Aug. 16, 2006
The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team wrapped up its four-day stay in Vienna on Tuesday, and 2006 graduate Eric Langenkamp takes the time to describe a practice session on red clay, a trip to a very impressive zoo, and eating the city’s finest wiener schnitzel. Check back to und.com, as sophomore Santiago Montoya will use his diary to tell of the group’s trip north to Dublin, Ireland, and their taking in an international friendly soccer match between the home country and The Netherlands.
Men’s Tennis European Tour Diary #5 – August 15, Vienna, Austria; Eric Langenkamp
Greetings everyone, I will be doing today’s blog on our European trip. Tuesday is our last full day in Vienna, and what a spectacular vacation it has been so far! With so many aesthetically pleasing sights, this city truly stands out as one of the most unique places to visit in Europe.
The day started off with a slow start, as only three of the eight guys were down in the lobby at 10 a.m. There has been a stomach flu floating around – as you probably know if you have been following the trip -and almost everyone has suffered the affects. We were scheduled to depart at 10:30 a.m. to practice, so instead of rushing to a place for breakfast, we quickly got our tennis gear on while Coach Bayliss grabbed us some food. Then six of us – myself, Stephen Bass, Sheeva Parbhu, Brett Helgeson, Santiago Montoya, and Irackli Akhvlediani – went to hit. Iri was still recovering from his sickness, so he didn’t play but was kind in showing us around town and up to the courts.
After getting off the subway, a short walk brought us to the tennis site. We practiced at a location called Tennis Point Vienna, a squash, tennis, and fitness club. It was extremely nice and had a mixture of some tennis history from the past several decades. There must have been at least 40 pictures of past and present-day tennis professionals, including Pete Sampras, Patrick Rafter, Guga Kuerten, Marat Safin, and Cedric Pioline. These photos led us down a hallway to the courts, where we began to hit.
I started off rallying with Stephen, and when Coach (Bayliss) noticed his sub-par backhand volley, I was called upon to hit only to that side. I must have hit him 200 backhand volleys before Coach was only somewhat satisfied with Stephen’s form. This trait of striving for perfection is part of the reason why Coach has had so much success, which then filters down to his players and makes everyone better. Yet Stephen missed his last four volleys in the net – don’t worry, he’ll continue to work to get it right. The highlight of the practice was at the end when Stephen and I took on Brett and Santiago in a game of “Touch” (the game has a doubles format, but is played from inside the service lines and you can’t hit the ball hard). Sheeva sat out because in his attempt to play earlier on, he showcased his hands of stone as he struggled to win points with his partner. In his defense, he had never played the game before, but still – Do you eat with those hands? The game was up to seven points, and I was somewhat surprised with Brett’s solid play at the start. With the contest being a dead heat, it went the distance and finally Team New York (I am from Scarsdale, and he from Bronxville) prevailed over Team ’09, by a 10-8 score. Due to the fact that “butts-up” were riding on the outcome, Stephen and I each got to serve at Brett and Santiago while they bent over at the far baseline. Stephen proceeded to hit Santiago on the fly in the back, which is an automatic violation of “Touch” rules and gives the opponents each a free serve on the offender after all serves by the winning team are completed. I then served and hit Santiago in the butt, and he turned around and immediately fired his serve but missed Stephen, as did Brett. Overall it was a very high level, and hopefully Sheeva took notes so he can be better next time. Thank goodness Coach was not there watching, as it drives him crazy to see us fool around with mini-tennis while we should be working on strategy, playing points out. We then all ordered lunch at the club and played some ping-pong before heading back to the hotel.
Upon arriving back at my room at approximately 2:30 p.m., I discovered both my roommates, Barry King and Brandon Pierpont, were still lying in bed, trying to fight off their colds. Barry eventually got up, as I told him that Iri was taking us to the zoo. It ended up just being the three of us that went, and we got to the zoo an hour and a half before closing. The zoo is known as the Tiergarten Schonbrunn, or animal garden. It had a very scenic atmosphere and was crowded despite it being a Tuesday. Barry, Iri, and I toured and saw nearly all the habitats and animals the zoo had to offer. We saw creatures ranging from pandas to parrots, giraffes to jaguars, and tigers to turtles. We all got some fantastic pictures, but the funniest part of the trip there occurred when we strolled across the bat cave. It is wide open and you must walk through it in order to continue seeing the rest of the rain forest wildlife. We were somewhat hesitant at first to enter, but when a mom and her infant walked right by us and through the curtains we quickly followed. It was very dark and you could just barely see the silhouette outlines of the bats as they flew around. As Barry gripped my shoulders in back of me in total fear, several bats dive-bombed him and he shrieked hysterically. For being 6’4” and a strong guy, his Irish yelps at tiny creatures 1/50th of his size made me lose about 15% of my respect for him as a man. After seeing some crocodiles and hippos, the zoo began to close up, so we left to go back for dinner.
Iri had a special dinner arranged at a restaurant called Figlmuller, the best known place to eat schnitzel in Vienna. The place had a cozy, picturesque setting and was popular because there wasn’t a table free after we sat down. The service was incredibly fast and efficient. The schnitzel served was very large and only (sports information director) Bo (Rottenborn) and Barry were able to finish their entire plates while most guys split the tasty schnitzel between each other. After everyone finished, we left and stopped by an ice cream parlor for dessert. Being inexpensive and big, the cones were literally scooped up by all the guys. Outside the store, an obvious prank was executed brilliantly by Ryan Keckley. He took advantage of Brett’s inexperienced “freshman” status, as he asked Brett to smell his strawberry ice cream. As Brett leaned in, Ryan planted his cone right on Brett’s nose, leaving some pink color on top. You live and you learn.
We got back to the Marriott around 8:30pm, and everyone went to their rooms to relax and pack their bags for tomorrow. We are leaving at 9 a.m. for our flight to Dublin, Ireland. I’d like to thank Iri, his brother David, and the rest of the Akhvlediani family for showing all of us an unbelievable time here in lovely Vienna and I would like to come back again one day. In closing, I also want to thank Coach Bayliss, Todd Doebler, and everyone else affiliated with the University of Notre Dame for making my four years there memorable ones. I’ll miss all of my teammates, as you guys have made me a better person. Have fun next year and bring a national tennis championship back to ND! Go Irish!
– Eric Langenkamp