The Dunja Dish: July 6
Right now it is 7 a.m. in Belgrade and I am not sure why I am awake, but I thought I would take the opportunity to go to the internet station with a hope that there would be free computers. The last few days have been very busy with the competition starting. Ancsi (Redecsi) and I both lost in the first round in singles and in doubles as well. Ancsi started her singles match very well, but once her opponent got in the groove, she played solid throughout the match and Ancsi lost 6-3, 6-2. My match was very competitive. I won the first set 6-1 against Bai, the 12th seed from Australia, and I was right there with her in the second set, but at 4-4 I missed some balls I should not have which cost me the set and later the match as well. I ran out of gas a little bit. Don't tell Patricia (DePaul’s Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning).
The good news is that Kaca (Milinkovic) is still standing strong. She dominated in her match against Molly Mbekeka of Uganda, and after a day off, she will be playing today again. Ancsi is still in mixed doubles with Andreas Kuharsky. They are playing later in the day against Korea. The consolation draw starts tomorrow, so we are hoping we can still get some quality matches in.
Otherwise, the event itself is fantastic. The athletes' village is completely new and it looks extremely nice. It seemed to me that the organizers tried to follow some kind of system when placing countries in each of the buildings, such as putting countries together that speak the same language or are from the same region. Consequently, Hungary is with Thailand and Ghana. Go figure. We are actually very excited to have such diversity. The men's soccer team from Ghana honored us with a half an hour long dance in which they brought in those observing the celebration. As our friend Arthur from Ghana explained, their people value unity and working together for a common goal. They demonstrated that with their dance where, as Arthur said, everybody was one.
It seems like they are not the only ones who strongly believe in this idea. The motto of the 2007 Bangkok Games was "All Become One." It is hard to imagine a better place than a Universiade to see this idea come into life, where young people from all around the world come together and celebrate the mutual experience of being university students while also remaining competitive in their sports. It is an opportunity to put our prejudices and political conflicts aside and truly enjoy the differences of our cultures and also of the skills that are required for our sport. This unity is visible in the Belgrade Arena when all the 140 countries do the wave together, or when you are trying to understand a sport that you were not familiar with in order to be able to cheer for your friends, or when 80 people regardless of sport and country watch the grueling Wimbledon final at a small cafe that does not have enough chairs for everybody, or when limited English knowledge does not prevent you from talking to people while waiting for a computer at the internet place. It is that simple, yet it seems to be so hard to make it corporeal.
I feel that we were able to build a strong bond within the Hungarian team as well. Tennis players had it easy because people follow it. Our table tennis friends know more about Federer's records than the tennis players do. I have to admit, though, that some of us were not very familiar with the various disciplines in fencing or the rules of gymnastics. Yet, here we were able to learn and watch sports that otherwise we might have not had a chance to know about. I admire our fellow Hungarian athletes for their patience to teach us.
As I looked around at the tennis courts, I saw old friends meeting again and I saw new friendships that were build via competition and practices together. I am not at all surprised to report that a very large number of tennis players study or were studying in the US. There are representatives from Baylor, Arkansas, New Mexico, Washington, Nevada, Tennessee, Northwestern and many more all playing for different countries. Actually, on the men's side it so happened that former college teammates played against each other.
DePaul now has five representatives here. The three of us participants: Kaca, Ancsi and I. Also, our DVD (DePaul Van Driver + Food Provider + Midwest Region Coach of the Year, aka Mark Ardizzone) arrived and since I mentioned his name in the blog, I will probably be issued 6 a.m. runs for the rest of my life. Furthermore, our very own George Wang, a former men's tennis player, is here accompanying a player from Taiwan. He still proudly wears his DePaul gear!
I cannot promise I will wake up at 6:30 am tomorrow again, when there is nobody at the computers, but I hope to give you some good news after today's matches.