• Tag Archives international travel
  • USTA Removes USA Super Senior Teams from ITF World Championships in Mallorca

    Several people have asked why I didn’t write anything about the USTA removing the USA Super Senior teams from the ITF Super Seniors World Team Championships in Mallorca, Spain. So here is some information about it. It caught everyone by surprise especially since the Young Seniors were off to Croatia just as the news hit that the Super Seniors were grounded.

    The USTA informed players selected by the USTA to participate in the ITF Super Senior World Team Championships in Mallorca that it had withdrawn the teams from the event on September 8, 2021.

    Timeline:

    • Dates of Young Seniors World Team Championships: September 12-17 (Croatia)
    • Dates of Super Seniors World Team Championships: October 10-15 (Spain)
    • July 26, 2021: US Department of State adds Spain to “do not travel” list (due to Covid)
    • August 1, 2021: players are allowed to book flights and hotels for world championships
    • August 30, 2021: USA removed from EU Safe list due to surging COVID cases in USA (which fyi are higher than in Spain or Croatia).
    • August 30, 2021: USTA notifies players that EU dropped USA from safe list and is “hoping for more information in a day or two“.
    • September 8-9, 2021: Young Seniors allowed to leave USA and participate in Young Seniors World Team Championships in Croatia (over a week AFTER EU dropped USA from the safe list).
    • September 6, 2021: Spain adds vaccination for Covid-19 as requirement for entry into Spain from a country not on the safe list (previously neither a negative covid test nor vaccination for Covid-19 was required to enter from the USA since it was on the “safe list”.) The USTA did not require that its team members be vaccinated in order to participate in this event.
    • September 8, 2021: USA Super Senior players informed that the USTA was withdrawing the United States from “competition in the ITF Super SeniorTeam {sic} World Championships…to be held in Mallorca, Spain”.

    Rationale used by USTA:

    • A variety of factors
    • Ongoing Covid Level 4 status in Spain
    • Travel warning issued by US, EU and Spain regarding travelers entering from the United States (basically Americans now have to be vaccinated to enter from September 6th).
    • The fact that (allegedly) Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia had recently withdrawn from the championships. (In fact, none of these countries ever entered this event nor had they entered the Seniors or Young Seniors World Team Championships.)

    As you can see from the timeline, the travel warning issued by the US State Department was issued in July, but the USTA waited till September 8th to withdraw the US teams.

    The removal of the USA from the European “safe list” occurred August 30th, yet the USTA allowed the Young Seniors teams to travel to Croatia for the team championships there.

    The only differences between the event in Croatia for the Young Seniors and the event in Mallorca for Super Seniors appear to be age, the requirement for a vaccine to enter Spain (which should make it more not less safe from Covid) and the Level 3 vs Level 4 (which goes back and forth often) Covid status of Croatia (though right now Covid rates are very similar in the two countries and lower than the USA according to some statistics).

    Addendum: Senior Team players had to show proof of vaccination to USTA; this was not initially a requirement from the USTA for the Super Senior Team members.

    Needless to say the players are quite disappointed and the USTA waited to pull the teams till quite late. There was no communication regarding this decision after August 30th till September 8th. The announcement was sent in batches to the players…90 minutes apart. I didn’t hear about the USTA pulling the teams from the USTA but from Fromuth, which was arranging for team uniforms (which also were cancelled though many players had already received them). The rationale that GBR, NZL and AUS pulled their teams (which had never entered and which were not in Croatia either) as a reason to pull the USA teams makes one wonder what the real reason was that the super senior teams were withdrawn but not the young seniors playing right now in Croatia.

    USA players can of course still participate in the Individual World Championships and several are planning on doing so, including myself.


  • Return to USA from Barcelona

    Barcelona (BCN): The check-in process at the airport was quick. I arrived quite early..nearly 3 hours before my flight.

