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Florida Tennis Blog: ITF World Senior Team Chps. in New Zealand

February 17, 2011 10:57 PM
TUESDAY, March 1
 
USA Wins Connolly Cup!
 
TUES-All 3 Cup teams 55 better
TUES-CArolyn and Frances before match
TUES-USA Connolly Cup team with Cup-1
Sunday was a beautiful day in Ashburton at last, a GREAT day to play tennis. The USA faced Great Britain in the final. Great Britain beat Australia 2/1 in the other round robin match in our three team final round, behind the singles wins of Sally Freeman at #2 and Frances Candy, last year’s world singles finalist, at #1. Tina started us off with a quick 61 62 win over Sally. I then faced Frances, who is a very tough player. She beat me at the World Championships last year in a grueling four hour match, but I had beaten her on previous occasions. I was stiff in the morning after a tough match with Lyn Mortimer of Australia the day before.
 
I loosened up by the time we took the court, and played one of my best matches. I didn’t make many errors and managed a few winners as well. Frances overhit a bit as a consequence and I won the match 61 61 in two hours to clinch the tie. By the time the match ended, we were the last singles match on court and a good crowd had gathered to watch. Sherri and Mary then played Sally and Pat in doubles and it was an excellent match, won by the USA 64 61. We won the Cup this year without the loss of a set!
 
After the doubles concluded, we had the medal ceremony, where we received gold medals, stuffed kiwi birds and of course the Maureen Connolly Cup.
 
After the win we all scattered, Tina and Mary to tour with their friends, and Sherri and I to drive with Susan and Kathy from the 50s team down to Queenstown. The drive (and the logistics of squeezing 4 people and luggage into a compact car) are another story. Suffice to say that we arrived in one piece and the apartment I reserved for the four of us and two other players ended up looking like a movie set. That’s a story for another day!
 
Many thanks from our team to the USTA for supporting our teams, and to the Ashburton group which worked so hard to make the event work, despite the tragic Christchurch earthquake, and to the ITF for sponsoring and supporting the ITF Seniors World Championships. The week had so many challenges to the players and organizers. As Kipling wrote: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same…” then you know how the players and organizers and volunteers reacted to the rain, earthquake and refugees this week. It was truly an unforgettable week.  
 
 
SATURDAY, Feb. 26, 2011
 
Into the Final for the Connolly Cup Team!
 
SAT-Aussies and Mary and Tina
SAT-Bueno Cup team with plate closeup
Things are looking up here: 
 
·       We saw glimpses of sun
·       It only rained for about 15 minutes today!
·       The USA Connolly Cup team beat Australia 3/0 to advance to the final against Great Britain
·       USA won the Maria Bueno Cup and Young Cups today!
 
Our match against Australia was tough for me. Tina started things out with an efficient win over Robin, the Aussie #2, winning in about an hour. Then I faced the #1 Aussie, Lyn Mortimer, with whom I won the world doubles championship last year in Mexico. She’s a tough volleyer, a good mover and has improved her consistency a lot in the past five years.
 
The first set was close, as I was down 4/5 15-30 before winning it 7-5. The second set I was up 5-3, but Lyn tied it at 5-5 and again at 6-6. I was down two set points at 4-6 in the tiebreak, but rallied to win it 9-7 and clinch the tie. Tina and Mary finished the sweep with a decisive doubles win.
 
It was another cold day here, every warm thing I brought is being worn by me or other American players.  Kathy Vick from Texas had on two of my jackets today and someone else had my mittens.  
 
Off now to get ready for a tough match with Great Britain tomorrow. I lost to their #1 at the World Championships last year, Frances Candy…but have some wins over her as well.
 
 
FRIDAY, Feb. 25, 2011
 
Rain, cold and night time play in Ashburton on Friday
 
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Sheri Bronson, Jenny Cerff (RSA) in back, Kathy Vick and Susan Wright in front, walking to the New World grocery store
The weather was…no way to sugarcoat it…dismal today. Rainy and cold till about 4pm when the courts finally began to dry, and they dried fast, play began about 5pm in Ashburton today. It was still very cold and damp though. I brought warm clothes but Kathy Vick and Susan Wright from the 50s team are wearing about half of them!
 
Our team had the day off, but in between watching for signs of clearing, Kathy and I spent about two hours at the travel agency trying to change plane reservations. This was NOT easy because many legs of the tickets were booked as separate reservations from the overseas part…so we could change one part but not the other, without a big fee. We finally got things somewhat sorted out and the rain let up about 3:30pm and stopped around 4pm. I also am back in my room just in time to pack up for the rest of my trip!
 
When I left around 8pm Susan had won the first match for the 50s women and Ross Persons had lost the first match for the 55 men (in a 10 point tiebreaker). In our division, since the final rounds are a three team round robin without a true final, all three round robin matches will be played using a match tiebreak format.
 
