Oct. 10, 2008
Former Georgia Tech standout Kristi Miller will share her experiences on and off the court from Spain as she begins her professional tennis career on the women’s circuit. Miller is competing in various 10K and 25K tournaments throughout the country.
Today I played in the doubles final in the $10,000 tournament in Barcelona, Spain. It is being held in the Polo Club in Barcelona and I have been told that it is the biggest tennis club in Spain. It has 40 red clay courts, a hockey field, a huge track and stable area for horses, a pool, two or three restaurants, etc. It is a really beautiful club. I played my first round singles match on Tuesday. I definitely did not play anywhere near the level I played last week and it was disappointing for me to be eliminated from the singles draw so early on. I had a very difficult time getting my footing when my opponent hit aggressively. In the future I think I will give myself more time to change from hard courts to clay courts. Moving from clay to hard courts is no problem for me, as I’ve played on hard courts my whole life but going the other way is more difficult. I know that I have the potential to play very well on red clay, as I made quarterfinals in my first tournament here in Spain in Lleida, because I came early and had ample preparation time.
Since Tuesday, I have been practicing and seeing some of Barcelona. I entered the doubles draw with Lucia Sainz, a girl who used to play at Fresno State. I met her the first week I was here when I had the opportunity to train at the Catalunyan Tennis Federation. Since only six teams signed in, we were already in the semifinals. Yesterday, we played in the semifinals against two Spanish girls. At first, I had a difficult time with the different way in which they played doubles (complete with lots of topspin and lobs!), but we started playing better and saved one set point in the first set and won 7-6, 6-1. Today, we played in the finals against a very good team. It was an extremely close match and we were down most of it. We won 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 10-7. The 10-7 was a super tiebreaker that is played in place of a third set in professional doubles. We were down 4-0 in the super tiebreaker, but we kept fighting and somehow pulled out the win! It was really fun to play with Lucia and Polo is her tennis club, so it was especially nice for her to win on her home courts.
Off the court, Lucia took me around on her scooter and showed me a little more of Barcelona. We went and saw some of the most famous works by Gaudi, an architect and artist. We saw the Sagrada Familia, an elaborate church started by Gaudi in the late 19th century but 120 years later it is still not finished! I could stare at the sides of that building forever and not notice every single minute detail that went into its creation! We also went and saw Guell Park, which is a park that was constructed by Gaudi that overlooks all of Barcelona. It is extremely famous and beautiful. We also went to the boqueria, which is a huge fruit and meat market in the heart of Barcelona. We bought some freshly squeezed juice for one euro and walked around and took in the sights. Lucia pointed out some of the great places to buy bread and pastries, and even brought me a chocolate croissant today from Farga, one of the most famous pastry shops in Barcelona.
I leave for London on Sunday night and then head back to Atlanta on Monday. It was too expensive to change my flight, so I am here two more days in Barcelona. Tomorrow, I think I will practice for the last time here on the red clay and then take a book and my camera to Guell Park. It is supposed to be a beautiful day, so I am hoping to be able to take advantage of it. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my trip to Spain, and I am sure I will be posting again as I travel to other places. When I return to the United States I will be playing in a $25,000 in Augusta, Ga., followed by a $50,000 in Auburn, Ala., and a $50,000 in San Diego, Calif. That’s all for now, adios y Go Jackets!