Life on Tour With Jean-Yves Aubone (@JYNole) June 2015 Update #8 Mexico
Jean-Yves Aubone, Tennis Atlantic
The Grind-An Unnamed Airport, USA
My departure started 11 hours ago and I have many more hours to go until I get home. I’m on my way back from the $10,000 Future’s event in Manzanillo, Mexico where I lost in the first round of singles and then in the doubles final.
I’m at my third airport of the day, drinking a classic American “man’s” beverage, with four hours to go until I lug my gear through my fourth and final stop. Overall, it was not a bad trip. Not just because my job is playing in professional tennis tournaments, but also because it served a greater purpose. It reminded me of how great we have it in the States.
In Mexico, I met up with a few American’s who’d arrived a week earlier to play the first tournament. We were originally supposed to stay at the all-inclusive beachfront resort that was hosting the tournament, but that plan fell apart right away.
The Americans got stuck in a room at the Gran Festivall with no air conditioning, no Wi-Fi – except in the lobby, which barely worked. And then there were the bedbugs. One girl who’d arrived early too, was forced to retire in the middle of her match because her bed bug bites were so inflamed she couldn’t play in the blistering sun.
So, without hesitation my American friends bailed from the resort to a hotel down the road.
During my twenty minute taxi ride through the mountains and small farms of Manzanillo, I thought “if the all-inclusive resort was that bad, what about a local $35 a night hotel?”
Upon my arrival to a narrow building in a busy but worn down part of town, where any cartel gang might easily wreak havoc, I was more than a little concerned. The hotel room doors all were outside, which meant anyone could walk up to my place. It’s not the feeling I wanted on my first day in a foreign country, in a city that I had never heard of before.
Walking up to the third floor (yes, no elevators and carrying the full weight of the 100-degree heat index on my way up the stairs) I stepped into my room, drenched with sweat, but pleasantly surprised. It was clean. The a/c worked. So did the TV, although the only available English channels played nothing but horror movies.
Reality hit, though, when I discovered the only working Wi-Fi spots were in the hallway or down in the parking lot. Many times I opened the window just so I could stick my phone out in the hallway to send and receive text messages. And whenever my fiancé called the room, a beeping noise, like a fax tone, droned through the line.
The front desk attendant later explained that a single phone line served the entire hotel. So, if someone else was trying to get a call through, they would interrupt any call in progress. The beeping would continue until whomever else trying to make a call stopped. They never stopped.
By far though, my favorite moment of the trip was on the second day, having to wake up at 6:00 am to be able to practice with my roommate, Collin John, at 7:00 am. The resort was overloaded, hosting both men’s and women’s events on only ten courts. So, players were forced to practice four to a court during the “typical” practice hours. Since we wanted a full court to ourselves, our only option was to wake up for an early morning grind session.
Unfortunately, since we weren’t staying at the tournament hotel, the resort provided no transportation.
So there we were on a Saturday morning, standing on the side of the road at 6:30 in the dark, in Mexico, waiting for the bus, looking completely out of place with our tennis bags and clothing. Then, when we hopped on the 7-peso ride, I couldn’t help but think how ironic it was that two professional tennis players were taking a rickety bus in the 6:30 dusk just to get in a decent practice.
To top it off, the bus dropped us off on a side road next to the resort. To avoid a 15-minute trek up a hill and then back down, we had to throw our bags over the wall and “sneak” in to the resort.
After a few days I got used to the whole bus and “cloak and dagger” routine. The food though, took some doing. I did my best to eat as many meals as possible at the hotel restaurant. Almost every other food joint in the city was street-side with no a/c, so by eating in the hotel I limited how much walking and sweating I was doing.
There was this one no-named family owned taco place though, across the street. After mustering up the courage to try it a few days into the trip, I first considered it the best street-corner taco stand on the planet. Towards the end of the trip, however, I quickly stripped it of that honor when players started getting sick from eating there. My doubles partner, Andre Dome, was forced to withdraw from his singles semifinal and our doubles final due to food poisoning. Lesson learned: never eat at a no-named taco stand on a street corner in Mexico.
So, as tiring and hard as traveling is, when I landed in Orlando for my third connection of the day, the familiar aura of Disney World and the luxury of drinking from the water fountain welcomed me. I wasn’t in Atlanta yet, but in my mind, I was already home.
My next tournaments will be two 15k Future’s events in Tulsa, OK and Wichita, KS. I couldn’t be more excited to play in my home country of the USA. I won’t take a moment for granted.