Well that whole bit about keeping fingers crossed for normal tennis balls.. ya well, I guess we could’ve prayed harder… a return to Mexican tennis means a return to cardboard boxes full of pressure-less tennis balls.. but I digress.
So as I boarded my direct flight from SA to Mexico DF, I made a very crucial error (no self-termed savvy traveler would make this faux pas), instead of inquiring as to the occupancy level of the flight, I stepped aboard and hard-charged toward my 7th row middle seat, determined to get primetime overhead space for my precious- tennis racket-cargo. Much to my dismay, I was quickly encircled by two ‘significantly-proportioned’ travelers. No sooner did they buckle their seta belts, did I realize that these were the last two passengers were the last aboard the flight. As the flight attendants ran their best impression of a Peyton Manning hurry-up offense (ya they were that good), I finally had an inkling of what it felt to be an exhausted D-lineman, trapped between the O-lineman juggernauts and unable to escape to the space and serenity of the sidelines. I was left to envy the nearly 30 open seats all around the plane. Reading back over this paragraph, I am aware of how overly dramatic and it may sound, and it certainly is a bit trivial,but in the moment I couldn’t believe how such a rookie error had cost me that all-important airplane cat-nap opportunity.
Back to something that matters…..
I landed in DF and was ecstatic to see what a breeze Mexican customs could be in now my second trip through. I had made contact with a friend of a friend via text message the evening before I left Texas in an attempt to set up a practice for my first afternoon in Mexico. Turns out, we had both done one better. Keith Crowley (South African by way of a Finance degree at Miami) had just beaten me to DF by about 2 hours and after scoping out the scene had elected to wait for me to split the hour cab ride to club Sayavedra. What a guy! We quickly hit it off (even before tennis balls were in play.. shameless, I know) and our surprisingly light traffic commute was over before we knew it. I never quite appreciated the power of currency conversions, but this hour cab fare had only set us back the equivalent of $20 each!
We arrived at the club and were instantly impressed with how abruptly the scenery had changed from the urban jungle that is 23 million+ people in DF… I would soon learn that we were in Estado de Mexico, not only different in name, but not nearly as crazed with big-city hustle and bustle.
I’ve included some pictures to show how picturesque this week’s club is.. Sincerely worried that we may be enjoying the best club in this first week, here’s to hoping this string of Mexican futures will prove me wrong.
Tennis is nothing short of shocking at this level of elevation. Turns out, the elevation in Atizapan de Zaragoza (our district within Estado de Mexico) is over 8000 feet! So maybe I’m happy(?) that we are playing with ‘dead’ balls this week as I still haven’t figured out how to put 3 balls in a row into the court.. fortunately for me, neither has anyone else.
After two days of very good practices with Keith and a few Mexicans I met back in January, we were ready (as ready as we could be) for today’s first matches. I played a 6’3″ Mexican first round and he certainly didn’t need the extra pop that elevation gives the ball. Today wasn’t great tennis, but I was very happy with how I handled the conditions against a good player who practices at this very club. I mixed in a few attempts at ground-stroking in between crazed net-rushing kamikaze schemes, but in the end it was good enough, and timely enough to notch a 6-3, 7-5 victory.
To celebrate our two victories, the big South African and I had a practice session in which we ALMOST had a rally, we are certainly making grand progress haha. A light weight session rounded out the day followed by a substantial club-provided buffet dinner (oh ya there was certainly plenty of fajita mix and tortillas de maiz to be had by all).
I have yet again been blessed with an exceptional family that has offered to ‘house’ me for the week, but it has been too entertaining to gloss over with just a few words. So stay tuned …
This post has dragged on long enough… time to hit the hay and prep for tomorrow’s second round match.