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Bevan Wilson and Dustin Hoffman (Brown) at The Boodles!
With England crashing out of the World Cup emphasis has shifted to Wimbledon and with no Englishman in the main draw for the first time in the 133 year history there is even more pressure on Andy Murray to do it for ‘his country!'
By the time you read this you could be sitting in front of a Murray - Nadal semi-final on the telly or we may even have a new Wimbledon Champion?
I had the pleasure of spending the week before Wimbledon with four of the World's top ten players, four of their top 30 compatriots and a few in the top 600 (that'll be the Brits!) at this year's Boodles Challenge Tennis Tournament at Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire.
This was my sixth year as tournament physiotherapist and the players and weather didn't let us down as we enjoyed perhaps the best Boodles ever. I even bumped into a few patients!
With Djokovic, Davydenko, Tsonga, Monfils, Verdasco, Kiefer and last-year's Champion Philip Kohlschreiber in the line-up it was anyone's call as to who would come out on top.
The first couple of days passed with sunshine, strawberries and champagne bubbles but more importantly for the players and I without any major injury problems. Victor Hanescu beat Kohlschreiber whilst Monfils beat Kiefer. There were also victories for the charismatic Dustin Brown (Yes, his mum's favourite actor was Dustin Hoffman!), and Jo Wilfred Tsonga who beat the recovering Davydenko (Who recently fractured his wrist and we had to tape him up for his matches).
In the Final, Gael Monfils produced a fine performance defeating Dustin Brown 6-3, 6-4 with an entertaining mix of unstoppable serves and powerful forehands which moved Brown around the court. Having beaten Nicolas Kiefer and Victor Hanescu, Monfils was on superlative form and was a worthy winner of the Boodles Challenge trophy.
Brown, the charismatic Jamaican-come-German was a newcomer to The Boodles and also to Wimbledon this year (sadly he lost in the first round to 16th seed Meltzer). His exciting, unpredictable play and array of trick shots created quite a stir as did his carefree charm! He has become a mini-celebrity in the last few weeks with talk of him becoming a British national (As if his mix of German efficiency and Jamaican coolness wasn't complicated enough!) and it was a pleasure to treat him, although at 6'5" I could only treat him lying down!
With no significant musculoskeletal injuries during the tournament I spent the days between the courts, players lounge and treatment room for massage, mobilisations, injury-advice, taping and the odd scone and Jam!! I did get to experience the NHS as never before - a player had an ear infection and we were unable to get a private appointment but Wexham Park came up trumps and he saw an ENT consultant within 5mins of arriving at A&E, with me in tow looking like the FBI with radio, earpiece and shades!
Obviously with such a variety of nationalities between the players and tournament staff the World Cup was on the big screen constantly and it was great to share the experience of Germany losing with Kohlschreiber and his team.......not that it did England any good!
Like at many tournaments my busiest time was towards the end of the day, generally finishing at 9pm and getting home at Midnight. Despite the long days, the tournament is always enjoyable and apart from the captivating tennis some of my personal highlights were spending a few rocking treatment sessions with Evgeny Korolev (I had the choice of Bon Jovi or a ‘Russian rapper'!); discussing the joys of babies and marriage with Nicholas Kiefer (he's set for both in the Autumn); watching England vs. Algeria with Will Greenwood (I know he is a rugby player!) and listening to Annabel Croft trying to explain to Brown and Kiefer during a Q&A session what ‘Y'-fronts were!!