Erika Smith and Tracy Houk Blog from Turkey for USA Margaret Court and Maria Bueno Cup Teams

Erika’s Penultimate Blog: Watching the Individuals

Tracy’s Final Blog: USA Wins Maria Bueno Cup! (Erika’s team finished a respectable sixth.)

Tracy’s Friday Blog

Note from Carolyn Nichols: Erika’s team, the 45s played Austria in the 5/6 place playoff Friday. Anna lost at #1, and Shelly was down a set and 2/1 when play was suspended because of darkness. After waiting for one of the few lighted courts for a while, the team was given the option of finishing Saturday, which they took. Shelly won 5 games in a row to split sets but lost the third and the doubles was not played. Erika coached Shelly on court both days…ironic, since their games could not be more different. Maybe when Erika’s foot gets better (she’s still on crutches and it’s black and blue) she will start moonballing??? (one never knows…).

Blog #7, Thursday, click here to read

Blog #6: Wednesday: USA falls to So Africa and Erika Falls to Injury

Blog #5:Tuesday — Wins over Sweden and Turkey


This is our Turkish word of the day. It means hello.

We woke up to overcast weather, cold temperatures and a light mist/rain. When we met for breakfast, Tracy commented that it felt like home! Since we are playing on clay, a light rain does not mean anything. It did warm up as the day went and there was no wind.

Erika — We warmed up from 7:30 to 7:50 and then from 8:10 to 8:30. Our match against Sweden started at 9:00. In the team competition, you can have a coach on the court. The role of coach is played by one of your teammates. Shelly played the first singles match and I was the coach. She won 6-0, 6-0. It must have been the coaching. Shelly is known for playing long matches, but for the second day In a row, she won in less than an hour. Anna then played the next singles match and Alissa coached for the first set. Shelly subbed in for the second set so Alissa and I could get ready for the doubles match. Anna won 7-5, 6-2. Alissa and I won the doubles match 6-1, 6-2.



Four courts over, the US men’s 40 team was in a dogfight with Romania. Every match went three sets. It came down to the doubles with the US team winning 6-4 in the third. It was great tennis and a lot of the US players were there cheering them on.

Tomorrow we play South Africa.

Tracy — our match against Turkey was scheduled to start no earlier than 11:30. Despite the start time, warm up courts are only available from 7:50 to 8:50. Fran started first at #2 singles and won 6-0, 6-0. Then our #1 gal, Ros, played next and won 6-1, 6-0. Vicky and I played the doubles line and won 6-1, 6-1. Remember my comment from yesterday about there is always an “incident” when I play? Today was no different. During our match, we had a long point and our opponents tried to hit a lob over my head. I jumped up to hit the overhead and although I hit the overhead, my racquet ended up on the ground. I scrambled to pick up my racquet as Vicki quickly took over to keep the point going. I reconnected with my racquet and we won the point.



After the match, I played a practice set with Carolyn Nichols that lasted for two and a half hours and went the distance with a 10-8 tiebreaker deciding it. We compete hard, even in practice!

We play Sweden tomorrow at 9:00 am. We are still at the alternate site.

Erika and Tracy — we met our teams for dinner and got caught up with each other and our results. That’s the downside of being at different sites. We don’t know results and details until you see each other at the end of the day.

Blog #4: Monday; First match for Erika, More practice for Tracy

Erika — My luggage arrived!

In other news, the 45s team played Turkey today. We were on the court warming up by 7:30. The tennis complex opens at 7:00 and those players who want extra time on the court were ready to go at 7:00. Our match was scheduled for 9:00 am on C13. Warm up times are assigned so both teams get a chance to hit and we had the 7:50 to 8:10 time slot (which was why we got there early!) and our opponents had the 8:10 to 8:30 slot. Then the courts are swept, pictures are taken, gifts exchanged and the match began. We gave the Turkish team a bag tag and pin commemorating the event and we received a Turkish keychain with The Evil Eye which represents good luck.



We play the match on one court, starting with the #2 singles match, then the #1 singles match, and then the doubles match. We won all three lines and were happy to get our first win. We headed over to watch our 55s team play their doubles match. They had won both singles, but the doubles was close and we wanted to support them. It was great tennis, with the US team winning 6-2 in the third. We grabbed a late lunch at 2:30 and then relaxed, checked emails and did laundry. Dinner tonight and early to bed. We do it all over again tomorrow. Our opponent will be Sweden.

