Today I won my first round in Chile, against Carmen Bilbeny, a member of the Estancio Espanol Club. When we were given a court assignment, I heard Court 2 or Pisa dos, but someone was already there; we played on Court 6 in the end. Carmen speaks no English but her club doubles partner was fluent in English and helped translate when we needed it which wasn’t often. She hit well in warm up, smacking the ball with her forehand (her backhand technique was sketchy, but her backhand was pretty effective). However, when play began she didn’t hit it as hard and was quite vulnerable to drop shots. I won 60 60. I hit one serve to the center on the ad court and thought it was an ace; however when I looked at the mark there was a gap in the center line so who knows whether it was touching the mythical line or not! The court was better than the ones I’d been practicing on, but there were still a lot of bad bounces, since the courts are soft. You have to just be prepared for balls to bounce low, high, or sideways at any time. After the match I went to watch the other two players in the round robin, Shirley Friedl from Austria and Rosangela Fritelli from Brazil. They were in the second set and Fritelli had won the first 64. Friedl won the second 64 and was up 2/0 when I left and looked like she was the fresher of the two. They were on court 11 which had more bad bounces than court 6 but were handling it well. I play Friedl tomorrow.
The scheduling is interesting. Friedl, who played singles at 8:30 am is scheduled for mixed at 8:30pm! That’s most likely because the men weren’t playing till mid-afternoon and men’s doubles also started today. There aren’t a ton of courts here but one is being used for practice which is good. All of the women’s matches were at 8:30 or 10…the men all played later. 8:30 is good if you aren’t playing mixed.
Yesterday I got to hit quite a lot. I warmed up Heide Orth at 7:30 for her 8:30 match (she returned the favor today, even though she had the day off). Then I hit some with Nanda Fischer from Germany (and Newport Beach, CA), then hit again with Heide and in the afternoon got in 45 minutes with Marc Pepin of Canada. So I am getting used to the courts but the ball is still flying some for me. It’s about 1750 feet here in Santiago. I also got a massage…$26 for 50 minutes (the dollar is the boss here).
There was a cocktail party last night at 8:30 with some wine and champagne and light hors d’oerves and dancers and speeches (long and in Spanish).
Everyone here is very nice and so is the club…it’s a good atmosphere.