Diary Estoril 2005
Friday, April 22
My departure from Hamburg at 15.00 hrs, by car to Cologne. I spent the night at Andre’s, my companion of Live Sport Photo. We had a nice dinner at a Greek restaurant.
Saturday, April 23
Andre’s nephew picked us up 08.30 and brought us to Cologne/Bonn Airport. We had difficult feelings because of our baggage, with two big photo bags and a notebook, further to our two bags with clothes, but it turned out to be totally without problems. Departure by GermanWings was at 10.15 hrs as scheduled, after three hours flight we arrived at Lisbon at local time 12.15 (Portugal is one hour behind Central European Summer Time). Weather conditions: very cloudy and chilly.
We rented a VW Polo at Europcar for the week (lump sum 200.- Euro) and took our way to Estadio Jamor. As we recognized many sights in the city, it was very easy to find our way out the city; we even found the right corner to leave the highway, arrived at Jamor at abt. 14.30 hrs.
The tennis site is almost unchanged to like it was three years ago, when we were here the last time. I like it, if you know where you are and where to find what. Issue of press badges without problems, same with car park access ticket, key for the locker, etc.
The press section is sharing a tent with the ATP and WTA tournament directors, where players go in and out, with some tables and chairs in front, on a sort of veranda. We decided to open our office at one of those tables, so we can control on the players passing by, while we edit our photos on the notebook.
While sitting there, a short but heavy rain shower came down, so we had to return into the press tent.
After the rain, we checked the site in details. All changes are improvements, which is not the case at every tournament.
I had brought two small walkie talkies to avoid expensive SMS messages, and we checked the distance limits and sound quality; they are working very fine.
As most WTA players had a bye in the first round of the qualy (looks like there were not enough entries to fill up the field. There even was no qualy at all for the doubles …), there was not much going on, so we decided to drive to our hotel and check in, which was without problems again. The hotel Vila Galé is in Estoril, very next to the Estoril Casino. We have a beautiful ocean view from our rooms in the 6th floor, with a huge swimming pool just below our balcony.
We went to dinner at an Italian pizzeria called Pinto’s, which we already knew from our last trip, but meantime the personnel has changed completely. The pizza was fine, but not remarkable. Watching the cancers and lobsters in the aquarium next to us, we had several "canecas" (pints of lager beer), some more on our room’s balcony, and at 11.00 local time, we called it a day.
Sunday, April 24
Woke up 08.15 hrs, regretfully too late to have a swim in the pool before the 09.00 o’clock breakfast, but the water looked very cold anyway, although bright sun shine and blue sky. The ocean was very calm, no waves at all.
The breakfast buffet does not leave any wishes open; there are cereals, lots of bread and cakes, marmalade, ham, cheese, a separate buffet with full English breakfast.
Arancha Parra shows up on site; she has three big red spots in her face; no chance for a photo session, not even for match photos. But she tells us that Spain is leading 2:0 in the Fed Cup vs. Argentina.
Happened to see practice of a cute young girl, together with a Portuguese girl. She turned out to be Tara Wigan, when we saw her again in a doubles match later in the day; but they lost. At least it was an occasion to take a bunch of nice pics. She is really a cutie.
In the evening, we tried another Italian, which we could see from our hotel window: Gordinni. The entry is very small, leads upstairs to the second floor. You would not expect a huge restaurant, if you don’t yet know it. There are lots of guests there, hard to find a small table for two. The meals are excellent.
Monday, April 25 - Blue sky, still chilly in the morning, but promising a warm day.
I happened to encounter Gisela Dulko on site, hugged and kissed her, "nice to see you again" etc. Our last meeting was at Berlin, quite exactly one year ago, when we had a photo shooting at the Berlin zoo. I did not know about the final Fed Cup results Spain vs. Argentina that time, so I preferred not to ask. She saw my photo badge and my bag, "So you are here to take a lot more photos?" I agreed, and immediately offered a new off court session. "Yeah, I’d love to. Let’s try during the week."
Maria Antonia Sanchez Lorenzo appears on site, for practice with Marta Marrero. Both are looking fine; Maria has a new coach: Alberto Lopez; not related to her boy friend Feliciano Lopez.
