Day 0/1 – Our first practices, Team photos and Opening Ceremonies
Upon arriving to Turkey, we had a practice court scheduled after being on a plane for 24 hours, so I was looking forward to getting out there and getting some exercise. We headed out to the courts and as we arrived, a loud clap of thunder cracked the sky. Just a minute or two later, the skies unleashed a torrential downpour that included not just rain but a substantial amount of hail.
Many teams that were already out on the courts had no place to hide and got drenched. We were able to wait it out until it stopped about ten minutes later, then the clay absorbed the water enough for us to hit about 10 minutes after that. I’ve included a picture of the storm from our balcony window, so you can see just how heavy the rain was.
I am convinced, however, Portland seems to follow me wherever I go. The last tournament I played in was in Palm Springs, for the Babolat World Classic, and it actually rained one solid day. I hear it rains about 3 days a year in Palm Springs…what are the odds?
We had a great team dinner in the café at Club Ali Bey and got to bed early. We had to be out on the courts for team pictures at 8am, followed by more hitting practice, lunch, then more hitting practice, then the opening ceremonies.
Opening ceremonies are always quite an event. It is humbling to be in the presence of so many accomplished athletes from so many countries around the world. It is always fun to hear so many different languages being spoken, I just wish there was a magic bubble above everyone’s heads that revealed the translation, especially when on the tennis court.
Of the eight opening ceremonies I’ve been honored to participate in, this year’s ceremony, while not the most elaborate (prize goes to Mexico City 2009 with fireworks and many groups of dancers), was well choreographed from beginning to end. It was primarily comprised of the introduction of hundreds (closer to a thousand) athletes, representing 190 teams from scores of countries. Age divisions represented are both Men and Women’s ages 35-40-45-50 and 55. The Fred Perry Cup Team has the largest draw with 31 countries represented.
Each filed out wearing their country’s colors, marching in proudly behind their country flag. We all stood by while a team of dancers (akin to the Solid Gold variety, circa 1982) entertained us with a few numbers to popular Madonna music. They were enthusiastic and good-natured in their routines, and drew loud applause from the audience and players alike.
The ceremony was followed by a brief reception where we conversed with fellow players and spectators, then retired to our rooms for a quick change for dinner and an early night to bed. Early morning tomorrow for practice, so lights out after watching an episode of Game of Thrones with my wife.