In Timaru, the women’s  and men’s 40s teams are in the final. The 35s were expecting a tough match against Spain in the semis.
 
The news from Christchurch continues to be dismal. I saw an arial view of the tennis center on the news today, it was mostly under water and the courts were cracked. They had just finished resurfacing the courts five days prior to the start of the event…Susan and I were two of the first people to hit on it last week. I saw a photo of a destroyed building that housed the gym I went to every day when I was here three years ago. The damage is incredible in the center city. Yet here, only an hour south, there was really no damage.
 
  
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 23, 2011
 
by Carolyn Nichols
 
WED-DSCN0045-webThe ITF announced today that they are cancelling the ITF Individual Senior Championships. Tennis New Zealand and the ITF did not make the decision lightly. They considered putting on the championships in Auckland. Click here for full story.
 
The organizers offered to put up players from Christchurch in local accommodations and Rhona Kaczmarczyk, Fran Chandler and Mariana Hollman from the Court Cup team are in local housing. They are flying home on Saturday. The Rolling family is on its way home to Ramona in the San Diego area. Theresa Bowen from the USTA was taken in by Joanne Rusell et al in Ashburton. The Austria Cup team took in Mario Tabares. The players here and from Christchurch have all been terrific.
 
And there was tennis yesterday. It rained most of the day and play was called for the day at 2:30, then play was reinstated about 3:30, and all matches were completed. We won 3/0, I won my singles 60 62 against Turkey’s #1; The Bueno Cup team won 3/0 over Turkey and the men’s 55s won too, long match, Fred Robinson won in three sets. They play today in the quarters and the women have the day off. We are in a three way round robin for the Cup with Great Britain and either France or Australia, who play today. Two teams from the Austria Cup left after the quake, Netherlands and Switzerland.
 
We are probably going to try and go to Timaru today and see the players there.
 
 
TUESDAY, Feb. 22. 2011
 
TUES-1-bakery
TUES-2-Center court
TUES-3-cracked roads
TUES-4-destroyed building
by Carolyn Nichols
 
First off, all USA players in Christchurch (16) were unharmed yesterday by the earthquake. All was ok in Ashburton except it rained all day. Tina started play about 3pm and played 5 games and then it rained again and we were done for the day about 4:30pm. The Cups in Timaru are further south and affected not at all by the earthquake.
 
Christchurch is a disaster. The courts are buckled, the streets flooded, and I let  a player and his family and 2 teammates have my room…we put up 10 players/teams/USTA staff (Theresa Bowen) in our three rooms here, and a South African player put up another player as did the 55s men’s team. Christchurch isn’t too safe. Theresa made sure of  the players’ safety before she left Christchurch.
 
They were herding tourists to Hagley Park at the end of the day and it began to rain. Leland Rolling (men’s 45)  had his wife and young boys with him, and fortunately reached me by phone and I told him to come on down here and he came with Rick Leach and Andy Stoner. Theresa brought Fran Chandler, Rhona Kaczmarcyk and Mariana Hollman from the 45s women’s team and Mario Tabares (from Miami, also on the men’s 45 team). More may be coming tomorrow. There are no hotel rooms at all here in Ashburton. It’s a town of only 20,000 so the rooms are full with the players for the Cups here. It seems very weird  that we are actually going to play tennis today. I’ve been posting short updates from my phone to my personal blog and twitter, and will continue to do that today.
 
I’m going to attach a couple of photos that Tracy Rolling took in Christchurch yesterday. While they were dealing with that we were doing our usual leisure time activity in Ashburton…grocery shopping. We were pulling out of the parking lot at a coffee shop when the quake hit, but only one of us, Mary Ginnard (Ft Lauderdale) thought the shaking we felt was anything other than the rental car shimmying on its own, and the rest of us are from California!
 
MONDAY, Feb. 21, 2011
 
MON-1-Karwasky
MON-2-BRonson, Ginnard-1
MON-3-CAN and Thea (1)
MON-4-Ginnard-1
by Carolyn Nichols
 
Today was a beautiful, warm and not too windy day in Ashburton and all the USA teams here won 3/0.
 
My team, the Maureen Connolly Cup , played Netherlands. I was anticipating a tough match with their #1 player, Annelies Van der Zweep-Prins, but she did not play singles. I played their #2 player, who heads Seniors Tennis in Netherlands, Thea Rietveld-Esser, and won 60 60. Tina started off play with an immaculate match against Sylvia Lievers-Kronenburg, winning 60 60. Sherri and Mary played a terrific and highly entertaining match (I didn’t know Sherri could reach so high!) against Thea and Annelies, winning 63 61.
 
