I finally played my first match today in Shenzhen. The order of play never appeared on the ITF site (at least not before 8am when we had to take the bus to the courts for warm up). Apparently it appeared on the Chinese web site. Lily again came to my rescue, emailing me my start times which were not before 10 and not before 11 (changed to not before 12; the 11 was a typo).
Lily and I warmed up and I got on the court pretty close to 10am. The tournament is using best two out of three “short” sets (first to 4 games, win by 2, tiebreak at 4-4, advantage scoring). I won 4/0, 4/0, but my opponent was not bad, could really whack her forehand down the line off of a low ball or inside in. It was so hot and humid that my fitbit drowned and died due to the sweat on my arm! After my match I went to the indoor “rest area” for the players, which is in the parking garage, along with the referee’s office etc., to wait for my next match. At about 10:45 I heard something that vaguely sounded like my last name. Shortly thereafter I heard it again so I went to see. It’s hard to hear the announcements and the pronunciation of foreign names is what one would expect, imperfect. I went to the court and the umpire (did I mention that all matches seem to be chaired?), who didn’t speak English told me that we had to wait till 12:15, or something to that effect, before I would receive a default. At 12:15 my opponent (who had been called several times) was not there and so they defaulted her and they had me sign the score sheet. Apparently she had been on site but never heard her name called, and never checked in. Fortunately it’s a round robin so she’ll get to play her other matches.
A few minutes after the match was called it started to rain…then started to pour, then there was thunder and lightning, which is when I made a dash to the parking garage. After the rain stopped, the cadre of volunteers swarmed the courts and got the courts dried pretty quickly. There were more volunteers than squeegees though and some seemed never to have used one before. There are so many volunteers that some are relegated to opening the doors to the courts for the players!
I watched Lily play her singles…she pulled out a tough 3-setter against a Taiwanese player 54 45 53 in a rain delayed match which was finished indoors. Lily is in orange.
After I got back to the hotel I went out walking around the area. The contrasts are so interesting; a store selling doors next to one selling food next to one selling nice women’s clothes next to a dry cleaner next to a barber next to a plant store next to a junk store. There are also old, tired looking buildings next to modern skyscrapers, and everywhere there is construction. I walked a different direction today and ran into kids leaving school. Most were walking but some parents picked up their kids on a motorbike (no helmets). From my hotel room I could see people congregating who had just left work, it looked like a small army! (Photos to be added later).
Earlier in the day I also took a tour of the grounds. The gym is in a brand new building but is pretty small and cramped. It was completely empty. So were the pools. But the overall complex is impressive. On the other hand, all the toilets are squat toilets! The communication is the main issue here. As an example, read the sign below.
I assume I play tomorrow one match at some point.