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Master’U BNP Paribas coaches' blog: Entry No. 2

December 7, 2010 06:59 PM
Allie Will and Austin Krajicek enjoying the van ride after arriving in Rouen
Coach Mark Guilbeau
Coach Greg Patton
Six of the top American collegians have been selected to represent the United States in the fifth annual Master’U BNP Paribas, an international collegiate competition held Dec. 9-12 in Rouen, France. The event features eight teams composed of college and university players from around the world. The U.S., which defeated France to win the 2009 title, will be competing for the third consecutive year against a talented field that includes teams from Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Switzerland.
The 2010 U.S. team is being coached by Greg Patton, head coach of the Boise State University men’s tennis team, who helped lead the U.S. to the 2009 title, and Mark Guilbeau, head women’s tennis coach at the University of Virginia. Coach Patton and Coach Guilbeau will be co-writing a blog for USTA.com during the team's stay in France.

Our first official entry from Rouen, France! We are all very happy to be here… despite being greeted upon our landing in Paris by a solid, heavy snowfall. The conditions above and on the ground made us very grateful to have a driver taking care of us. Our linguistic challenges were apparent right away – as Coach Patton quickly named our driver "Timone."  Despite the new name, he decided to stick with his actual name of Simone! (This French stuff is not easy!!! And Coach Guilbeau unfortunately provides no help with the language, despite many years of French courses.)
Reid Carleton has already proven his great worth on the trip, for his French translating and guidance is saving this hungry team. (Coach Patton’s French is also worthless, even though his wife Christa is a former university French professor). Anyhow, we certainly appreciate the effort Simone made, not only to get us from Charles De Gaulle to Rouen, but also to drive us to and from the tennis facility, as well as to a very good Italian restaurant for dinner. "Chez Peppe" did not disappoint. After almost 24 hours of travel and a quick and productive practice, the meal was very well received. It has been a great start to the trip!

What stands out the most is the fantastic group of players and team members we have representing the U.S. here in France. And the group will only get stronger tomorrow, as Maria Sanchez arrives after a one-day delay getting out of Los Angeles. Not a bad travel day, all considered. Members coming from all across the country… all bags arriving without a hitch… a successful drive into Rouen, despite the snow and difficult driving conditions… and a great effort from all on the courts for a spirited 1 1/2 hours of practice in an indoor facility, which felt like the inside of a frigid refrigerator!
Coaches Patton and Guilbeau are already impressed with the immediate bonding of the members of the team. Although our team consists of members of universities from across the nation (Austin Krajicek from Texas A&M, Reid Carleton from Duke, Kristy Frilling from Notre Dame, Maria Sanchez from USC and Allie Will and Sekou Bangoura from Florida), their college affiliations have dissipated to a deep allegiance to playing for the red, white and blue. Their genuine desire and appreciation for working at their tennis and attacking this tournament with a great competitive spirit is evident. 
We are really looking forward to two more days of practice and time together as a tennis family prior to firing up the first live matches on Friday. One great thing about arriving from such a distance is that we were the first in line for preparation for the tournament, for we had the chilly, indoor, red clay-court tennis facility all to ourselves. China arrived tonight just in time to go to bed, and the French, British, Belgian, Swiss, German and Irish teams will arrive tomorrow, only to notice the slide marks of American tennis shoes on the red clay.

The day certainly had its interesting and enjoyable moments – marked largely by a bit of delirium from Allie (good for lots of laughs); an impressive ability by Sekou to sneak in a few extra minutes of "shut-eye" along the drive to Rouen and at dinner tonight. Nothing beats flying a red eye to Europe, driving in a packed van through the countryside of France in snow, and having your sleeping habits severely disrupted to finding a common ground in tennis to bring out the laughter and smiles. We already have some new nicknames going for the group -- AK for Austin, Bangagong for Sekou, Alligator for Allie.

Tomorrow we can’t wait to welcome Maria from the boring sunshine of Southern California to our frigid confines of Rouen to heat everything up here.


Coaches Guilbeau and Patton


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