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  • The Seville Cathedral, Real Alcazar: Sevilla!

    Sevilla, Espana

    August 21, 2019

    Yesterday, Tuesday, was Day 3 of our Spanish tour and it was another long, fun day…though Robin did comment that touring was much harder and more exhausting than playing tennis! We had an early start with a 6am taxi ordered, since there was a warning of a security personnel strike in Barcelona. The check in and security though went smoothly there. We flew Vueling, a discount Spanish airline and again were bused from the terminal to the plane…then back as there was a mechanical problem. We got going though only about 90 minutes late and were in Seville by about noon.

    After dropping off luggage and getting a picnic lunch, we headed out to the Seville Cathedral, the larges gothic church in the world, and the biggest cathedral (previously the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was the largest cathedral in the world). It has a massive footprint (to completely cover the mosque that stood there before the cathedral). It was built starting in 1434 and finished in the early 16th century. It is so massive…it’s hard to imagine how it was built, obviously with manpower only. And it’s beautiful…the choir room, the organs and the massive nave and the Gothic retalbo carved in wood of scenes of Christ (it looks like gold). Christopher Columbus and his son Diego along with Kings are buried there. I spent 90 minutes walking around it, before we climbed the tower or Giraldo or bell tower. Unlike other churches in Europe I’ve been in, there’s a ramp up to all but the last floor, wide enough for horses to carry supplies up. There were 34 turns before we reached the staircase, each numbered. the tower is 343 feet high, and the view from the top was great. It’s hot here and I saw a lot of people enjoying swimming pools yesterday. We could also see the bull ring (for bull fighting).

    After visiting the church we had a half hour break then went to the Real Alcazar, a Royal Palace, which, like the cathedral, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jenny Cerff had to leave today so we maximized her time here. Gayle Prejean, a Texas player, joined us later in the day in the palace gardens. The architecture is in the Mudéjar style, a blend of Muslim and Spanish style. The interiors have lots of carved plaster and tile which are very interesting and beautiful, even the ceilings, and an interior courtyard with a long rectangular reflecting pool. The gardens are extensive and include a maze, fountains and peacocks.

    I went exploring and eventually texted Susan to ask where she was…her response…in the garden…well there are 13 gardens at the Alcazar. Eventually Tim and I found them because I asked Gayle to text us a photo of where they were.

    By the time we exited it was 7:30…and I’d exhausted everyone except Tracey. We checked in, got some food and today will have a more relaxing day checking out Seville (and it’s going to be 100+ here today…feels a lot like the Central Valley of California).

    Sagrada Familia & Gothic Quarter

    Guell Park, Casa Mila, & Susan Ate Paella: Barcelona Day 2

  • Sagrada Familia & Gothic Quarter

    Barcelona, Spain

    Sunday August 18, 2019

    Barcelona…hot, muggy, crowded and wonderful. We had a late start to the day since we arrived here about 1:30am from Lisbon. Susan’s husband Tim flew from the States and arrived early in the morning and let us into the apartment we rented.

    In the morning Tracey & Robin and Susan & Tim decided to go to the Gaudi House, Casa Batilo today. I strongly recommended it, but as I had been twice, didn’t go a third time. Jenny and I instead headed out in search of the Gothic Quarter and eventually found it, and the Barcelona Cathedral. It was closed to tourists in the morning, since it was Sunday, but the outside, with its Gothic and Gaudi influences, is impressive.

    We wandered back a different way, visiting some small booths of handmade items and past Placa Catalunya and some fountains, to meet up with the rest of the group. We wandered back as a group to the Gothic Quarter and had a tapas lunch (yes, even Susan, a hmmm how to put it….less adventurous eater than most.

    We then taxied to the Sagrada Familia where we had a 4:15 entrance. Sagrada Familia is an amazing church, unlike any other. Gaudi saw things so different from normal mortals…I think he saw the world of architecture like Federer sees and tennis ball and court…differently from mere mortals. We went up the Nativity tower and the views were nice, and we could see part of the cathedral’s decorative elements up close. The light both before and after that excursion was really good that time of day and warm, with the sun coming in the warm colored stained glass windows.

