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EN BREF #2
 
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the World Teams ...

HOW DOES IT WORK THEN....?

You may wonder how we actually spend the day, how do we organise the work here, in Doha? First, the warmth is preventing us from walking outside really.

For example, there is a superb swimming pool at the hotel, where a few silly people are taking the sun during the day - they must have a death wish, I for myself would rather die in a car crash than from skin cancer - but so far, we finished too late in the evening to go and plunge there.

So, no walking to the venue, for example, which would have been possible in the winter.

So, after a nice and varied breakfast, the excellent shuttle organisation picks us up right in front of the hotel three times per hour, on time, 20 past, 20 to. Easy to remember. And always on time. Except on Fridays, of course, as all the drivers are off to pray at certain times during the day.

A quick drive, I would say 5-10 minutes, and here we are at the Khalifa Sport Centre. Just in case you don't know, that's where the Tennis Federation is based, and if you watch the Qatar Tennis tournament on TV sometimes, well, we are basically under the Tennis centre court seatings.

Every time I've been coming here, I have been wondering why on earth they would cover up the corridor coming from outside to the VIP Entrance (which we are using). It was a bit dark I thought.

It's only since this trip that I got it: it's actually boxed and air-conned. Clever.

You come in the place, and you have a vast entrance/hall, with the glass court right in front of you, but the entrance doors are on the side.

You turn right, along the hall, and you arrive in what is the "normal entrance, again, airy and light. Turn right again, and the media room is there, with tea/coffee/soft drinks all day long, plus a few lovely nibbles at lunch time. Lovely, simple, efficient.

A trip from the Hotel to the Venue - Photo Gallery
 

Thierry came to scout for Tecnifibre, while Mohamed is support his brother and country...

Back in the "main entrance", you have two sets of courts (4 and 4), for "training", a few seating, but still scoreboard, and then the full Monty 4 other courts, superb seatings, scoreboard, plenty of space.

For the occasion, the last "training court has been transformed into the Refs' rooms, there are sooo many of them, who have been working relentlessly for hours per day.

You also have the normal "lounge" for players/officials, comfy armchairs, nice atmosphere.

On the first floor, you have a gallery that takes you to the 8 side courts, a food display, lovely and cheap food, really nice, plus a long corridor that takes you to the Qatar Federation offices

Back to the glass court, well, you've seen enough photos, a great space, they repainted the flooring last year according to PSA/ASB recommendations, so the ball on TV looks really sharp I'm told

Strangely enough, it's not as cold as it is in December on the glass court arena. It's fresh, but not cold. Nice....

At the end of the day, Steve and I are usually the last ones to leave, but the buses are waiting for us, and we normally have them for ourselves, whereas in the morning, it could be a bit crowded...

Then we come back to the Hotel, I normally order a quick room service with local food - a sucker for it - while Steve goes down to the cafeteria to grab a quick sandwich.

And that, people, is the glamorous life of SquashSite journalists on tour...

Menshawy... Jasmine.... Heather with the HK officials Lorraine and finally... Andrew... 
Seen in Doha.... WSF has arrived....

EN BREF #1
 
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the World Teams ...

A BIT DIFFERENT...

Feeling a bit weird.

It's not the first time I come to Doha, far from it really. Why should I feel that impression of unknown...

Well, first of all, the warmth. It's the first time I come to Qatar in the summer, and it took me right back. To my youth. When I used to fly from Tananarive, Madagascar, my home at the time, to go on holidays in France.

At that time, planes couldn't fly for as long as they do today, and we had to land in the middle of the night in Djibouti. It was July too, and when we would step out of the plane, that feeling of entering into a ball of cotton where it was hard to breathe at first, then quite pleasant as your body would accustom to it.

Maybe it just takes me back when, and I feel a bit nostalgic for those golden years of youth?

Also, we have changed hotel, and for the better, I have to stress. Not that the previous hotel had anything wrong with it. But this one, the Courtyard by Marriott  brand new hotel, minutes from the venue - the other one was much further away - is just top notch.

Three floors where you can choose food styles, lovely bars as well, where you can follow sports, have a cigarette or a drink if that's your thing, or more relaxing and quiet if you prefer a cooler ambiance, enjoy a tea, like I do...

To describe to you the breakfast in the third floor venue, I have only one word. "Renaissance", in Hong Kong. All the players will know what I'm talking about.

The food is just gorgeous, varied, imaginative, of the highest quality. I had the chance to eat lunch there too, and as it was Friday (our Sunday Lunch for the Occident), it was a bit of a special event, and we all enjoyed it thoroughly. "It was one of the best meals I ever had," I heard from a ref. I can only second that statement. I think that with the Kuwait tournament hotel, it's really one of the best we've been invited to...

The rooms are really comfy, and the bed is large, soooo welcoming, especially when you had a pretty full schedule for the past six weeks. I spend the first day here sleeping, eating, and chatting with plenty of nice people I'm delighted to see again.

To be honest, I've also spent my day meeting out people in the corridors that I know are in the event, but not having a clue who they are. Some know who I am, and smile. Others just pass through me. Oh well, I'm sure at some point I'll manage to get a clue of who they are....



In the evening, we had a lovely get together with the teams, where Cubs (for those who don't know us, Steve Cubbins, SquashSite webmaster and photographer in Chief) clicked his way through the evening, making sure he got everybody in his little magic box.

Meanwhile I was going from the buffet to chat with the ones I did recognise/know. It's a tough job but.

So, why do I feel so scared for tomorrow? Is it because we are going to have 14,403 matches in a about 5 hours? Is it because I know about 10% of the players? Is it because I have again to work in English after spending a few weeks enjoying my French writing, so much easier?

Or is it because, as ever, I just think that I'll never be able to write a single word that makes sense?

"Stay tuned", and let's find out, shall we?

 

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