Master’U blog: Team USA arrives in France
Six of the top collegiate players in the country – UCLA sophomore Ena Shibahara, Pepperdine sophomore Ashley Lahey, UNC freshman Alle Sanford, Florida junior Alfredo Perez, USC sophomore Brandon Holt and UCLA senior Martin Redlicki – are currently in France to compete in the 2017 Master’U BNP Paribas International Collegiate Team Competition, the world's most prestigious international college team event.
For the ninth time in the last 10 years, Boise State men’s coach Greg Patton will lead the U.S. team at the Master’U event and will be joined at the helm by Ohio State women’s coach Melissa Schaub, who is returning for a second consecutive year with the squad. Team USA will compete against teams from Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Russia and will be going for its seventh straight title and eighth in the last nine years.
Coach Patton is writing a blog for USTA.com throughout the competition and shares his first entry here about the team’s arrival in France. Stay tuned for more updates, and follow action from the Master'U competition here.
The U.S. collegians on this trip should be a case study for the impact of sleep deprivation on college players… and especially on road-weary tennis coaches.
Most thrilling for today, the entire U.S. team of Ena Shibahara (UCLA), Ashley Lahey (Pepperdine), Alle Sanford (North Carolina), Martin Redlicki (UCLA), Brandon Holt (USC) and Alfredo Perez (Florida), along with coaches Greg Patton (Boise State), Melissa Schaub (Ohio State) and volunteer Garrett Patton (Cal Poly SLO), all miraculously arrived in Lille, France, Tuesday afternoon. Can't beat the American penchant for having safe, time-efficient tennis trips!
I have to say that today's travel was miraculous. Thanksgiving holiday flight delays had us worried whether we would show up, much less connect, with a team flying from all over this massive nation of ours. Wouldn't you know it, but even with flight delays, the team all showed up at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris at the very same time to connect to a later train to Lille, the site of the Master'U BNP Paribas Intercollegiate Championships!
Most of us West Coasters were meeting in Los Angeles (what seems an eternity ago) on Monday at 5 a.m. Roll’em in. Pack it up. Yeah, Rawhide!
On the flight, I did tons of reading, watching movies and worrying if the East Coast contingent of Coach Schaub and Alle Sanford would meet up with us in New York, but, smooth as a silk sheet, they were there at JFK with their Ohio State and North Carolina uniforms serving as a beacon for us to find them. We spent 90 minutes of limbering up at JFK and then were off to Paris for our red eye.
Then came more movies, reading and worrying if Alfredo Perez (flying to Paris from Atlanta) and Garrett Patton (flying from a connection in Miami) would arrive in time to meet us at the train station in Paris to make the train to Lille. The travel gods shined on us, though, as Alfredo was waiting for us in Paris. Although we landed earlier, we went through two hours of security and customs that caused us to miss our train. We were frantically trying to text both the men to only have them walk up to us at Charles de Gaulle with big smiles on their faces. It was a good omen to know that all the delays created was a smoother trip for the entire team to make the same train to Lille.
As soon as we reached Lille, we were whisked off to the tennis club for practice and lunch. We were able to get our legs under us and the weary, jet-lagged “heebie jeebies” out of our bones. The group had a great, enthusiastic hit, and we finished off with a riveting one-point tournament, with the men’s and women's players teeing off on each other in competitive spirit.
The second we got to the hotel at 4 p.m., we were all off to sleep. We woke up for dinner at 7 p.m. and conducted an interview with the local media about the tournament. (It’s hard to know if my jokes passed OK through the interpreter and if the laughs were only polite groans.)
There is tons of team-building going on right now, which basically means reasserting our goals to: 1) play great tennis; 2) win the world championship for the eighth time in the past nine years; 3) become closer friends; 4) develop the players' games to reach new heights by competing in the Master’U tournament.
Lille is still resonating in the glow of the French team winning the 2017 Davis Cup last weekend with a 3-2 victory over Belgium, and nothing could be better for the enthusiasm and joy of tennis in France. Lille is buzzing like a bunch of honey bees!
It’s getting late here now, the team is off to sleep, and we coaches need to catch up on our shut-eye as soon as possible. Tournament play starts on Friday, so we have only two days left of training, some sight-seeing and tons of team-building activities to enjoy.
The nations that qualified for Master’U are: France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, China, Germany, Russia and the defending world champs....USA!