    Tomorrow we get another early start, so that’s all for now.

  • Hola Mallorca…Hace Caliente!

    Bunyola, Mallorca, Spain

    Today was another travel day. I flew from Bordeaux (did you know that in Europe, some airlines…looking at you Vueling…charge for bags by the leg, not by the trip?).

    My bags and I made it from Bordeaux to Barcelona to Mallorca. The flight from Barcelona to Mallorca takes about 30 minutes but we sat on the runway for a long time so arrived just a bit late. Vueling runs planes back and forth about every hour, so by the end of the day the planes are usually late. Flying early in the day paid off.

    I picked up a rental car, successfully changed the language from German to English and found both my airbnb and the tennis facility, which are only about 10 minutes apart.

    It was Sunday afternoon when I arrived so naturally most stores were closed, though I got water and sandwich makings at a gas station. And a very fresh baguette, something one doesn’t see in a gas station convenience store at home.

    Mallorca is a pretty island…lots of coastline of course but also lots of hills. From the “outskirts” of Bunyola (it’s a one street town) I could see the sea, and the mountains were back up against the town on the other side.

    It was really warm when I arrived, in the upper 90s at 2pm, but cooled off to the 80s by 8pm. I walked down the street and there were a lot of people at outdoor restaurants and cafes (not eating yet…too early), and quite a few bicyclists, motorbikes, and a few pedestrians.

    Bunyola has a small train station and I saw a wooden train stop. Hopefully I’ll have time to take a ride on it into the mountains later in the week.

    Tomorrow I’m off to train, getting ready for the worlds in Portugal which start in two weeks.

  • Saturday Success in Spain

    The Barcelona tournament came to an end yesterday, with finals played in most divisions followed by an awards ceremony.

    I won my singles over Carmen Chilleda from Madrid and was successful. The tournament had pretty glass trophies to go with prize money for the winners and losing finalists. For doubles three was a trophy.

    I watched Heide Orth play Michelle Bichon (Bichon won) with Ellen and Lutz Neumann, then packed to get ready for an early flight to Bordeaux where I play Monday.

    Adios Barcelona, Bon Jour Bordeaux.

  • Friday Night Doubles Under the Lights

    Kerry Ballard and I won the doubles last night under the lights. It was the day that Isner/Anderson threw off the Wimbledon schedule and people were looking at the live scores on their phones. We played just before dusk, around 8pm against Ingrid Bruckner and Sylvia Singer from Austria. Kerry is a superb doubles player and hit winning volleys all night long. I hit a few and some forehand angles. Our opponents were very vocal, commenting on our shots mid point, but we won 60 60. Kerry was literally hungry and went straight to get some pasta when we finished.

    Here is a photo of Kerry, Ingrid and Sylvia with me.

    Andrew Rae and American Dan Grossman were in action here:

    I watched the end of the 50s mixed semis which ended up 8-6 in the tiebreak. Ellen Neumann of Germany played with a Swedish player against two Italians. The Italian woman, Scola, is the top seed in singles and never went to the net. When her partner served they played 2 back Australian style, since she never wanted to hit a backhand. She drove her forehand well though and is quick; she hid her backhand but lobbed well when necessary and the Italians were the winners.

    Yesterday I finally went into the city on the subway and got off right by Casa Batillo where there were hoards of tourists. I was actually going to Uniqlo and wanted to go to Unde50 but ran out of time…beautiful buildings in that area though. 

    I practiced this morning and then walked by the horse jumping area. On the opposite side are the Padel courts of the club.

    I play my singles final at 5pm and tomorrow morning early am off for Bordeaux where I play Monday afternoon with much heavier balls in the daylight!



  • Barcelona Finals

    Today was a mellow day. I warmed up, practiced with Heide Orth for an hour at 11:30, iced, stretched, washed clothes in the sink (I am going to hug my washing machine when I get home), and took the subway to El Cortez Inges for some fruit and chocolate. Then after a late lunch it was time to warm up again and play my 6pm semifinal, which I won 61 60 over Mireia De Gispert Talavera (she said to call her Mary). Not an exciting day but a nice one.