After we finished, and during the 30 minute break between singles and doubles, I watched and took photos of other players, particularly the USA women’s 50 doubles and USA men’s 55 singles and doubles. We won both matches 3/0.
 
After the matches were done, I helped one of the Dutch 50s players install Skype (tech support for friends), talked to my dad on Skype back in California; and of course Susan, Sherri and I went to our hangout, the New World Grocery store! The nice thing about playing in such a small town is the interest people have in this event. In the supermarket, several people stopped and asked us about this event (Sherri and Susan had on USA shirts). We ran into another person who was volunteering at the event. A big color photo of the opening ceremony was on the front page of the Ashburton Guardian today. People here are unbelievably friendly.
 
We had a great evening…I cooked for some of the players (pasta and chicken of course) and the door was open so players from various teams came in and out. I caught up with Jenny Cerff from South Africa, with whom I played doubles a few years back.
 
It’s raining now, but the plan is that we take on Turkey in our last round robin match starting with an 8:45 am warm up.  Wednesday we will have an off day.
 
 
SUNDAY, Feb. 20, 2011
 
USA Seeded #1 in the Maureen Connolly Cup

The USA is the defending champion in the Connolly Cup team. Since we are back with mostly the same team, (Tina, Sherri and I were on the team last year and Mary Ginnard was a team member in 2007-9). Great Britain finished third last year and is seeded second. France finished fourth in 2010 and is seeded third. The fourth seed is Australia, who was not represented in 2010.

We are in a round robin group of three teams and we play tomorrow against the Netherlands. Netherlands finished second last year and was not seeded, since they lost their top two players, but they still have a very strong #1 player, a tough hard hitting lefty. I have played her once in singles, last year, in Mexico on red clay at 6000 feet. The conditions are quite different here, fast hard courts, fast balls but sea level. The third team in our group is Turkey. We play Turkey on Tuesday and will have Wednesday off.

We practice at 8:45 for 30 minutes, then Tina will start at #2 singles at 10am sharp. I follow immediately after she plays. Doubles will begin no more than 30 minutes after the #1 singles finishes. We play on the same court all day. We are allowed to have one teammate sit on the court during matches, and talk to the player on changeovers, which is different from a regular tournament.

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The USA  Women's 50s are also seeded #1, followed by Australia, which is quite tough with both Roz Balodis, a former world champion and Kerrie Douglas, who beat Roz on hard courts in Australia last year. Great Britain may have had a good argument for the #2 seed, but their #2 player, Chris French was taken ill and is not coming. Their #3 player, Sue Bartlett, lives in Tennessee and plays intersectionals for the Southern Section, so it seems odd to see her with a British jacket.

The  USA Men's 55 are seeded second behind a very strong Australian team, led by Busby (the 2010 European 50s champion!).

All the American teams play tomorrow and Tuesday.

This afternoon we had the opening ceremonies. The players marched in with one player holding their country's flag, then some local children entertained us with singing and dancing. It was low key and really nice.

The exciting news to all is that the World Championships for seniors in 2012 will be in San Diego, California!!!
 
SATURDAY, Feb. 19, 2011
 
Practice, Practice, Practice
 
Today all the team members have arrived for the USA men’s and women’s 55 and women’s 50 teams. We practiced in the morning for about 2 ½ hours…singles and doubles. Then of course we went to the grocery store…our favorite hang out here! (Tennis players like their food.) I also caught up with the ITF Representative here, Lorna Krog from South Africa, a colleague of mine on the ITF Seniors Committee.
 
Susan & Kathy from the 50s and Sherri and I went back in the afternoon for a second hit; the rest of the team members were resting and relaxing. However, we were sidetracked as we left by a couple dressed in vintage 1910 clothing and driving a car from 1910. We talked, took photos and each had a ride in the car before continuing on to the club.
 
The courts here are low bouncing and quite fast. Tina is very happy…so is Susan. They have games made for these conditions. With each day the ball feels better. We are using Wilson Australian Open balls (NZ$20 per can…about US$ 14..for four balls!). Needless to say, we don’t lose balls here. These balls wear similarly to those in the US and play pretty similarly.
 
Yesterday was nice and warm here, but it’s chilly today. The weather will mostly be in the low 70s and 60s for a high throughout the week.
 
Tomorrow we have the captains’ meetings where the draws are made, and the opening ceremonies. Play starts on Monday.
 
