Rice tennis player Dominique Harmath is representing Canada at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia and will be sending updates throughout her time at the games:
I can sum up these two amazing weeks as simply as this: Hard work pays off.
The opportunity to play at the World University Games was worth everything I put into the sport of tennis. I was able to compete at a very high level of competition and experiences like this continue to motivate me to play the sport I love.
The Russian culture was intriguing to see and I really enjoyed experiencing it up close. At the same time, the games had a unique culture all its own. Gear trading certainly was a large part of the experience. Hundreds of athletes would gather in the center of the village every night to swap clothing. I made some good deals with athletes from Uruguay, Australia, Portugal, and Brazil.
But more than just while trading items, what was most fascinating was seeing the improvisation in communication taking place between different countries. You would see Serbians communicating with the Croatians, and the Brazilians, Spaniards, Italians, and French with each other. Without knowing each other's language, the athletes would still find a way to communicate.
My trip ended with the closing ceremony that proved to be another one for the books. It included a recap of some gold medal moments that gave the entire stadium goose bumps. It was another reminder of why athletes train so hard. The feeling of euphoria that comes with success makes everything worthwhile.
Thanks reading along these past two weeks. I know it's a long flight, but I am looking forward to getting home again. It's hard to believe that the start of my senior year is just around the corner.
Sorry I missed yesterday, which was successful but very busy. I started with my opening match in singles consolation, which I won 6-0, 6-0 over a girl from New Zealand and then Isade Juneau and I opened play in mixed doubles against a team from Madagascar and won 6-4., 6-2.
I wish I could say our momentum carried over in mixed doubles today, but we lost a heartbreaker to the fifth seeded team from Korea. We won the first set 6-3, but they came back to win the second, and then won the tiebreaker 10-12. I'm not done with my tennis, since I play Ellie Yates from USC (editor's note: a number of American collegiate teams are representing American in various events in Kazan. Yates was a combined 14-2 as a freshman for USC, primarily playing #6 singles).
Russia continues to surprise me. Despite the language barrier, we seem to be managing with hand gestures. It took us some time to order a McFlurry from McDonalds today and after we were able to get the basic message across, we gave the cashier the decision of choosing our flavor. The ice cream was well worth the effort.
We also ventured outside the athlete's village gates for the first time and took a cab to the Canada-Russia soccer game. Driving in Russia is nothing like driving in America, but on the other hand, the soccer game kept us on edge. We were well out-numbered in the stands but were highly entertained with the the Russian chants going back and forth from one side of the stadium to the other.
We were also able to watch some gold medal events and at the end of this buys day, I seem to have lost my voice after all the cheering.
The atmosphere of the games is continuously energizing and I'm looking forward to the week ahead.
I had an off day today from competition so I spent the time cheering on my teammates at the tennis courts.
We then moved to cheer Canada on in water polo and men's soccer. As you can see from the photo to the left, the atmosphere was fantastic and full of energy with cheer battles going on left and right between fans for each country.
Canada's soccer team tied Brazil 1-1 to move on to the playoffs. I'm hoping to support my fellow Americans in some events when I get the chance as well.
I will be playing my mixed doubles and singles consolation match tomorrow so it will be a busy day on the courts.
That's all for today
After another long wait because of the rain, I finally was able to get on the court to play my first singles match, but as you might have seen from the scores, things did not go well for me. I lost 6-2, 6-0.
I definitely had my chances, but I have to give my opponent from Korea (Mirea Ham) a lot of credit. She was a solid player all through the match.
I still have the consolation draw in singles to play and on Thursday we open Mixed Doubles play. Tomorrow will be a day devoted to rooting on my teammates on the Canadian Tennis team, as well as cheering for Canada in water polo and soccer.
It was a long day waiting for the rain to stop and I am pretty tired, so that's about it for today.
Talk to you tomorrow,
My first match was rained out today! We waited around for five hours before they finally postponed things but we found a funny way to kill the time. While we sat there waiting for some updates, the volunteers at the tournament venue began approaching us.
Despite the language barrier, two of my Canadian teammates Phil (Anderson who plays at New Mexico) and Isade (Juneau who played for Indiana) had no problem entertaining the crowd with their combined total of three words they knew in Russian and Tartar. The photo on the right shows them entertaining everyone.
They're calling for rain tomorrow as well, but I'll keep my fingers crossed it doesn't come back. I'm scheduled to not start before 11 am. (2 a.m. Houston time).
Thanks and I will check back tomorrow.
Yesterday was one of the best days of my life so far. The festivities began when we arrived at the stadium and had to wait 2.5 hours before we could walk. We made exceptional use of that time to trade pins with other countries and met some great people along the way.
When the opening ceremony rolled around it was much more than I expected with more than 45k in attendance. The show included a performance from Cirque de Soleil and a speech from Vladimir Putin, the president of the Russian Federation.
What was even more surreal was the fact that I was able to play a part in the whole event, walking a lap around the stadium with Team Canada waving to the cheering crowd. It was definitely a night to remember.
Here's Vine video that I took from our seats: https://vine.co/v/hW0bJTqXXHa
Here's another video shot by the Canadian Interuniversity Sport: http://youtu.be/c_3zEKjNomg
Draws for singles come out today and competition begins on Monday at 9 a.m. Kazan time, which is nine hours ahead of Houston time. Here is the schedule and results link: http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/summer/2013/sports/tennis/sched_results