2011 Europe

Tennis at Geneva

Decided to play an extra tournament in Europe on the clay, checked out the ITF Senior’s website and found a tournament at Geneva commencing the week of the 3rd September. Sent an email off to their tournament director Daniel Auberson with details; he directed me to their website www.seniongenevaopen.com where I completed an online entry.

Before I could check out the draw Jillian sent me a text to say that I was number two seed to another Aussie Peter Keller from Melbourne.

Entry Form & Courts

We booked accommodation at an apartment block at Annamasse just 300meters on the French side of the boarder of the main road into Geneva from Mont Blanc.  Booked in Sunday and went for a drive into the courts to check the layout and see if I could get a practice hit; drove around the block three times before we found the entrance via the courtyard of a five star hotel in the central park. No signs leading to the club, anyway who needs signs, the club has been there since 1896 and everyone knows where it is except the Rheinbergers.

Driving the 6kms to the courts of a morning is a challenge. French rules for the first 300 meters with the little green go lights at eye level on the intersection lights and pedestrian crossings marked out with the required signage; then you go through the border checkpoint which may or may not be patrolled. A tram line then comes in from the right and run up the middle of the road, later down the road we share the road with the tram but it has the right of way. And then there are the motor bikes, step-through scooters and bicycles ridden by all age groups. They will pass you on either side and in some stretches there is a dedicated bike lane near the gutter. They always creep to the front at the stop light to take the green first. The road can be anything from one to three lanes wide in places. I have been taking it steady off at the traffic lights which give you an orange warning light first, but when three little cars beat me off the mark from the other lane and cut in front of me, I suppose I am being a bit cautious.  Another interesting feature of my hire car, a Seat manual, is that when waiting at a stop light, you throw it into neutral and take your foot off the clutch, the motor cuts out (I expect to save fuel and reduce pollution); then when you put your foot on the clutch the motor starts, you engage gear and away you go.  With all those hurdles we managed to get to and from the courts each day without incident.

Centre Court with Clubhouse in the background

Monday was a bye day for the first three seeds, so went into the club to meet the officials and look for a practice. One of the ladies heard me enquiring about Peter Keller and rounded him up to come and meet me. He had just had a light hit with his mixed partner so he had some lunch and we booked Court 12 for 2pm.

Two Swiss guys were playing their match for the right to play me, so went over to check out their form. Ivan won the match easily and looked to stoke the ball well.

Court 15 with really good change rooms underneath

Tuesday, organised another hit with Peter before we were due to play our matches at 4pm. Drawn to play Ivan on Court 17 which faces the other way in relation to the rest of the courts. A bit nervous to start and a long game on my serve but eventually winning it; he won his to love and it was back to my serve again; a bit easier this time and gaining some confidence. He won his serve again and it was back to two all; started to hit the ball much better now and went on to win 6-2 and 6-1.

Wednesday was a bye for everyone except Peter; he could not get a match on Tuesday because his opponents were dragging the chain. Thursday was another late match against the Frenchman, Serge Guerin who was seeded seven and had played around seven tournaments throughout France. Peter was also drawn against another Frenchman who appeared to be a dark horse in the draw; he did it tough although he won 6-2 6-2. Serge and I went down to Court 6 which had not been prepared so we ran the bagger over our ends. A tentative start again; with these Europeans lobbing the ball in normal rallies, it’s hard to get any rhythm; I struggled but won the set 6-2. Serving at three all in the second set and leading 40-30 I hit a ball over into his backhand and he threw up a lob which I smashed about 2 inches inside the forehand service court side-line. I started to walk around the net and he came over and said the ball was out. By this time I was around and pointed out the mark and asked him to show me the out mark as there was none on the outside of the line. He argued it was his call, so we played two and I won.

We changed ends; on his serve we were deuce and I won the next and he won the add point and promptly called it game. Another dispute which I conceded and now it was now four all. Because I had missed a few smashes earlier he keep giving me some more and we carried on like this for the next three games. His serve at five six and thirty forty and I hit a ball deep into his backhand about 6 inches in from the corner (waiting for the out call) which he could not return; the match was finally mine 6-2 7-5.

Went over to check out the other quarter with a Swiss playing an Italian; they went to the third set with the Italian winning but I though the Swiss had better ground strokes but ran out of steam.

Courts 2 & 5 Lovely aspect for players & viewers

Friday’s match was drawn for first after the eleven o’clock match but it went for so long that we did not get onto the court until around 2pm. Talk about being tentative on what was were a beautiful court and conditions, although the sun had moved around and did not suit me from one end. I think it was probably the worst match I have played in twenty years and Gae said it certainly was not dazzling tennis to watch. Struggled to six all and fell over the line in the tiebreaker. I was always going to win but how long would it take. In the second set I started to hit the ball and out stroked him to 3-0 and he conceded sighting an ankle injury and he had another tournament to go to (pussy).

