Czech Indoor, Prague 2014 – Swedish Adventures

    This year the tournament was an upgraded ITF2.
    The hotel was upgraded as well, hosting the largest indoor aquapark in central Europe. This proved helpful and relaxing in-between tennis sessions.. 🙂
    Getting there several days (extra) early proved useful to optimze sleep and court practise, as well as muscle preparation in the very well equipped local gym on the premises.
    Fellow Swedes Anders, Rebecka, and Sanna joined later on. Sadly, the young ladies´ flight was so much delayed that an extra overnight stay in Amsterdam was called for. On top of this, they had to use Anders’ and my tennis chairs for their first matches, since they had not made it to Prague along with the rest of the luggage. Haven’t you read about tennis gear ending up lost in Amsterdam before..? 😉 Sadly, an unwanted experience most of us have to go through on the tour.

    My first game was against Italian paralympian (among others), Guiseppe Polidori, a re-match from French Open this year. His accurate placements are well known, but memories from Paris assured me that high loops to the back of the courts (including the returns), could enable longer rallies, and that shots away from him can result in looser shots back at me, as movement isn’t his strong-point.
    Too many serves and shots to his forehand often made it too easy for him, though. However, way more points had long (and I am sure entertaining) rallies, with saves from me at the edges of the court or at the far back. Quite a few advantage games, and most definitely long rallies with me finding more of a ”flow” towards the ball in my chair. This will stick with me. The score was 0-6, 1-6 in the end, but it felt like a big leap forward none-the-less.

    Anders rather comfortably won against Erismann (FRA) 6-2,6-1. A promising start…
    Sadly the ladies lost their first singles. Arriving in the morning on game day, and having to use (my & Anders’) for them unfamiliar chairs with no warm-up on unknown courts, is never optimal. Altered flight plans could perhaps prove helpful next time around…

    The doubles this year was with my very good Friend Sébastien Jance (FRA). Ever since Salzburg last year, we focus on making easy shots to help one-another, while sticking to the (doubles) standard shots, the high loops in the middle to confuse and disarm opponents.
    We were up against the would-be finalists Corradi/Di Cosmo (ITA), very tough opposition.
    However, focus on enjoying each points and the basic strategy of long lobs in the centre, and shots to backhands, made the game really enjoyable, with food for thought on improvements. Even very strong players (in theory quite evidently) produce less dangerous shots if you just introduce confusion or a need to take diffcult shots. A very nice feeling once you see that in place during a game..:-)
    There was not much to do, but it turned out a very nice experience yet again to play doubles with Séb, despite the loss 1-6, 1-6. Since we played no-add with quite a few duece-games, the numbers could easily have looked a lot better, in particular in the first set.
    I’m not that disappointed, after all, especially given the praises my partner gave me (and others!) on my game. 🙂

    My consolation game started really well. Against Ben Uriel (ISR) I had game points to go 2-2, since I had started with long returns, and managed to keep my forehands either pressed crossed-court, or high loops to the far back. A few high bakhand loops helped out in keeping him from attacking with his strong forehand. The first five games must have been my best ever in a match, with lovely right-left placements to the back (although a bit short at times), as well as some effective forehand crosses creating an angle from and within the service box. These points will be remembered and developed further, for sure. 🙂

    Anders won his next match against Victor Garcia-Ascensio (ESP), 6-4, 6-2. A very well executed second set, in particular. The not yet refurbished fast surface on (only) the quad courts suited Anders just fine.
    Anders’ next game versus Corradi (ITA) was a close encounter, but proved unfortunately to difficult this particular day, 2-6, 6-3, 3-6.
    Anders’ and Antonio Raffale’s (ITA) first doubles against Timmermans/Polidori (NED/ITA), proved to be high level entertainment and tennis education, with them prevailing in the match tie-break, 6-2, 6-7(6), 10(8). A truely exciting game.
    The ladies’ doubles in (their own chairs) felt better for them, but sadly the Italians Bertola/Quassinti were just a bit too strong, 4-6, 3-6.

    Sanna lost her consolation game to Korotkina (RUS) 1-6, 3-6. Rebecka however ended up in the consolation final due to van Chastelet´s (NED) withdrawal from the semi’s. In the final, Rebecka played great, and conquered the women’s consolation title with 6-4, 6-0 against said Korotkina..! 🙂

    The doubles final for Anders & ”Rafa” was another pleasant show-case. Italians Corradi/Di Cosmo faced defeat (6-2, 4-6, 10(3)), after really great performances from both Anders and Antonio! 🙂

    The very friendly organizers have a few challenges to sort out ‘til next year, with the higher number of entries to an ITF2 on the few courts available, alongside higher expectations on a tournament with higher ranking.
    We all wish them good luck in the hope to be back…to the tournament that this year had two Swedes as winners. 🙂
    All for now, over & out!

Toulouse – Balma, France 2014 – In Summary

Day 1
The first day on home turf for the French quad friends offered a first round against Virgil Silva (FRA) 6-1, 6-0. An opportunity to focus on relaxed strokes and a strategic game plan. ‘Felt great. Services could have been more powerful though, using spin with my wrist.. A nice training session on clay with de Meyere and Schoen (FRA) helped out in preparation for doubles with French #2, Erismann.. A great start.
All for now, over & out!
Day 2
The next round proved too hard. Spanish superior Victor Garcia-Ascensio (ESP) did not move greatly, but placed balls out of reach, resulting in 1-6, 0-6. However, several points with long cross returns and high cross loops, followed by forehand slice-lay-aways felt great. Things to savour for later against him and the likes (e.g. most Italians).

In the following doubles we played an excellent first set. High loops to the baseline, and forehand slices/volleys (!) from me (!). I did even with a services game by myself..! Great feeling..!
In the second set, I was a bit too eager, not going in circles to the far back of the court to get time and timing, as one should. Half-vollies coming too close, is beyond my capabilities sadly.

Fraioli/De Meyere (FRA) won 6-4, 3-6, 1-0 (11). We were down 4-8 in the super-break (to 10), so on the whole, and in retrospect, a good game. One of my (if not the) best doubles games. Merci beaucoup, Steph’!

As with most (minor) French tournaments there are three course meals, and very friendly organisers, always welcoming, smiling, and at your service. The venue offers four indoor clay courts, and two hard surface courts (the latter assigned to the quad singles draw(s)). Prepare for late lunches and dinners. Then this tournament is perfect for a first international experience.
If you ask nicely, the hotel can even give you dinner earlier. (This is quite uncommon, but so great!!)
A modern, nice hotel close to the courts, with the transport guys being very helpful to get you back and forth.
You don’t speak French? Find the one volunteer who used to live in the US of A, and your week will be way easier for you..:))
A tournament highly recommended in many ways, for all us not-yet-Masters-players.
Au revoir, Toulouse!
All for now, over & out!