Les Petits As Blog
During the last week of January, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 2012 Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters in Tarbes, France. The wheelchair tournament hosted eight boys and four girls. The delegation from the US included Ryan Nelson from Utah, my coach Mimi Kennell and myself.
The event commenced with a three-day high performance training camp prior to the tournament. I arrived in Tarbes on Sunday afternoon and began training on Monday. That day I met my competitors Angelica Bernal (Columbia), Lauren Jones (Great Britain), and Busra Un (Turkey). I was excited to have the opportunity to hit with the other junior players at the camp. The boys included Carlos Anker (Netherlands), Shepherd Banda (Zimbabwe), Rody de Bie (Netherlands), Alfie Hewett (Great Britain), Augustin Ledesma (Argentina), Marco Sousa (Brazil), and Jeroen Staman (Netherlands).
For the next two days we trained while adjusting to the cool weather and the change in altitude. On Tuesday night, we attended the opening ceremony and the players were greeted by the mayor of Tarbes. On Wednesday, the draws were unveiled and the round robin matches officially began Thursday morning.
My opening match was challenging as I took the defending champion, Angelica Bernal from Columbia, to three sets but lost with a score of 6-4, 0-6, 1-6.
I did not let my first match loss discourage me. I refocused and won my next two matches. My second match was against the number 1 seed: Busra Un from Turkey. My score was 6-0, 6-0. I then went on to play Lauren Jones from Great Britain. My score was 6-0, 6-1.
Saturday afternoon I teamed up with Busra Un to play doubles against Bernal and Jones. Our match was exciting and our final score was 3-6, 6-1, 14-12, after saving 5 match points in the third set tiebreaker.
At the conclusion of the round robin matches, I qualified for the finals and a re-match against Angelica Bernal. I was a little nervous because I had never played in front of so many people before—there must have been about 100 spectators that morning. We went to at least ten deuces, but I didn’t win the points that mattered. My final score was 1-6, 2-6.
I played well during the tournament and placed second in singles and first in doubles. I benefited greatly by attending the tournament by watching superior tennis that was played by both wheelchair and able-bodied players. It was not all about the tennis, though, and there are unforgettable memories and endearing relationships that were created off the court with the other players and their coaches that will stay with me for a long time.