FRIDAY, Feb. 18, 2011
 
Ashburton, New Zealand
 
I arrived yesterday, Thursday, in New Zealand, along with Maria Bueno Cup (W50) team member Susan Wright. After a 13 hour flight from San Francisco, we landed in Auckland, and immediately flew to Christchurch. The flight from Auckland was great because it was a clear day; I had a window seat and could see all the way across the country, including the Braided River and Mt. Cook. That was the easy part of the trip…we landed, cleared Customs and were off on the adventure of renting a car and driving on the left side of the road! I rented the car and we drove into Christchurch with Susan, who was nervously watching oncoming traffic,  curbs and instructing me on how to negotiate the roundabouts. We drove around, lunched, had a hit at the tennis center in Christchurch and later picked up Kathy Vick, captain of the women’s 50 team at the airport. Fortunately for us, Tom Smith, of the men’s 55 team, got a ride from a teammate, because he would not have fit in the car, never mind his luggage. As is, Kathy barely fit and she packed lightly!
 
We managed to get out of Christchurch and to Ashburton in one piece. Susan and Kathy may have more gray hairs though. The drive was a straight shot with few turns between Christchurch and Ashburton. We saw a lot of sheep, fields and cattle…no people of course, since people are far outnumbered by animals here.
 
We checked into our motel, the Bella Vista and the proprietor, Heather, greeted us and commented that my photo was in the local paper promoting the tournament. However, we had a laugh when the photo above my name was not me, but Kerry Ballard (who is from Australia, in the 60s and not even here!). Everyone here has been so nice and very enthusiastic about the tournament.
 
Ashburton is a small town, which just reached 20,000 recently. There’s a main street and not much else, it reminds me of the small towns in the Central Valley of California 40 years ago, where I grew up.
 
Today Susan, Kathy and I practiced in the morning and spent a lot of time at the local grocery store…they are always interesting (chicken flavored potato chips; Thai flavored tuna; Thai curry roasted chickens and eggs are NOT refrigerated here!). During the afternoon practice we caught up with friends from Switzerland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and South Africa.
 
Tina Karwasky and Sherri Bronson arrived today; we are only missing Mary Ginnard who is arriving in Christchurch at midnight!
 
10am practice tomorrow.
THURSDAY, Feb. 17, 2011
My name is Carolyn Nichols and I’m blogging from New Zealand, where I am playing in the ITF World Senior Team Championships in the women’s 55 division. I divide my time between Fort Lauderdale (I love clay!) and Rancho Santa Fe, near San Diego. I am the captain and #1 player of the USA Maureen Connolly Cup team. The top four players in the women’s 55 division in the USA are selected by a national USTA Committee to represent the USA in this event each year. (Disclosure: I chair this selection committee, but do not participate in the selection of the Connolly Cup team.) There is a published set of guidelines for selection (click here to view), which include wins and losses in USTA National Championships in singles and doubles and sportsmanship.  In 2010, I won the USTA National 55 Hard and Clay singles titles and the ITF World doubles title in the 55+ division, and ended up ranked #1 in the USA and #2 in the world.  In 2010 the USA won the Connolly Cup, which was played in Mexico City on red clay.
My teammates are Tina Karwasky, Glendale, CA; Mary Ginnard, Fort Lauderdale, FL and Sherri Bronson, Scottsdale, AZ. Tina is the veteran of the group. This is her 17th Cup team and she’s been on a winning team 16 times! She’s a former touring pro, and in 2010 won the ITF World Singles Championships for the first time. She’s ranked #1 in the World in the 55+ division and #2 in the USA. Tina was the men’s and women’s coach for years at Cal State Long Beach and still teaches private lessons. Mary is a talented singles player, but really shines in doubles, especially when playing with Tina. Tina and Mary won the 55 Hard Court doubles title in 2010 and were finalists at the ITF World Championships. Mary and I practice at the same club when I am in Florida, the Lauderdale Tennis Club, so we know each other well. She teaches at the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute there.  Sherri is an exceptional athlete…she played basketball at the University of Georgia, not tennis, but has won numerous national titles in singles and doubles. She won the 55 Clay Doubles and 55 Grass Singles titles in 2010. It was her first Grass title. Sherri also teaches tennis both at the local community college and at various clubs in the Scottsdale area. I don’t teach tennis, but do volunteer at the district, sectional, national and international level.
We are playing in Ashburton, on the South Island, a little over 500 miles south of Auckland. New Zealand is similar in size to California, with the Auckland being similar in latitude (in the Southern Hemisphere) to San Diego. Ashburton’s weather is similar to Portland’s weather, but since it’s summer there, we hope the weather is pretty dry. Ashburton is a farming town of about 30,000 people one hour south of Christchurch.
This is my 14th Cup but I am so excited to be representing the USA this year in New Zealand. It will be a big challenge and responsibility to represent the USA, but a lot of fun too. I am looking forward to seeing my friends from other countries next week, and the players from the other USA teams playing in Ashburton, the Maria Bueno Cup (Women’s 50) and Austria Cup (Men’s 55) teams. The USA players all support each other during the week, cheering each other on.
The results will be posted throughout the competition by the ITF. To view, click here.
 
 
 
Go USA!
 

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