    After my match, I scouted my potential opponents who ended up playing three sets, and saw the end of my doubles partner’s match. Kerry Ballard won 61 61 but the rallies were tough. My opponent is the woman at the far end in this photo.

    There are a few Americans here…I spotted Polo Cowan and Daniel Grossman, who play in the 50s and Grossman also plays in the 65s with Andrew Rae at times.

    Julie Dybendahl, an Aussie who lives in the USA is here too.

    One thing nice about this tournament is that people come out in the evenings to watch matches and have a bite to eat from one of the food truck’s in the courtyard area outside the tournament office. So it’s a good chance to see other players and have a chat.

    Kerry and I play two Austrians tomorrow for the doubles title and we play our respective singles finals Saturday.

    Draws are here.

  • Barcelona!

    I left Düsseldorf Monday afternoon for Barcelona. I took Norwegian Airlines and it was fine full of vacation goers and families. We left a little late but arrived on time and my luggage arrived as well. As you can see, there are not one but 2 languages to consider here, Catalan (at the top, a blend of French and Spanish) and Spanish. L;;

    It’s hot in Barcelona! In the high 80s and humid. It’s a much more casual atmosphere than Düsseldorf or Essen.

    There are a lot of differences between this tournament and Essen. Both are played on red clay but the clay here in Barcelona is harder and higher bouncing. The Club is huge and has soccer fields, Polo Fields (it is the Real Club de Polo after all), a pool and extensive lockers, and Padel (a paddle sport played in a cage on a carpet with sand) courts. Here the lines are painted onto the courts and the bounce when the ball hits the line isn’t as variable as in Essen where there were nailed on lines, but the ball skids when it hits the line, the difference between hitting a slow clay court and a fast hard court. . The balls are quite different. We used the Dunlop Fort Germany in Essen, which is a heavy ball. Here they are using a Wilson US Open heavy duty (hard court) ball which feels quite light in comparison, plus it’s warmer. The style of play of the Spanish is different too, much more topspin, and fewer continental grips observed.

    I played yesterday. The tournament begins at 6pm every day (5pm on the final day) and the last matches are scheduled for 10:30pm. I played at 6pm against a Spanish player who was very fast but not very experienced. She came from Padel and ran for everything but couldn’t finish a point very well and I won 60 60 in just over an hour. I am playing doubles here because the draw is small..8 in singles and 4 doubles teams, spread out over 5 days. However, we did have to play doubles Tuesday night at 10:30! That was pretty weird and I was pretty sleepy. Kerry Ballard (Australia 65s) and I won 61 60 against my singles opponent and her friend. It was fun, they tried hard and Kerry played great.

    This club is enormous with tons of courts, soccer fields, a polo field, swimming pools, restaurants and more. At night the tournament really wakes up. There are food trucks and kiosks and lots of people sitting around chatting and waiting to play.

    The “no coaching” rule doesn’t seem to apply to this tournament. My opponent was talking to her friends constantly during our match in rapid Catalan.

    Word of the day: Confitura (jam)

    It is good to understand how to keep score in the language of whichever country one is playing. I can do this in Spanish, French and German but spelling it…next blog.

    Draws are here. My draws are below. To give you a feel of the timing of this event, it’s 11:12 pm here and the order of play for tomorrow is not posted yet!

  • Barcelona Champion: Tennis All Night

    Yesterday I won the 60 singles in Barcelona, beating the British Clay Court champion, Kim Reed,  62 61 in the final. I played very consistently, but the match was closer than the score, we had some long games and long rallies. We started early for Barcelona, at 5pm and finished just before 7pm. Our doubles was scheduled for 6:30pm but three of the four participants were still playing at 6:30. Erin lost a tough two-setter to Beatrix Mezger Reboul 75 64 and Kerry Ballard fell to Carmen Perera. We started about 8pm against Leanne Swaysland and Kerry and finished just before  11pm, losing 57 75 10-8. It was just a few points that separated us and was a good match.


    We finally got back to the hotel around midnight and packed up for the tirp to Bordeaux today.

    Other winners included Heide Orth, W75, King Van Nostrand, M80 and in mixed, MJ Pachl won the 55s.

