Little Noley watches Cristian play during a tennis match.
June 16, 2014
Florida State’s Cristian Gonzalez Mendez is a men’s tennis player from Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Throughout the summer as he transitions from a junior to a senior, Cristian will provide fans with an in depth look into the world of tennis both at Florida State and internationally in Spain.
One week, 20 work hours, six class hours and one final exam until I am finally on my flight home to Spain! After a long school year filled with many tennis matches and tough classes and 10 months without seeing my family – the longest time I’ve ever spent away from them – I am beyond excited to return home for two months. While it is difficult to be away from my family that long, we all understand it is the sacrifice that needs to be made so that I can achieve my tennis and education goals; plus it makes the reunion and time together all the more better.
This summer’s trip will be particularly special and exciting because my girlfriend (and number one American tennis fan) and my puppy Noley will be traveling with me. It is great bringing my Americans with me to Spain as they give me extra motivation to push hard in my tennis matches. Summer, my girlfriend, traveled with me to Spain last year so she is familiar with everything. Although we ran into a few obstacles with buying plane tickets this year as the prices seemed to only increase as the seats decreased; the cheapest we could find was $1450 with no two seats together! We waited a few more days to buy (which was about 6 weeks before traveling), which turned out to be the right choice: by some miracle of timing, we found Delta plane tickets had decreased to $1200 AND two seats next to the window became available, so we bought those in a heartbeat. Get this, we checked the prices again the next day out of curiosity, and the tickets went back up to $1500!
The human tickets aren’t the most challenging part though, it is the pet tickets. Flying a dog isn’t as easy as going through security and getting on the plane. It takes a lot of work and preparation. Luckily Noley is less than 10 lbs. so she can fly with us in the cabin. But she needs her own pet passport that includes a microchip before a rabies vaccination at least 21 days before traveling; an airline health certificate and an international bilingual health certificate to be signed by the vet only 10 days or less before traveling; and each of those forms to be endorsed by the USDA within one week of traveling. It is hard work and expensive, but we are excited to have her with us and my family is excited to meet her. Besides, how many people can say they have an international-traveling puppy?
I am most looking forward to be meeting my newborn nephew (he is due sometime within the next couple of days). It’s hard to believe I am going to be a tío (that’s an uncle in America), but I am thrilled. The only problem with that is that I am not longer the baby of the family, so I won’t have all the attention.
Finally, I cannot forget about the reason that I’ve been practicing so hard this summer: to win tennis tournaments in Spain. Now, Spain is a tough country to play tennis in because a lot of people play and a lot of people are very good; just look at the top 10 players in the world, both No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 7 David Ferrer are from Spain. That doesn’t excuse my disappointing play last summer as I lost matches I shouldn’t have and didn’t play as well I could have, it only motivates me to work harder and play harder.
I am pumped to return to those tournaments and redeem myself to make myself, my family, my fans, my team and FSU proud. I am most eager to return to the Futures tournament – where I won my first ATP point last summer by beating the No. 361 player in the world – to earn even more ATP points like my teammate Benjamin Lock. I feel that this past season at FSU matured me as a tennis player and I have become more confident on the court, and that will make the difference in the tough matches I will play this summer.
See you next week when I’m back in Spain,