Jan. 7, 2018
MELBOURNE, Australia – The Gopher Men’s Tennis team is spending 11 days in Australia this month. During their stay, members of the team will be writing blog updates to keep fans posted on the team’s activities throughout the trip. Today, freshman Jackson Allen updates fans day two in the “land down under.”
Day two of our Australian adventure did not disappoint. After a much-needed good night’s sleep in a bed of our own, we awoke feeling fresh and reenergized. By 7:30, we were out the door and on our way for a morning practice session at Melbourne Park. While we got to practice on the same Australian Open courts at the as the previous day, the conditions were drastically different. Instead of being a sunny 107 degrees with gusts of wind upwards of 35 mph, we got to practice in a quite enjoyable 69 degrees with overcast skies and little-to-no wind. As far as tennis weather goes, it really can’t get much better than that.
By 10 a.m., our practice session was over allowing us some free time. The majority of the team stuck around the grounds for about 20 minutes and watched some of the professionalss practice. At that point, we were all hungry so the majority of the guys walked the 12-15 minutes back to our apartments in downtown Melbourn in search of some food. I decided to stay behind with Kaleb Dobbs and Matic Spec in order to explore the site.
While snooping around, we saw some pretty cool things that the public does not get the chance to see since we were given credentials. We saw Stan Wawrinka working out in the player gym and Denis Istomin, who beat Novak Djokovic at last year’s Australian Open, being fed backhands by his mother on some backcourts. It was pretty cool to see since all the other guys have an array of coaches and hitting practice while Istomin was content practicing with his mom. From there, we found our way into the big arenas at the Australian Open. We walked in the ball boy entrance and then maneuvered our way through the winding hallways and onto the court of Hi Sense Arena. After that, we worked our way into a Margaret Court, entering through a construction area. Unfortunately, all the doors leading to the courts were locked, but we found an elevator. After making stops at a couple of different floors, we found an unlocked suite. We entered it and looked down to the surprise of Rafael Nadal and Wawrinka practicing with one another. We stayed and watched for a good 25 minutes. That was definitely a thrill.
The afternoon consisted of some more tennis. We left the apartment at 1 p.m. to play at the nice, quiet eight-court facility where Justyn Levin’s family are members. The guys were all full of energy and the weather was great still as the sun made an appearance for second half of the practice. This ended up being a productive practice and was personally my favorite. Afterwards we went to the clubhouse for some snacks that Justyn’s parents generously provided. The team’s favorite snack was by far the plums. They tasted great. The grapes were very good, too, but a distant second.
The rest of the day was pretty relaxing. We went to the grocery store as a team after the second practice. I felt bad for the cashier having to check out for 11 smelly tennis players. Once we got back to the apartments we showered up and went out to dinner at a place called “Mex-Max” which was very similar to Chipotle. Even though it was only 7:45 by the time dinner was over, the team was so exhausted from a long day of tennis in the Australian sun that we were all curled up in bed by 9:30. We can’t wait for day three!
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