    Today Erin, Hannah and I went to Casa Battlo, created by Gaudi around the turn of the last century. It has a water/ocean based theme on the inside and is creative, livable and pretty.

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    After that visit we walked through the Gothic quarter before heading back to the hotel.

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    We flew to Bordeaux and then had a long wait in line when we got off the airplane, as there was a passport check, even though we were flying from a Schengen country, probably due to the terrorism lately in France. We found our apartment, then wandered around Bordeaux and had dinner in the square by the church. Now we have to get used to getting up early and playing tennis before dusk!

    cathedralCANHannah Erin

    Photos from Barcelona: https://photos.app.goo.gl/alD0rfmCbTXULVv63

    Photos from Bordeaux: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ty4X78LOmIxqKDnv2

    Draws: Barcelona: http://www.itftennis.com/seniors/tournaments/tournament/info.aspx?tournamentid=1100038580

    Draws: Bordeaux: http://www.itftennis.com/seniors/tournaments/tournament/info.aspx?tournamentid=1100039294

  • Success in the Semis in Barcelona

    Today was much like yesterday; Erin Boynton and I practiced in the afternoon after a late breakfast, then got ready for our evening matches. We played at 6pm singles and 7pm for doubles.

    I played the #3 seed Encarnita Gomez Ruiz and won 60 60. We had some good points and she was quite a bit stronger than my opponent yesterday. I play Kim Reed from Great Britain (though she lives in Spain) tomorrow. She won easily in the semis and is a very good player so it will be a tough match tomorrow. She’s steady, fast and crafty.

    Erin Boynton broke her opponent…she played the top seed Laura DiVittori and won 61 40 ret. She lost to DiVittori by similar scores a couple of years ago but is playing much better. After DiVittori retired with a foot injury Erin, as Erin does helped her figure out what her injury was and told her how to help it get better. So she basically broke her then fixed her!

    We were scheduled for 6pm singles and 7:30 pm doubles but started doubles around 8pm since we needed to change and Erin had to fix Laura. It’s not been hot her but it’s been quite humid. Today was particularly mild as it was overcast all day.

    We played doubles on court 35 which as one player, Quentin Massey said meant you have to take Bus #16 and change to the #25 to get to the court…this place is huge and we were a loooooong way from the clubhouse by the time we reached the court. There were singles sticks still on the court (and of course no sign of any referee…other than the one in the office I’ve not seen any sign of a roving referee all week) and the net was an inch low but there was no way to raise it. On the plus side, these nets are the tightest I’ve every seen which is great. And the groundspeople are doing a great job of prepping the courts before and between matches, sweeping, lining and watering them.

    Friday (2)

    We played two Austrian players and won 60 60 and finished around 8pm. Our probable doubles opponents tomorrow night, Kerry Ballard and Leanne Swaysland, were scheduled for 10:30 and Kerry just started her singles around 9pm!

    The tournament has food trucks, one with pasta etc, one with gelato and ices, one with local things like prosciutto, melon and lettuce salad (very good), hamburgers and steak and another with snacks, sandwiches and wine. Tomorrow we think we play at 5pm with doubles to follow.

    Draws can be found here: http://www.itftennis.com/seniors/tournaments/tournament/info.aspx?tournamentid=1100038580

    Photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/alD0rfmCbTXULVv63

  • Barcelona: Tennis Under the Lights

    I played my first round match last night at dusk. I was scheduled for 7:30 and got on closer to 8pm. I was fortunately following King Van Nostrand, who wrapped up a win here in the men’s 80s right before my match. I played Patricia Labat Laberrere from France. I’d played her a couple of years earlier in Mallorca and we had good points there. I was a bit more aggressive this time I think and won 60 60…we didn’t have a lot of long rallies and finished just about sunset, and the lights had come on over our court.

    party thursday (1)


    Erin Boynton played a Spanish player and won 60 64. Her court was out in the back and had the older style lights and one light was out (though she said she never realized it). Her match started late this time because her opponent was 30 minutes late because she drove and couldn’t find parking. (The tournament had sent out an advisory to players that there would be no parking on Thursday due to a 120th Club Anniversary bash.) So it was pretty dark on that court and as it got cooler and the balls heavier, her opponent came alive and got a lot of balls back. Erin adjusted and won about every other point with a drop shot!

