Carl Clark’s European Adventure
Carl Clark will be in Europe this week to represent the United States in several events, including the Potter Cup, one of the world’s most prestigious 45-and-over invitational tournaments. Ten countries will be represented in the Barcelona event. First, however, he will join fellow professionals at a club in Wiesbaden, Germany for a series of matches in the top league. From there, he will represent the Potter Cup team for a day at the French Open in Paris, France before heading to Barcelona, Spain for five days of team competition. In 2012’s Potter Cup, the USA took second place and CCV’s own Carl Clark was named team MVP.
Carl Clark Bio
Carl has been the Head Tennis Professional at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond for the past 15 years. He is a former world ranked doubles player and played college tennis at the University of Virginia. He currently holds 13 USTA National titles and over 50 Virginia State titles. Carl was undefeated while representing the United States in the prestigious Potter Cup senior event in Barcelona, Spain in 2012. In February of 2012 he competed in the ITF Senior World Championships finishing as the runner-up in the 45’s age division. Carl was named the USPTA National Player of the year in 2002 and he is the current 1st Vice President for USPTA Mid-Atlantic. Carl has been married to wife Lyn for the past 21 years and they have 3 children, Kelsey 19, Hunter 17 and Harper 10.
Sunday, June 2
Hey all…….lost to Spain in the finals 4-1. No excuses, they were too good today. My match was good and bad. Bad in the fact that I ended up losing after an incredibly poor start. Good in the fact that I dug deep and made it a tight match by showing some toughness and fight. For some reason, I didn’t feel good when I stepped on the court today. I was lethargic and a step slow. Perhaps sleeping in hotels, not eating like I do at home, red clay and a great opponent were all adding up to send me home with my tail between my legs. Before I knew it, I was down a set and 3-0 in the second. I told myself that I didn’t want to go out this way so I paid extra attention to my footwork between shots. I told myself to be one step faster on every shot. I combined that with a little adrenaline and anger and it proved to be the combination that turned me back into the player that I knew I was. Before I knew it, I won 4 straight games to get back into the match. My opponent continued to play at an extremely high level and seemed to hit the lines on a consistent basis. He even aced me 3 straight points hitting the line on every serve. That has never happened to me before. The second set eventually went to a tiebreaker and he led 6-3 with 3 match points. I continued to dig in refusing to give up and saved all three to bring it to 6 all. Unfortunately, my luck ran out and he closed it out. Even though I lost, I felt ok because I had every opportunity to go quietly but refused. If I could tell young kids anything about tournaments and match play it would be to always fight even when things look bleak. You can really learn a lot about yourself in those types of situations. If you love the battle, you’ll always be a winner!
Thanks to everyone out there for the good thoughts, support and prayers. I had a great time, however, it’s really hard for me to be away from home. I can’t wait to see my family tomorrow. Until next time, Carl
Saturday, June 1
Had a tight match with France today but prevailed 4-3. I didnt help the cause in my singles match losing a close match to one of France’s top players 6-4, 6-3. There were 3 things that made my match difficult. One……he was French, two……it was red clay, the
surface he was born on and three…….his nickname was ” The Magician”. He was a complete nightmare to play! I could never really sink my teeth into the match. He had power, finesse and creativity. Kept me off balance all day and I never could get comfortable. Very impressive performance by him. I asked him after if he might be interested in coming to the US and getting into it on hard courts with me!!! He declined. With my loss and two others, we were in a quick 3-0 hole and things were looking bleak. However, we snuck out the two other singles matches which meant we would have to sweep the doubles. Unfortunately, my partner pulled a calf muscle in his singles and his movement was limited. He wanted to give it a go and was our best option so we stepped up and went after it. My mindset going into the match was that I was going to have to be the legs of the team. If I wasn’t aggressive enough and prepared to cover a little more court, we would be in trouble. Good thing that doubles is my game and that’s the way I like to play. We beat them 6-3, 6-4! Combined with our number two team coming through as well earned us a victory and a date with Spain in the final. We will give it our best. Half the team is like a “Mash unit” nursing numerous injuries. We’ll do everything we can to give Spain a run for their money.
Tonight, we went as a team to the biggest soccer stadium in Europe ( and maybe the world) to watch the FC Barcelona soccer team play a match. Barcelona is one of the top teams in the world and the stadium seats around 108,000 people. It was awesome! After that, we put on the coats and ties and went to our last Potter Cup dinner where every team captain gave a funny speech and some teams made up songs for everyone to sing. That’s what is so great about this competition because it’s all about competing hard, making friends and building lifelong relationships with some of the best players to ever swing a racket. I am in awe of all of the talent in this competition…..Grand Slam champions, World Champions, National Champions and more importantly, great people. Hope you are rooting for us back home. Talk to you tomorrow, Carl
Friday, May 31
This morning, it was a pretty intense atmosphere leading up to the matches. Everyone seemed a little tight so we got off to a slow start. All of the countries are very friendly to one another but they take this event extremely serious. My match ended up with a good looking score……6-1, 6-2. However, it wasn’t the prettiest match ever played and it took about an hour and 45 minutes to complete. The balls they use in this event are very heavy compared to the ones we use normally and combined with the slow red clay, you really have to show some patience. Many of the games were close but I refused to give him any cheap errors. Due to my patience and persistence, I won most of the close games. By the time we played doubles, I was really getting my confidence going and played at a high level. We took our doubles match 6-0, 6-1. It was a solid effort and nice to get off the court quickly. I will need all of the energy I can muster over the next few days. Tomorrow in the semis, we play France who is very good and also won 7-0. After seeing their team, I think it will be a very close match that could go either way. My goal is to just take care of my business and see what happens.
