Sunday, 15 January 2017



When it comes down to it, three Aussie touring tennis 'junkies' driving from one tournament to the other around Europe had all the hall marks of disaster in more ways than one. Friendships were tested in a car not big enough to swing a cat in and on more than one occasion it seemed a good idea to keep driving once one of us had gone to a public toilet at a roadside truck stop or diner. After all it would have been so much more comfortable with just two in 'Le Car' as opposed to three. Sanity prevailed however and we battled through.
We witnessed many things on some fairly treacherous roads including a car that was in fact stuck in the side of a truck, not sure how that happened but it was a poor bit of driving to say the least. We were possibly the smallest car on the highway and on more than one occasion we had some interesting situations and close calls. Not coming home though was not on the agenda.
As far as hygiene was concerned in a very small French automobile there was nothing worse than smelly clothes or socks to be more precise. I am sure Brett Patten will not be at all argumentative when I say that his socks and feet were without a doubt the smelliest of all three of us, for good reason.
Sometimes Brett would wear the same pair of socks for an entire tournament before washing them at a Laundromat, a pretty ordinary habit he got himself into. Now socks after a game of tennis tend to be fairly wet and if it was a clay court event they would also be rather dirty, a fact totally oblivious to 'Patsy'. It wasn't that Brett was superstitious because his brand of tennis on this particular tour was remarkably high, he needed no help from a higher being, he was simply comfortable in his socks.
The thing about worn socks after a while however is the stench factor and Brett's feet were in a word, repulsive. If we had been afforded a little more room as far as cars were concerned we may have escaped the smell but being in a car big enough to put back into a toy box after a run in the sandpit, well..... Pete and I were subjected to some fairly average odours, no escape.
Tennis is one of those sports where you have to be comfortable with your equipment, just look at Rafa, a man who takes superstition to another level. Every drink bottle has to be lined up a certain way and every strand of hair has to be pushed around his ears with precision before he sends down a serve. Brett's effort with his dirty socks may well have been a personal superstition of his but he wasn't letting on that it was part of his routine for winning games of tennis. Pete and I just felt that he was too lazy to wash them.
Personally I used to rinse my dirty socks out in the shower along with my sweaty jocks that I did not like to keep wrapped up in my tennis bag for too long for fear of them disintegrating through sweat and stench. Placing them on the back shelf of 'Le Car' to dry whilst we 'enjoyed' hundreds of kilometres between tennis tournaments was how I had them dry out before my next hit. It may have been the three or so years I had on my touring buddies but I did own some experience in certain fields of life. Sock and jock washing and drying was high on my list of priorities.
European travelling was a ridiculously enjoyable experience but what made it even more so was the personal quirks that each of us owned, we were all as silly as one another in our own silly ways. I will never forget that stench of tournament worn socks but to me it always proved one fact, Patsy was winning a lot more matches than anyone else.......

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