I played the singles final, and the doubles semis and final both today. I played Jutta Boekmann in the singles final and won 60 60, though she had several game points. It was a good style matchup for me, plus I scouted her yesterday and had a good idea how to play her. After about an hour break we played the doubles semis a bit early against Yvette DeRoche and Christina Gehrke. We won 61 60 and then played the doubles final almost immediately after against Sylvia Balkow and Gabriele Meier and won 60 60, though we had many fun points. So Essen is done for this year, I have the day off tomorrow to go to Dusseldorf and then on to Barcelona on Sunday morning.
I watched a few matches including the 30 singles final against two ridiculously young looking “seniors”; Ellen Neumann, Heidi Eisterlehner, Keith Porter and Fritz Raijmakers and Haim Ohn.
I had a pretty easy semi today. The woman I played, Corrine Franoux (France) had a three hour semi yesterday and a two hour match the day before and fit as she was, it slowed her down a bit. I won 60 60. Her running was good but her technique let her down. I play Jutta Boekmann in the final. She had a two hour match with the #3 seed, Sylvia Lievers-Kronenburg. I warmed up with Sylvia this morning and did think they would have a good match. It was punch (Sylvia)/counterpunch (Jutta), and Jutta in particular made very good use of the drop shot, and anticipated Sylvia’s responses well.
The weather looks iffy tomorrow…hopefully we’ll get to play on clay and not indoors on carpet (or I will have to get carpet shoes, which have smooth soles).
Jutta and I also will play doubles tomorrow, assuming out opponents get their match in later this afternoon…the forecast apparently is dire.
Heide Orth lost her final today to Barbara Von Ende 62 63…my warmup must not have been good enough today. Von Ende though gets a lot of balls back and is very fit (as is Heide).
I started today by somehow getting lost on the way to the courts (I think my gps was set to the wrong address)…somehow I got to the club though and had good warm ups with Heide Orth and Heidi Eisterlehner at 9am. Since I didn’t play till 1:30 I think went back to the hotel for a while (didn’t get lost 👍).
I played Jutta Brandtmann at 1:30. She had a nice big forehand, but missed a fair amount. I won 60 60, but I play a much better player tomorrow, a French player, Corrine Franoux, who edged the 4th seeded Swiss player, Yvette de Roche 63 67 76 (5). We were set to play at noon but now play at 10:30. She’s either in great shape or tired…or both. On the other side of the draw, Jutta Boekmann beat #2 Dagmar Sperneder 62 61 and plays #3 Sylvia Lievers-Kronenburg next. They play at noon so I can scout that match.
The lines here are thin and perforated, and brushed with a thin brush (sometimes) after sweeping the court with a mat.
We are playing with Dunlop tournament balls, which are good balls…they should be, one can costs 12.5 euros (for 4 balls), or about $15!
I am playing with Boekmann in doubles but we don’t play till Friday afternoon.
Today was another practice day in Essen. I hit quite a bit, first with Heide Orth (what a beautiful backhand and deadly drop shot), then with Heidi Eisterlehner (also a beautiful backhand!), then with Haim Ohn, the men’s 65s 9th seed, from Israel who was nice enough to hit with me. He’s a lefty with a great serve and forehand (massive topspin). I broke a string against him, the third one since I arrived June 24th. In Spain labor was 9 euros (about $11) a racquet (with my own string); here it is 15 euros (about $18). It was quite windy today especially in the afternoon. Below are photos from the courts around 9:30…two were very wet and two were dry; the Women’s 65 draw, and the flags blowing full out around 2pm.
I went back to the hotel mid-afternoon and decided to do a load of washing while I was at the gym (the laundry room is off the gym). The machines are controlled by an app called Wewash…no coins needed. The app is pretty cool…you can reserve a washer or dryer or see if it’s occupied before going downstairs and when the load is done you get a notification.
I cooked my pfifferlinge (chanterelles) tonight and added them to pasta (with tomatoes, a little butter)…very good.
Tomorrow I play my first match at 1:30 pm. I am warming up early, 9am, and after my match I have to change out my rental car because I was notified there was a recall on it. I have a Toyota Yaris which is quite small, perfect for the small parking spots at the club, and pretty much everywhere in Europe.
I ran errands early, grocery stores and picked up my newly strung racquet.
I went to a Rewe, a supermarket chain here. I found more of the colored German eggs. I read about them yesterday and found out they are boiled eggs “Brotzeit Eier”. They used to be available only at Easter but now are available year round. I also found more chocolate and some water, with and without bubbles. I also got some German rolls. I know France is famous for its baguettes but to me, the bread in Germany is unsurpassed. There’s lots of whole grain rolls with nuts and seeds, and they are reasonably priced and delicious.
Next I went to Aldi. Aldi also owns Trader Joe’s, and had several items sold under the Trader Joe’s name, including peanut butter and pistachios. I found pfifferlings (a type of mushroom, chanterelles in the USA) there (they will make an excellent addition to a pasta dish.)
At both Aldi and Rewe they had a sign “Kundenparkplatz” and either 1 or 1.5 std. “maximal parkdauer”. It means you have to display this device on your dashboard (every car comes with one), with the time set to hour you left the car, or you can be towed.
