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Tennessee's Fran Chandler Blogs From ITF Tournament In New Zealand

February 20, 2011 11:37 AM
2011 45s Women's US ITF team
2011 35s Women's US ITF team
45s American players get together with the Canadian team. US players in white, left to right, are Rhona Kaczmarczyk, Fran Chandler, Mariana Hollman and Gretchen Magers.
Earthquake damage just 25 yards from the tennis site.
Fran Chandler, player/captain of the U.S. ITF women's 45s team, blogged from the ITF's international seniors tournament in Christchurch, New Zealand. Chandler, who is from Jackson, Tenn., will keep USTA Southern members posted about her team and other Southerners playing in the prestigious worldwide competition.
The tournament was rocked by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the city on Tuesday, Feb. 22. More than 145 persons were killed with hundreds still missing.
Sunday, Feb. 27
This is my final blog from my adventure to Christchurch. I can truly say I have enjoyed writing this.
As far as my team is concerned, just to back track a bit, we were seeded #1 in the Margaret Court Cup. We played on Monday, which turned out to be our only match and we beat Canada 3-0. After the earthquake hit on Tuesday, we journeyed to Ashburton … thanks to USTA representatives Theresa Bowen driving us and Carolyn Nichols moving her teams around at the Bella Vista hotel to make room for us. It wasn’t just our team that came ended up in Ashbutron; it was also the men’s 50s teams, whom I am ever so grateful to Rick Leach for going back into the hotel to get my passport.
We did get to see some outstanding tennis the following days before we left. We saw Diane Fishburne dig in and fight a great match with Great Britain. BTW: that was Sue Bartlett’s team. However she did not play that day due to a foot injury from earlier in the week. Diane lost her first set 6-4 and won the second set 7-5 and, due to a rain delay, her cup’s format went to super tiebreaker for the third set. Then she pulled out the tiebreaker for the match 10-8 and her team won the other two matches. Next they played Australia for the finals and won. I don’t have individual scores at this moment, just news that they won. Rhona and myself had to catch a ride to Christchurch airport to come home so I regret not getting to see that match.
The men’s 55s with Tom Smith and Fred Robinson played for third place today. They lost to Spain in the semis, having to play late in the evening under the lights. The night before Fred won his singles and Tom and Sal Castill won their doubles but did not finish until 10 p.m.
Carolina Blouin, on the 35s team, was in a rain delay Saturday, which was the semis for her cup. They had two groups in their format and two teams came out of the groups to be in the semis.
The teams at Christchurch were blessed with being able to escape the horrible tragedy of the earthquake with no physical injury. Gretchen posed a question to us: What did we take away from the earthquake? She had the response that each of us echoed , which was for us to live each day to the fullest and to know each of us were blessed and to add this experience to our "ness," which will make us a stronger person. Gretchen had to tell us what one’s "ness" is. It’s one’s makeup and true strengths and beliefs.
My teammates and I are very grateful to USTA and to each section for the opportunity to play on a team and to grow with our teammates. Special thanks to Theresa Bowen, Carolyn Nichols, Carol Wood, our team representative, Lesley Waite, and to all of the USTA.
Thursday, Feb. 24
Fran bravely apologizes for missing a day and not blogging on Wednesday, the day after more than 100 were killed by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that hit the tournament site of Christchurch. We proudly applaud her devotion to her team and her desire to communicate with Southern tennis players.
Sorry for the interruption in information.
This is actually day 4 we would like to forget day 3. Let me back up to the day 3 we would like to forget. We started out with practice time at 9am on Tuesday, having to day off for match play. Very appropriately , for the day, it was raining. I changed our practice time to an indoor court for 30 minutes at 11:30 and headed back to the hotel to get Mariana and Rhona for the new practice time. Gretchen headed off to swim with the dolphins.
From the hotel we left about 10:30 to get toward the tennis center. We got to the tennis center about 11am, and fortunately the courts were about to dry and indoors opened early for us and we jumped on for a great hit until about 12:15. We ran into a very nice gentleman named John, who asked us to lunch. We accepted but needed to watch a little of South Africa since we were to play them tomorrow. We watched until about 12:45 and Rhona and I went looking for Mariana to go to lunch. We were on the 2nd floor of the tennis center with a glass front of building to our left. Just as we made the top of steps the earthquake started. It was a slight shake initially, but after a couple of seconds there was the most violent activity I have ever experienced. Rhona grabbed a pole to hold onto and I was next to the wall. It was impossible to stand I was thrown from one side of the corridor to the other side, and feeling as though I was on a trampoline but could not get my balance. After 30-45 seconds of shaking, we ran down stairs to get outside. As soon as we got outside we had about a 5 aftershock and I thought I was just dizzy from the previous earthquake.
