© Arizona State University
The team poses for a photo at the airport
© Kelcy McKenna
© Team USA
Kelcy McKenna of Arizona State University is one of six top American collegiate players representing the United States in the International University Challenge of Tennis, Dec. 4-7, in Poitiers, France. The event, in its third year, features eight teams of college and university players from countries, including the United States, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Montenegro, Russia and Switzerland. The United States is competing at the event for the first time.
McKenna, a 19-year-old sophomore from North Bend, Ore., has had a great start to the 2008-09 season, winning the 2008 Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships. She will be sharing her thoughts and experiences in a blog from France.
Entry No. 5 - Monday, Dec. 8
The Final Blog…
Sorry for not writing for a few days, but we have been incredibly busy! Our last day of competition ended on the seventh of December. We lost to Belgium, 4-3, and the match was incredibly close. The team played exceptionally well, and I am so proud of each person on our team. I do not think we could have battled any better.
The U.S. started out on fire, taking a 3-0 lead in singles with Mike, Amanda and myself earning victories. Nate was up next and fell, 7-6, in the second set against a talented Belgian, who is ranked No. 230 in the world. The Belgians proceeded to sweep the doubles, which saw the United States lose some really close matches.
After all the matches finished, BNP Paribas and the Master U Series committee had an awards ceremony for all the players. It was a great way to cap off the tournament, and hopefully the USTA and ITA will continue to send American players to this event. France has been a great experience for all those involved, and I am excited to see what new additions will be added to next year’s affair!
Finally, the team attended a dinner party at L a Fiesta. Late dinners must be a French thing because we did not eat dinner until 11:30 p.m.! It was tons of fun to be able to interact with the players from all eight different countries. After dinner, the players hit the dance floor and had a fun-filled night with music, games and entertainment.
On our last day in Poitiers, we had the opportunity to see the Futurescope, which is an educational amusement park. Some team members “danced with robots,” while others became famous for a day. The park was a really unique and interesting way to end the trip. The team departed Poitiers around 2 p.m. and journeyed five hours by bus to Paris. The U.S. team spent the night at the Marriot Hotel and flew out at 8 a.m. the following morning.
I would really like to thank everyone involved with this event, especially to our coaches, Paul and Michelle. They always provide the U.S. with positive energy and great coaching tactics!
I forgot to mention the Irish taught the United States a new word called "stoight." It means awesome, so it is the perfect word to sum up this trip!
Entry No. 4 - Friday, Dec. 5
The United States fought a tough battle today against France but we came up just a little bit short to earn the victory. Mike started the day off and lost a close two set match against the number two player from France. I was able to watch Mike and he was doing everything in his power to earn a victory for the US. I played my match on the court next door, and ended up winning my match 6 and 3. We were tied with France 1-1, going into the second round of singles. Nate lost the first set 6-4 but came out roaring to take the second set 6-3, in the deciding third set Nate fell 6-4 to the France player who is ranked #500 in the world. Amanda was playing around the same time and also lost a close three set match. Going into doubles, the US was down 1-3 but we still had a chance to pull off the victory. Amanda and I teamed up in Doubles where we were defeated 10-8 in a third set match tiebreaker. The mixed doubles duo of Nate and Jennifer also fell in a third set match tiebreaker. Mike and John put up a strong showing against a talented France team but were unable to pull off the win.
After the matches our team had the opportunity to meet the mayor of Poitiers during a cocktail reception in the heart of downtown. The building was beautifully decorated for the holidays, and an ice skating rink was directly in front of the building! Tonight was the only night we have eaten in an actual restaurant and not a cafeteria! The team was ecstatic about eating in a real French Restaurant!
Tomorrow brings yet another opportunity for a victory to the US as we take on Belgium to decide who will take home third and fourth. It is our last day of tennis so the team is hoping to pull off a big win and bring home third place for the United States!
Entry No. 3 - Thursday, Dec. 4
Victory for the United States!