    The anniversary party went on apparently till 2:30 am…my room was on the opposite side of the hotel from the party but Erin’s was just above the party which apparently featured a horrible singer till 2:30am. The club was issued a permit to have loud music till 2:30am too so there was no way to stop the racket. It’s Spain. (Erin’s room is on the left side in the photo below…mine on the right..I was lucky!)

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    Tonight I play the 3rd seed, Encarnita Gomes Ruiz from Spain and Erin plays the top seed, Laura DiVittori from Italy. Then we play a couple of Austrians in doubles. (We last played doubles 3 days ago! ) We start at 6pm for singles and have doubles scheduled at 7:30 which is pretty optimistic scheduling by the referee I think.

  • Sightseeing by Day, Tennis at Night in Barcelona

    This week I’m playing a Grade A tournament in Barcelona, Spain. The tournament is quite unusual in that play only begins at 6pm each night and the last matches are scheduled not before 10:30pm! On Tuesday Erin Boynton from Canada and I played our first match, in 55 doubles, against two Spanish players, one of whom was a member of the Royal Polo Club where this event takes place. We played at 10:30 at night, under the lights and managed a 61 61 win. the match finished after 11pm so we had a long walk around the club back to our hotel, as the gate to the hotel from the club closes at 11pm.

    doubles at 1030 (1)


    The Royal Polo Club is huge, with soccer, field hockey, polo fields, Padel courts, and lots and lots of red clay courts, plus a clubhouse, restaurant and pool area. And just across the street is another tennis/padel/fitness club that’s also quite busy. Sport seems to be big here in Spain.

    It turned out that one of our opponents Magdalena (goes by Malen) is a curator at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Erin’s daughter Hannah just graduated with an Art History major, so she was delighted when she found this out. We ended up going to the museum yesterday, Wednesday and Malen gave Hannah a book on the museum that she’d help write. The Picasso museum here was mostly art from his early days. He was a child protégée, born in 1881 and most of the art was from the 1890s, but some was later. He actually painted landscapes and people who looked like people when he was young.

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    After leaving the museum we went to the nearby church which was beautiful. The whole gothic/old town area of Barcelona is quite interesting and vibrant. We walked to Las Ramblas to take the subway back to the hotel. We are pretty good at using the subway here by now. You can buy a 10 trip ticket which is convenient and not too expensive and the subway goes for miles.

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    Erin and I practiced in the late afternoon and Erin played a singles match in the evening. It was supposed to be a 7:30 match but started late since her opponent arrived late, in street clothes and then had to go back to her hotel to change, which she was allowed to do.

    The club really wakes up at night. There are food trucks at the tournament, some other booths and lots of people watching matches, eating dinner or waiting for matches.

    Today I play at 7:30 against a French player..7:30pm that is.

    Draws can be found here: http://www.itftennis.com/seniors/tournaments/tournament/info.aspx?tournamentid=1100038580

    Photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/alD0rfmCbTXULVv63

  • California —-> Barcelona

    It’s been a busy and very fun week. I went up to the Monterey/Pebble Beach California on the Central Coast for my niece’s fairytale wedding in Pebble Beach, where we had three perfect sunny days, a rarity in July on the northern and central coast…normally it’s foggy and cold…instead it was mild and sunny and oh so gorgeous. I did have time to visit a few of my favorite spots on 17 Mile Drive one morning.

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    After the wedding, I had a couple of hours sleep, then drove to San Francisco and flew to Barcelona for a tournament. The tournament is being held at the Royal Polo Club in Barcelona, a huge club with (you guessed it) polo fields and red clay courts…and padel courts (that was not a misspelling), and lots of soccer fields plus some nice pools and restaurants. The tournament is weird in that there is no play before 6pm and matches have starting times of 6, 7:30, 9 and 10:30. Tonight, Tuesday, I have a 10:30 doubles match! I’ve not played that late since it rained a lot at the 35 grass and we had to start a doubles match around midnight.

