OMG her entry for $50K in Delhi gets even better
Last Blog of the Year!
It seems that my last blog has produced some off season excitement! I am glad I could provide some entertainment in the down time and welcome to the new readers.
Based on what I heard in Dubai I was almost ready to not go to India. I was told that there were going to be rats running around, the smell would be unbearable and it would be dirty beyond belief. When I blew my nose there were black buggers so that was evidence of the dirt, but besides that India could not have been better. All week Emily Webley-Smith and I cruised around in what the locals called an Auto—it had a motor, but it only had three wheel and no doors!
As I mentioned Delhi was polluted and very noisy, but that takes a back seat to the fact that there is something indescribable about India. This place is special. No matter how poor some of the people were they all had giant sometimes toothless smiles. Everyone was always smiling and wagging their heads! Early on in the summer I read a book called Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts which was situated in India. The book gave me some great insight into what India was going to be like. This is an awesome book and anyone who is looking for a good read or is going to India and wants to know what to expect about the culture and or the people this is the book for you.
Everyone treated us like we were famous. The hotel staff knew our names “Hello Miss Webley, Miss Moulton. Welcome, welcome how was the game today?” They love their sports women as they called us. In fact I think everyone we met asked us if we knew Sania Mirza. She is an Indian icon, but I think we right up there with her. Well at least for the week.
Despite the fact that I contemplated forgoing the tournament India I am obviously glad that I went. Emily and I had the pleasure of making the draw… at the time I didn’t think that I did a good job. Even though they were incredibly supportive after I told them about draw I know Kevin and Natasha were not very happy. They had hoped that I could get a break. Two seeds back to back and this time it was the second seed. Upon arriving to India I hadn’t practiced in three days and I was thinking that I might be able to make Christmas at home after all.
We played doubles first on Monday which is always good for me. Some where in the middle of the first set there was a lob that was hit that was hanging just in the air. I called it, but Emily thought I said you got it instead of I got it and of course she hit me in the forehead with her racquet. I thought about walking off the court and just catching a plane home. I was done, finished, ready to go home. Another freak accident was the last thing that I wanted to happen. Someone please tell me why I love doubles so much? It seems to be the place where I get injured the most. We managed to squeeze out a victory this time, but I thought that was going to be the last one. That match was not pretty.
Had we lost doubles I don’t know if I would have been as motivated to win my singles match. I figured I had to be here until Wednesday might as well go for it all. I can’t quite decide if thought I was going to win the match prior to walking on court. However, when we started the warm up I thought I was going to get crushed. I couldn’t even return one of her balls. It shocked me when the first game took 10 minutes. I started to think that I could hang with Miss Ruutel. I lost the first 4-6, but in the second set she won a huge point on a let court and screamed “COME ON” very loudly. I thought there odd going on here… I began to get the feeling that she was nervous and she thought she could possibly lose this match. She began to crack. I got more fired up, pumping my fist and hitting attacking forehands!!!!! Even though towards the end of the match I couldn’t make a forehand to save my life I won the match 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. This was a huge win for me. My third win over a top 200 player since October. Now, the hardest thing to do after a win like that is to go out and win another match. It is even harder when it is a match that you should easily win.
This was the case for my second round singles match. I played a young girl from Slovakia who was ranked in the 700s. She swung as hard as she could at everything. Normally this would be a great thing for me. I love playing people like this and at the beginning of the match I still loved it. But what happens when the fearless little 17 year old starts to make everything and hitting winners left and right? I crawled back into my comfort zone of pushing and running which obviously doesn’t work against a girl who is hitting rockets right threw me. I was down 3-4 in the second and something familiar started to happen. I could sense tightness, I could smell the fear and once again my opponent started to crack. I was just waiting for the moment to occur so that I could start my grind to victory. Wasn’t playing my best tennis but sometimes positive body language is enough to do the trick. That day it was. After having a mild break down in the first set I came back to win the match 6-1 in the third.
Doubles was almost as special. Emily had lost a tough 3 setter against the number 1 seed and was bummed but ready to play. I on the other hand was in la la land. I think I was mildly exhausted after my back to back emotionally draining 3 set singles matches and I came out flat. It was a tough match to play because there was a huge discrepancy in the level of play of our opponents. The girl who I had to play in singles the next day was a solid player. She was formally top 100 in singles and doubles. She only made 3 errors the whole match. And the other girl a tall girl from France who looks like she is should be a model. Either she would hit a winner or hit the fence so hitting to her was a gamble. Some how we got lucky and won the first set 7-6 and I think they just gave up in the second set allowing us to win it 6-1.
