September 29-October 3, 2018
Arriving in Nanjing was a completely blind experience. All I knew was that it was one of the the original ancient Capitals of China. Matt told us we needed to come and visit but refused to let me know why. Nanjing is the capital of the Jiangsu province and has a total population of nearly 9 million people. The Yangtze River runs through the city.
When we woke up the next morning after our 7 hour bullet train that arrived at midnight, all I could say was WOW! The complex, although a bit dated, was absolutely spectacular. Surrounded by mountains and endless tennis courts, this masterpiece of a training center for many of China’s olympic athletes was overwhelmingly beautiful. Many Olympic champions have trained here including swimming, fencing, diving, volleyball, gymnastics and tennis.
The Tennis Academy of China is home to the Jiangsu provence Top tennis players chosen to compete for their region and also is host to the Sanchez Casal Tennis Academy. My dad and I had the choice of hard, red clay or grass courts to train on, we chose hard courts. The next day, our friend Matt arranged with the facility Director for me to train with the National 14 & under team which was really cool. We played for 3 hours on the red clay!
Our time in Nanjing was absolutely awesome and we didn’t want to leave but my dad has an obligation 6 hours south to work at a tennis facility in Guangzhou where I can train with the Academy kids every day while he coaches. Adjacent to the facility was a mountain, referred to as “purple” mountain, where we hiked to the top and toured the mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. He was the founding father of The Peoples Republic of China. What a surreal experience, especially because it was still the Holiday and there were thousands of people. It is said that this site is one of the most visited attractions in all of China, other than the Great Wall.
Before we left Nanjing, Matt took us on a tour of the city center. We gained access to the ancient city wall which was built to protect Nanjing from intrusion in the mid 1300’s. Our walk around this endless (30 miles) wall enabled us to enjoy the views from above! We walked over 25,000 steps in total and toured the temple of Confucius and many busy city shopping streets. Minutes later, we saw an Apple store, Starbucks, and ate a big juicy cheeseburger. These American icons were all met with excitement seeing that we have only had traditional Chinese food for the past 25 meals. The history we experienced was so incredible and I will never forget that day.
Guangzhou, here we come!