Week 3 in Egypt

As you can tell from the title, the creative juices are really flowing right now. I actually just got off the court about an hour ago, so I’m pretty exhausted. Today was my third tournament, and I played a talented Ukrainian player. My friend Mike played him the week before and won 6-2, 6-2, but Mike told me he is dangerous and to watch out for him. Plus every week, every day for that matter, that you step on to a court to play is different.

After losing in first round of the main draw last week, I decided to commit myself to going for bigger shots and playing more aggressive tennis this entire week, something that will be necessary in the future to play at a higher level against better competition. Early on, it was working in my favor and I took a close first set 6-4. I was dictating most of the points and finding ways to finish off points. Early in the second set, I could tell my opponent wanted to fade away, but I lost focus a bit. I lost the set 6-1, but I could have easily won it 6-1 as well. Every game I had game points but I was struggling to close it out. After battling back from 5-2 down in the third set, I lost 7-6 in the third. The second and third sets saw my game plan fall apart. I stayed committed to going for my shots, but I started missing a lot of balls about a foot out and gave my opponent too many free points. Pretty disappointed to lose another close match, but I am putting myself in winning positions. Now I just need to close the match out when I have the chance.

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Sorry it is a bit blurry. But it’s tough getting good action shots with our phones over here. We’re professional tennis players, not professional photographers.

Quick side note, if you check out the picture up top that is the sunset I got to play under one night. It’s tough to be too mad when you look up to serve and that’s what you see.

Mike and I got a another wildcard for main draw of doubles this week,  so there were still matches to be played. After our performance last week, we were confident we could make some noise in the draw this week. Unfortunately, we lost 6-3, 1-6, 10-7. We played an incredible second set, but the third set tiebreaker didn’t go our way. The team we lost to also ended up making it to the finals. So… last week the team we lost to won the tournament. This week the team made the finals. Pretty frustrating for Mike and I, but we know we are just a point or two away from being there ourselves.

To be honest with you all, I am pretty fatigued at this point. I noticed it before my singles match. Usually I am very energetic and fiery, but I struggled to get myself pumped up in the singles. Some of the shots I missed were definitely due to a lack of focus and concentration, something that obviously happens when you are worn down. Physically, I am holding up well, but mentally I did not perform how I would have liked to this tournament. I have one more chance to make up for it, though, so I am getting ready to make a run next week.

Early on here, we met a hilarious Italian guy named Davide Negrotti. He ended up introducing us to a lot of the other players here that he knew, and we have all hung out together every night. This week was his last tournament, so we all went to the disco (that’s what the Europeans call it) together before his early morning flight. We ended up only staying for an hour or so, but that was still plenty of dancing for me. It was a fun night with all the other players here.

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Okay, enough of the tennis talk. Keep reading for a little humor. Since we’ve been here 3 weeks now, we’ve had enough time to take everything in and get adjusted to life in Egypt. Not to complain, but Mike and I decided to make a list of things here that have been driving us crazy. So here are the ten things we DEFINITELY will not miss about Egypt.

  1. Bug bites. I don’t know what it is here. I swear there’s an invisible swarm of flesh eating insects or something. But within the first couple days my ankles had about 100 bites each. Within another day or two, they had swelled up so much it looked like I sprained each ankle. Add to that I would wake up in the middle of the night so itchy that I would basically maul my ankles off, and I started to get fed up. We quickly learned everywhere you go, especially at night, you better wear long pants, long sleeves, and high socks. Otherwise you’re done. I know it isn’t the most attractive thing out there, but this was day one of the bug bites. Multiply that by about a million and you’ll understand the pain I was in after a few more days.

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  1. Ants. There’s a little crack in the wall by our balcony, so as luck would have it ants started coming in our room. At first, there weren’t too many so we didn’t mind. We just killed them and went about our business. But after killing about 50 of them in a 5 minute period one day we had enough. Housekeeping took care of it for us… though I’m not sure the chemicals they used are safe for us to be breathing.
  1. Flies. Since we are staying at a resort hotel, there’s an awesome pool right outside our room and beach not too far away. Only problem is every time we are there we get attacked by flies. Luckily they don’t bite, but they are definitely a nuisance. For some reason, we seem to be the only people they come after. I think they don’t like Americans.
  1. The cleaning people. Being from America, I’m used to my hotel getting cleaned every day. And when it gets cleaned it is absolutely spotless. Freshly made bed, new towels, clean floor. Not to sound like a primadonna, but at a hotel it’s what you pay for. They missed that memo in Egypt. One time Mike actually stole the broom and mop from the housekeeping cart to come clean our room because the floor was so dirty.
  1. The food. For $60 a day it’s tough to beat the set-up we have in Egypt. All-inclusive. Food, drinks, housing, court time, you name it. That’s all fine and dandy, but since we are staying here for a month the food has started to get a bit repetitive. I wish I had a way to keep track of how much rice I’ve eaten since arriving. Has to be more than 10 pounds because I eat it at every meal.
  1. Tap water. Over here, you can’t use the tap water for anything except showering. So the only water we drink is bottled water, and we also have to use bottled water to brush our teeth. The first week or so, every time I went to bed at night, I turned on the faucet without even thinking about it. The very first night I accidentally used the tap water. I thought I would for sure get sick from it but luckily I came out on top.
  1. Smoking. Unlike the US, you can smoke anywhere you want here. At restaurants, by the pool, at the beach, by the tennis courts. Somehow wherever Mike and I sit the wind is blowing just right so that the nearby smoke always comes towards us. It’s like we’ve been living with a cloud of smoke around us for 3 weeks.
  1. WiFi. Dear lord is the WiFi here terrible. They have free WiFi for hotel guests, but it’s either an hour free WiFi at a time or you lose it once you reach 100MB of internet traffic. So hardly enough to do anything useful on your computer. Each day I probably end up relogging into the WiFi fifty plus times, so it will be nice not having to worry about that once we are back home.
  1. Everyone asking about Donald Trump. Yes, we watched the election. Yes, we saw Donald Trump won. Yes, we understand the rest of the world hates him. Literally the day after the election every 5 seconds we had someone coming up to us and asking about Donald Trump or making random comments to us about him. I’m happy I wasn’t home to hear the back and forth while the election was going on, but even in Egypt I couldn’t escape all of the political banter.
  1. Exploding Tennis Balls. So the way they run the tournament here, you can only get one can (3 balls) of practice balls at a time, and they are always old match balls. Well, for any of you that play, you know that after a match most of the balls are completely destroyed and useless to practice with. Every time we’ve practiced, at least one of the balls has exploded. There were days I hit where within 20 minutes all three popped and we couldn’t practice anymore.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read! I appreciate the good thoughts and prayers sent my way. Keep sharing this with your friends and pass it along to anyone who might be interested! Check back in a couple of days for my last update from Egypt.

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View of the mountains in the background as we look over the beach and sea.

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Alex, this blog is fantastic – I look forward to each post. I totally admire your discipline and dedication. We all miss you and are cheering for you here at home!

    Like

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