Summer 2012: Stefan Fortmann reports from England
Rising sophomore Stefan Fortmann filed this report from England, where the Elon men's and women's tennis programs took in Wimbledon, played against top British tennis academies and got a taste of British culture.
The student-athletes on Elon's men's and women's tennis teams represent seven different countries: the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Colombia, Sweden, South Africa and, of course, the U.S.A. Our meeting point this summer, though, was on unfamiliar territory - in London.
It was only appropriate for us to visit Wimbledon, the most famous Grand Slam of them all. The visit came on the second Monday of the tournament, as our group made its way to "The Queue" in the early morning hours.
Although the weather disrupted play on numerous occasions, Elon student-athletes, coaches, faculty and staff kept close watch on the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, Mardy Fish, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic. It was a definite highlight of the trip for many in our group.
On Tuesday, we faced the WIN Tennis Academy on indoor courts because of the weather. The competition was tough and resulted in some thrilling action for both the Phoenix tennis teams. On the way back to the hotel, we paid a visit to Windsor Castle, which is the residence of the Queen.
We also visited Buckingham Palace for the famous "changing of the guard" and later stopped by St. Paul's Cathedral. A 530-step climb to the cathedral's spire proved worth it, providing breathtaking views of the beautiful city from more than 300 feet above the ground.
It was a short walk from the cathedral to the Thames River, where we took a cruise past the Tower Bridge, London Eye, House of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey - among other sights.
Before the end of the trip on July 7, we traveled to Manchester, where we played matches on grass against teams from Alderley Edge in Cheshire.
As student-athletes at Elon, it was a great chance for us to go abroad. Being thrown into another culture was eye-opening for many of us, but it was also a thoroughly enjoyable and unforgettable experience. All of the students, faculty and staff who attended would, I'm sure, extend a warm thank you to Elon for making this trip possible.