A short walk from our hotel in Barcelona to the subway which put us right inside the terminal at the airport, an hour and a half plane trip to Milan, then an hour and a half bus ride to Lugano and finally a short taxi ride to the Hotel Pestalozzi Lugano where we arrived in a semi-comatose state after partying until the wee hours and having to struggle out of bed at 6:30am. The hotel is small and basic but right in the city centre and only a 10 minute walk to the tennis courts.
Lugano is located in the southern part of Switzerland, bordering Italy, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino.
The predominant language is Italian but almost all the young people speak Italian, German and English … many of them also speak French. One of the first things we noticed is how expensive everything is here. A dinner we would have had in Barcelona for $60 cost us well over $120 here … a 2 dollar beer is $4.50 here. Wow … talk about sticker shock! But the location is absolutely stunning. The city is spotless and situated right on a huge lake, surrounded by mountains.
Unexpectedly, it has been very hot and air conditioning here is somewhat sparse, to say the least - our hotel doesn’t have it at all. But, it was an opportunity for Sue to put her feet in yet another body of water - Lake Lugano which proved to be warm but definitely not as pristine as we are used to in both the Bahamas and Martha’s Vineyard. The people are a bit more reserved than those we met in Slovenia, Italy and Spain but quite friendly once you get to know them. Of course, the language barrier has something to do with that … a lot of “sign language” going on between us and everyone else!
We have reconnected with a couple we first met at our IC Prague event who played on the Hungarian team. They drove from Hungary to the tournament here. Met up with several ladies who played the tournament in Grottammare, the winner of the men’s division in Grottammare who beat Mas in the semi-finals and have made new friends from Australia. Since Mas’s first match was scheduled for Tuesday and Sue’s for Wednesday, we took the opportunity to troll around Lugano on Monday … checked out the courts, registered at the tournament desk, got our t-shirts (very nice), had a splendid dinner by the lake … after which we collapsed into bed!
Mas’s first round was against the #8 seed in which he had an up and down match but managed to prevail 7-6, 6-2. His second match on Wednesday was against the #3 seeded Giuseppe Marcora, who was World #1 in 2004. Although it was a long, 2+ hour match, Mas lost 1-6, 1-6. In the “after match interview”, Mas said, “Although more than half the games went to multiple deuces, he always managed to win that last point. A terrific player who had all the strokes. It was rare that I could threaten him enough to force an error. Obviously, I still have a lot to learn about playing on the red clay. It just doesn’t pay to be too aggressive … the red clay just slows the ball down so much that the opponent has time and the ball comes back anyway! The upside is that I can now concentrate on the men’s and mixed doubles."
In the meanwhile, Sue is just rolling along … winning her first match against a weaker but deceptive player who could hit a good ball but couldn’t cover enough of the court to defend against Sue’s powerful forehand. She won 6-3, 6-1. Unfortunately, her second opponent had to withdraw with a quadricep injury so Sue got a walkover.
With a day off on Thursday, we decided to take a 30 minute walk to the next town, Paradiso.
There we took the Funicolare to the top of Monte San Salvatore for a spectacular view of all the surrounding towns. By the time we got to the top we were parched, so thank goodness there was a restaurant with great beer. We had a bird’s eye perch on the patio overlooking the surrounding area while eating our lunch. It was then a few minutes walk to the top of San Salvatore for the spectacular view below. The only downer was we wish we had come up on a previous day when it was so clear ... but, c'est la vie.
In Sue's final round robin match today (Friday), she played superb tennis that didn't give her opponent any openings and won the first set 6-1. Sue was running around her forehand to practice her backhand in the second set until, with a few drops of rain, she determined that she should finish the set quickly before the rains really came and she completed the last 4 games in 10 minutes to win the set at love. Sue thereby chalked up her 3rd tournament singles win! The rest of the day was a rainout for us as the schedule got backed up with singles matches once the rain stopped. So, we shall see what tomorrow brings … it could be 4 potential doubles matches for each of us … 2 women’s, 2 men’s and 2 mixed … YIKES!!
Mas Kimball has been a pro at Farm Neck since 2006. He & his wife, Sue, have traveled throughout the United States and internationally ... mostly to play tennis.
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