Ni hao everyone! My name is Cristina Visico and I just completed my senior season with the California women's tennis team. My four-year journey with the Golden Bears has been truly phenomenal. This year, as a team, we went all the way to the NCAA Championship match. I'll keep my memories from Berkeley forever but my time with the tennis program isn't over just yet. This summer, the men's and women's teams will be taking several players and coaches to China for a tour of Beijing and Shanghai. If you want to see what we're up to, come back and check out this exclusive CalBears.com blog that we're setting up. I'll be sharing my experiences through this daily journal so hopefully, you enjoy what you read. Go Bears!
May 30, 2008 (Beijing, China)
Ni hao Berkeley! After a 13-hour delay, our flight arrived in Beijing. The turbulence as we were landing was so bad that Susie (Babos) wanted to throw up. She couldn't though, because the guy next to her had already stolen her bag. We were all a little dazed from the long flight, and arrived at the hotel just in time for a welcome dinner with the Chinese Minister of Education, our host Herman Hu, and several coaches and players from the Chinese National men's and women's tennis team.
We woke up this morning ready to start the first full day of our trip. We had a 6:15 a.m. wake up call, a hearty breakfast, and then sat in Beijing rush hour traffic for an hour and a half. It's pretty hot and sunny here, but really windy. It reminds me of Tulsa. We got to the tennis courts and had the chance to play against the Chinese National Team. We had a ton of fun meeting the players and exchanging gifts. We all had challenging singles and doubles matches, but afterwards, we all had an amazing lunch together.
After a full morning of tennis, we started our day of sightseeing. We began our journey by visiting the Temple of Heaven. After learning a little bit of Chinese history, the real fun started at the shopping market. With an hour to shop and hang out, Pierre (Mouillon) and Eoin (Heavey) each got a pedicure. I'm sure the women doing their feet were really enjoying themselves. The girls of course, went wild at the hand bag section, making use of their bargaining skills. I guess it must be our determination and will power that got us those great deals. Geoff (Chizever) didn't really get the bargaining concept because he bought a fake shirt for more than the price of a real one. Haha. In the mean time, Boj (Bobusic) got a terrible eye infection and it only got worse. We're praying it gets better by tomorrow.
After shopping Eoin, Geoff, and Pierre decided to make their day a little more exciting by bungee jumping. Ummm yeahhhh. You all will need to check out Youtube for that video. Guaranteed, you will be entertained. After all the walking, laughing, and sightseeing, we were exhausted. We ended our night eating dumplings and came out of dinner feeling like dumplings. I think it's time for me to take a shower and head to bed because tomorrow, we are playing against Tsing Hua University and then going to visit the Great Wall! It should be exciting! Alright, that's it for now! Zai Jian!
May 31, 2008 (Beijing, China)
Day two. Hello again from Beijing! Woo what a day! Today was busy from the minute we woke up. We started our day playing against the Tsing Hua University Tennis Team. We not only had a great time playing matches, but we also had a Cal clinic going on. We had coach (Peter) Wright and a few players teaching and feeding balls to the Tsing Hua students. By the way, it is Berkeley week at Tsing Hua and there was quite a contingent from Berkeley, including the Vice Chancellor, the Men's Octet, and other university representatives.
Everyone really enjoyed themselves at the tennis courts, and at the end of the day Cal came out on top by beating the Tsing Hua team, 5-1. A little side note, Susie (Babos) and I played our first doubles match ever in our four years together! We may have won, but now, we understand why the coaches never put us together. We also got to see Boj (Bobusic) ride a bike to the doctor because she has pinkeye. Both of her eyes got infected.
After tennis, we all had a great meal which consisted of China's famous Peking duck. It was incredible! Peter called it a "Chinese burrito". After lunch, we took off for our journey to the Great Wall. I now know why they call it one of the Seven Wonders of the World. When we got there, we were in for a treat but we didn't realize that we would have to climb about a billion stairs to get to the top. As we started our journey, it reminded me of the fire trail, but about 10 times harder. We were all dripping in sweat! Brilliantly, Steph (Kusano), Claire (Ilcinkas), Geoff (Chizever), Pierre (Mouillon), and I decided to scale the Great Wall in sandals (Tip for future Great Wall tourists: NEVER wear sandals!)
