I really don’t know how to describe my tennis day, so I’ll start with the super boring non-tennis stuff and hope I figure out a way.
I slept a blissful 9 hours. Got up, called about the DC tickets and the guy said there would be a lady in the lobby in an hour. So, I ate a huge breakfast and then sat down for a minute…and fell asleep again. D’oh! Went downstairs…no lady. Called, guy said someone would be there soon, they were having troubles, but that the bus left at 2 if I wanted to go out a bit – just be sure to be back before then. So, I walked across the street, passed a garbage dump (oh, that explains the smell) and through a car park (on the way back, there was a guy peeing in it – more smell) and then to the beach. The beach isn’t too pretty right here, but it’s still nicer than any Texas gulf beach I’ve seen. They were doing a lot of work on stuff in the area – which makes sense with it being the off-season. I just sat awhile and enjoyed the sound of the waves. Walked back and…got my tickets! Yay!
I go back downstairs at 1:55 and there’s no bus outside. Finally see one around the corner, but the door is closed and no one’s in it. Go back in and ask the lady and she says they are running late. I ask about tomorrow and Sunday and she says to be there at 12:30 tomorrow and 10:15am on Sunday. Okay. Go back outside because it’s cooler and eventually, we are told to get on the bus. Then things get confusing. There’s a lot of discussion in Spanish and Czech and I don’t understand a word. Finally, a bunch of people yell out “Vamos Campeones!” and get off the bus and go to a second one that’s pulled up. The heck? Turns out, the bus was just declared the Czech bus and I got a lovely instructional tour of the city on the way to the tournament in Czech. Well, okay.
We get there and I have to take a few pictures before going inside. I mean, the place is so cool and I love the big tower that held the Olympic flame in 1992. Then, I went in, bought a few goodies and found my seats after a bit of confusion. The seat numbering is totally different from anything I’ve encountered. I don’t know if it’s a Spanish thing or what, but each section number is divided in half and then the odd numbered seats are in one half and the even in another. The seats aren’t bad at all – pretty good for being close, but not great for photo taking. I’m on the same side as the team and the chair umpire is blocking most of my few of the far end. Oh well, a set or two in and I didn’t care!
They had a little ceremony at first – introduced the officials, team captains and teams. The roar that Rafa got was amazing. They then played each team’s national anthem. (Sadly, their backs were to me this whole time, so I figure the same will be true of any trophy ceremony.) Then, everyone cleared the court except the team captains and the players who were playing first. Rafa looked nervous and that had me a bit worried. And, at first, his game had me a bit worried too. He still seemed tentative and like he was over-thinking, but slowly that started changing. It was like he had a very heavy and difficult to lift light-switch in his head. It took a while to get it into the on position, but once there, it was on, baby! The guys on the bench looked calm and cool – like they just knew this was going to happen. They didn’t cheer or yell at him oodles, but then he didn’t really need it. He was pumping himself up (*ahem*) and doing a damn fine job if it. It was amazing to see how much this match meant to him. You could almost feel the relief flowing out of him as that light-switch went on and he started rolling. Towards the end, he was doing his usual being pissy with himself for missing shots…when he was way ahead. A very different and fun to see pissy than the slightly desperate one we’ve been seeing lately. I was sooooo happy to see it back. He celebrated the win like it had been a tough 5 setter that he barely squeaked through. It was great to see him happy and high-fiving his teammates.
I don’t know what to say about the Ferrer match – except to say that he tried to kill me, Rafa and a huge chunk of Spain. I thought he was through, completely through. And then Stepanek’s evil drop shots stopped working for him and Daveeeeed stepped things up. Little did I know, the roller-coaster was just starting. He kept getting behind and fighting back only to lose his lead again. Every service game was like slow torture. I was going crazy.
I have to stop and explain something here: I don’t yell, wave flags or jump up and down during tennis matches. I’ve often wished I was the kind of person who did that, but I’m not. Well, I did’t wave anything and I still don’t jump, but I yelled….and I fist pumped…and I yelled some more….and I bruised my thigh from hitting it so often. And if you think I was in overdrive? Oh dear. Rafa. If Rafa has kids that go into sports, I fear for them, their teammates, opponents and parents of both sides. He yelled, he gesticulated, he told the other guys on the bench exactly what Ferrer was doing wrong, he chewed on his shirt and his fingers, he jumped up on his chair, he hit the board that separates them from the court and he kicked it a few times too. I coudn’t decide what was more exhausting – watching him cheer or watching Ferrer play.
Anyway, I feel so bad about writing Ferrer off in my mind after those first sets. He gave that match all he had and then some. And then he gave some more. I couldn’t see his “fall to the ground” at the end, but love how, as soon as he shook the proper hands, he ran over to his teammates. He was happy he hadn’t let them down and they were so happy to see him pull that through. An amazing show of team spirit in an individual sport. God, I love Davis Cup.
It’s 2am and I’m still copying pictures from the flash cards to my computer, so I doubt I’ll get any teaser photos up for you today. Perhaps after the presumably shorter day tomorrow.