In Transit

It's begun.
Jumping from one country to the next, never much longer than a week at a time. Hardly ever getting enough time to grow accustomed to the surroundings before the next travel day is upon us. Home for one week, submersed in a completely different culture the next. Do we ever really have a final destination? Because soon it will feel as though it's just one 5 month long travel day. Every country we play is a layover before we head to out next stop.
If we had a single flight itinerary it would look something like this:

Flight: ------ Departs: ------------- Arrives: --------------- Meal: ------------- Date: -------- Flight Time:
IA 111 ----- Home ----------------- Guatemala City ------- I ----------------- April --------- Too Long
MB 222 ---- Guatemala City --- Boca Chica -------- Really ------------    |    --------- Too Long
EI 333 ------ Boca Chica --------- Los Angeles ------- Hope -------------    |    ---------- Too Long
NG 112 ---- Los Angeles -------- Vancouver ------------ So -------------     |    ---------- Too Long
SO 223 ---- Vancouver ----------- Shanghai --------------- I ----------------    |    ---------- Too Long
CR 331 ---- Shanghai ------------- Prague --------------- Hate -------------    |    ---------- Too Long
EA 122 ----- Prague --------------- Beijing ------------------ It ----------------    |    ---------- Too Long
TI 233 ------ Beijing ---------------- Rome ----------------- When  -----------    |    ---------- Too Long
VE 311 ----- Rome ---------------- Stavanger --------------- I -----------------    |    ---------- Too Long
WI 132 ----- Stavanger ----------- Gstaad ---------------- Have ------------     |    ---------- Too Long
TH 321 ----- Gstaad -------------- Moscow ----------------- To ---------------    |    ---------- Too Long
ES 213 ----- Moscow ------------ Quebec City -------- Starve ------------    |    ---------- Too Long
EF 121 ----- Quebec City ------- Stare Jablonki ------- On --------------    |    ---------- Too Long
LI 232 ------ Stare Jablonki ------ Klagenfurt ---------- Flights -----------    |    ---------- Too Long
GH 313 ---- Klagenfurt ----------- Aland --------------------- I ----------------    |    ---------- Too Long
TN 131 ----- Aland ----------------- Toronto ---------------- Pray -------------    |    ---------- Too Long
AM 212 ---- Toronto -------------- Puerto Vallarta ------- For --------------    |    ---------- Too Long
ES 323 ----- Puerto Vallarta --- Home ------------------- Food ------------ October ------ Too Long

First person to find the hidden message in that itinerary will get an all expenses payed high five.

As you can see, every flight is too long, and I'm always looking forward to my next meal. When people tell me they're so jealous i get to travel all the time, it makes me wonder. Since every destination just leads to the next, one after the other, am I really getting to experience any of them? Or is it just one really long travel schedule in which I end up back where I started?

Ben Jammin
PS. I really hope everyone sees this on a big enough screen, because it was really a hassle to make the itinerary look just right.


Continental Cup

You couldn't ask for a better venue. Cloudless blue sky, courts placed alongside crystal clear ocean water, all inclusive tournament hotel. If the organizers of NORCECA had any idea how to run a tournament, they could turn this into a tournament to remember. As it stands, we very likely won't know who or when we play until about 5 minutes beforehand, which is unfortunate considering this is the first in a series of Olympic qualifying events. You'd think they'd be as motivated to run it smoothly as the players are to participate in it.

What we do know about the draw is pretty interesting. This tournament will be played out like no other i have played in to date. For both the men's and women's Continental Cup, it will be country vs. country. What this means is that each country is represented by two teams that will face off against two teams from each other country in a double elimination format. For example, if Canada were to play USA, then the first round would look like this:

The winner is whichever country wins the most matches out of 4. If it ends in a 2-2 tie, then any 2 athletes from either delegation will be selected to play in the "Golden Set" - A single set to 15 points - to determine who will advance to the next round. Top four countries come Wednesday night, advance to the next and final Continental Cup tournament, winner of that earns a berth in London 2012.

I won't delve to deep into the future, for now I'm keeping my mind in the moment because this tournament comes first. The teams representing canada are:
Christian Redmann + Ben Saxton (CAN1)
Martin Reader + Chaim Schalk (CAN2)

Annie Martin + Marie Andre-Lessard (CAN1)
Heather Bansley + Liz Maloney (CAN2)

For the first time ever, we are actually teammates with another Canadian team. We are still unsure of whether we'll be playing at the same times as Martin and Chaim, but either way it will be interesting to be able to cheer for fellow countrymen without secretly hoping that they don't do better than us. And for those supporters out there, you no longer have to worry about picking favorites (us of course, don't worry, I won't let Marty and Chaim know) and can finally shout out an unbiased "Go Canada Go!"

Ben Jammin


Tercer Lugar

Third Place.

Not exactly the placing we had hoped for, but thank you to everyone for the congratulations. And considering all we had to put up with, I suppose things could have gone worse. But there is no use dwelling on what could have gone better, or been organized more smoothly. Instead, let's take a page from my anonymous little brother's blog (annuxdossitt.wordpress.com), and focus on the positives that came out of our trip to Guatemala. Positive thinking is way more fun than the reverse anyhow.

For our first tournament, both outdoors, and as a team in general, with only one loss to a solid team, third isn't so bad. Sure it's not what we intended to accomplish, but first is a lofty goal in any tournament. We experienced our first loss as a team, and it sucks, but it happens. Even Phil and Todd lose matches here and there, no matter how few and far between those losses are. The most important part was how we bounced back from that loss, with a decisive win over Puerto Rico, who had come off a second place finish at the previous NORCECA.

Aside from how we played, the Guatemalan teams consist of a truly awesome group of people. They spent the entire week shuttling us around too and from the airport, our hotel, practices, to meals, tourist locations, etc. Plus made sure to warn us of any and all dangers we may happen upon while visiting their country. There are three players in particular who really made our stay in Guatemala memorable, and we made sure to snap some pictures with them so that I can show them off to the world. This blog will serve as a very public thank you to our friends, chauffeurs, translators, tour guides, training partners, competitors, and so on, all embodied in the following three athletes: Erick Garrido, Julio Recinos Ocana, and MaJo Orellana. We would not have had nearly the same experience at this tournament without you guys. If any of you are come near us in Canada, we'll have our Whatsapp ready.
Julio is on the right

Erick is in the white t-shirt, and MaJo in the middle.
Ben Jammin


Partner Change Imminent


Not quite as elaborate as last year I realize, but I figured I might as well do something. Christian and I are, in fact, getting very excited as our first tournament looms just around the corner. As i write, we are in Houston on a layover between home and Guatemala. Though if we keep getting crammed next to each other on planes, who knows how long I'll be able the stand the guy.

Ben Jammin