Eventually, we all made it to the top and it was a great feeling for all of us to get up there and see the most amazing view. The way down was a breeze, but when we got back on the bus, we all passed out. After a little nap, I was awoken by Geoff and Boj singing. The next banquet, they are going to need to do a duet. Major potential there; just kidding. We decided to take a little detour before dinner and make a pit stop at Starbucks since Morten (Christensen) and Amanda (Augustus) are addicted to coffee. Morten is so hooked that he has a map of all of the 62 Starbucks' in Beijing. After Starbucks, we decided to change up our dinner plans and headed to Thai Hut. After a few bites, Susie's nose was sweating and Steph's face was bright red and numb. So far, I must say it has been an awesome experience checking out the big city Asia life. It is definitely a culture shock for us. Well that's all for now. We miss you Berkeley!
Hey Everyone! We are still in Beijing, but we put our rackets away and were tourists for the day. I must say, our legs are burning just a little bit from the hike we took at the Great Wall, but our schedule is really busy and every minute is used so there is no resting.
June 3, 2008 (Shanghai, China)
So I'm sitting here with the team and we all want to say hello from Shanghai! As soon as we arrived, we knew it was going to be an unbelievable trip. We learned from our tour guide, Richard, that Shanghai is a young city; only 200 years old. It is very westernized and reminds me a lot of New York and San Francisco. There is a ton of incredible shopping here! Last night, our sponsor George Chen (Cal '83) invited us to an unforgettable dinner at the Roosevelt Steak House. (Let me tell you, after a week of Chinese food we were ready for some good ole American food).
Today, we had the privelege of playing at the Shanghai Masters Cup facility. After meeting the players, we all rotated and played a few sets. As expected, it was sooooooooo hot. After the sets, we got to take a tour of the indoor center where the players actually play! It is one of the most impressive sports facilities I have ever seen. Following the tennis, we had lunch and started our tour of Shanghai. One of our sponsors, George, took us to a shopping center where we could practice our bargaining skills. I must say today, we all did a fantastic job. We were all completely satisfied with our purchases and came out with arms full of purses, wallets, watches, glasses, and tons of shirts.
We were all in a great mood after the shopping and headed to another amazing dinner with our sponsor, Ernest Ng (Cal '69, Cal MBA '71). After dinner, while strolling the Shanghai streets, Amanda (Augustus) found a Coffee Bean. I swear I saw tears because she was so happy. (If anyone out there wants to make Amanda's day, get her an English Breakfast Tea Latte from Coffee Bean), and of course Morten (Christensen) got his daily Starbucks coffee (he's even learned how to say Starbucks in Chinese. Haha!)
One thing that I have come to learn during our trip is just how generous and friendly the Cal community in China has been to our teams. They welcomes us to their magnificent country and provided us with a truly unforgettable experience. Well, thats it! Busy, busy, busy. Even though we are really enjoying ourselves, it feels like there is no time to stop and relax here in China. We've been on the go since we landed a couple of days ago. The streets are crazy and there are millions (or billions) of people out and about. A little different from the Berkeley scene. Bye for now!
June 4 and 5, 2008 (Shanghai, China)
So sadly, our trip to China is coming to an end. Today (June 4), we took a tour of one of the world's largest economic centers. With all the shopping and touring we did, we definitely contributed to China's economy. We started our day with a little morning coffee of course, and then visited Yuyuan Garden, the most famous garden in Shanghai. After walking through the Temple Free Market, we went up to Shanghai's Oriental Pearl TV Tower. It was incredible! The building is as tall as the Eiffel Tower and has an amazing 360 degree view of the city. It was impressive to see how large Shanghai really is.
After our tour, we did some more serious shopping and exhibited our professional skills as bargainers. The most memorable purchase was probably Morten's (Christensen) Starbucks t-shirt. After a long day, we headed back to the hotel and ended our night with some karaoke. It was one of the best nights we have had in China. Boj (Bobusic) was able to practice for American Idol, but the award winning song went to Geoff (Chizever) and Pierre's (Mouillon) duet "I Got You Babe." After doubles, we transitioned into everyone doing a solo. We all could not stop laughing and the entertainment was by far the best.
So that's the end of our China trip and my last road trip here at Cal. I can't really explain how honored and privileged I feel to be able to be part of such an incredible program. Going on this trip really opened my eyes to a whole new cultural experience while giving both teams an opportunity to play some great tennis. I think I can speak for the entire team when I say that this was the opportunity of a lifetime and an experience that we will never forget. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible and I hope that in the future, we can continue this tradition. Go Bears!
P.S. Other side notes I forgot to add from the trip: Boj's pink eye finally went away, but it got passed to Claire (Ilcinkas), and Pierre's bag is still missing. Yikes!