Trekking…Be Back Soon (Hopefully)
I’m in a bit of a hurry so Ill recap the end of my Chilean tennis expedition, which I wrote last night then explain what I’m up to next….sorry no pictures, I’m trying to pack. I should have some great ones soon though. Oh, and my girlfriend Stefanie was accepted into a one year fellowship to work in environmental engineering in San Francisco starting in September. So a huge congratulations to her and it should make for an exciting transition once I’m done traveling after the summer and its time to become a real person. More on that later though…
It is my last day in Santiago for a while. I lost in the qualifying of the tournament last weekend in a three-hour+ marathon of a match to a solid Chilean player who was tough as nails and cheated every chance he got. Many people don’t know this fact but tennis is one of the easiest sports in the world to cheat in because until one reaches the very highest levels, the players are responsible for calling their own lines. So I call the lines on my side of the net and my opponent calls them on his. For the most part this works out since most people try their best to call fairly, although even then mistakes are made.
Inevitably though you find yourself playing someone who doesn’t care to play fairly and in the tennis world we call these people hooks. Often times it is hard to tell if someone is cheating you because the ball moves fast and it really is hard to call the lines when the ball lands close. But other times it can be blatant and bad calls have a tendency of occurring at big moments in a match when they cost you the most. At that point all you can really do is yell at the person a bit, call them a few names if you feel like it, and hopefully get on with your match and not let it effect you too much. Sometimes I’ve found it helps make me feel better to hook them back a couple times just to show them I won’t stand for being messed with. Unfortunately though, most of the time a retaliatory hook doesn’t carry the same weight as the initial one since the opportune moment has come and gone. Also, you really don’t want to get yourself into cheating battles if you can avoid them for rarely do they end well.
I want to be clear that I am in no way advocating cheating. I always think it is better to call fairly and accurately and give your opponent the benefit of the doubt. But I have simply learned over the years that in some cases, when a player’s actions are obviously doing me an injustice and effecting the match, I think it is important and within my rights to do whatever possible to make sure I am playing a fair match, even if fair in this case means that the lines are out.
That being said, I got hosed by this Chilean kid, all throughout my match on Saturday, mainly on important points when they really counted—he was a surprisingly advanced and effective hook—and I never did much to combat it besides yell at him in what little Spanish I know with a few, choice English phrases and pronouns mixed in. Oh well though. Most of the time bad calls, as frustrating as they can be, do not change the outcome of a match, and I had plenty of chances to win in spite of having to overcome them. I ended up losing 6-4 5-7 6-4 in a long, physically draining match. While I was disappointed to have lost and think I should have beaten him, my opponent was very tough and willing to work hard out there. He used his comfort on the clay to drag me into long rallies and make me work harder than I am used to for points, which wore me down and won him the match eventually. It is always hard to lose a close match such as this but it was fun to be a part of and hopefully the experience will help me pull that match out next time. I’m still trying to get comfortable out there in the dirt, so this is all a learning process and can be logged away as such.
For now though, my friend Nick and I are taking the next week off to do a five-day hike down south in Chilean Patagonia. The area we will be hiking is called Torres Del Paine and it is supposed to be one of the gems of South American trekking, packed full with snow capped mountains, glaciers, penguins, and plenty of other natural wonders. Neither of us have any hiking or camping gear, so we are in the process of trying to figure that out. But we have plane tickets to Punta Arenas, from which we will take two three-hour bus rides to get to the start of the park. Nick has no experience camping and I have little—mostly of the kind where my car is within reach—but we are excited to get away from society for a while and experience what the world felt like before humanity claimed it. I think there are even a couple restaurants along the way at some of the campgrounds where we can shower and have a few beers to help us unwind from our long journey. We wouldn’t want to get too far away would we? But anyway, it may be a little while before you hear from me. With any luck I will have some awesome pictures and stories when I return and then it is back to the tennis grind where I’ll head to Argentina to play another couple futures before returning home. Stay well and hopefully you will hear from me soon:-)