    I’m playing doubles with Erin Boynton from Canada. Yesterday Erin and I went to the grocery store for supplies, then  practiced. We were assigned court 28, but never actually found it, but luckily for us, there was another court open and we were able to hop on it for a couple of hours. Later Erin, her daughter Hannah and Iwent to a tapas restaurant and also had paella.  We walked by the Gaudi House, Casa Batillo, a really cool examle of his architecture.


    The courts here are pretty slow but the Babolat Roland Garros balls combined with the high bouncing red clay make the courts a little faster and definitely bouncier than the clay in Germany for example. The courts are pretty good though.

    There are lots of clay courts, padel courts and soccer fields near my hotel. The Polo club is on one side and, below, the David Lloyed club is on the other side.


  • Barker, Carter, King Take Singles Gold in Bocage

    Baton Rouge, LA, April 21, 2017

    I played Diane Barker in the final of the 60 clay courts and she won for about the 50th or so time against me…I’ve lost track, since we first played about 25 or so years ago. Today I lost 63 62 and had my moments…generally quashed by a laser guided missile in the form of a forehand or backhand that hit an inch from each line (or perhaps on the edge of the line) for a winner or near winner (in which case a volley to the open court ensued). Anyway, I ran, she pounded, rock beat scissors. It was actually a nearly two hour match with a lot of good points after the first few games, and a positive tournament. Back to work!


    In the 70s, Brenda Carter ran Leslie Pixley side to side till she couldn’t reach the last shot (must be a Charleston thing) and retained the clay court title she won last year with a 63 63 score.

    Roz King won the 80s yesterday over Dori DeVries.

    There’s a Super Cat II men’s event going on in Bocage through the weekend with many top men’s players there including Ross Persons, Fred Robinson, Hugh Thomson, and Oren Motevassel. Those draws can be found here:http://m.tennislink.usta.com/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=187854

    And that’s a wrap on the 60/70/80 Clay. Next up for me: 80+ father/daughter with my 92 year old dad in the California Desert town of Rancho Mirage in two weeks.

    Draws: http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=187853

    Photos: https://goo.gl/photos/qLNMdEqrZjAZCnX79

  • Barcelona Champion

    I played the singles final tonight against Carmen Perea who is a very nice player. I won 62 63 and it was a good match, as Carmen is an extremely experienced and smart player. However she’s not the best mover and that was probably the difference. I got a lot of balls back and served well; she also served well at times and changed up her strategy often. She also has nice touch and a terrific backhand.

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    Ross Persons, USA won the 60 men’s doubles and 55 mixed, both 76 retired. He did fall in the 60s final to the defending champion.

    Heide Orth and Kerry Ballard, my practice partners this week, both won their divisions in straight sets, Heide in the 70s and Kerry in the 65s. There are quite a lot of Aussies here; Andrew Rae won the 65 singles and doubles (with Quentin Massey, NZL); Quentin and Encarnita Gomez won the 60 mixed. Adriane Allee lost to Henri Cruchet in the 85 final but played well. Klartje Van Baarle won the 50 singles and 50 mixed with Randi.

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    I left after 11pm and the tables were packed for dinner still. There were quite a lot of spectators tonight too.

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    I saw the 45 singles champion lighting up a cigarette in front of a table that had about 20 empty beer cans. Training is definitely different in Barcelona!

    That’s a wrap on Barcelona; tomorrow off to Bordeaux!

    Barcelona draws and results.

    Bordeaux draws (from Sunday) and results.

  • Doubles Champions & Into Singles Final in Barcelona 

    Kerry Ballard and I are the 2016 W60 doubles champions in Barcelona, and we never had to take the court for a match!

    To recap:

    1. We entered 60 doubles
    2. We were put into the 55 doubles draw where we would have started in the quarters
    3. Next we were removed from the 55 draw and put into a 60 doubles RR with 2 Spanish teams
    4. We received a default from one team Wednesday
    5. Tonight after one of our opponents finished her 60 61 demolition of the #2 seed in 60 singles we were told we were receiving a default due to injury (which player was not specified)
    6. Therefore we won the 3-team round robin via two defaults!
    7. I play Carmen Perea, one half of the doubles team which gave us the walkover, in singles tomorrow 

    So Kerry and I both play singles finals tomorrow, and each of us has played only two matches all week!

