Day # 3 started extremely early – at 5:40 a.m.! The tournament venue had 3 courts only. The matches scheduled to start at 8 a.m., so the only available time for practicing & warming-up is from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m (last half an hour reserved for the first match players). If I say that Sashka is an early bird, it won’t be true. So this wake up was really, really hard to complete. Soon or late, but at 6:30 we sat in the taxi driving us to the venue…
We almost run out of money (till Monday when Sashka’s mother should put some money on my card), but this time it was no alternative to taxi (5 EUR). This is what we saw from the car:
So it would be too challenging to spend 40 minutes walking there in the very early morning – even for us!
Sashka paired with Kamilla Rakhimova from Russia to make a practice. Kamilla is Top 100 ITF Juniors player and a very friendly girl. They knew each other for a long time, and even played vs. each other once (Sashka won in Denmark in 2015). So it was a positive warm up full of dialogues, jokes and… good tennis hitting.
After the practice we returned to the hotel, checked out, and spent a couple of hours in a very small lobby. I dreamed a bit about our own bed & breakfast hotel, with tennis courts in the backyard :). May be, in the next life…
…We arrived at th club again near 2 p.m. to discover that same lovely picture of crazy crowd which (as I think) will disappear on adult tournaments:
After two more hours of waiting Sashka entered the court in the first quali vs. Meyerova (SVK).
It was a good match. Both girls served good, everything went in quite a high speed. It was not a comfortable scenario for Sashka who plays only on clay, even in winter, but she managed to shorten points by attacking fast, actively using aggressive returns, crosses etc. Things turn out worse in the middle of the second set where Sashka losing 3:4 with one her serve lost, but she added some spins & slices to the game, an opponent started to make mistakes & lost the serve… The final score was 6:3, 6:4, and a very positive start of 2017 year.
Sashka should eat something before the second match scheduled not before 21:00. But we had only 6 EUR, and taxi to the town cost 5 EUR. So we decided to walk.
It was terribly cold, and this is quite uncomfortable to make a promenade near the frozen Slovak lake at -10C plus this (fucking) wind!!! We spent almost 1 hour outside, ate local pizza (it was excellent again – why Slovaks make such a good pizza everywhere :), and spent last 1 EUR for a cup of hot tea for Sashka upon return to the tennis club.
And then the second match arrived. It was fast, painful and hopeless: 1:6, 0:6 from Czech girl Lavickova. The strangest thing that this girl is basically from the same group as Sashka is. They are both 300-400 of ITF Juniors, and playing vs. the same range of players on the same tournaments. But this time it was all the way different: Lavickova served very good – and Sashka not. Lavickova returned fast & agressively into the secure zone in the middle of the court putting a constant pressure on Sashka. And Sashka’s return… stayed in the locker’s room :(.
At all, Lavickova was better on all components. As for Sashka, she was a grey shadow of herself in the previous match. May be she was overtired or overcold during our “pizza walk”…well, we had no choice anyway.
But I believe that the main reason is an underpracticing. Lavickova was well-prepared to this series of tournament, on this surface, with this speed played. And Sashka is still out of the normal training process. She pulled out the first match on her talent & willingness to fight. But it was not enough vs. well-trained (and also very talented) opponent.
Sashka was really, really disappointed, with a healthy portion of tears attached. At the same time she clearly understands that she is not in her optimal stance, so her problems, specially on faster surfaces, were predictable and anticipated.
In other words, we see it, now we are going to fix it.
One more frozen walk, this time from the venue to the hotel (45 minutes, brrr!), with that same weather we avoid in the early morning – and at 1 a.m. we finally reached our hotel…
…Monday, 9 January, was a day on the go. We quickly visited Bratislava Castle before our departure from Slovakia. The problem arrived in Wien – Sashka ate something wrong in the street food kiosk, so she was terribly sick and pucked out in the bus. I decided to stay for one more night in Zagreb (45 EUR, good hotel but no breakfast – unplanned costs), and it was a right decision, as she hardly reached the hotel which was just 150m from the bus station.
Now I am drinking coffee in a small bar near the hotel, and Sashka is trying to “get back to life” in her room. She is OK, but very weak after yesterday problems. We overspent – mainly because of that last night hotel, it was expensive for us, but the nearest to the bus station – so we have money only on one bus tickets – for 2 persons.
Happily, we found a transportation on local car-pooling service BlaBlaCar. One guy who goes from Zagreb to Porec by cur will drive two of us for exactly that amount of money we have – cheaper that one bus ticket!
So this trip is going to its end. Sashka played 2 matches with 1:1 score for now. Not so bad. We will try to make the score better. Some positive changes already came in Sashka’s life, and more of them on the way.
You can support Sashka’s tennis travels. A small contribution to her PayPal account firstname.lastname@example.org or Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign will be greatly appreciated. See more options to support Sashka here.