Peter reached the final and we were scheduled to play at 10am on Saturday along with only two other finals. Court two was in perfect condition and we were allocated a central umpire. Both stroked the ball well in the hit up (none of this high ball European stuff). Held my first serve but dropped one to be down four two; however, got back to level at four all and went on to the tiebreaker at six all. Played a poor tiebreaker and lost 7-3.

Peter found his range in the second set with deeper shots and got away to a three love start. I had several deuces on my serve but lost and then another opportunity on Peter’s serve but failed to capitalise. A couple of loose balls on my serve and it was all over 6-0. Geneva Mens 65 Singles

Peter & I after the match

Enjoyed a couple of beers after with Peter, Cathie and Gae and that was it for Geneva. Peter & Cathie were catching the train to another tournament near Nice the next morning; while Gae & I headed to the German Black Forest area.

Tennis at Tunbridge Wells

Received a text at Windsor that my first match would be at 2.30 on Wednesday for the Tunbridge Wells tournament.

The Lawn Courts

Looked up the Web site www.lta.tournamentsoftware.com  Code KEN402  to see that I was seeded No. 1 again. This time I need to win to justify the seeding.

Hard & Clay Courts

Chris Ornstein who defeated me at Frinton received 8th seed and is in the bottom half with an English guy Michael Hepker who lives in the south of France and is seeded two as he is ranked three in UK. Tunbridge Wells Tennis Club has 8 grass courts, 10 hard courts (a hot mix with a paint coating) and 3 new synthetic clay courts which have just being laid at a cost of one hundred thousand pound.

Travelled from Windsor via the London ring road M25 and arrived at hotel at 3pm. Down to the club at six and found a local player who was happy to give me a hit. We were then joined by another couple and had a couple of sets of doubles. All very weak but I needed the hit.

There is a junior event being run alongside the seniors with juniors in the am and seniors after lunch. Courts were not available until 7.30 so missed out on a hit on Monday.

Tuesday, Gae & I went for a drive to Hastings & Eastbourne and in the afternoon went down to the club to watch the opposition play their match. All courts were full, so went over to the three synthetic clay courts to have a hit on the practice wall. A German guy asked if I wanted a hit so we practiced for about an hour and had a couple of sets before moving over to the grass and playing another couple of sets.

Wednesdays match was scheduled for 2.30pm and was an easy 6-1 6-0, he was weak but I am in no mood to muck around this week, I have a job to do.

Rain on Thursday and did not look like getting a start, however my opposition had travelled some distance and we agreed to play over on the synthetic clay. Another 6-1 6-0, he was quite mobile but I enjoyed the hit on synthetic and it would save me having two matches tomorrow.

Friday, had to wait for David Drayson & Stuart Smith to play their morning match and then played the winner Stuart at 3.30. Won the first set 6-2 and then Stuart conceded with a cramp in his calf. I was looking forward to the second but Stuart was rather exhausted after his earlier match and has not had many matches of recent years as he has been chair of the LTA.

John on court 1

Chris lost his singles to Michael 7-6 6-4 so I play Michael in the final. Received a walkover in my doubles with Chris as our opponents have been  stuck on the M25 for the last two and a half hours.

Saturday, singles scheduled for 11.30 with two doubles matches after. As other matches started at 11, we were the last on and got the bottom court with the greatest slope to the side. Michael & I had both had matches on this court so there was no disadvantage to either. A tense start and a big game at 1-2 to hold at two all and went on to win the first set 6-2. Worked my way up to 5-1 and conceded a tight game to be serving at 5-2. Fifteen all on my serve and it started to rain, played the next point and had an east volley when I slipped over and the match was called off. Only a light shower but we retreated to the clubhouse and later the tournament director offered us the synthetic clay to complete the match. Michael conceded the match at this point and headed off to London to be ready for the closed Wimbledon event next week.

The Council Indoor Centre

Chris & I went up to the four indoor courts and play our doubles semi, won 6-1 6-2 and then returned to play the final on the compound courts. Won the final 6-2 & 6-4.

Singles Trophy

A good tournament overall with a pleasing result.  Off to London for five days and then Paris before heading out into the French countryside. May play the tournament at Grasse near Nice starting Aug 17th and Geneva in Switzerland on Sep 5th

Tennis at Frinton on Sea

Arrived Saturday afternoon after the Eurostar trip from Brussels to London and collected a hire car at Heathrow airport.

We are staying with the Tilletts, Melanie & Nigel who are club members and live just across the way from the club. They provide a B & B each year for the Seniors Tournament and next week’s Satellite event.

The club house has been around for a 100 years, and has a unique tennis club with a thatched roof. The courts have suffered from four months of drought since February and are not in their best condition.

Frinton Clubhouse with thatched roof

I managed to have a light hit on Sunday morning and again in the afternoon. I was given number one seed based on my ITF ranking prior to Portschach in a 16 player field.

No play scheduled in the singles for Monday as all finals are to be played on Saturday; as you would expect full sunshine for Monday & Tuesday and rain scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday & Friday.