    Heide Orth beat Sue Kimball 75 62 tonight. Ross Persons took out the top seed in men’s 60 singles, then won amen’s doubles semis, all while his potential singles opponents were battling it out. He plays the defending champion, a Spanish player, who, like Ross was unseeded.

    The Kimballs, Mos and Sue, are in the 65 mixed final tonight. (Updated: they won!)

    I won my singles today 60 60. I played the same person 4 years ago and felt I played better this time. I am ready for a tough battle tomorrow with Carmen Perea, a former pro who reached the third round of the French at one time.

    Link to draws and results

  • Tibidabo Mountain, Barcelona

    Today is Thursday; the tournament began Monday and so far I have played one match. It’s a good thing I have had Heide Orth and Kerry Ballard to practice with! Heide also had the day off (after also having yesterday off…I guess it’s a way to fill the hotels and keep players in the tournament longer).

    Today I hit with Heide, then along with Ludwig Orth we went to Tibidabo, which has great views fo Barcelona from the north-west of the city. It’s is 1,680 ft high making it the tallest mountain in the Serra de Collserola hill range. The Sacrat Cor church rises above the City. I saw the church and the statue on top of the church sparkling in the sun yesterday when I was practicing and googled “Barcelona Church on the Hill” and found out about it. Along with the church and views is an amusement park, mostly for younger kids, which opened in 1901!

    The views were really nice of the city and the beach. It was pretty clear and nice to see the Mediterranean Sea and the many sailboats. We took the elevator up from the second level of the church then I walked all the way to the top, but the views were nice from every level. There is also a hotel and a cafe at the mountain top.

    We took a taxi up but the bus back, which goes right to Catalunya in the middle of the city ; from there one can take a taxi or the metro most places in the city.

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    Mount Tibidabo in Barcelona, Spain.

    Order of play for today Friday, is now up with no matches before 6pm. We play the doubles final not before 9pm and I play singles at 6 pm.

  • Barcelona Grade A Wednesday

    I play my first round of singles and of doubles today, starting with singles at 6pm and doubles not before 9pm!

    In singles I play (to no surprise), a Spanish player, Silvana Gonzalez Lessa who is a pretty good player and just won a Grade 2 last month.

    60 S Draw

    Yesterday Kerry Ballard and I were in the 55 doubles with a draw of 10 teams and we didn’t have a match today. I think what happened is that after the draws were made  Carmen Perea and Rosa Togores were allowed to enter late  (they weren’t in the original draw) so there were 3 teams to make a 60s round robin. (Sala/Sala and Kerry and I were moved into the 60s.) Sometimes the ITF referees won’t allow any changes to draws once made and sometimes they apparently are extremely flexible.Or perhaps they had entered online and were overlooked when making the draw which may be the more logical interpretation. Anyway it happened, we  are happy to have a draw. We play Sala and Sala tonight!

    Update: I just received an email that we received a walkover tonight so I now only have a singles match at 6pm. Interesting…



    revised doubles drawOriginal 55 D Draw

    Last night I ran into Susan Kimball from the USA (though originally from GBR and since she’s just come from Britain, she sounds particularly British this week! She’s playing with her husband Mas in mixed 65s and also in 70 singles. She was happy to have beaten the #4 seed and defending champion Daniele Bonnet 76 62. She said after the first set she started to crowd Bonnet when returning serve and forced a lot of double faults. Mas and Sue are shown below. She next plays Heide Orth of Germany. Here is a link to their travel blog.


    Ross Persons, USA upset his doubles partner and the #4 seed, Felix Riba, using some clever drop shots 63 46 60. He plays the #7 seed, Alejandro Spinelli from Argentina next.

    Ross (2)

    I had a double practice yesterday and a slightly shorter double practice today with Heide Orth and Kerry Ballard. It was much cooler today and clearer and less humid. We are using Babolat balls here which are a lot lighter than the ones I practiced with next week (and lighter than the Dunlop Forts we will be using next week). I’m getting used to them and to the clay here which is quite nice clay, well maintained and not too slippery.

