Wow Chicago is AWESOME! This week has flown by; we have packed a lot in, loads of tennis and loads of fun. Our journey from Florida to Chicago was one best forgotten but the rest of the week has made up for it.

We arrived at the Boyd’s house, en masse, at the early hours of the morning, feeling rather haggard from a few plane delays and long hours sitting at the airport. The Boyds have been amazing hosts, we really have taken over their house, there are mattresses, kids and STUFF everywhere, the noise levels are close to max but there is a permanent happy vibe running through the house.

Day 1 we woke feeling a little weary, had our staple bagels cheese n ham for breakfast, and got ourselves to Northbrook Five Seasons USTA Regional Training Centre. Whew. What a facility! There were loads of immaculate clay courts, hard courts, a few platform tennis courts, a full gym, running track, huge swimming pool, diving boards; indoor courts….you can imagine our kids’ eyes were out on stalks. The kids we were playing with saw the ‘African kids’ arriving and were so excited they were taking photos of them.

Over the next few days we were super busy with the River Forest tournament, if the boys were on the girls were training and vice versa. After matches, we squeezed in a train ride to Chicago city, the girls went nuts for the shops, had a look at the Nike Store (all 5 floors of it), Millenium Park in the rain, some deep dish pizza a Chicago speciality, watched the canal boats and experienced Chicago at night. Also a visit to the sports factory shops in Aurora, although the prices were not really factory shop prices, and the exchange rate doesn’t help. On training days the kids were at Northbrook again and played on clay and indoor, used the pool and got to watch some baseball too!

It’s been great to see how the kids have matured in their tennis and how they have adapted to playing on clay. In this tournament they had some tough competition in their second rounds and we took 2 trophies and 2 winners in the back draw, not bad hey! The other parents and players were very impressed with our players and were quite jealous of the team camaraderie we have, they may be coming over for a visit soon 😉

After the final matches were done we headed for a celebratory meal and favourite frosty at Wendy’s, we have decided we’re going to import Wendy’s frosties, they are toooo delicious! With full tummies we set out on a scenic drive to downtown and along the coast of Lake Michigan. It looks like an ocean, it’s massive! Between the tall buildings of the city and the lake shore are loads of green parks, community sports fields and bike tracks busy with the locals having a fun Sunday out. We stopped off for a dip-they have doggy areas for swimming and people areas for swimming, guess which one we were swimming in. Whew lots of regulations here, we South Africans aren’t quite used to it. Then into town and it was movie time. The kids watched World War Z while we grownups headed for some quiet time minus kids for a change! We had supper then up the 96 floors of the John Hancock building for a beer, and a great view!

Next day we trained at the 5 Star Academy at a school in Plainfields. Once again, so many courts! At 5 Star, Robyn, had about 12 other kids who had come in especially for the day to train with us; they were a lovely bunch of kids. We put them through their paces with some coaching and fitness drills in the morning session and in the afternoon played matches. That night we ate at a buffet place, eat as much as you like, well as you can imagine the kids went food crazy. Say no more! Another good day.

Yesterday was 6 Flags day, yeeeehhaaaaaaaaa what a blast!! We started on Superman-you are lying face down strapped in and get flown through the air at 60mph zipping and twisting plunging downwards the ground coming for you and then zip! You’re heading up again and eventually come to a grinding halt, feeling relieved to still be in one piece. From Superman the rides just got wilder n crazy. The raging bull was for sure the scariest; Batman we were travelling at high speed backwards and occasionally upside down and tossed side to side, X Flight was a jet simulation so crazy, the Giant Drop dropped us from a dizzy height free fall and stopped just above the ground, and there were lots more. The Hurricane Harbour water world was the best fun for sure. The Tornado high speed funnel slide had us on a round raft going backwards through a tunnel, shot over a precipice, down a chute, whooshing up the sides of a funnel and spat out into the pool at the bottom. We did that one a few times! The scariest was the Mega Wedgie free fall slide. After climbing a few flights of stairs you reach the top where there is a pod at the top of a vertical chute just big enough for one person. You climb into the pod, stand on a platform with your feet crossed, hands up behind your head and they close the door. 3, 2, 1 and the platform under your feet disappears (!!) and you go plummeting down the watery chute, then swoosh along the slide at the bottom into a pile of water…wedgy deluxe…cozzie everywhere where it shouldn’t be. Heh heh what a fun day. We all met up for one final Raging Bull team ride (minus Tom and Noni who somehow managed to sneak out the queue) and then the finale was a light show. Feeling completely worn out, nerves shot, bodies stiff, we walked back to the car, supper at Burger King and kids passed out in the car and we were back home just after midnight.

This morning had a mega pack n clean up and said our goodbyes to the Boyds. We are now on flight 1490 to Charlotte then another to Chattanooga, then a 2 hour drive to Knoxville. So far the day has gone smoothly…long may it last! We are looking forward to some July 4th celebrations tomorrow, a bit of tennis and then our final tournament.