One of the reasons we booked Mukul was the promise of two recently-built tennis courts on site. (Another reason was the promise that Mukul is the best hotel in Nicaragua just now.) We are keen to play tennis during the restful part of our holiday, otherwise there is the risk of unmitigated sloth.
The courts were indeed clearly new and in excellent condition. They are some distance from the hotel; presumably part of the grand design for the posh villas as well as the hotel resort. But this is not the first time we have stayed at a resort hotel that transports you a mile or more to the courts. That side of things worked excellently well, thanks mostly to the good offices of majordomo Grinhilde (an unlikely name for a Nicaraguan – “my father spent some time in Germany and returned to Nicaragua liking that name”) and driver Juan aka Ponce.
Ponce had been the land vehicle driver for the rescue mission on 16th, so we had formed some kinship from that. Ponce is from the Mosquito (Miskito) coast and made very interesting conversation with us. On arrival at the courts the first time, I asked him, “which court is best?” and he answered immediately, “that one”, (the easternmost court), “the wind affects it less.” Good advice, as the wind was a major factor at this time of year.
We played early morning (starting between 7:15 and 7:30 for about an hour) five of the six mornings we had at Mukul. Just one morning Janie felt too tired, so we rested on a while longer and swam in the main pool before breakfast instead.
The sun didn’t really affect one end more than the other – the courts pretty much face north-south. But on several days the wind really did assist one end. I took the adverse end, which was really hard work but on the other hand the wind assistance required Janie to control the ball exceptionally well.
The surface was incredibly bouncy. It reminded me of indoor carpet courts I played on at Queens a few times, many years ago. You get full value plus for your top spin and lob shots. None of this bounce and wind would make for a great professional game, but it does make for good fun tennis, which is fine for us. Poison for my nascent real tennis career, but heck, who cares, we were on holiday.
Frederico told us that Jim Courier often stays nearby, which is nice, but I can’t imagine that any of Jim’s shots would stay inside the netting with that exaggerated bounce. Mercifully, Jim didn’t stop by in the early morning to watch Ged and Daisy prancing around the court in the high winds.
Indeed no-one was to be seen at those courts early morning, although it was the only time that we could possibly have given it a go, given the heat of the day and the early darkness.
But basically we loved the tennis there. On our last proper morning, the wind dropped for most of the game, but, perhaps surprisingly, my form dropped along with the wind. It was all I could do to clamber back to even-stevens at 5-5 deuce, at which point we agreed to call it an honourable draw, as we often do.