    Here’s a link to the draws: http://www.itftennis.com/seniors/tournaments/tournament/info.aspx?tournamentid=1100035775

  • Barcelona & the Real Polo Club

    Today was Day One for the Barcelona Grade A tournament. I don’t play till Wednesday at 6pm, but did get in a practice with Heide Orth and a bit with Kerry Ballard who arrived early this morning from Essen, Germany. Kerry and I are playing doubles here this week.

    Kerry Carolyn

    The courts here are softer than those at Global but the balls are Babolat which fly and are lighter than the Head ATP ones we practiced with last week, so conditions seem sort of similar. It was quite warm too by noon, and still warm in the evening.

    After lunch, I went to the Corte Engles department store. It is a big one and two levels down has a great grocery store. There are two aisles devoted to shellfish and tunafish; a lot of ham (some quite expensive too), dozens of Nutella and nutella type spreads but only 2 kinds of peanut butter; and an entire aisle of jams and jellies. It was interesting to see.

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    In the evening I went over to watch the tennis and pay my entry fee. I saw Sue Kimball and Ross Persons from the USA and some Aussies I know. Dinner starts here around 8:30 and goes on late; there was a lot of activity since it was the first day and the tournament goes from about 6pm to midnight. One of the lights was out on the main stadium and it seemed quite dark.

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    I watched Ross for a bit. He doesn’t sit down on changeovers (big believer in the “continuous play” rule). His opponent sat for what seemed to be five minutes and was sucking air big time, but hung in, losing only 64 64.

    They don’t really call footfaults here (and Ross’s opponent made much bigger ones than this one at times).

    foot fault Ross (1) Ross (2)

  • Barcelona!

    I arrived in Barcelona last night, and apparently most of the world did too…Barcelona was so crowded today, though I must say I did spend most of it looking at major tourist sites. Also, people walk slowly!

    I started by going to Park Guell, a Gaudi park which like all Gaudi art, is very interesting, a combination of art and architecture. I took the Metro there and was running a bit late (tickets have a specific entrance time…miss the window and adios ticket value). What I didn’t realize was that not only was the park about  25 minutes from the Metro, it was up many many flights of stairs, so I had a good early morning workout today. (On my way back down I felt a bit smug when the young people walking up were huffing and puffing, but refrained from telling them they weren’t even half way there!)

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    There’s a famous gecko fountain there with which everyone seemed intent on having their photo or their child’s photo taken, and up above a really nice mosaic bench with cool curves and decorations. It was a lovely day and fun to look around, especially in between tour groups.

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    After seeing the park, I went to the Sagrada Familia, the famous church designed by Gaudi which is taking over a hundred years to build. I’d seen the outside before but didn’t know about buying a ticket in advance online…this time I did and it was a good thing as tickets were sold out today. The inside is spectacular, even though not yet finished. There are pillars and curves everywhere and the light coming through the stained glass windows is gorgeous. There was a service going on downstairs and I could see the priest preaching from above and it appeared that a tourist asked him a question or to take a photo (he was shoed away) and another tourist was trying to take photos down there…not too cool.   Barcelona (199) starred photos-056

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    After lunch I headed down to Las Ramblas and then over to the Gothic quarter where there’s a pretty old church. I’d been inside before which is good because today there was a long line.The streets are narrow and the buildings older in the Gothic quarter, but most apartments have small balconies which makes the facades interesting.

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    I went into the Theatre and took a short tour. The theatre is mostly for opera and has great acoustics of course. It was started as a private opera house…rich people bought seats or boxes on the first three floors and that paid for the building, though today the seats are open for anyone to buy. It is quite lovely, though there was an event they were preparing for so the main floor was a beehive of construction.

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    I wandered down to the waterfront too, and it was super crowded. A lot of people seemed fascinated by the seagulls. They were pretty dirty but posing nicely for photos. There are a couple of interesting sculptures, one Gaudi, one Miro, or so I think, along the waterfront. 

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    Off for California in the morning. It will be nice to go back to the USA, even though this was a fun trip.