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Irina Falconi blogs from Pan Am Games, Entry No. 1

October 15, 2011 04:52 PM
Christina McHale (left) and Irina Falconi (right).
Rising star Irina Falconi, currently ranked a career-high No. 73 in the WTA Rankings, is writing a blog for USTA.com while at the Pan American Games. Check back often for updates!

Hola todo el mundo?! Como estan! A los tiempos!

Yup, I'm fluent in Spanish. That meant, "Hey everyone in the world, how's everyone doing? It's been forever!"

You might ask why I said that in Spanish, and trust me, I have a reason---GUADALAJARA BABY! AY AY AY!

I know it's been awhile since I've written, but there was a reason. I was just anticipating you for the real exciting week---the Pan Am Week.

"The Pan American Games, also known as the Pan Am Games, are a major event in the Americas featuring summer and formerly winter sports in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions."

Yup, my girl Christina McHale and I are playing this week. Three boys will also be participating this week, which means it's going to be a super exciting and fun week for everyone. The best of the best, Tom "Gully" Gullikson will be the captain of the women's team, which also just contributes to the crazy stories that will be told from this week.

Alright, so I'm currently writing from Guadalajara, where the Opening Ceremonies are taking place! Absolutely awesome, to say the least.

OK, OK, so let me tell you a little bit about my trip till here. 

On Tuesday, I left Osaka at 1:30 in the afternoon, and I arrived in LA on Tuesday at 3 o'clock. Super-awesome time change, huh? So yeah, I stayed in LA for the night to visit one of my best friends, Nina Pantic, who went to UCLA and is also a blogger like myself. The following day at 6:40 in the morning, I had a flight to Florida to see my mom right before I headed to Houston. I got to see her at 6 pm, which meant I got to spend the rest of the evening with her before having to pack and head to Houston the next day at 3 in the afternoon.

OK, OK, so from Fort Lauderdale Airport, I met up with the Pan Am Team staff. Elke Juul, the team leader and the person who makes it all happen. Dustin Taylor, the Elite Access men's tennis captain/coach for the week. And last but not least, Gully. Former Davis Cup captain and current Pan Am coach. We all took the same flight to Houston, so when we arrived there, we met up with the rest of the team -- Jeff Ryan, the man that takes care of us and gives us some serious beats (I'll get to that later) and Dennis Kudla and Greg Ouellette, two of the men participating on the men's team.

Once we all got our bags, we headed to the hotel, where we got our rooms and had to get processed for the games. We got decked out with some amazing USA gear, and to top it off, we got the super-awesome Oakley sunglasses to keep us from seeing so much spotlight. Yeah, I just went there.

So once that was taken care of, we got some grub, where we were able to get past all the formalities and get to know a little bit about each other. At dinner, Jeff decided that he was going to use the opportunity to give us a little gift from the USTA saying "thank you." What was the gift? Yup, you guessed it---Dr Dre Beats. Christina and I were so excited we actually got off our chairs and could not stop squealing with excitement. What can I say? I'm obsessed with technology/electronics.

After all that fun stuff, we went back to our rooms to get ready for our 5:30 am breakfast. 

OK, before I continue, I want you guys to review this:

Tuesday: Travel from Osaka to LA... 16-hour flight, arrive the same day into LAX

Wednesday: Travel from LA to West Palm Beach at 5 am, arrive at 5 pm

Thursday: Travel from West Palm to Houston at 3, arrive at 5

Friday: Travel from Houston to Guadalajara (breakfast at 5:30) 9 am flight, arrive at 11 

Is it just me, or do ya'll see how ridiculous that travel is? OK, OK, I'm done.

So we arrived in Guadalajara, and let me just tell you---we felt so official. We had so many people there to greet us, and the amount of work into detail was awesome. 

We got driven to our hotel, and from there, we had our first official Guadalajara team lunch. The boys' team decided that they were going to participate in the opening ceremonies and get some seriously awesome marching in. Christina and I headed to the courts, where we were able to have a little fun with the 5,000-foot altitude and the pressureless balls.

So a little tennis tip when playing with altitude and pressureless balls: 1. Try increasing the tension on your strings and test it out. 2. You have to get the racquet back so much earlier than when you are on sea level because the ball is traveling so much quicker in the air. 3. Bring a respirator for in-between changeovers.

After our awesome practice, we decided to go to an authentic Mexican restaurant to end day one on an authentic note. 

Well, matches start on Monday. Wish us luck, and remember, stay classy and stay tuned. 

-- Irina

  • Not only am I going to have a Randomsies section, but I'm also going to have a Gully section. This section will include Gully quotes, Gully stories and just plain Gully. Get pumped.
  • Today, we played about 2 hours of tennis. We ended up BREAKING 5 tennis balls. No joke. Straight up BROKEN!  
  • I'm such a nerd - I actually was challenging a few people on Font Names: Times New Roman, Comic Sans, Lucida Sans Handwriting. Geeky. Nerdy. Techy. GO JACKETS!
  • Juanes, Mana and Alejandro Fernandez were at the opening ceremonies tonight. Ohhh, emmm, JEEEEEEZ!

  • "I'm trying to integrate myself with the Mexican culture. I'm also trying to learn Spanish. I know a little bit. Hey look! Sherwin Williams! And there's a McDonalds!"
  • "Yeah, the flight was great this morning. Totally smooth. They gave us breakfast, where I had some Cheerios cereal, where I actually felt the cholesterol going down already."
  • "No roses, Ladies! No return-of-serve errors!"
  • "OK, so we're going to do a little 2-on-1---I'm going to serve and survey, and you guys will return and come in. But since we're in Mexico, it's serve and cerveza."
  • "KMF! KMF! Keep Moving Forward!"


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