Tracy Houk Blogs for Maria Bueno Cup from La Baule, France

Friday: USA d. GBR 2/1; Saturday, USA d. France 2/1 to WIN THE CUP!

Semi finals started off with a light rain, which had us begin our 9:30am match, at 10:30, #2 player Fran Chandler, going up against Sue Webb of Great Britan. Fran started off strong, moving  the Brit around, and not allowing her to get any momentum, winning the first set, 6-1.  But, as the second set came around, so did Sue. She began to find her groove, and with a beautiful one hand slice backhand, began to shift the match into her groove. both ladies battled hard with drop shots, volley winners, and long rallies. Fran had 2 match points, but Sue fought hard, with a volley winner for one save, and a drop shot for the next. She then pulled off the set in a tie breaker to even the match at a set each. Unfortunately, the momentum stayed with Sue, and she won the final set, 6-0. Up next, was the #1 singles match, with Ros coming in a bit off, and the #1 brit started off strong, winning the first set 6-4. That didn’t sit well with Ros, and she manage to get her game going with a 6-3,6-2 finish to tie the score at 1-1. The deciding match, doubles,  would determine which team would make it to the finals. Ros and Gretchen would make the team up and finish with a commanding win of 6-1,6-1, which sent us to the finals against France, who won earlier against Italy.

Finals : It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for the Finals. Sunny and warm, very little breeze. We were up against the French team that beat us last year, in Florida. We wanted revenge on their home court, this year. #2 singles started up with Fran playing their number two player, who Fran lost to last year. Unfortunately, we lost that match. next, Ros came on to play #1 singles against the player I lost to last year. it was going to be different this time around, with Ros on the team, 😉

There was no stopping Ros, as she played an incredible match, losing just one game, with a 6-0,6-1 win to tie the match at 1-1. Again, it would be determined by the doubles. And, I had the Dynamic Duo, Ros and Gretchen to play. They came on real strong, with big serves and volley winners, to win the first set 6-1. But the french wouldn’t back down. They put some of their own plays into action, and stayed ahead for most of the second set, 2-0,3-1 and 5-3. But, the americans found a way to dig deep, and close out the match 7-5, to get us our Championship win.

I couldn’t be more proud of this team. What a great effort everyone put in when needed. Thank you all for this wonderful opportunity. 

starred photos 6-13-2015 7-50-57 AM starred photos 6-13-2015 7-58-02 AM


Team Dinner

Note from Carolyn Nichols: photo attached of Bueno Cup team at team dinner:

official dinner 6-11-2015 10-11-46 AM

Wednesday June 10th: USA d. Germany 3/0

We had an early start again with a 7AM practice session before breakfast. Then off to the Club for another quick warm up on the court we play our matches. # 2 singles played by Gretchen Rush finished in 2 sets with no hiccups. # 1 singles followed with Ros Nideffer taking the court. Another flawless match. Fran Chandler and I finished up the doubles, with a 6-2,6-1 win, to sweep Germany 3-0. We have a bye on Thursday, so we will scout our opponents. Netherlands vs Great Britan. Fran and Gretchen have a side bet on who we will play in the semi finals. 

Thursday is here and 7AM practice seems to be the  routine  now. Breakfast and a ride to watch our opponents. It is tied at 1-1 singles with doubles to decide who goes ahead to play us. After a nice practice indoors, Fran stayed to watch the doubles and Ros and I went back to the Hotel. I walked the beach and saw some interesting sea creatures. It was nice to get my feet wet and soak them in the salt water. Just like home. Gretchen and Ros went to see the salt mines. Fran is MIA. But I’m sure I’ll find her. It’s been a nice day off with some good practice in the early day and scouting our opponents, then, having some down time. Tonight is the Big dinner. Better rest up for the evening !!!

Tuesday June 9th: USA d. Switzerland 3/0

Today was a good day. We beat Switzerland 3-0. It started out with a 7am warm up practice at 7AM. I warmed up Fran and then Carolyn Nichols. Then got back to the hotel for breakfast and a ride to the Club. Our starting time was 11:30. Our team practiced at 10:40, before the first match. Fran started the match at #2 singles. She played very well against a strong competitor. The wind was strong, but Fran stayed cool and won 6-2,6-1. Ros then started the second match at #1 singles. Ros played flawless tennis as her Swiss opponent started off a bit frustrated and lost the first set, 6-0. The second started almost the same way, with Ros taking the lead 3-0, when a TV station reporter came on court. The tide changed a bit, and the Swiss player began to find her rhythm, and the set got closer, but Ros pulled away and won 6-4 in the second, and have an interview afterwards. Gretchen and I finished up the match with a 7-6, 6-2 win in doubles, after being down 3-5 with 3 set points against us in the first, and down 0-2 in the second. We all then got together withe the women’s 55 and 60 teams for a big dinner down in the lobby. Everyone brought something to eat. Was a great evening. Tomorrow, we play Germany !! Go USA !