Today was an interesting day for the United States! As I mentioned in my last blog, we played Montenegro. The United States started off with a 2-0 lead because Montenegro was missing two girls from its team. John started things off for the U.S. and almost pulled off a tough three-set comeback, but he ended up losing, 6-4, in the third set. Nate was up next, and he battled to a two-set victory, while Jennifer lost a tough two-set match, 6-4, 6-3. The U.S. then moved on to doubles, where Nate and Mike teamed up to defeat the team from Montenegro. The last match of the day came to a close, when Mike and I paired up to win the mixed doubles. The United States won the match in solid form, with a 5-2 win.
The team decided it was in our best interest to take a trip to the super market today! Luic, our bus driver, was kind enough to make the trip with us, and it was interesting for us to practice our French! We discovered that the French do not supply classic grocery bags as they do in the U.S. We needed to purchase reusable bags or carry all of the baguettes, cheese, pretzels and other snacks we bought at the super market in our arms. Amanda was able to enjoy a special 22nd birthday treat of chocolate crem e brulè! She told me in confidence that it tasted unbelievable! While Amanda and Michelle were shopping at the grocery store, Nate decided to steal Amanda's furry jacket due to the freezing cold temperatures inside the tennis facility! Tomorrow I will post those silly pictures of Nate for everyone to enjoy!
Tomorrow we take on the host country of France, a team that has won the event two years in a row! Everyone seems excited and ready to take on the challenge! We ate an amazing meal this evening of baguettes, pasta with fish, cauliflower and bananas with cream! The majority of the team decided to depart for bed early in order to rest up for the big match! Hopefully everything goes smoothly tomorrow, and the United States will once again be victorious!
"GO STATES!" (This is our new team cheer, coined by team captain Amanda Fink.)
Entry No. 2 - Wednesday, Dec. 3
Good bye United States… Hello France!
Today we finally arrived in France. The team landed in Paris this morning around 7:45 a.m. The flight from New York was only five hours and 40 minutes, and most of the team (aside from the coaches) slept during the majority of the flight. After picking up our baggage, we had our first taste of French cuisine – croissants! They were delicious. Nate, Mike, Amanda and John all had chocolate, while Jennifer decided on the traditional plain pastry.
Our flight left us in Paris earlier than expected, so we had to wait awhile for a bus driver to take our team to Poitiers. In addition to the United States riding on the shuttle, we were also in the company of Ireland, Russia, Montenegro and Belgium. During our wait in the Paris Airport, we explored the different concourse levels and found out that we did not want to sit on the ground floor because the temperatures are colder inside than they are outside! It just so happened that Amanda had a deck of cards with her, so the United States did some team bonding with a card game known as President!
The bus ride from France to Poitiers was three hours in duration. This time everyone slept, even the coaches! Once we arrived at our hotel, the Novetel, everyone in the event proceeded to an opening ceremony for the Master U Series event. Our team was seeded fourth, and in our first match tomorrow, we face off against Montenegro! I hope our new red, white and blue uniforms help propel us to victory for the United States!
Entry No. 1 - Thursday, Nov. 27
Countdown to France! Six days….
The anticipation has been building for two months, and the time has almost come for the Master’ U Series event. All six collegiate tennis players participating in the event have had a full fall tennis schedule to hopefully prepare for the upcoming event in Poitiers. I can only speak for myself, but I am so excited to go France! This will be my first time visiting or playing outside of the United States. I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to play internationally. The fall semester has flown by, and the trip to France is the perfect way to cap off the fall season and head home for the upcoming holiday break.
The USTA and the ITA have done a great job behind the scenes organizing this trip. I cannot believe all of the prep work involved in preparing the Master U series team to be ready for France. Team members will be departing from all parts of the United States, including California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Arizona and Minnesota. Eventually, the entire team will arrive in New York for the eight-hour flight to Paris. Organizing one flight for us all must have been a logistical nightmare! As a player, I only had to fax in a few forms, apply for my passport and pack my suitcase, of course!
Our preparatory meeting with the Master U Team coaches took place via conference call in early November. We introduced ourselves and went over the details of the trip. Being able to be on the phone call and speak to my teammates only heightened my enthusiasm for the upcoming event.
Bon Voyage for now!
Teams named for International University Challenge of Tennis