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The Travelling Sportsman
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The Travelling Sportsman

I’m an early bird. Always have been, always will. I set the alarm for 7am, more out of habit really, as I usually wake up well before the alarm even goes off anyway. It’s a good thing that I don’t mind early starts, because training pretty much always starts early. Today is a bit different from a normal training day though, as I’m off to Lima, Peru to compete in a $25K professional event.

Tennis has been my passion since a very early age- but the demands are high, including lots of training, lots of travel and not much rest in between. But it’s this busy, ‘never in the same place for long’ lifestyle that gives me thrills, no matter how tiring it can be at times. I don’t mind working hard and playing hard because in the end, no matter what the result, I am just so happy to be able to do this.

Anyway, enough day-dreaming- I haven’t got much time for that today. My flight takes off at 10am, and I need to arrange my last minute travel essentials before I make my way to the airport. I slip my Laptop in to the Cancha Bag’s special compartment. The YKK AquaGuard zippers will keep my electronic items safe from any leaking beverages onboard this long-haul flight to Lima. My racquets are safely tucked inside my racquet bag attachment. Lastly, I stick on the side-pouch with a few granola bars and a power bank to keep me charged both physically and electronically for the next 10 hours in air.

Now I’m on my way, speeding across the country on a train destined towards a place I have come to know well: Airports! It’s summer, so it’s a busy scene. However, this time I’m checked in and through security quicker than you can say Cancha! My Cancha Bag is easy to organize with its functional stretch pockets and removable attachments, so once I reach the scanner I’m ready to take out all liquids, including drinks, cosmetics and toiletries, sprays, toothpaste, gels and…You can tell I’ve done this before, can’t you?

If you have ever been on a flight then I’m sure you know the inside of an aircraft is pretty standard, and any pre-flight nerves tend to dull down into intense boredom after the first 30 minutes! So, I’ll spare you the details, and wizz forward 10 hours (minus 6 for the time change), bringing us to early afternoon in Lima.

 

After touchdown, I make my way through arrivals, catching a glimpse of my American friend, who arrived on another flight from Miami 20 minutes prior. We fist bump, crack a few jokes and fill each other in on what each of us have been up to since last time se saw each other, then hop in a taxi towards the tennis club.

That’s what I really love about travelling for tennis. Okay, it’s a solo sport and we don’t benefit from the same close kinship and support as players in team sports do, but I love the way that every tournament I go to, I meet more different, interesting people. Some are new acquaintances, others are old friends I haven’t seen for quite a while. Regardless, you are always guaranteed an adventure wherever you go!

Back to the journey. We arrive at the gates to the tennis club in San Antonio district of Lima, where the tournament is being held. The entrance is at the top of a cliff, looking down into an expansive valley below where 10 red clay courts can be seen and where the coastline veers off into the distance. I can’t believe I’m going to be playing in such a picturesque location!

We head down to the courts, sign ourselves in and start the usual routine of collecting practice balls, handing our racquets into the tournament stringer, and warming up for practice. A chorus of ‘thwacks’ commence as all the players make their first strikes of racquet against ball. The event has begun.

I unzip the water resistant zip of the racquet bag attachment, and take out my weapon, ready to start hitting balls. What a sweet feeling it is to be out here, playing my favourite sport, the sound of waves crashing against the shore behind us. An hour and a half later of forehand’s backhands, serves, volleys, smashes and everything in between, we call it a day and head over to the gym to shower and stretch. When we finally arrive at our hotel, I remove the racquet bag by pulling the magnetic pull tabs and take my main pack with my laptop inside down to the lobby – There is still work to be done.

It’s evening now, and after over an hour of responding to emails and catching up with all the CanchaI work I missed during the day’s travels, I head into town with my roommates for dinner. What will it be tonight? Italian, Sushi, local and authentic? We decide to go for the latter. I choose Ceviche con Maracuya, a delicious traditional Peruvian dish that makes my mouth water just at the sight of it.

Tomorrow begins the tournament, so it’s going to be an early(ish) night for all of us. Jet lag is beginning to consume us and we make our way back to the hotel for finally a good night’s sleep – The calm before the storm…

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