The sun is starting to shine, the trees are starting to leave, the flowers are starting to bloom, it's Paris in the Spring. Now i have no idea how all of this came about but let's put this trip into perspective;
No internet, no European knowledge of dates , events, locations, language or history. Why not simply wake up one day , have a think about what perhaps has been on my mind since i was a kid, book a trip, make it up as I go along? Funny thing was , so were two guys from the City of Perth.
I really don't know how it all started but I had decided that Paris was what I wanted to see, don't know why , maybe the history, the scenery, the beauty or even just the idea of being in a cafe drinking a French flavored beverage. I still don't know what it was , but this is what happened.
I arrived in Paris in April of 1991 carrying a tennis bag,three rackets and high hopes, but realistic all the same. I was 21, Boris Becker won Wimbledon at 17, Mats Wilander the French Open at 17, why would i bother?
Education. To know anything about the game of tennis you need to see how it is played in Europe, it's scary. I wrote a chapter on my first tournament in Saumur Paris a while back where I caught up with West Australian's Brett Patten and Peter Gerrans, my eventual touring buddies. Funny thing was we were never going to travel together, just play one tournament then catch up again down some French road somewhere that came to a fork where we would say g'day and go again.
France however is a big place and we enjoyed our first tournament together since our junior days so we decided to travel in the transport that can only be described as a 'dinkie toy'. Another old chapter explains it all, but character building it was.
Back to my original opening paragraphs; What's the chances ?
*Paris in the Spring, one of the most famous times of the year in a place that movies and legends are common place.
*The Monaco Grand Prix on the French Riviera. I arrive In Monte Carlo and ask a policeman " Why so busy"??
* The great man Bjorn Borg makes a comeback to World tennis that we watch intently from a sports club in Bordeaux.
* I meet someone on the Riviera that needs their villa looked after for 4 nights. "You trustworthy, see you in 4 days".
* The only tournament i won was a tournament i didn't in fact enter, they had a default and needed another doubles team, we won it.
* The man i sit next to on the flight to Paris has a mate who lives in Paris originally from York West Australia, I stay with them while in Paris.
Tennis ? Well that's why I went to Europe , other things took over as way more important and some things just happened through either luck or coincidence, or both , but looking back i believe it was the luckiest trip i may ever have.
I saw some great tennis, I played a dozen tournaments , I didn't win much though except a doubles tournament with Peter just outside of Paris , but I take something from the trip.
It puts the game into perspective and not many can say they have seen it played at that level or played it in an environment that i will always describe foremost as 'intimidating'. When you play people who don't even talk your language , well that's special.......