written by Ntando November 30, 2017

In November 2017 I entered the Qatar Ladies Sports & Social Club (QLSSC) winter tournament that took place at my favourite courts in Qatar, the immaculate Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. This tournament is for ladies of all ages in and competitors of every level. From beginners to the experienced – and it can get very competitive, regardless of being called “social”. Every  competitor must enter with a doubles partner and also join a team as there are no singles matches. My team was called “Acers” and my partner, an energetic ball of dynamite was Cristel. Yeah, she spells her name with an “e” because she’s that cool. It’s kind of like when Puff Daddy became P. Diddy because the “a” just wasn’t fly enough.

The tournament works on a team-based points scoring system to calculate the overall winning team,  as well as a points accumulation method for each doubles partnership to work out the winning pair. So if you play well, it benefits the team overall in that you’re that much closer to hoisting the team trophy as well as your own.

Cristel hails from the island country of the Republic of the Philippines and we had never played together previously, so we had no idea whether we’d have any on-court chemistry or how our tennis games would gel. We were both nervous for our first match, I was probably more nervous than she was since she had competed in the QLSSC 2016 edition and probably had a good idea what to expect. As it turned out, we played well together – very well (to both our joy and the joy of our fellow Acers). We won our first match – only conceding one game the entire match.

We continued to dominate on the court and went on to win our next several matches, and before we knew it, we’d gone the entire tournament without losing a single match and were on our way to the big final. The final was against our fiercest rivals, a pair that had come close (sort of) to beating us previously so I was slightly apprehensive. Ok fine, I was a little more than slightly apprehensive, even though Cristel and I were enjoying an unbeaten run.

Before our final we watched our team mates perform convincingly well in their matches, and somehow that didn’t seem to calm our nerves. Finally it was time for us to earn our gold. We started well, things were going according to plan and all the stars were aligning. I covered the net and Cristel patrolled the base-line like a beast. Until the fifth set – where we were 4-1 up. I can’t tell you what it was that made us unravel, because our communication was good as well as our focus. But to this day I cannot speak about the rest of that set from hell. If you want to know what happened – you’ll have to ask Cristel. I can however tell you that in the end, we won the trophy and were ecstatic! Our team, the Acers won the overall championship trophy which was accepted at the prize giving by our team captain Roj.

I’m currently participating in another tournament, the Oasis Beach Club Christmas Tennis Tournament, it’s a mixed doubles competition which means I can’t play with Cristel as I need to enter with a male partner. I’ll let you know how this one goes.

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