G`day! What a start to the trip!
I hope I am writing with the same enthusiasm at the end of the 2 weeks!
So, after a long old journey from Gibraltar to Heathrow…Heathrow to Singapore (no upgrade…but that is another story!) a boost smoothie later and back on the plane next to my 2 friends – the twins (aged 11 months) cute…but noisy! Singapore to Melbourne and now switch to domestic terminal – somehow manage to hide 3kg of weight (from my bag!) to ensure no extra Ryanair costs and on I went to Sydney. As I was getting on the plane I hear a shout ‘Kierno!’ Who the hell knows me in Melbourne?! It was British players Ross Hutchins, Colin Fleming and coach Louis Cayer- it was good to see them even if I was in a daze at this point!
We arrived in Sydney and shared transport to their hotel before on to Melbourne Park. As they left the car at the hotel, I was asked if I minded sharing the car to Melbourne Park ‘of course not’ was my reply and in stepped Jo Wilfred Tsonga, surreal moment!
I was going to Melbourne Park to see STA full-time player Valeria Savinykh and STA access player Freddie Nielsen who were in the last round of qualifying for the Aussie open. I kindly got a coaches pass off Jonny Marray (top 100 ATP doubles player) and was now mixing with the stars! From Murray to Sharapova to watch Nadal, Djokovic and Klijsters up close and personal entertain the crowd. I heard Freddie’s name called, so off I go to support and watch a stunning performance from a good friend of mine. It was an absolute pleasure to be there to see Freddie, after 10 years as a pro, qualify for his first grand slam – standing next to Carolina Wozniaki (world number 1) who was supporting him for the full match was another surreal experience. Well done Fred and straight over to Court 13 where our own Valeria Savinykh was in action. I hr 20 mins later a cry of come on and a fist pump in my direction and we have our first ever STA Grand Slam main draw player – I am very proud of Valeria and her great determination in a fine performance.
Off to the player’s lounge to see Valeria’s mum and after a great catch up with Freddie and many other familiar faces, it was a quick dash to the train station for the 18.25 train- myself and Si Broady (Liam’s dad) arrive at 18.27 without a ticket and with a full blown sprint! We managed to shout and get the train to wait! Phheew!
Two hours later we arrived at Traralgon for the Junior ITF Grade 1 with STA players Josh ward Hibbert and Liam Broady.. at last bed! I was still so excited and spent time up loading pictures from the day and catching up with my gorgeous wife on the last 56 hours which were a blur, but full of excitement and pride.
The last 2 days in Traralgon have continued in the positive manner with 2 great wins for Josh including a win over the world junior number 18. But what has been most pleasing has been the process in which those victories have come- following the JWH (Josh Ward Hibbert) way and playing the game we have worked so hard on as a team the last 18 months.
Liam lost a toughie, but has stepped up big in the doubles to date.
Tomorrow morning Josh has his 3rd round in Traralgon at 11am and Valeria her main draw in Melbourne at 3pm. It is 2 and half hours door to door. So who do I watch!? You kidding me…not a chance I will miss either!
More from me tomorrow, hopefully with more good news – not just the result, but the way in which they both approach their matches, which I am confident will be great.
Director, SotoTennis Academy
Inspiring Excellence | Tennis Academy Spain