MELBOURNE, Australia – The Gopher Men’s Tennis team is spending time training in Australia this month. During their stay, members of the team will be writing blog updates to keep fans posted on the team’s activities throughout the trip. Today, junior Jesse Sprinkel dished on the team’s latest activities in Melbourne.
I can’t believe we are already halfway done with our training trip! Fittingly, this day might have been the peak of the trip so far. We started the day just like our other days here with a morning practice at the courts we had played on the previous day. Energy levels were high after a pre-practice pump-up speech from assistant coach Urban Ljubic and we carried that energy through practice. Calls of “Go Gophs!” and “C’mon!” could be heard loudly as we battled through the windy conditions.
After the morning practice, however, the special part of the day began. We got in our vans and headed off to Kooyong, Australia: home of the Kooyong Classic tournament which features some of the top players in the world. We were fortunate enough to watch a match between 12-time grand slam champ Novak Djokovic and world no. 5 Dominic Thiem. Although both players seemed to be a bit rusty at the start of this new season, it was a treat to watch guys of that caliber play. After the match, Marino Alpeza and I waited outside the stadium in the hopes to get a picture with Novak to match Vlad Lobak and Jackson Allen’s selfies with Rafael Nadal. Even though Marino asked Novak in his native language, our efforts proved futile, and we left empty handed.
The coolest part of the day came when we got to hit on some of the real grass courts at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club. For most of the guys on the team, this was their first time hitting on real grass. We decided to hold a mini “Two Ball, Three Ball” (a popular doubles game for Gopher Tennis) tournament amongst our team. After a short round robin and playoff, Justyn Levin and Josip Krstanovic came away with the title while head coach Geoff Young and I brought home the bronze. Although the new experience of grass was fun for us, the erratic bounces and blazingly fast court speed did not impress everyone, as senior Matic Spec stated while shaking his head, “This was not meant to be a surface.”
We finished off the evening with a nice dinner in the Italian district in Melbourne. After being seated, we were immediately pressured into getting garlic and herb pizzas by our waiter with a heavy Italian accent. Stefan Milicevic, a former resident of Italy, was on to their tactics and would not let himself be influenced. Dinner, when it finally came, was good and we all left happy. After dinner, Coach Young generously bought Italian gelato for the players who medaled in our mini tournament. We’re now looking forward to resting up a bit. With our first off day tomorrow, we are excited at the opportunity to explore Melbourne more.
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