Team USA from Timaru, New Zealand - Part II

February 24, 2011 11:59 AM
The US team was shaken by a strong earthquake, but will play on down under.
Yes! We DID feel the earth move!
What a day for the Timaru teams. The day started off with a steady rain that lasted until about noon. So we had time to take a nap or read a couple extra chapters, before matches began. The Men’s 40s had the day off. The Women’s 40s were scheduled to play Turkey and my team would face Luxembourg.

After arriving at the tennis center at 10, we all got plugged in and logged on. Just about every player was texting, emailing, skyping or on Facebook. It was right as we got settled that we experienced the first of three obvious aftershocks. The first one started very slowly, almost as if there was a strong breeze hitting the building. It slowly grew to an obvious disturbance with the floor shaking and glasses rattling. Without hesitation every player grabbed their laptops and ran out of the building. This happened one more time before we started play. After only an hour the rain began again, suspending play until Wednesday. So we gathered inside to report scores, when the third aftershock shook the building. It was surprising, but not as shocking as when we learned of the earthquake two hours north in Christchurch.
At this point all players were online gathering information and sending correspondence home to let loved ones know that we were in fact safe and out of harm. Unfortunately, it took many hours before we could make contact with our teammates in Christchurch, to confirm that they were safe. The reports from the news included casualties, people trapped, collapsed buildings and the closing of the airport. For the next few hours, time would almost stand still.

After watching endless news reports we decided to go back to the hotel and relax. Patricia and Vesna (on the 40s team) had the idea to sit and enjoy an Argentinian custom of sharing ‘mat`e’. This is a tea that is shared by a group and had with a bread or dessert. So 6 of us drank ‘mat`e’ and talked about how fortunate we were to be together and to be safe. Team comraderie can take many forms so far from home. Needless to say, wins and losses weren’t the focus today.

We will resume play tomorrow at 10am local time, with an enhanced appreciation of playing tennis and representing our country. We are so proud to be playing at the World Championships, but even more so, thankful, to be out of harms way.