Tracy – We had a bye today and play the 50s Turkey team tomorrow. We will be playing at the second site (the Starlight Hotel) about 5 minutes away. We checked out the site this morning. It is a beautiful place with 12 courts and a large soccer field – a great place to stretch and do some off court work without getting red clay on your clothes. We practiced in the afternoon and enjoyed the warm weather and no wind.

Those who know me will not be surprised to hear that I had an “incident” during practice. It is hard to describe, but suffice it to say my racquet got twisted in between my legs while running for a dropshot and the result was bruises in a variety of places and a lump on my shin the size of a golf ball. I’m still not quite clear what I did, but I have the bruises to show that I did something! Fortunately, I was booked for a massage with Ali and he worked some magic. The golf ball is gone, but the bruises are still obvious. Just another day on the court for me! Other than that, laundry, dinner, team meeting and off to bed.

Erika and Tracy – we decided that we should try to learn some Turkish words and phrases. Today’s phrase is “thank you” or “Tesekkir ederim”. The resort staff have been lovely, so we are saying this many times a day.

More tomorrow!

Blog #3: Sunday — team pictures, practice, draws and opening ceremonies

We started early this morning with the US team pictures at 8 am. Trying to get 40 players organized for a photo can be a challenge, but we did it. The. weather was warm and everyone was in good spirits and chatting between takes. We also had a section photograph and ours is below!
Saturday night in Turkey: The journey to Turkey (aka cancelled flights and lost luggage) and two days of practice.


Tracy — After pictures, the 50s team headed off to practice. We only got the court for an hour but we were efficient and had a good hit. Laundry is a daily activity and that was next on the agenda. After hanging wet laundry all over the room, I met my team for a quick lunch. They were able to go practice again, but I had to go to the 50s captains meeting to get the draw and the schedule. The format for the team event is a round robin with light winners advancing to the elimination round. There are 22 teams in the 50s and 7 flights. The US is seeded #1 and has a bye tomorrow. Se we will practice and scout opponents.

Erika — We were also able to practice for an hour after pictures. It was not very windy and we had a good hit. Shelly headed off to the 45s captains meeting. We met her for lunch after the meeting and learned that we are the #2 seeds. We play Turkey tomorrow morning in our flight.

Luggage Update – my suitcase has been located by the airline and will be delivered by tomorrow.

Erika and Tracy — the opening ceremonies took place at 4:30. Players were introduced by country as they paraded onto center court. Because it is Saint Patrick’s Day, some members of the Irish team were dressed accordingly. After speeches, there was live entertainment by Turkish dancers to the music of Madonna.


After the ceremonies were concluded, the players all hung out for awhile chatting and taking pictures. Here is one of us. Tracy still wears braids on occasion and I am still the taller one.

Blog #2: Travel To Turkey:

Tracy: My challenges started as soon as I arrived at SFO at 1:30 p.m on Wednesday for a 5:30 flight. Although receiving confirmation from the airline, when I tried to check in for my flight I was told “why weren’t you here earlier? Your airline carrier and reservations have been changed.” I should have known that this was a sign that it was going to be a …. challenge. The end result was layovers in SFO (6 hours), Paris (9 hours) and Istanbul (10 hours). By the time I arrived in Antalya, it was 12:30 pm on Friday. 39 hours from start to finish and no sleep. And, the icing on the cake was that my luggage did not make to Antalya with me. No surprise! It did arrive Saturday afternoon, so I’m good to go.

Erika: I didn’t have any problems with my flight (Tracy should have followed my flight plans!). I flew from SFO to Munich, 12 hour layover (spent at the Munich airport hotel) and then a three hour flight to Antalya. I am the queen of sleeping and was able to sleep on the Munich leg, at the hotel and on the Antalya leg (sorry Tracy — again, you should have been on my flight!). However, one piece of luggage didn’t make it and hasn’t arrived yet. I am trying to be optimistic that it will.

Erika and Tracy: We were both able to meet up with our teams on Friday afternoon and get some practice in on the red clay and then do laundry to get the red clay out of our socks. Everyone pitched in and loaned Tracy clothing, so she was able to survive until her luggage arrived. Friday night dinner was lots of fun as everyone on the US Team was catching up and meeting new teammates. It was also fun to see and meet players from other countries.