    Note that at BCN you will need a boarding pass, electronic or paper, before being allowed into the airport. So make sure you have taken a covid test within 3 days of flying, tested negative, and that the airline has reviewed and approved the test, and issued a boarding pass BEFORE you go to the airport! I suggest purchasing a few quick test kits before leaving the USA.

    Security was quick and for the first time on this trip my bags weren’t flagged by security. 👍

    When flying out of the EU you will also need to clear passport control. So allow time for that. Once past passport control (which was quick today, under 5 minutes), there aren’t many services and shops, though there were a couple of places to eat and buy water.

    Arrival in USA at Newark (EWR): Arrival at EWR was the usual “hurry up and wait“ scenario..quick passage through passport control because I have global entry (highly recommended, includes tsa precheck), then a long wait for bags, another for rechecking bags, another for the train to a different terminal…then going through US domestic security (TSA PreCheck helped but there was only one security check line open). I still had a couple hours to kill..and an extra one since the plane boarded an hour late. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

    Masks are mandatory at all airports and on planes..for the most part people comply but in the airport many do not. Or they wear their mask below their nose.

    Arrival in California: Bags arrived quickly. It was very crowded. Uber and Lyft prices were double or more what they used to be..at least for this trip. Plan accordingly.

    Leaving near dawn; “shopping” in the international part of BCN; crowds at the airports; Which airport?

    And that’s a wrap on this trip. More to come in the fall. Have a great summer everyone.


  • Last Day in Spain

    July 19, 2021

    I started my day with the “new normal” for international travel…a covid test. I had an antigen test I brought with me…you connect online, and the proctor goes through certifying your ID, date of birth, and putting together the test…the regent for the test, the nasal swab, followed by a 15 minute wait, then reconnecting with a proctor to view the results. Mine was negative (vaccinations do work), so I was able to check in and my test was approved.

    Next I played tennis with Lisa from Florida at the Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona. It turned out that we’d been staying not 5 minutes apart all week and I was a 9 minute walk from the club. The club, established in 1899 is the site of the ATP 500 event which Nadal won this year. Members there include Feliciano Lopez, Karen Khachenov, Carlos Costa, Andrei Rublev and more…tons of good players. There are lots of courts, a restaurant, gym, padel courts and more.

    After tennis we went shopping, me for chocolate and Lisa for gifts for her friends. The walk took us past another Gaudi creation, the Guell Pavillions. It’s closed for restoration but the main gate is on the Pedrables street and quite interesting, with a dragon on the front. The classic Gaudi mosaics and undulating waves.

    And that’s a wrap on this European adventure…thanks everyone for following along.


  • International Travel is Back and It’s Different

    Remember pre-9/11 air travel? (This is a Senior tennis blog after all.) It was easy..shoes stayed on, liquids were allowed through security, as were Swiss Army knives. Then we all got used to taking off shoes, emptying water bottles and pre-slicing apples (ok, the last one might just be me). But we could travel internationally with with just a passport to most countries. And no masks were required!

    Now, entry requirements seem to change weekly..sometimes daily. There are forms to fill out. QR codes to find. Vaccination records or Covid test results to upload ( but not too far in advance). United texted me that my documents were fine..then they weren’t. Then they were. (So far so good). Lufthansa says they aren’t but United gave me a boarding pass.

    Cloth masks are ok on United..but not on Lufthansa where N95 or KN 95 are required. Confusing!

    So plan ahead, get vaccinated (last shot must be 2 weeks before flight), or get a rapid test (no more than 48 hours before arrival.. unless it’s a PCR test..then 72 hours max. Or possibly 48 hours…depends on the country.

    Flight 1 to Houston: passport and vaccination card or negative covid test and Spain entry card glanced at

    Flight 2: Everyone has to show passport and vaccination card or negative covid test AND has his/her picture taken (for tracing I assume). United vouches that every passenger has the correct documentation. The real yeast will be in Germany when I am jet lagged!

    San Diego/Houston/Rainy Frankfurt