Robyn Smith, CEO of Ausrapid, along with Michael Thompson, met us at the airport. Our bus for the next few days had the appropriate and impressive signage for players in The Open. Thank goodness because we wouldn't want to get it mixed up with Nadal's bus!
Construction in Melbourne is everywhere. A lot of cranes can be seen throughout the city. There is growing revitalization along the waterway or port called the docklands on Victoria harbor. There is a very tall building with gold windows along the top. Aprox 88 stories, you can go to the top and step out onto a see through floor and look down. Katherine is all about this one!!! There is also the Melbourne Star which was designed by the same company that did the London Eye. It looks just the same and we plan to do that as well. Traffic similar to Houston, but not as much honking. I would call it respectful driving.
Our hotel is called Melbourne Parkview and is located across the street from the practice courts. Perfect walking distance. Since our room wasn't ready, we decided to go for a walk and see what is located around us.
Map in hand, we walked about two miles to the Shrine of Remembrance. This is a park setting which has several memorials of the role Australians played in war and peacekeeping. The largest and first building is dedicated to WWI. The photo doesn't do it justice. Katherine was kind enough to befriend a gentleman who gave us a private look at the building and a great history lesson. In the end, he gave her a poppy and told her to do her best in the tournament and enjoy Australia.
At 12:00 we head back to the hotel and meet up with the rest of the team.
Before anyone can play you need your CREDENTIALS!!!! Our bus took us in a back entrance, you know, the kind for PLAYERS ONLY! We checked in and got some pre-credentials and walked through another entrance and into Melbourne Park. That was when it finally became real. we were at the Australian Open. All you could hear from our group was "wow" and "look at that" and "wow". When you finally get to there and you are standing in the middle of it, it is hard to find the right words to describe it.
No matter what level you play, everyone checks in at the same place to get your credentials. There is some paperwork that tells you what you can and can't do with them. So, no Ebay folks, but why would you want to.
Don't they look great and ready to hit the courts.
Albert Reserve Park serves as practice courts until our matches begin. Our coaches worked on basics and loosening up after the long plane ride. Don and I hated sitting on the side!
By 5:00pm people were fading. Katherine and I went back to the room to unpack. Don was in charge of getting dinner and bringing it back to the room. There is a wonderful place right across the street. Poor Katherine was so tired, she ate her entire meal with her eyes closed. It was hard not to laugh.
I thought I would be able to write these blogs each day at a certain time. Well, there is a lot going on here, but I will do my best to get one out each day.