Long story thus far, we were all OK. Mariana had a skinned up knee and a bruise. We stayed outside the tennis building for about 3 hours in our new friend, John’s car. The ITF instructed us all to go to what we call a refuge center, along with all others from Christchurch. We got there about 7pm and we got a piece of board to sit on. Just when you think nothing else could happen, it started to rain. Rhona and I jumped into a old frontend loader machine to stay dry. Not long from then we hooked up with Theresa Bowen, our USTA representative. She took us to Ashburton to the hotel where some of our other teams were staying. They put us up on the floor. We had no bags at this point. It’s another story trying to get our bags the following day. We went back to the city to get our bags and passports. That was a huge excursion because authorities would not let us into the city.So we parked and started walking. We walked over 3 hours trying to get to our hotel which was evacuated but was able to get passports and bags thanks to Rick Leach and Mario Tabers and Mariana who got my passport.
Tuesday, Feb. 22
Fran reports that all U.S. team members she could contact are safe. Players have been moved to Ashburton.
She hopes to resume her blog on Thursday. She plans on leaving on Saturday as the Margaret Court Cup competition has been canceled. See the announcement below.
Statement from USTA Regarding Seniors International Teams Competing in New Zealand
The USTA is pleased to advise that the American delegation to New Zealand competing in the 2011 ITF Seniors International World Team Championships is safe and unharmed in the wake of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. As a result of severe damage to the Tennis facility the ITF has cancelled all four ITF Seniors World Championships (Italia Cup, Dubler Cup, Fred Perry Cup and Margaret Court Cup). Currently, the Championships scheduled to take place in Timaru and Ashburton will continue as scheduled.
Tuesday, Feb. 22
Christchurch, the site of the competition was rocked by a 6.3 earthquake today. 
Monday, Feb. 21, first day of competition
The first day at the office was victorious for all teams with USTA Southern players. Our team, the 45s beat Canada today 3-0. Gretchen Magers at #1 singles won 6-0, 6-1. I played #2 singles and won 6-0, 6-3 and Mariana Hollman and Rhona Kaczmarczyk won in doubles 6-0, 6-1. We are off tomorrow and play South Africa on Wednesday to get out of our round-robin play.
Today was our first day of intense sun and only 20 mile-an-hour winds. We ended the day with a beautiful drive along the bay.
Carolina Blouin on the 35s team played #2 singles and won 6-4, 7-5 and her team won 3-0 against Australia.
Fred Robinson won at #1 singles as well as their #2 singles player. I apologize for not having the doubles results of Tom Smith. Diane Fisburne led the 50s team at #1 singles winning 6-1, 6-3 and the team won 3-0 against New Zealand and they play Turkey on Tuesday.
Go USA!!
Sunday, Feb. 20
New Zealand is just as beautiful as I thought it would be. It was a long journey from Nashville to Auckland, over 20 hours to be exact. It was a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch where our division where the World ITF Championships is being held. Six players from the Southern Section are representing the USA in this event. Flying into Christchurch I was looking out the window like a little kid in awe of the breath-taking beauty.
Traveling to a new country is very difficult for me. I was foggy from the flight and we needed to get the cobwebs out, and wanted to go to grocery to normalize the food intake and hit a little. Sleep was high on our priority list, but knowing I should stay up to get on New Zealand time so we headed to grocery store and hitting and stayed up until it was dark.
Even though had been captain before, I still get nervous on at the first captain’s meeting because that’s when the seeds are determined. It turned out how I had hoped and we are seeded first. Match play in our round robin starts Monday, when we will play Canada, and on Tuesday or Wednesday we will play South Africa.
Good luck to all the Southern Section players. Diane Fishburne, from Charleston, S.C. is on the 50s team. Tom Smith from Alpharetta, Ga., Fred Robinson from Charlotte, N.C., Carolina Blouin, from Raleigh, N.C. and my teammate Mariana Hollman, from Winston-Salem, N.C.
USTA Teams To Play ITF Championships Include Seniors Southerners
The USTA announced the players who will represent the United States at the 31st ITF Seniors World Team Championships. The event is the senior tennis equivalent of the Davis Cup and Fed Cup, with the top American amateur tennis players representing their countries in men’s and women’s age groups from 35 to 55-plus. This year’s event will be held February 21-26th, in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The United States will be defending championships in five of the 10 divisions at the Men’s and Women’s Seniors Championships. American teams finished in the top three in eight of the ten divisions last year.
The ITF Seniors World Team Championships is the most coveted team event on the ITF Seniors circuit. Since its inception in 1981, the number of competitors in this event has increased each year. In 1993, the ITF made the decision to divide the Seniors World Championships into two groups -- Seniors (35-55+) and Super-Seniors (60-80+ for men and 60-75+ for women). The Super-Seniors competition will be held later this year.
Following the ITF Seniors World Team Championships, the World Individual Championships will take place February 27 – March 6 at the same location.
Below is a list of the Southern players representing the United States at the 2011 ITF Seniors World Team Championships.
Austria Cup-Men’s 55 & over
Fred Robinson, Charlotte, NC
Tom Smith, Alpharetta, GA-Captain
Suzanne Lenglen Cup- Women’s 35 & over
Carolina Blouin, Raleigh, NC
Margaret Court Cup- Women’s 45 & over
Fran Chandler, Jackson, TN-Captain
Mariana Hollman, Winston-Salem, NC
Maria Esther Bueno Cup- Women’s 50 & over
Diane Fishburne, Charleston, SC



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