Archive for January, 2014

Update from Szczecin

January 15, 2014

After an unfortunate trip to Vasteras, a place where we had a bad hotel, bad food, and a not very good club and certainly a badly played match, we went back to Copenhagen for a few days of practice.  Practiced well.  Some pictures and video of that here are now here.  ImageImage

We traveled on Saturday to Szczecin Poland.  Norwegian Airlines through Oslo.  Yea, I know, it’s going in the wrong direction but this is not an easy place to get to via public transportation.  Turned out fine.

We are at the Zybszko Hotel.  Big room, actually two rooms.  Very nice and very inexpensive.  Six days less than $550 with breakfast included.  The club is a 15 minute walk and there is a nice mall (very American looking) also 15 minute walk.  The mall is actually an outlet mall, but has several good places to eat and a couple of good coffee shops.  Also houses Paul i Piotre (one of Poland’s high end grocery chains).  Everything is very inexpensive here, a good dinner is $30 for both of us.  Lunch is anywhere from $5 to $10.  But alas it is a gray weather and cold.  Also, the neighborhood is very gray.  So are the people.  Oh, well, it’s Poland.

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The courts, what there are of them, are ok, not too fast, not too slow, but they are way too close together and here is the real problem, there are only three.  Yup three courts for a main draw ITF that has 32 girls and 32 boys.  So what does that mean?  Well, it means there is virtually no ability to practice.  Warm up is between 6am and 8am with 4 on a court and still there isn’t enough room for everyone to get a decent warmup.  So first, the tournament is starting a day late due to a facility issue.  Oh well, ok.  Shit happens.  We were here through  quallies and got a grand total of 2.5 hours of hitting over 2.5 days.  Sasha is seeded 5 here and as sometimes happens, the referee decided to play the first round of singles and doubles over 2 days.  Not much choice with 3 courts.  So Sasha didn’t play yesterday since he played a qualifier.  One way to play the first 2 days in a case like this is you play both girls and boys singles on the first day EXCEPT those who play qualifiers.  So you play 24 matches on the first day.  Then you play the remaining 8 singles matches on day 2 and the first round of doubles.  That happens today.

Here is the draw pointer:

http://www.itftennis.com/juniors/tournaments/tournament/info.aspx?tournamentid=1100030823

Here is a picture of the club–in black and white in accord with gray poland!!

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ok everyone there are times….

January 15, 2014

when I’m gonna disappear for a while and focus entirely on my coaching responsibilities.  Last week was one of those.  We were in Vasteras Sweden.  Sasha played a terrible match, my focus was to spend whatever time was necessary to try to refocus him on the important things so….no postings.  Got a bunch of emails saying   cmon what’s going on.   Sometimes I’m gonna focus on being a coach not a blogger.   🙂  

 

Tough match

January 3, 2014

Well, despite playing a very good match, Sasha lost today in the round of 16.  Score was 5-7, 4-6.  Sasha served great, returned amazingly well given that Andy serves very big.  I was happy with how he held his court position and basically followed the game plan we had put in place.  Andy is very good.  He was recruited to go to Notre Dame, but chose Memphis.  

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Plan is to remain here.  No tennis today.  Sasha will do school and gym.  Saturday and Sunday we will practice.  There are a lot of guys playing both these events, so lots of practice options.  Monday is a holiday here and we will travel to Västerås where the next tournament is located.

 

Sweden

January 1, 2014

We flew from Copenhagen to Sweden because we wanted as much indoor practice time before the tournament.  The train is only 5 or so hours, but because of the holidays etc. we could not have gotten one that arrived before 3:50pm.  Sign-in ends at 6pm and I didn’t want to risk being late.  So Jan took us to the airport (no traffic since it was a holiday).  It’s a short one hour flight to Arlanda airport in Stockholm.  We took the Arlanda Express, then the metro to our hotel.

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We are in an area of Stockholm called Alvik.  It’s very nice, on a lake and convenient to central Stockholm (10 minutes by metro).  We got off the metro and after a few wrong turns found out our hotel was directly across the street from the station.  We are at the Scandic Alvic.  

