Bom dia from Brazil!
Bom dia! This is the Portuguese phrase for good morning. I spent two weeks competing in $10,000 futures in south central Brazil. Specifically, the two cities were Catanduva and Campos de Jordao. I began the transcontinental trip with a flight from Raleigh, North Carolina to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After a lengthy 7 hour layover in Fort Lauderdale I boarded for Campinas, Brasil. On my flight were many excited fans going to the 2016 Olympic Games which were being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The 6 hour overnight flight passed quickly as I have learned how to sleep in tight spaces. I had a window seat fortunately. After some reading, music, writing, and sleeping I finally arrived in Brazil. It was now Saturday morning and after clearing customs easily it was time to catch my 3 hour bus ride to the country city of Catanduva. I was shocked at the weather! Now standing in the Southern Hemisphere, I exchanged a very humid 95 degree heat to 38 degrees in the morning!
Traveling alone in a foreign country usually provides some immediate initial adversity for me. I do usually look like a foreigner among the locals and communication is difficult. No matter how confident you are in your preparations the time when you're first confronted with speaking a new language to survive provides some stress. Thanks to some last second studying with Portuguese app I was able to catch a taxi and eventually I navigated from the bus station to safely arrive in Cantanduva.
Upon being in the city, I quickly checked in my hotel. The hotel staff was friendly and there was one person who could speak some English! I knew now that I would be learning some Portuguese this week! Later that night I went to the tennis club and practiced on the red clay courts. The club was very nice! It had a restaurant, pool, gym, volleyball court, basketball court, and soccer fields. I later found out it was the only athletic club in the entire city. It was very popular to those in the city that could afford it.
I prepared the next few days and competed in the main draw of singles and doubles. I lost a tough match in singles but I was able to gain a victory with my Brazilian partner, whom I met an hour before the match for the first time. He spoke no English and we communicated using Spanish while competing! The competition week finished with us losing in the quarterfinals of doubles.
I now had some time to get more accustomed to the country try some different foods and learn a little about the culture while I trained very hard until the next week.
The next week was in the mountainous resort town of Campos do Jordao. It is nicknamed the Switzerland city in Brazil. The downtown included a very fashionable village with shops, cafes, and restaurants. I was still very surprised that none of these places had indoor heat! Eating dinner at room temperature when the weather outside is 40 degrees presented some adversity. I did become friends with an Argentine and his father who I accompanied to dinner a few nights. They were great people and I enjoyed all the time I spent with them. It also required me to use all the Spanish I knew as my Spanish and their English were about the same level.
On the tennis court, I was finding myself far more comfortable. This week was being competed on hard courts with a little bit of altitude due to the city being on a mountain. This allowed me to play more aggressive and all the intense practice during the week was paying off. I won a three set battle over a young Brazilian player who is accomplished on the global stage. I was very impressed with the crowd and the facilities at the venue. Not to mention great courts, the tournament had models and exhibitions for BMW and a prominent chocolatier at each featured match. My second round match was a victory over another very good Brazilian player in three grueling sets. In singles I advanced to the quarterfinals. In doubles I played with a new partner whom I also only spoke Spanish with. We advanced to the semi-finals of doubles after winning two rounds. In singles and doubles, I was defeated by the top seed of the tournament. After the tournament, I stayed one day touring São Paulo with a new tennis friend I met that lived there. This city is the second largest city in the Americas and top 5 in the world! It has more people than New York City! I discovered amazing food at an authentic churrascaria, visited local shops, and met some more Brazilians who could speak English. I was able to ask questions about the culture and a learn about some of their recent history. I have learned that what is expressed on media outlets in America does not always correlate with the views and realities of the people around the world.
Overall, I built momentum and learned new adjustments for my tennis game. I gained some more valuable Atp points to improving my ranking and made new friends. My first experience to South America had many positives and I am happy to return healthy and with added experience on the court and in life. Be sure to check out pictures from the trip in the photo album!