Time is flying (seems like we got here a month ago, and in the same sense, it seems like it was only seconds ago) that our USA Collegiate team landed in Marseille, France for the 7th Annual Master’s U BNP Paribas Championships.
The name of this tournament is sneaky, for it is hard to figure out, but basically it is the World Team Intercollegiate Championships for the World. Over the past seven years, many counties have participated with talent loaded teams. We bring some of our best and most promising American collegiate players (three men and three women) to represent the Red, White, and Blue.
At first I was going to write about the greatest aspect of this tournament , and then I realized that there are so many “greatest aspects” of this tournament. Let me list the glorious advantages of playing here:
Our American players are exposed to great players and teams from around the world (France, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, China, and Russia). Not only do we compete against them, but we establish life long friendships with our competitors and thus this trip truly becomes a great learning experience . The tournament is a wonderful cultural experience and is run like a professional event. (In fact the tournament Referee is the world famous Pascual Maria who chairs the finals of Wimbledon, French, US Open, and Australian as well as the Davis Cup ties.)
We have the ability to bring our great young collegiate stars together in a team aspect and it is truly glorious to see them raise each other as players and people, and in affect be lifted to greater heights. Even the car rides to the tennis facility and site seeing are wonderful events of singing, dancing and laughter . Texting and phones are not allowed at meal time, so they are laughter filled sharing with team members who swap tales of football dominance at their respective schools (among many topics).
After flights all day Monday and Monday night the team arrived into Marseille on Tuesday morning. We checked in, and went to the courts (at the beautiful Ligue Country Club in Aix De Provence (on the French Riviera). Our team consists of three women--- Lauren Embree (Un of Florida), Jacqui Cako (Arizona State), Zoe Scandalis (USC). The men are Jarmere Jenkins (Unversity of Virginia), Evan King (Michigan), and Ray Sarmiento (USC). What a gift of Christmas to have such great collegiate players representing our country during the Holidays. The practices have been intense, focused, and fun. We have drilled, played various group games (dingles) as well as played singles and doubles games for the past three days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and today, Thursday). We are extremely blessed to have Amanda Augustus, the women’s tennis coach at Cal-Berkeley helping run the ship with me. Her expertise as a renowned collegiate coach and talented player in her own right uplifts the team. The practices are intense, focused, and especially exhilarating. No wonder that these are some of our best and brightest.
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