04 February, 2010 | 15:02
January 12 – We are scheduled to meet Duclos and Siljestrom 4th match from 10am. Siljestrom is massive – I think about 6”9 – 6”10 – and so it’s a bit of an awkward match for us even though I know we are much better than them. However the singles matches preceding us take forever and we don’t have enough light to get it finished. They have floodlights on the two outside courts but they are horrific and there is no way I’m risking losing because we couldn’t see the ball for the last 20mins and most important part of the match so we get postponed until the following day.
Jan 13 – We play second match from 11am on centre court but the first match has a 1:45hrs first set and so we don’t go on court until after 2pm. That’s another thing by the way that kills the tennis player - unknown time of day. If they go long you could literally be hanging around all day waiting to play.
Anyway we get the job done pretty sufficiently 6-4 6-4 and are helped by Siljestrom rolling his ankle at 4-3 in the second set. He struggled after that and the match was ours. It wasn’t a vintage performance and we didn’t expect it to be but our only goal was to win and we achieved that so we’re pleased with our days work.
Now we’re part of the tournament.
Mentally it was not the easiest match to play. We had spent a fortune getting to Salinas and even if we go on to win the tournament we are not even close to breaking even. This week, for us, is all about the ranking points – 80 puntos for the winners. The conditions aren’t ideal for great tennis and on top of that we have an awkward encounter against an unknown quantity – The BFG and his mate! But we got through unscathed and now we’re only looking ahead – pressure off.
Jan 14 – We play a good solid match to beat Bednarek and Kowalszcek 6-4 6-4. They lost in the final last week in Sao Paulo and did well on the challenger circuit in the second half of last season so we expected a tough match. We were returning well and had multiple break point chances in every game in the first set but it took us until 5-4 to finally break serve. Out of nowhere we dropped Jonny’s opening service game to give them a lead but we won 4 games in a row from 2-4 to get thru in straight sets. All in all it was a comfortable victory. I would like to have seen the stats for the match because I reckon we would have won over 20 points more than them as we held serve so easily throughout the match (except the 1 game we got bust) and had them at deuce on their serve in every game bar 2. Domination.
The only thing that was mildly frustrating was the amount of chances it took us to finally get our breaks. We didn’t seem to quite make it happen when it mattered most and better opponents may have made us pay for that. Those matches can sometimes come back to bite you in the ass but we stayed tough and got it done.
Jan 15 – We smashed up a couple of Brazilians – Demoliner and Guidolin – 6-2 6-1. ROUT! Again we played really tough on serve only dropping a handful of points and made more than enough returns. We were helped by our opponents’ inability to make a volley throughout the whole match, however! And the one time they did make a good volley, the linesman, only to be overruled by the umpire, called it out!
I’m looking forward to our first final of the year against the Ratiwatana twins. I have never played them before but I think we have a great chance to get a title on the board and get the year off to a more than positive start.
Jan 16 - We beat the twins 64 64 under the lights to take home the title in Salinas! We played a good match throughout until a couple hairy moments in the last game but overall it was a professional performance against a decent team. That's our 3rd title toegther in 5 starts and if we keep performing to that level throughoutn the week I'm sure we can get more.
I spent the past week, following our run in Salinas, with Alejandra’s family and friends in Bogota. We stayed on as we had to wait until Tuesday to find out if we got into any of the tour events in a couple weeks time and it turned out we didn’t so we decided to extend our stay and play a challenger in Bucaramanga (45min flight from Bogota) the following week.
We stayed with Alej’s brother Camilo and his wife Catalina and each day spent time with other members of the family or friends of Alej. My favourite part of the week was going to Jamaical – the home of my GF’s grandparents – one of the best places I have ever been to in my life! It is about 40mins outside of Bogota up in the hills in the beautiful countryside. It is so peaceful – there are literally no sounds – and you have so much open space to yourself – a world away from London or bottled up in a hotel room! Alej always told me how it’s her favourite place to be and I can see why. You instantly feel relaxed and it reminded me a lot of being home in Scotland with all the green around you and the slower pace of life. miss it a lot!
I ate like a King during my whole stay in Bogota as we were taken to some great restaurants! Bogota is certainly not short of good feeding joints! We tried traditional Colombian food such as bandeja paisa, tamales, arepa and ajiaco as well some great meat.
We managed to practice a couple times which was an experience given that the city is about 2600m above sea level! Breathing is difficult just walking around let alone running around a tennis court and to top it off the balls are flying around. We played golf on our last day and I hit a 380yd drive! That’s how much of a difference it makes!
By the time we left Bogota I was ready to get to a tournament and get my mind focused on playing again. Too much holiday time and my mind goes soft, so even though I had a great week meeting everybody and touring the city, I was ready to pack up and get to Bucaramanga.
As it turned out we need not have bothered as we played a cack match in the quarterfinals to lose to Alves/Mello. Not our finest hour but it had been a stressful day for us and I don’t think neither of us was really in the zone for playing a good match.
Basically that morning we had woken up to find we had got accepted into both Zagreb and Johannesburg tour events the following week and had that day to decide where we wanted to go play. Normally we would have an immediate preference, based on size of tournament or logistics but the problem was we were in Colombia and either journey was going to be a mission. For most of the day we were trying to decide where to go and sort out flights for each place but it was proving a nightmare and pretty stressful. It seems like there is a bit of a monopoly on flights in South America as there doesn’t seem to be many airlines and therefore flying is expensive and also very busy. Ideally we wanted to go to Sao Paulo to then fly home as we had our return flight booked from there or we had the option of flying direct to Jo’burg but it was impossible to get to Sao Paulo until the following Monday so we had to find alternate routes. Eventually it had to be Zagreb. We booked flights to Miami and then I used my air miles to get from Miami to London. 25000miles and 57quid – can’t complain. It also meant I could spend the night in London and fly to Zagreb on Sunday. Perfect.
I arrived on Sunday to Zagreb – having swapped the sun for the cold - but happy to have the opportunity to play a tour event. These are the weeks that we need to perform well in if we are to move up the rankings.
I was instantly reminded of the grind of the indoor season as we couldn’t practice until 930pm that evening after the qualifying matches had finished. Like most indoor events, there is a severe lack of practice courts in Zagreb – a total of 1 – and that court is in a gym hall with a severe lack of light and has been badly laid down contributing to poor training conditions.
All this results in players practicing really early morning or last thing at night on the match courts. On Tuesday we practiced at 1030pm just so we could get on the match courts before we played our first round. Lots of long boring days to look forward to over the next few weeks!
Wed 3rd Feb
Today we went down to the Germans yet amazingly we were never once down in the match! Yes it's possible! We lost 2-6 7-6 10-7. Gutted! We played a very good match and really should have managed to find a break in the second set but just didn’t quite get the luck I thought we deserved at the right moments. Really frustrating match to lose as this week was a great chance for us to win matches on the main tour with decent points up for grabs and to lose having dominated a match so much really hurts. Of course it was pleasing to put in a good performance but at the end of the day it’s all about winning and we didn’t so back to the hotel to pack up and go home.
Next up Bergamo