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The IC of GB visit to Slovenia: 23rd – 26th September 2011

A.     A. Introduction

The party for this match comprised Judy* and Stephen Woodley,  Michael and Tara Stotesbury, Brigitte Newbury, Micky Fallows, Andrew Page*, Andrew and Ingrid* Creighton, Paddy May, Robert Blythe* and Barry and Rineke Weatherill.

We optimistically set out believing that we were all fit to play. In the event Judy Woodley injured herself while walking across the court before her first match so Ingrid Creighton courageously was able to stand in for her; and neither I nor Micky Fallows were able to play due to the need to preserve our bodies from further ravages after recent surgical operations on joints. Whilst we may have appeared to be an army of the walking wounded we, in fact, acquitted ourselves very well .

The match was instigated by Andrew Page, the British Ambassador in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia and co-ordinated through me and Marko Umberger, the current President o the Slovenian Tennis Federation. Those marked* were guests to the IC of GB but nothing turned on this and all our guest players were a very welcome addition to the team. This is the second  IC match in which Andrew has acted as instigator, the other being the matches that took place in the Crimea some time ago under Peter McQuibban . The match would not have been nearly as successful without Andrew’s direct involvement. Not only was he an integral member of the team who acquitted himself well but he accommodated six of us in the Ambassador’s residence and gave a reception for the home and visiting teams at his residence on the day the majority of the team arrived. Rob Blythe is a very useful younger player whose application for IC membership was submitted last year.

B. Match Results

We played two matches one in Ljubljana on 24th September, concurrently with the BMW Ljubljana Open and one on the 25th September at the resort town  of Portoroz.

Time allotted for tennis was reasonably short, in particular , in Portoroz. The format was intended to be Singles for the younger groups and Doubles for all. In Portoroz, time constraints were such that each match was one pro set. There was not time enough for everyone to play doubles and the outcome of the matches was: Match 1- GB 8: Slovenia 1; Match 2-  GB 7: Slovenia 2.

Notable in the matches were the encounter between Rob Blythe at No1 against Bruno Nicolic , which Rob won 7-5, 6-2 in a class match and Andrew Creighton’s defeat by a former Davis Cupper Jaka Bozic 2-8 where the age grouping was mismatched. Jaka was a misleadingly good player.

C.Social Activities

Our hosts lead by Marko Umberger  were very generous. Apart from the initial reception at the Ambassador’s home, we took some of our hosts to an informal dinner on the first night in a typical country eatery. On the second night we were given a formal dinner in the precincts of Ljubljana Castle. On the third afternoon we were taken on a boat trip to Piran, a famous and ancient city on the Adriatic, during which  we were serenaded to song and guitar music by the manager of the tennis complex where we had played and consumed fresh grilled sea bass . Our response was a rather inadequate rendering of Jerusalem( which is a reminder to me to urge future IC of GB teams travelling abroad to go prepared with a small dossier of songs and perhaps our own IC ditty)

D.Gifts

These were exchanged in time honoured fashion. The IC luggage labels kindly supplied by Toni Thompson , were allocated to the two teams and  Mike Stotesbury and I went with a few more Wimbledon gifts which we were able to give to main organisers. We returned with books on Slovenia and the odd bottle .

E.Costs

All costs of travel, car hire and accommodation were shared in an equitable way between all of the group.

F.Touring

Members of the host team took time out to take parties around the City of Ljubljana and into the fabulous countyside.

G.Application to form an IC

Slovenia will be applying to the Council to form an IC in their country.

H.Future Invitation

In view of the terrific hospitality we were given, the IC of GB should, probably after an IC of Slovenia is formed, invite a team to the UK-something I will discuss with David and Philip.

In all this was a very worthwhile trip which I enjoyed organising  for a very rewarding group of  participants, who were a pleasure to lead.

Barry Weatherill

2  November 2011

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