Tonight we have a suit and tie event at the Real Club De Barcelona. That is where they play the Barcelona ATP event that Rafa Nadal won a few weeks ago. It should be a great event. I hope everyone has a great weekend! Talk to you tomorrow, Carl
Thursday, May 30
Got up this morning after a good nights rest and met the team for a 2 hour practice. One of the chief reasons behind my success over the last few years has been a change in my eating habits. My wife who is a certified Holistic Nutritionist gets all the credit for this and has really changed my perception of what people should be consuming to perform at their best. She packed me an awesome protein powder mix for my breakfast that I have every morning. I have found that it has all the ingredients to allow me to be at my best on the court. After about 15 minutes of stretching the team went through a practice that consisted of lots of singles and doubles work. Its important to check out who’s playing well and what the doubles teams should be. It also takes some time getting used to the red clay over here. The team had a really good workout and I think we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.
We headed back to the hotel, showered and headed out to see my favorite attraction in Barcelona………La Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada Familia is a church that was designed by a Catalon architect named Antonio Gaudi. Construction began in 1882 and is still going on! It isn’t supposed to be completely finished until about 2024! Each side of the building is a different style and tells a different story. One side explains the birth of Jesus while the other describes the death and resurrection of Christ. The detail inside and outside of the building is nothing short of amazing. I could never get tired of looking at it because you always see new details.
Tonight we had a meet and greet cocktail party for all of the teams and a light dinner. Heading to bed early because the real deal starts tomorrow. USA vs. Belgium 9:00…Stay tuned, Carl
Wednesday, May 29
Hello all. Today I took a quick flight from Paris to Barcelona. After being picked up at the airport, I checked into my hotel and headed to the Polo Club De Barcelona where the event is being held for a team practice. It was great seeing the guys, some whom I haven’t seen since last year. After a good hour and a half practice, we headed back to the hotel to get organized. We met later as a team and headed out to explore. We walked down to the beach and looked around the old city. Barcelona is an awesome city to walk around. There are many old churches, buildings and streets to explore but you have to watch out for the pick pockets. They are everywhere! After dinner, we took the subway back to the hotel. Most of my teammates were exhausted because they flew here from the states today. Tomorrow, we are planning a 2 hour morning practice and then more sight seeing. I’m planning on checking out La Sagrada Familia which is one of my favorite places to visit in Barcelona. Talk to you tomorrow, Carl
Tuesday, May 28
Hey all. Woke up this morning at 6:00am, took the metro into downtown Paris and proceeded to walk around and explore for 5 hours.
I started out by walking to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Anytime I’m in Europe, checking out the old churches is my favorite thing to do. After that, I walked around the Louvre and the surrounding gardens then all the way up the Champs De Élysées to the Arc De Triomphe. No tour of Paris would ever be complete without heading to the Eiffel Tower. it’s unbelievable when you are standing right under it!
After my sightseeing tour I changed into a suit and tie and headed for Roland Garros to check out the French Open. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot to see because of frequent rain delays. I did get to check out a few matches including a young US player named Jack Sock who beat a good Spanish player. At 6:00 I headed over to a special cocktail party hosted by the French tennis federation. It was a really nice event and I got to meet up with a few of my teammates that are going to Barcelona. I head there tomorrow.Talk to you soon, Carl
Monday, May 27
Hey everyone. Not too much to report today as it was mainly a travel day. Drove from Wiesbaden to Paris and it took about 5 hours. It was a pretty drive through Germany and France with some nice scenery. Once we got to Paris the stress began. Everyone drives like maniacs and there aren’t many traffic lines to guide traffic. It’s basically a dangerous mix of taxis, motorcycles, bikes, cars and pedestrians all trying very hard not to kill each other. I promise to only use the subway tomorrow. I think it will be much safer traveling underground!
Tonight, we had a nice dinner at a cafe with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Paris is a beautiful city. Tomorrow, I am planning to explore Paris in the morning and then it’s off to Roland Garros in the afternoon. The forecast is rain. Hopefully the weathermen are wrong.
Talk to you tomorrow.
