to play some football with the Spanish players which was a great laugh after the intensity of the tennis.
Day 6 - Being tennis mad we hung around an extra day to watch the finals which must have gone down well as the referee allowed us the use of the courts for practice sessions for the rest of our stay.
All we had to do now was book our flights home. Let’s say, that job turned out to be trickier than expected. It was after all the last weekend of the summer holidays!