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At Don Carlos it is all change as regards surface as we move on to the slow clay courts a la Windsor prior to the advent of astro. This is the surface on which to learn and practice all the shots comprising the game of tennis. Sadly conditions in Ulster and maintenance costs appear to have caused the clay court local demise.

Having just about negotiated a first round win over David Lloyd – how nice it is to repeat that!- I played the Norwegian NO. 2 Harold Messel a big lefthander. First set I couldn´t live with his winers from his forehand but second set I was well in it and at 5/3 up managed to miss a great opportunity and lost 6/2 7/5. I should at least have taken the 2nd set.

In mixed doubles Carole and I had a good win over a Finnish couple but lost a very close 2nd round match v the no. 2 seeds 7/6 6/4 again a match we could have won had I taken a few chances. In mens doubles I am playing with Roger whom I don´t really know but we won our 1st match against an Estonian pair and and play today for a place in the final!

Don Carlos tennis is a superb location but a little pricey. In the mens locker room a notice says -“Please no to shaking of shoes of clay!”. So there you go. Some wonderful tennis though. Some of you may know Tony Davison who is living here at the moment with his family and he is in the semi final of the mens over 50 singles. Tony is playing great tennis and has a big chance to win. Hi is in the top 100 in the world over 50.

On the strength of Carole´s golf winnings we have sampled a fantastic resaurant in Marbella – just 30 mins down the road at “La Plaza Naranja”. The Orange Tree restaurant is up there with the best and we dined in style – fabulous food with fantastic flavours. The restaurant is fully booked each night and a wonderful atmosphere. The chef is a real all rounder and had organised Carole´s golf and also was a former pro on the golf circuit! What ever it takes to make a buck. Inside we met one of the staff who is from Kilkenny!

Marbella is a funny place in that it is easy to get out of but not that easy to find ones way in to the centre. But well worth getting to.

Opposite Miraflores where we are based is Antonio´s beach bar where lunch time snacks are really good. Yesterday we went with some friends and found great excitement as a model was dining there accompanied by 6 heavies. What a stunner! There was no chance of attracting the attention of the Spanish waiters as they seemed fully occupied at her table! And she was only eating a few lettuce leaves!

Here it is a bit of a pressure situation tennis wise as the odd ache and strain is manifesting itself in my body but the old deep heat seems to be just about keeping me mobile. Sunday it is off to Mallorca for a Grade 1 tournament so it will be really tough. But what a challenge.

And of course Ireland v Italy Sunday morning in Rugby World Cup! Cum on Ireland!

Hasta Luego!