Melanie South - Great Britain Tennis Player

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My Trip To Greece

I was looking forward to going somewhere new. I have been to lots of countries in Europe before but never Greece so it was a new adventure to a new place, culture, sites etc. All to be another log in my life as a tennis player. I was looking forward to going to Athens as it has so much history with the Olympics and for once i was actually hoping to go and see some sites as a tourist rather than just a hotel room and a tennis court. We flew out on the 30thof March after training at queens in the mourning. I got the train with Katie and we were cutting it a little bit fine. As we checked in the air stewardess started to tell us how we were nearly double the baggage allowance. We just looked at each other thinking this is going to be the trip from hell. Our luck soon turned around as she was really nice and let us off and for the first time in my life i had been upgraded to business class. When we entered the plane the stewardess looked at our tickets and said “turn left please” that is something that i have always dreamed of when entering a plane. You are usually told to turn right and be packed liked sardines with not a lot of leg room (although i must admit it is getting better). It was a great flight and not too long so we soon arrived at our destination.

Into the trip on the 1st of April i had my first match. This week we were playing on clay, not my favourite surface. I was very nervous as my last trip i had not done too well and i wanted to do a lot better on this one. I started the tournament very rusty but i got off to a good start and fought through a 3 set battle. The 2nd day i settled down a bit more and had a solid win over a Portuguese girl. I had a day off singles the following day so Katie, Luce and i went in before the matches to practise. A lucky thing we did as at the end of our practise it started to pour down with rain and our doubles was cancelled for the day. We went back to the hotel and i did some circuit training. There was no gym at the tennis club or hotel so i went up to the top floor of the hotel and did it in a very small corridor. I knew no one would go up there as it was the swimming pool level which was shut until summer. On the 4th of April i had my first round main draw. I had been drawn to play a wild card which is seen as a good draw but sometimes it is hard as you don't know them and they have nothing to lose. You can lose your focus easily and i found myself a set down after getting a little tight. I was 2-1 down in the second and she had game points and i just said to myself “you are not losing this, you are better than her, just make her play”. It was not pretty but i turned the match around and it was comfortable from then on. Katie and i had drawn wild cards in our doubles as well, they were a lot less experienced and we played solid so lucky for me it was over a lot quicker than my match earlier that day. We were not sure why but as they started the main draw on Monday and had the final scheduled for Sunday it meant there were 2 days off so the following day i did not have a match again. This can be hard as you want to get into a rhythm and get on with winning. I practiced twice and did some speed before getting my legs massaged to make sure i would be ready for the next day. I woke up the next mourning not yet knowing what a tough day i had ahead of me. I got up and did my mourning run routine before breakfast that i do every mourning i have a match. Then i was off to the club to have a hit and get ready for my match. I had to play A.Vedy a French girl who has been around for a while. She had come through qualifying too so we had both had a few matches to get ready. I went out there and really wanted to win, you don't always play well in tennis but if you keep competing it will come. the first set was really close and i ended up missing out on it by a couple of points losing it on a tie break 7-5. i came out all guns blazing and got to a 3-0 lead but she is a good fighter and dashed around the court not willing to give up anything. I managed to close out the set 7-5. the final set was just as tough. She was not letting up at all, she ran me around the court making as many balls as she could. The games were very close but she was slightly more patient and won the more important points. I was disappointed to lose as you usually are when you come off court. Needless to say Vedy fought her way through the tournament and came out the winner. After some lunch and a break i was back on court for my doubles match against the number one seeds the Niculescu sisters. It was an eventful match and another epic. We ended up losing in 3 sets but not before a whole lot of drama. The sisters are very competitive and will not give up but they can act a bit crazy on court. Monica screams and cries after losing some points and her sister in fact got a warning for attempting to hit a ball at her sister! Later that day the tournament had put on a bus tour of Athens. As i said earlier i was looking forward to seeing the sites and i went along to have a look. We saw different historic building but the two that caught my attention were the original Olympic stadium and the Acropolis. From there they took us to a really posh restaurant and we had an amazing meal overlooking Athens city. I had never been to a tournament that had done this for the players before. It was very kind of them and we all enjoyed it. The only downside was that Greek people eat very late and we did not start eating till half 10 and did not get back to the hotel till 12.30pm. We got up the following morning and packed to leave for the next tournament.

Patras which was a 2 and a half hour bus journey away. When we got there we went and praticed. This week the tournament was on hard courts which is hard to play on just coming off clay. They were very fast hard courts as well so we were hitting some balls very late trying to get use to it. I was very tired but but had a match to play the next day so i had to prepare. I opted for dinner at the hotel and an early night that evening. The 8th of April – My dads birthday “HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD”. That weekend i lost last round in the qualifying but was fortunate to get a lucky loser spot into the main draw as one girl pulled out late. Some people think you do not belong in the draw but as a tennis player you take any luck you can get as you know there will be lots of bad draws ahead of you. The 10th of April i had drawn another wild card. This time i had a young Greek girl who played very well. I found myself 2-5 down in the first set but stamped my authority and won 7-5 6-3. after a short break i was back on court to play doubles, however this time i was not stepping on the court with Katie but a Spanish girl who i had never played with before. This can usually be quite hard as you don't know how the other player likes to play but we really enjoyed it and went out there and played really well together. We had to play two girls that i thought would be quite tough but we played so well we won comfortably 6-2 6-2. After two matches i made sure i had a good stretch and a massage. That night i woke up at 3am to find by bed moving backwards and forwards. I wondered what the hell was going on but was still in a deep sleep so after moving around for a bit i went back to sleep. The next day someone said did you feel the earthquake last night. It was then that i realised i had experience my first ever Earthquake!!! I had another day to train and recovery before my test against M.Ruutel who was seeded. We had a tough fight and i played reasonably well but she came out on top in another 3 set match. I didn't come off court till 6.45 pm so my doubles was not before 8pm. We got on at 8 which was tough as i was getting tired and starting to lose focus. I managed to stick with it and give it all i could. We went out there with the intent to play our aggressive game and take charge but one of our opponents who is top 100 in doubles in the world was flying around the net, making it very difficult for us. Another loss in one day which meant i was not in the best of moods meant i had finished my tournaments in Greece and was on the bus back to Athens the next day. I had a 3 hour bus journey to Athens and then another hour bus to the airport. It was pretty easy to do but very boring by myself, i just kept my i pod in and switched off. My flight was at 7pm, 5 English time so i got back round 9.30pm. I always struggle to get to sleep when i come home as i look forward to seeing my parents and dog and have post to go through etc so i did not get to bed till 1 am however i had an active recovery day the following day so it did not matter too much.

Overall i would say my trip to Athens was good. I got some good work done and managed to get some points in singles and doubles so both my rankings will go up a bit more.

Mel xx

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