After picking up my racquet and a can of balls (12.5 euros for 4 balls…about $15 a can!), I had lunch. Of course I had to try one of the colored eggs (which of course were not refrigerated). It was surprisingly delicious, perfectly cooked.
I practiced a bit in the afternoon with Dagy Spernader for an hour or so, and it was raining most of the time. After that Heide Orth and Heidi Eisterlehner arrived and we joined Dagy and Sabine and a few others to catch up. I think I am warming up both Heide and Heidi tomorrow and also hitting with Dagy and Sabine!
Sunday in Germany is mostly a rest day…few stores are open other than at airports and railway stations, or gas stations, and restaurants are open. I had a pretty relaxing day as well…when in Germany…
After lunch, with an eye on the weather (rain was forecast), I drove to the ETUF Essen, where the tournament will be held. I saw the TD, Sabine Schmitz, and Fritz and Dagy from Netherlands and Austria. Sabine had set me up to hit with a friend and practice partner of hers and we had an excellent hit, even though it was raining, at times pretty hard, during the first 45 minutes or so. I didn’t even take a jacket with me to practice…it was warm enough when I left but in the mid 60s and damp when we finished. My hat was soaked when we finished and my racket handle was slipper than when I play in 90 degrees temperature and humidity in Florida!
After hitting we joined Sabine and her friends in the restaurant for drinks (they drank, I listened). It was nice to be back at a European tournament.
The Etuf Essen club is on the Baldeneysee, a lake created by damming part of the Ruhr river. The club has sailing, soccer and hockey, golf and of course tennis. The restaurant has a large terrace in addition to nice indoor seating.
It was a “hurry up and wait” sort of morning Saturday. I left my Airbnb early, before 6 am (finally saw a sunrise in Spain). Luckily I bought fuel the day before because the gas station at the airport was packed. My fuel gauge was still close to full so I passed. Good thing because I followed the GPS (google maps), not the rental car signs to the airport and ended up first in the drop off area, then in the parking garage (and it was tricky to exit… I owed 65 cents and the credit card payment wouldn’t process at the exit gate.. it took 15 minutes to exit). The rental car return signs are small but once I abandoned GPS I found them and returned the car.
I flew Eurowings to Düsseldorf. It’s a discount airline owned by Lufthansa. I don’t really pack well to fly discount airlines but after figuring out where to check in (tip: take the elevator outside the terminal to the 2nd floor to check in. You won’t be admitted into the arrivals area.) and showing my vaccination card and passport (and paying a bag fee, since one small carryon only is allowed), I was good to go through security. FYI there was a COVID testing spot at the airport and the line was long. Take a self antigen test with you if you aren’t vaccinated or are returning to the USA and take it the day before flying.
Another tip: go upstairs to go through security unless you are traveling to another Baleric Island. There’s an escalator by the front of the terminal.
Once in the terminal the waiting began. We left the terminal 30 minutes late. As is common in Europe, buses took us from the terminal to the plane. In this one terminal there were so many airlines: Eurowings of course, Lufthansa, Ryan Air, Lauda, Norwegian, Wizz Air, Easy Jet and more. Europe feels like one country in some ways but this was definitely an international terminal.
Upon arrival in Germany, unlike in Spain, I didn’t have to show any proof of a covid test or vaccination which surprised me. So the check-in personnel at the airport are the ones validating vaccination cards or covid tests, at least traveling from Mallorca to Germany. And no one asked me how long I had been in Spain. Mallorca is considered a low risk area.
In Dusseldorf is in the North Rhine-Westphalia state, about 45 minutes north of Cologne, is not really a big tourist destination. The airport wasn’t super busy, but was not empty. The rental car pickup is on airport ground but quite a walk. I rented from Alamo and it was on the 7th floor of the parking garage and was pretty much deserted. There were only a few cars there and no line for once.
After driving to Essen, (30 minutes north of Dusseldorf) and I checked into my hotel (and there I was asked for a negative covid test…I showed my vaccine so I was ok). I then went to get my racquet strung at Tennis Point (which recently I believe bought Midwest Sports, an online retailer in the USA..or the other way around). This is a big retailer what sells lots of racquets, balls, shoes, accessories, bags, and clothes. There are different brands than we normally see in the USA, such as Bidi Badu, Ellesse, Lotto for clothes, and there were large numbers of clay court shoes and even some indoor shoes (smooth soled). In the USA K-Swiss doesn’t normally sell clay shoes but there were a large number of them in the store. I bought a can of balls and paid for my racquet and it was on the next stop.
I went to Decathalon to get an exercise mat (about $3), and came across a large grocery/variety store, so of course I had to check it out. It was another large store like the one in Spain which sold everything from washing machines to candy bars, but not quite as nice, particularly the produce. There was more bread but less ham (still a lot) and of course a huge number of yogurt and quark options. The chocolate and candy aisles were larger too. Since I was in Germany I bought some Ritter Sport bars, which were present in large quantity, variety and low in price (about $1-2 for a 100 gram bar).
After dropping off the items at the hotel I walked to a nearby Lidl which happened to be at the train station. I am also near the center where there are some pedestrian streets full of shops and people who were enjoying their Saturday afternoon.
Later today I am hitting at ETUF-Essen where the tournament is set to take place. Weather permitting…looks like there will be some thunderstorms in the afternoon.