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A very nice club, which is across the street from a VERY nice food market.  What else could we want.  We checked in to the hotel, relaxed a bit, got some racquets to the stringer and then got a practice court.  The courts at this club are lightning fast plexipave courts.  Sasha adjusted fine, I did not.  🙂  This tournament is efficient—check-in, totally smooth.  Check-in closes at 6pm.  Draw and order of play was published at 6:45pm.  Wow!  Here is their website.  They update it throughout the day.

http://www2.tennis.se/tavling/international/2014/jun/salk_open_14/index.html

On New Years Eve, Sasha and I had dinner in the bar downstairs since the dining room was fully booked.  We had a very nice steak with Potatoes.  There were lots of fireworks outside our window. Fireworks are popular around New Years in Scandanavia.  We came back to the room, sent out our New Years greetings to people and were asleep well before the calendar ushered in the New Year.  Truth be known, Sasha’s been a bit sick over the last couple of days–sore throat, cough, ugh.  So lots of tea, sleep and cough drops.  He was much better today.  Sasha’s first round match today followed a 10am match so we warmed up at 9:30 after a great breakfast.  I’m sure Sasha will take pictures of this breakfast buffet–it is huge.  There is everything one could ever eat for breakfast from 20 different breads, to 6 kinds of fish, to 10 different flavors of yogurt, to 4 different styles of eggs.  It just goes on.  Sasha went on at around noon.  Score was 6-1, 6-2.  He played very well.  Served big, court positioning was great, he was aggressive.  Bit of hiccup in the last couple of games of the second set, but overall, a solid match.

We came back to the hotel, stretched, ate lunch (sandwiches made from stuff from the market across the street which actually opened today to my surprise).  Also went to the sauna.  Then Sasha did three hours of calculus and I updated the blog.  🙂  We are about to go down to dinner.  As you will see if you click on the tournament link, he plays not before noon tomorrow.  So we have an easy morning.  As you will also see, he plays the 5 seed.  Should be a good match.

 

Happy New Year everyone!!

January 1, 2014

After our break at home for Christmas, Sasha and I met up at Newark Airport to begin our year in Europe.  We flew to Brussels then on to Copenhagen for a week of practice.  One of my best friends lives in Copenhagen so that will be our base for the next couple of months.  My friend Jan is a scientist, but foremost a tennis nut.  His club is hosting our practices and we are staying with him and his girlfriend Agnieszka and their four month old baby.  

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They live directly across the street from Tuborg Harbor in a lovely neighborhood just outside Copenhagen called Hellerup.

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We arrived in Copenhagen on the morning after Christmas.  We actually went to post Christmas lunch at Jan’s parents home.  Yea, it was partially a way to stay awake and try to deal with the jet lag that we would clearly experience since I was coming from my home in California and even the flight from New York still requires some adjustment.  We were in bed at 8:30.  Yea we slept on the plane a bit–I used miles to upgrade us to Business Class.
 
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And Sasha did take a nap or two:
 
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but for the most part we both stayed up for more than 24 hours.  That’s tough (especially for the elderly!!).
 
Consequently, we both woke up in the VERY early Friday morning (Sasha texted me at 3:20am and said he was awake–I got up around 5am).  After a great breakfast (Danish bread is the best), we decided to hit for an hour or so in the morning.  We were already scheduled to hit in the late afternoon/early evening.  Other than getting up that early, this pretty much became the schedule in Copenhagen.  Sasha and I would get up at 6am, have breakfast and stretch, then Jan would amble down at 7:15 have coffee and we went to morning practice.  Usually, we did 8am to 10am.  It was good because I could use Jan as a hitter (which he enjoyed) and work on some technical things with Sasha.  We would return home (via the bakery)
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to a second breakfast/lunch which included great bread, smoked salmon, etc.  Then there would be school for three or four hours, a snack and then a late afternoon/early evening practice.  Evening practice was usually sets.  Then there was dinner, pesto chicken, broccoli, salad, one night, baked chicken, asparagus, and salad, the next.  On Sunday night, Agnieszka made a great indian dinner, then on our last night in Copenhagen we had–make your own Asian Spring Rolls along with a special desert that Jan makes only around New Years.

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Was absolutely delicious with herb tea but unpronounceable Kransekage (at least for those of us who don’t speak Danish) .  We were really finding our routine in Copenhagen.  Good food, great place to stay, great practices, ah, but it’s time to go to Sweden for the our first ITF of 2014.