This brings us to Thursday, Christmas day. In the morning when I woke up I was wired. This was a result of me wanting to win a little too badly. This is never a good thing for me. If I am really nervous at times have an inability to channel my energy properly and I spin my wheels. My warm up for the singles match was like that. I was way to over excited and I was spraying balls every where. Through my pre match routine was able to achieve my optimal arousal level and played the most even quelled match of the tournament. There were no mental lapses. I played solidly. I hope and waited for my opponent to crack. She did… I think everyone was ready for the season to be over and to get home. I was just able to hang on a little bit longer than most.
We played the Uberoi sister in doubles. They are both stellar players and to be honest I did not think we were going to win this match. We definitely got some help from upstairs to win this match. At key moments in the match they had sitter volleys and they missed almost every one! I don’t know how that happened but it all worked out in our favor so I am thankful, but I cant say it is because we beat them. They lost the match. They didn’t win the big point when they mattered most and it is because of that that we won.
Although I played the most well constructed singles set of my life, I got complacent. I think I was so shocked by the fact that I had made this far—the semis of singles and finals of doubles—in the tournament and I made it through my first Christmas by myself that I was not mentally prepared to fight as hard as I need to win both matches of Friday. Don’t get me wrong, by no means did I tank or give up at any moment, but I cannot say that I could have been carried out on a stretcher. In retrospect I want to kick myself for not completely laying it on the line. I must also give credit to both of my opponents. The girl in singles was crying—I think it is some sort of weird strategy to distract her opponents—in the beginning of the third set, but was able to step up when in counted. The girls in double played absolutely flawless doubles. Emily asked me what I would have done differently if we had to play them again and I said nothing, I would have played exactly the same way. They played very well and deserved to win the tournament.
While I did well on the tennis court it was such an enlightening experience to come to India. On Friday after Emily and I lost the finals we went back to the hotel dropped our things off and went shopping at the local markets to get some gifts. Naturally people selling things at the markets want to make a huge profit so they initially charge you a huge amount. We were told by some people at the tennis club that we would be stupid to take the starting price. We should slash the original price in half and work your way from there. Emily and I thought we were both going to be no good at it because off court we are big softies... When we got there we both turned into monsters! Haggling has got to be one of the most exhilarating things that I have ever done in my life. It is an empowering feeling to know that you have the ability to wheel and deal and bargain.
After Emily left I ventured out by myself before my flight. Not so sure if that was a great idea. The two guys who had taken us shopping yesterday took me out to explore Delhi. They took me to see quite a few temples, the gate of India, the dwelling of the President and many other things. I didn’t have shopping in mind, but I think my tour guides has other plans for me. I went into one of the temples and when I came out they all swarmed around me. Shoving booklets in my face telling me to buy buy buy. I said thank you but I don’t have any more money. Apparently that was the wrong thing to say. I was then drilled with a million questions. “Who comes to India without money? Don’t you have credit cards? Why are you staying at a 5 star hotel when you have no money? How much money did you make from tennis? Next time you stay at cheap hotel and save money so you can shop!” I guess in their culture it is rude for me to say that I have no money, but it is not rude for them to quiz me about my financial history.
After my lecture from Mohan—the driver—he told me that we have to visit one more place, the textile district. You cannot come to Delhi without going there. Mohan gave me strict instruction about how to avert buying things without being rude. I listened carefully and repeated them back to him before I went in. Let me tell you shopping at the market is not so empowering if you don’t plan on shopping. Mohan told me to find something that I liked talk to the guys about how much it is and then tell them I will come back later. Sounds easy right? NOT!!!!!! I took pictures of a particular rug told them how much my mom would love it and I wanted to go back to the hotel to get the money to pay for it. “Ok well do you want to sign the rug before you leave?” I scratched my head and said “ahhh no thanks I guess I can do that when I get back?” “Ok well we will send one of our men with you to get the money so you don’t have to come all the way back here.” Again scratched my head and said “ahhh no thanks I would prefer to go alone with my drivers.” Next thing I know the men from the shop are outside talking to Mohan and the other gentleman in Hindi and Mohan is asking me in a worried tone “Did you say you were going to take the rug!?!?!?!?!?” I got in the Auto and asked if we could leave. All of you who know me know I was sweating giant bullets. I was so nervous, flustered, and confused about what had just happened I was ready to get out of there. Once my two men got in the Auto I said “no more shopping guys.” They both just started laughing at me. They thought my bewildered state was quite humorous.
Aside from my minor hiccups on my last excursion, out of all the places that I have visited since I have been playing I have fallen in love with India. I got to feed monkeys bananas, see cobras dance, held a snake in my hand and one around my neck! It doesn’t get much cooler than that. This is one place that I will have to come back and visit without tennis.
Some of you have been apart of my journey for years and others are just joining. Whatever the case is I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all of the support than you all have provided. For me knowing that people enjoy reading the blog makes writing worth while. I wish that all of you could be there in person, but I hope I give you enough to make you feel like you are there with me.
Wish everyone a happy and joy filled New Year. Until next year!