   usa bye day usa vs Suisse USA vs swiss starredphotos69201555056AM.jpg starredphotos69201543410AM.jpg starredphotos69201525002AM.jpg


Monday June 8th: Practicing & Scouting

Today was our bye. So, Ros and Gretchen slept in, and Fran and I went to the nearby club and hit for 45 minutes in the cool and breezy morning,7AM. We then got back to the hotel, showered and had breakfast, then went to the club our opponents were playing,  to watch, and get some ideas to how they play. Tomorrow we go up against Switzerland. They beat Germany 3-0 in two singles and one doubles. Ros and Gretchen showed up for our team  hit at 2PM. We hit indoors on clay. If it rains, which it is in the forecast, that’s where we’ll play. After, we finished our practice, we headed back to the hotel for an early dinner, and evening. We play second match on, at 11:30. Wish us luck. Go USA !!!!!!

usa bye day


June 6/7th: Practicing on the Dirt with Fran,  Gretchen and Ros; Dining With Team; USA Seeded #1 & Bye on Monday

Saturday morning, Fran and I got up early, and hit on the courts around 8AM. It was great to get the kinks out, and feel the red clay out. We went back to our Hotel, and walked around a fantastic Farmers Market. We bought a rotisserie chicken, roasted potatoes, brioche, and fresh strawberries for lunch. Yummy !! We then rested for awhile and headed downstairs to meet our team mates, Gretchen Rush, and Ros Nideffer for another hit on the Clay. We played some singles, and doubles. We then found a wonderful restaurant on the beach to have dinner. Unfortunate for Fran ( she likes to eat early )the restaurants open at 7PM. But, it was well worth it. A beautiful day to eat dinner on the beach !!!! We walked there, so it was a nice walk back to our Hotel. The day stays light up to 10PM, it’s amazing !!!

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Sunday- I manage to get two hours of practice time, and we seem to get more kinks out, but the wind was blowing, and it was a bit cold, even for my taste. Still, a good practice.

Roz and Gretchen went back to the Hotel, Fran stayed with me to get a racket of hers strung, while I went to the Captain’s meeting. We are seeded #1, and have a Bye tomorrow. Our round robin Teams we play against are, Germany & Switzerland. There are 21 Teams total in our age group, so there are 7 groups of 3We will watch our opponents play tomorrow. Then have a practice after lunch.

Tonight is Opening Ceremony for all the Teams. It is quite a production and really fun to be a part of !! Pictures to follow, but I’m sure Carolyn will have some great ones !!!

captains meeting


June 5th/6th: La Baule! With my Luggage!!!!

Finally landed at Nantes Airport, with my luggage. Trust me, that’s a big deal. And was greeted by my team mate Fran Chandler. She missed and earlier connection, and got in an hour ahead of me, instead of in the morning, so it worked out for us to travel to the Hotel together. We have a beautiful room, with a fantastic outside deck,ocean view. Just like home. We walked to a small market for some bottled water and fruit for our room, them had dinner at a local restaurant. Early bedtime.

Good morning. It’s Saturday, where did these last two days go? Oh yea, on a plane and many airports. Rooming with Fran is great. We got up early, and had breakfast by 7AM, and ready to head over to the tennis club for an early hit, Our other team mates, Roz and Gretchen are on their way from Paris, and will meet us for an afternoon hit


tennis Tracy and Fran


June 5th: Hello Madrid, Adios Madrid

Landed in Charlotte, NC, with 2 hour wait before boarding for Madrid. Watched 2 movies, and a couple of sitcoms on the flight. Made it to Madrid, and now I have a 4 hour wait before my final destination, France. No sleep. I’ll get in at 5:20PM. I wonder if Fran will want to hit  Hope my pick up at the airport is waiting for me, and I don’t have to go searching or wait too long. Oh, what’s a couple more hours ??!!


June 4th: Ready, Set Wait?

It’s 4:30AM on Thursday morning, June 4th, and I am getting my gear together to head to the airport, for an 8:25AM flight to La Baule France. The phone rings, and I get nervous, because it won’t be good news. A recording from my Airline ( American ), telling me they have rescheduled my itinerary to another Airline, ( US Airways ), and it leaves at 11AM. Also, I have to now change planes in Charlotte, before heading to Madrid. I get to the airport, and they tell me I don’t have a ticket. WHAT ?!!! After a few minutes, ( good thing I’m there early, 7AM ) they straighten it out, and I’m on my way to the gate, to wait for 3 1/2 hours !!!! So far, it’s not as bad as my trip to Turkey, where I missed the flight entirely, and it took me 2 days to get there, with my luggage lost for 1 1/2 days, and my return trip was the same. The joys of traveling. I try to remind myself that in 24 hours or so, I’ll be at my destination, with my awesome team mates. Stay tuned for more adventures with me on my way to France.

Au Revoir

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