After practice, we have the occasion to talk to her, I am telling her that we have a lot of plans with her during the week and will keep her busy: I do need a new off court photo session with her for her homepage, and I have prepared a long list of questions for a detailed interview; as the interview might be done best during a dinner, she should think about which evening would suit her best. "Let’s better wait for tomorrow, after the match. You know that I sometimes lose in the first round …" – "Well, to be honest, that’s why I am talking to you today and did not wait for tomorrow…"
In the evening, we decide to try another restaurant, but without success. All restaurants are closed; so we give Pinto’s another chance. There are several British couples at each table. Two Italian ladies take seat at the table next to ours, and place their order with a salad of "frutti di mare (ocean fish)" as a starter, then a fish plate as main course. We know from earlier occasions that Portuguese waiters try to make some extra money with some additional meals; in this case, he offers a basket of garlic bread and a plate of cheese. The Italian ladies consider this to be a free service, which they enjoy. The starter turns out to be hardly eatable; the salad has some shrimps, pieces of calamares, all covered by a brown sauce. It must be tasting as awful as it looks; they do not eat at least half of it.
The main course contains pieces of boiled fish, just cut into several big pieces. The plate is filled up with some potatoes and lots of onion rings. Having experienced the starter, they cannot other than laugh about this unacceptable meal, but nevertheless they at least try each single piece of fish. The plate still has the majority of food on it, when they finish the dinner. When the waiter offers the menu for some desert, they deny, laughing. They are laughing again, when they read the bill, charging for every single piece of bread, cheese, etc. They are paying abt. 65.- Euro for the dinner, and must still be quite hungry…
Tuesday, April 26 - Blue sky, very warm.
In the morning, Maria is practicing with her coach.
As nothing important is happening, I go and check my e-mails at the public computer stand of NetCabo, when Andre calls me, informing that Gisela Dulko’s practice is over. We arrange an encounter and present to her our new photo book, which has her photo on the cover.
She is completely surprised and enthusiastic.
On Center court, we watch our first ATP match of the week: Carlos Moya – Felix Mantilla. The first three games take 22 minutes, and as Maria’s match is coming up on court 4, we leave.
In her match vs. Lilia Osterloh, her (former?) boy friend Feliciano shows up to support her, although his own match on Centralito (the small center court) is scheduled within short. Maria is losing the first set clearly 0:6, as she cannot handle the strong wind. Her balls with the wind are long, her shots against the wind are short. She tries her best in the second, leading to a 7:5. Quickly, as Lilia seems to be upset on her own faults, the third set goes to Maria with 6:2.
At the end of the match, I have a new collection of 85 new match action photos.
We change to Gisela Dulko’s match vs. Foretz; she has already won the first set 7:5; the second ends at 6:3
On Centralito, Feliciano plays Alex Corretja; the match has started already, and it takes a while, until we can enter in a side change break, but we decide to leave again after some points. Men’s tennis is not really our sort of sports …
We encounter Tara Wigan walking around the site, in her street clothes. I approach her, introduce ourselves and tell her about our off court photo project. When we show her a sample of our new book, she asks if the players are paid for the photo sessions. This is the first time that this question comes up from a player, and we have to deny.
Tara is 18 years old, ranking abt. No. 700 and something; although having lost her only qualy match, after a first round bye, she earned two WTA points and improved her ranking by abt. 50 spots.
Tara lives in Lisbon, her father is British, her mum is Hungarian, and somewhere there is Austrian blood in the family, too. She started playing tennis at the age of 10, and having fallen in love with tennis, she decided to become a professional, when she was 14.
As she would leave to Spain for another tournament the next day, we could only agree on a photo session at our next encounter, later in the year. But I don’t let the chance pass without having taken at least some nice portrait photos. I can imagine, she might enter my personal top five list within short.
I am completing this diary and edit my pics of the day, while Andre watches Arancha Parra’s match; we close the day at Gordinni’s. The two Italian ladies of last night are there, too. They both have pizza today.
Wednesday, April 27
Bright sunshine, but in the morning still quite chilly. But I’m sure it will be a nice and warm day again. At the breakfast, we make our plan for the day: both Maria and Gisela have second match, Gisela has even a double. No chance for a shooting with Gisela; Maria must win, otherwise she will be off for home.