Blog 1: Preparation, travel and our Introduction to Doha
We started our preparation for the World Juniors with a brutal week's training in Auckland with Paul Hornsby and Tony Marsh. From there we flew out from Auckland Airport on Monday the 2nd of July. We travelled on Emirates and the various selections of movies and games offered great entertainment for the journey ahead. Zac Millar lost his boarding pass, so the team was worried whether or not he would be able to come to Qatar. Fortunately the situation was sorted and he was able to board the plane in time. Once on the plane, Todd Redman's remote for controlling the movies was not working so he was less than happy and to add to this an elderly man sitting by Todd was experiencing a stroke! The crew aboard the plane quickly handled the situation and the old man was moved into business class and as far as we know he recovered.
A quick stopover in Brisbane where Jonny was frisked down thoroughly (the rubber gloves may or may not have come out) by the bomb squad and also Ben's precious anti-frizz shampoo was confiscated too much dismay. "Customs is a joke!" quoted Ben Grindrod.
Then we boarded the plane for a second time being greeted by some rather nice air hostess'. After 13 and a half hours of travel Jonny's feet had swollen up as if he had piled on 10kgs and it went straight to his calves and ankles. Once inside Dubai airport we realized the scale of how just how big buildings in the Middle East are. Shops seemed to go on forever and so after a while we took a seat at a café. After a few minutes of rest, Todd decided it was time for entertainment and set up his laptop on full volume playing Shania Twain - I feel like a woman. This was funny to us as everyone walking past by thought Todd was seriously enjoying the song. Boarding the plane to Doha, Qatar was less than easy as the plane was running late to take off, this was when Todd said one of his many quotes "Let's make like a tree and leave", and applauding when we finally took off.
Arriving in Doha we soon came to realization of how hot the earth can get in some places, as a squad we had been to Malaysia but have never experienced this kind of heat. It feels like a fire flame is brushing past your cheeks and some gas heaters are roaring hot air towards you. We quickly got to our Hotel and complying with Doha laws Paul Hornsby had to leave a bottle of wine, he had brought with him. A refreshing swim and look around the hotel was really awesome, and also going to a local mall for food was great as we saw all the different cultures and religions that Doha has.
Our first day hitting was really good and getting used to how different the courts are to New Zealand. We all had a hit on the feature glass court which was great experience, and we can't wait to play a proper match on it. Stay tuned for our next up update shortly on the World Champs.