The social atmosphere of Frinton

First match was against John Court who comes over for the week to have a hit of tennis and a few games of golf on the nearby course. Second match was against a Frenchman Yannick Aubree who lectured at University of NSW for 30 years and had played against Geoff Metzler at White City.

The semi-final was disappointing as the South African withdrew after the first set with a shoulder injury.

No play on Friday and final scheduled for 10am Saturday. Chris Ornstien migrated to Australia when he was four years old and returned to England at 47. He does not play many tournaments but coaches at Chichester in West Sussex. The court was a little moist after overnight rain and made the going tough. Four all in the first set and he got away 6-4. Tightened up and cut out the errors in the second set and won 6-2.   A good start in the third set and had a break and serving at 4-3 but did not take the bit between my teeth and lost the next two serves and the set 4-6.

Finalists John & Chris

Teamed up with Chris to win the doubles and made arrangement for a possible pairing at Tunbridge Wells in three weeks.

A very enjoyable time at Frinton but could have had more tennis. There is a need for the round robin doubles, combined & mixed like Merimbula. Will see what the next tournament brings at Tunbridge Wells in Kent on August 1st. Pulled up stakes and driving to Scotland for next week.

Tennis at Portschach

Well my first experience on clay, difficult to say the least. I was given 8th seed & in the fourth quarter, a good draw in my opinion. The guy in the first round was a local Austrian who knew how to drop shot and hit the ball within a foot of the line. The court was wet and the ball would take a divot and stand up rather than coming through.

I had even had a 30 minute practice that morning but still could not get the feel of the ball.

Lost the first set 7-5 and then struggled to get the second in a tie breaker and had two love lead in the third only to lose the next four games and eventually set 6-3. Disappointing but a lesson on clay. Helmut won his next match 6-3 3-0 ret and then lost the semi 6-1 6-2.

I immediately accepted an invitation to play the consolation and was given top seed, considering I was the highest seed to exit the first round. I received a bye for the first round and had only played the first game when my opponent complained that I was too strong for the consolation. He could beat everyone else in the draw and would get German points for winning the consolation. I beat him 6-1 6-0 but needed court time to get used to the clay. Won the semi  6-1 6-2 and the final 6-0 6-3 so there was two Germans and one Austrian not happy with me.

Jan Johns lined me up with Wally Teis from Toowoomba, we got 4th seed and a bye for the first round.

Well you should have seen us, we were like two tentative newcomers playing on ice. Lost the first set 4-6 and somehow won the next 7-5 and at 3-2 in the super tiebreaker we had hit the front eventually winning (10-7).

Received a forfeit from the number one seeds and played an Austrian pair in the final. Lost the first set again 4-6 and came back in the next 6-3. Another super tiebreaker which we lost 10-8 after being 8 all. A silver medal this time but feeling much better on the clay.

Week two, the European Championships, 10th seed this time and in the 2nd  quarter with 45 in the draw. This time I had an easier Austrian Franz Filipp 6-0 6-1, then German 7th seed Wolfgang Korn 6-4 6-4 to setup a match against the number two seed.

Unseeded Norbert Fries accounted for Johannes Muhlenburg who was a finalist last week, 7-5 in the third and for some reason forfeited to me in the quarters.

American David Nash took out the 4th seed and then in a tough three setter eliminated 8th seed Klaus Kreuzhuber  5-7 6-4 7-5 to setup the semi with me.

I was feeling a little more comfortable with the courts as they were drying out after some heavy rain but David Nash at 6’2” had an accurate serve to both corners. After returning serves from a foot inside the court I moved back to three feet behind the baseline which gave me more time to see  his serve. This worked well as David could serve and volley but could not run well.

Struggled to 6 all but won the tiebreaker (7-3). Got an early break in the second set but surrendered it at 4 all and had a struggle to hang in for the tiebreaker. Some good concentration at this point enabled me to hang on and win (7-4) to reach the final.

Meanwhile number one seed Peter Adrigan ( who had played Robert 30 years ago in Saarbrucken) was making his way through the draw after winning the event last week.

A poor result, I could only manage two games against the world number two on his favourite surface, on the positive side I got 120 points which should bring me to around 30 in the world and maybe a good seed at Frinton-on-sea in Essex on grass the Monday after Wimbledon.

Paired with Dennis Haupt from Adelaide for the 65 doubles and had a tough first round winning 7-5 6-4 and then 6-3 6-2 against the two seeds to setup a final against German pair Koglin & Sasker.

Another tennis lesson, they would not let us settle down and won 6-0 6-3 in a true clay court match.

Another silver medal and I even got to like the courts.

Details of the web site below if anyone would like to check out the other Aussies.

www.vetspoertschach.at Select English then Draws & Timetables and then either the Austrian or European Championships.

A few days each at Innsbruck, Salzburg  & Brussels before we take the Eurostar Train to London.

Gae has written some notes in the travel tab.

Regards to all

John

1 Response to 2011 Europe

  1. Ben spencer says:

    Awesome Johnny…a few more tournie’s and you’ll be world number 1!

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