Sunday, May 26
Today I woke early to get ready to play a match for the Wiesbaden 30’s team. I got picked up by our captain at 7:20 to travel to the town of Phunstadt to play our match. Unfortunately, it was 38 degrees and raining so we drove 30 minutes and it was decided that the match would be canceled. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to play but it probably was a good thing because the chance of pulling muscles and getting injured was high because of the terrible weather. I really want to be at my best in Barcelona playing for the US National team on Thursday.
Since I now had a free day, the captain, Alex, took me on a tour of Wiesbaden. It is an unbelievably beautiful old city with great history. It was nice to see some very interesting places and learn about the history. After our tour, he decided to take me on a quick tour of the wine country along the Rhine river. We did some wine tasting and discussed the differences between the German and American cultures. In Europe, people tend to take more time and never appear to be in a hurry. Life is a little slower and more laid back.
Tonight, the 30’s team is taking me to a restaurant that is well known for it’s “Bratwurst”. It should be a good time.
By the way……I forgot to mention this yesterday. On the way back to Wiesbaden from our match, I gazed at the speedometer of my drivers Porsche and it read 275 kilometers an hour at one point. For all of you metrics conversion fanatics, that’s 170 miles an hour! Yes, it was a little scary! Talk to you tomorrow.
Saturday, May 25
Big match day! We traveled as a team to play the #1 team in Germany at a club called Bad Vilbel. The temperature for most of the match was around 45 degrees! Spring obviously didn’t arrive here yet! I started out slow in my singles match and got hammered 6-1 in the first set. I was like a fish out of water slipping and sliding around. Gradually, I started picking up my game and finally started to get comfortable. I actually came back and took the second set 6-0. Crazy match! In this league, they don’t play third sets. They play a super-tiebreaker to 10. Unfortunately, I lost 10-7. Trust me, I was ready to go three sets and I’m pretty sure he was excited that we didn’t. Oh well, he played a little better in the end. The good news is that I feel I am now getting acclimated to the different courts and balls now. My partner and I lost a close doubles match to an excellent team 7-5, 6-4. For the first time in my career today, I actually played both matches in my warm-up pants. It was really that cold by the end of the match!
Tonight, I am going to the club to watch the big European soccer final which has 2 German teams in it. Everyone in Germany is freaking out about it. This soccer game is basically the same as our Super Bowl. After the game it’s off to bed. I have to rise early to play a match for the ” young guys” 30’s team. It’s supposed to be 38 degrees at match time! Fantastic! Hope everyone is having a good weekend back home. Talk to you tomorrow.
Friday, May 24
Got 7 hours of good sleep last night so the jet lag is finally starting to wear off. I took an early morning walk through Wurzburg and got a cup of coffee. It’s a beautiful old city right on the Main river. Got my things together and headed out for another tennis camp appearance for my friend. Had a great time and I think the kids really enjoyed it. They had never seen some of the crazy drills I do so it was a new experience for them. Most of the kids speak pretty good English and I am pretty good at picking up many German words so the communication wasn’t a problem.
After the camp, my friend Tom drove me to Wiesbaden which is about an hour away. Driving on the autobahn can be a little scary but you do get to your destination quicker! I checked into my hotel to relax a little until my team practice at 5:00. I will be playing for the Tennis Club Blau-Weiss Wiesbaden on Saturday and Sunday. The club competes in the Bundesliga for the 40 and over division. The Bundesliga is the top league in Germany. Just to give you an idea of the competition, Fabrice Santoro, Paul Haarhuis, and Andre Chesnikov all play in this league. All were former top 20 players. Fortunately, my hotel is a 5 minute walk to the club so I headed over and practiced for about an hour with the team. I was happy that my legs felt pretty good and I was moving well. Normally the greatest fear about playing overseas is that you never know when your legs might arrive. We had a good practice, took a shower and had dinner as a team in the clubhouse. Everyone was very cool and it was very comfortable. The food was good and the German wheat beer tasted great. I’m looking forward to a good night’s rest in the hopes of playing well tomorrow. The team we are playing is the #1 team in Germany so we are the underdogs. Just how I like it! Talk to you tomorrow.
Thursday, May 23
Thursday was an extremely long day! I flew from Richmond to JFK on Wednesday afternoon and then over to Frankfurt, Germany through the night. There is a 6 hour time difference in Germany so the 8 hour flight got me into Frankfurt at 10:30 am Thursday. I probably only slept a total of 2 hours on the flight in fragmented 15 minute sections. Just too hard to get comfortable. Went through customs in a slight fog and met my friend Tom at baggage claim. We proceeded to get a cup of coffee and made the 1 hour drive to his home in Wurzburg. After unpacking, we drove to my friend’s club where I was the guest professional at one of his tennis camps. The camp went really well except for the fact that we taught in a light rain for 3 hours and the temperature was a toasty 49 degrees! Everyone had a great time but we headed home a little soggy and tired. After a nice dinner we called it a day. Tomorrow, I will teach another camp before heading to Wiesbaden to practice and meet my teammates for the weekend’s matches. Talk to you tomorrow.