FRIENDSHIP TENNIS TOUR TO CHINA

L A N E Y

On Thursday, October 21st, Henry, Connie and the Laney Tennis Team left SFO to participate in the China Oakland Friendship Tennis Tour. The 35 member delegation included husbands, wives and significant others. Mr Du, past president of the Tennis Assoc. Jiangsu Province, made the arrangements in China for the tour. We were met in Shanghai by rain and our cheerful guide, Emma.

The first stop on the tour was Shanghai, a city of 23 million people. After checking into the Shanghai Grand Mercure Baolong and getting good nights sleep we were ready for some tennis. We were scheduled to play in the magnificent Qi Zhong Tennis Stadium, but had to move indoors to the Shanghai Tennis Academy due to the rain. We quickly learned that our opponents were like professionals and most were very young. The Chinese government has a national, state and district office called Minister of Sports. The government trains and supports the best athletes. Athletic competition is serious business and the Chinese tennis players were outstanding. We did win a few games, but all the matches were won by the Chinese. Gifts were exchanged and we took several photos with the Chinese players. We had a box lunch in the bus following. Saturday afternoon was free time for shopping and site seeing.

We spent all day Sunday at the World Expo. Words cannot adequately describe the event. It is 5.28 square kilometers, twice the size the country of Monaco and larger than any past world expo. National pavilions represent 189 countries. There are corporate pavilions and theme pavilions exploring different aspects of urban development. We visited the Caribbean, Taiwan, China, Saudi Arabia and Italy pavilions as a group. Our hosts Martin Chao and his daughter Lily arranged VIP treatment for us so we did not have to wait in the long lines. Sunday evening was free time to see Shanghai at night.

On Monday, we boarded our bus early for the 4 hour drive to Nanjing. The driver was preparing to leave the hotel when an employee came running out because a hotel laundry bag was missing. We were delayed about 20 minutes until the plastic laundry bag was found. We arrived at the Jinling Riverside Hotel in Nanjing at 2pm. Our host in Nanjing was the Tennis Association of Jiangsu Province. We enjoyed a Nanjing riverside tour and a dinner in the evening at the famous historic Scholar Examination Hotel. We played tennis Tuesday morning against the members of the Tennis Assoc, Jiangsu Province. Again, the Chinese players were outstanding and we lost nearly all the matches. The Senior Men's Doubles between Henry and Mr. Du (The Chinese call senior players old horses) were fun to watch. The team of Henry and Tim won 6-1 over Mr. Du's team. After tennis we were treated to a sumptuous buffet lunch with the Nanjing tennis players. After lunch we went to visit the San Yat Sen Memorial and the Old Nanjing City Gate. We have a great farewell dinner arranged by Mr. Du.

We left Nanjing early Wednesday for the 2 hour flight to Beijing. We met our new guide, Evelyn and split into two groups. Group A went to the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. Group B went back to the hotel for rest and free time.

Thursday was the day our delegation made a courtesy call to the Beijing Changping government, Oakland's Friendship City. A Changping Foreign Affairs Senior staff met our delegation in the morning and accompanied us to the Great Wall and Ming Tomb followed by a lovely lunch hosted by the Changping government. Thursdays' activities did present a wardrobe challenge. It was very cold in the morning in the mountains at the Great Wall which required warm clothing and comfortable shoes. However, we had to wear business attire to the official luncheon. So, we did a full or partial change of clothes on the bus. What a scene! It worked and we all looked good at the official luncheon. There were speeches, gifts and business cards exchanges at the official welcome by the Changping Vice Mayor, the Director of the Foreign Affairs and the Director of the Sports Bureau. Chang gave an inspiring speech promoting tennis, friendship and continued trade with the Port of Oakland. After the Changping government luncheon the group went to the Olympic Village, the Temple of Heaven and Tiananmen Square. After the tour the group went to have Peking Duck dinner.

The Laney Tennis delegation left Beijing at noon on Friday via UA to SFO.
The team received VIP treatment everywhere in China. The trip was a success and a good time was had by all.  It was an unforgettable experience.

THE STORY