Today, Saturday, was a good practice day until the hail storm at 4:00 p.m. Erika was still on the court and was seen sprinting to shelter as she was getting pelted with hail. Tracy was getting a massage and a Turkish bath when the storm hit, and was not too sympathetic (see reasons why above), to Erika’s plight.

Tomorrow is photo day, captain’s meetings to make the draws and opening ceremonies. We promise to take lots of pictures. In between, everyone will be trying to get some final practice time. Matches start on Monday!

By Erika Smith with Tracy Houk

As homegrown Northern California tennis players, Tracy and Erika are pleased to be representing the US and Northern California at the 33rd International Tennis Federation Seniors World Team Championships in Antalya, Turkey.

We first met playing against each other in the 12s and were friends by the end of the match. Tracy played at Golden Gate Park and Erika played at the Berkeley Tennis Club (and still does!). We enjoyed getting together at either place and practicing. Below Tracy is the girl in the red warm up suit and Erika is the taller girl.

Eirka and Tracy

Over the years, we practiced, traveled together and housed together, including one memorable trip to Italy when we were in our early 20s and playing a satellite tennis circuit. Today, we’re still great friends and are excited to be heading to Turkey. We’re living proof that tennis is a sport for a lifetime and that tennis friendships are like no other.

Back to our trip to Turkey:

Tracy is the playing captain for the Bueno Cup team (Women’s 50s) Her teammates on the Bueno Cup are Ros Fairbanks Nideffer (San Diego, California), Fran Chandler (Jackson, Tennessee) and Vicki Buholz (Dallas, Texas). She had been away from national senior play for a few years because of injuries, but in 2011 returned healthy and had a great 2011 and 2012 season. She was a singles finalist at the 50 Hard. In February 2012, at the ITF Individual World Championships in San Diego, Tracy upset the #1 ranked player in the world at the ITF Individual world championships and was a doubles bronze medalist there (with Judy Newman, Santa Cruz). She went on to win the 50 Hard doubles (with Lisa Namu, La Jolla) and was a singles finalist. For good measure, she then finished third in the 2012 45 Hard singles.

Erika is on the Court Cup team (Women’s 45s). Completing the Court Cup team will be Anna Zimmerman (Indianapolis, Indiana), Alissa Finerman (Santa Monica, California) and Shelly Works (San Antonio, TX, playing captain). Erika also had a strong 2011 and 2012 season. In 2011, she won doubles titles at the 35 Hard, 35 Indoors, 45 Grass and 45 Indoors with Mary Dailey and the 40 Hard and Indoors with Alissa Finerman. In 2012, Erika won the ITF Individual World Championships Doubles title in the 45s with Alissa Finerman defeating Ros Fairbank Nideffer (San Diego) and Gretchen Magers (San Diego), both former top 20 touring pros. She also won the 45 Grasscourts singles and was a finalist in doubles at the 45 Grass with Dailey and at the 45 Indoors with Finerman.

In Friday, March 15th, Tracy and Erika will arrive in Turkey and start practicing on the red clay. We will try to post updates and pictures daily about the site and the tournament. Wish us luck and GO USA‼‼!



7 responses to “Erika Smith and Tracy Houk Blog from Turkey for USA Margaret Court and Maria Bueno Cup Teams

  1. Great story about tennis friendships! At 51, I recently reconnected with my best friend from Juniors … we first played each other in the Girls 14’s Western Open Qualifer (the Western section was what the Midwest is today) … she beat the daylights out of me that match, but we became best friends that day, and were virtually inseparable at subsequent Junior tourneys until college and life took us our separate directions. She’s been a teaching pro ever since … me, I was out of the game entirely from my early 20’s until about 8 years ago! And you’re right, tennis friendships are like no others … so great to pick up where we left off, like the decades in-between were never even there!!
    Good luck to both of you in Turkey, Erika and Tracy … and good luck to all the other Americans! Most importantly, have FUN and enjoy the experience!!! ~ Suzy

  2. Hello Ladies, this is your old friend Carlo, from Barcelona. Great Blog and good luck with the matches. Erika, don´t forget you have the best serve in the seniors, and breathe from the middle when serving. Look forward to reading your blog, and I already spoke wioh Tina thru Skype today, and checked on both of you. Lots of kisses and good wishes. Carlo.

  3. Hi Trey and Erika. I remember that day the pic was taken on court 6! I love it that you both are playing together with the Nor-Cal women for this event. Go get em. I know you guys will crush over there. Your friend Kev.

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