Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Big weekend in Montreal!

Here is a brief summary of what went on in Montreal this past weekend. Weather was mostly clear and cold, 30's-40's. Pretty town, and the tournaments were held in a suburb of Montreal, so strip malls and motels were the scenery. The boulodromme where we met is part of a municipal sport center which houses facilities for gymnastics, boxing, swimming, soccer, tennis, a snack center, and yes, a boulodromme.

If the boulodromme reminds you of something, that is because it used to be a racquet ball/handball facility. As you can see, they made openings in the walls and there are still upstairs viewing windows that spectators also used for watching the games. The courts are only 12 meters long and when each area is further divided into two courts, they are a little narrow, too. However, when used full size, the are plenty wide though still short. Ceiling hight is ample for even the highest lobs and shots. The floor is concrete and covered with small gravel (1/4" minus), and need to be raked after games to restore the surface. Play is a little mushy in places, fast in others. and there are no rocks over 1/4". But, you can guess that the wonderful advantage of this facility is apparent when the cold wind is biting outside and it is shirtsleeve weather inside. Boulodrommes are popular due to the severe winters and there are 6-7 of them around Montreal.

This get together had two announced purposes. One was to pick two teams to travel to the world competition next year in Taiwan. The second was to conduct a meeting of the eligible federations to begin a discussion of how to have a tournament between all the federations in this hemisphere, the Americas.

Haiti had committed to attend this get together, which meant that the three countries, USA, Canada, and Haiti, would play to see which two would go to Taiwan next year. However, early in the week, it became apparent that Haiti was not going to be able to attend.

It was decided to have a PanAm tournament at this get together to decide which country would win the right to send a team to Monaco or Laos, for the next "Confederation Tournament". The Confederation tournament is for countries around the world whose teams win in their regions, but that may not have won the right to send a team to the world games.

Canada and the U.S. competed in this tournament that was held on Saturday in a best two out of three format. Canada put up their best team, the one that will go to the "worlds", as will ours.

Here is the U.S. team just before the toss of the jack.(L to R, in blue, Eric Bertin, Jean-Pierre Subrenat (captain), Xavier Thibaud, and JP Malette) The Canadians are in red. It began about 11am and continued until almost 5pm. The teams were well matched, quite a change from years past, when the Canadians have quickly put us away.

And guess what?! The U.S. won the first game, the Canadians the second, and we won the third game, so FPUSA wins two out of three!! Our team not only goes to Taiwan, but also has the right to go to the Confederation Tournament. Here is the victory photo! The fellow on the left in black is Claude Azema, president of the FIPJP who flew over from France to attend.

And, to complete the tournament; an awards banquet at the facility. Again you see Claude Azema, seated, and Bernard Aurouze, president of the Canadian federation, (standing) and saying a few words.

On Sunday, there was an impromptu open tournament, for any and all, for 24 teams of doubles.

We have good reason to be very pleased with our four "worlds" team players. A number of local players expressed their genuine surprise to me that we took home that big trophy in the photo above. I came away thinking our players were quietly hopeful all along when they arrived in Montreal that they would win, and they were very gracious to their Canadian hosts when they did.

We thank our Canadian hosts for their heartfelt hospitality. We all know how much work there is to put on a tournament, arrange for the meals, and all the other details that volunteers offer to attend to.