Byline: Matthew Lee
"THE trip of a lifetimea is how Gympie veteran tennis player Kym Ireland is summing up her recent trip to Mexico to compete in the 2010 World Seniors' Tournament.
Ireland travelled away with an Australian contingent to compete in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) event earlier this month and touched down in Australia Wednesday last week.
The Gympie tennis player was captain of the Australian Over 40s team and was joined by fellow Queensland players Janelle Spittle and Melinda Obah.
The tournament was global with teams from across the world converging on Mexico to participate.
A team's event, similar to Davis Cup format, was played together with singles.
Ireland wasn't successful in the team's event during the first week, finishing ninth out of a field of 10 teams.
"We had some very close games against Mexico and Sweden that didn't go our way, so we could have finished fifth or sixth," she said.
Ireland served for the match in a doubles match to decide the winner of the rubber against Sweden but was unable to close it out despite having match point.
"I was pretty down that night because we were so close to winning that match," she said.
"But one of the other players' wives came up to me and we spoke about it and it helped to put it into perspective."
The second week Ireland contested singles and although knocked out of the main draw, managed to win the consolation singles.
The consolation singles were contested by players who had lost in the main draw.
Ireland defeated Germany's Ellen Newmann 6-1, 6-2 in the final.
"I was really pleased with that match," Ireland said.
Newmann went into the match after a gruelling battle the afternoon earlier and Ireland exploited her opponent's sluggish form.
"She was making a lot of mistakes which made life much easier for me," she said.
"The first set I mostly just played conservatively and let her make the mistakes. I didn't have to go for much."
In the second set, the Gympie athlete started to find her rhythm and stepped it up, finding the courage to go for her shots.
"I hit more winners in the second set and went for a lot more," she said.
"We had some really great rallies from the baseline, but thankfully I was able to control most of the points."
One of the biggest hurdles for the Gympie veteran to overcome was the higher altitude in Mexico.
The Australian players arrived a week earlier to practice and adjust to the conditions but found the conversion difficult.
The altitude difference drastically altered the flight of the ball, frustrating Ireland.
"Ideally we needed more than a week to practice to acclimatise."
Hitting a perfect lob was exceptionally difficult and became a running joke for members on Ireland's team.
"If we managed on that rare occasion hit a successful lob, we had a laugh about it," she said. "It was just a hard thing to do because you would tap the ball and it would just soar over the baseline. …