Lying in her hotel room bed, Elise stared at the ceiling. The alarm bell had woken her fifteen minutes ago and she had gotten up immediately to open the window and let in the cool morning air before retreating again to the warm cavity of the blanket.
It was a new day, and Elise knew that it could only be a good day. Stuttgart had been a great tournament so far. Due to her injury time-out last year she had no points to defend and she had told herself to go into the matches without pressuring herself. She had made the quarter finals in singles where she had been defeated by Stephanie, her Fed Cup team mate. Even though the loss had hurt for a moment she knew that reaching the quarter final was a huge achievement. Still struggling in the Australian tournaments she had become better and more confident step by step and now she was sure that she could enter the Top 100 again, perhaps even finish the year in the Top 50.
Even though she had lost the quarter final she was still in the tournament. Like in Charleston she was playing doubles again and today was semi finals day. Cheered by the German fans the team had been unexpectedly successful. Today they could even make it to the final.
Feeling the warmth of her own body underneath the sheets Elise thought about a week ago, when Agathe had taken her out to dinner with Candice and Monica. Even though it might have been a bit weird to hang out with people who were that much older than her she felt comfortable with them. So much had happened in only a few weeks after she had talked to Agathe in the little café in Indian Wells. The fact that Angela knew about her now and couldn’t care less about Elise’s preferences gave her a new confidence. How relaxing it was that she didn’t have to pretend anymore when she was around Angela. She could even handle Stephanie’s teasing much better, countering with a joke even once which she felt had gained her Stephanie’s respect.
Elise closed her eyes one last time before she had to get up. Her team would play against favorites Martina Rodriguez and Andrea Flavione and could face Stephanie and Angela tomorrow in the final if they won today.
Her team. Elise bit her lip thinking about it. The team was her and Amanda Auster.
Just when they had finished their dinner, Monica had received a phone call and after a few minutes suggested the caller to come to the restaurant. Soon, a doggish Amanda had joined them and had reluctantly sat down next to Elise. Elise had managed to converse with Amanda and the others in a friendly and cheerful tone, successfully hiding her confusion and excitement. If there was one thing she wanted and feared just the same it was sitting close to Amanda, feeling her moves and listening to her Australian accent.
With three very successful doubles players on one table the conversation soon turned to doubles tactics and doubles partnerships and eventually the inevitable happened.
“Why don’t you two play together,” Monica had asked Elise and Amanda while munching an Apfelstrudel. [►]
In unison, both players shook their head vehemently and dismissed the suggestion. Amanda mumbled something about focusing on singles while Elise just looked for an easy way out unable to find one. It would only hurt to spend time with Amanda since she was not available. But the more they protested the more the older girls leaned on them and ultimately they had to say yes.
Elise had told herself to behave calmly and professionally and she had executed her plan very well but recapitulating the week she also had to admit that she was happy. Happy to take the court with Amanda, to sit next to her, to hit balls with her, to talk and laugh with her. It was what she wanted. It was what she had feared. Elise knew that this could hurt in the end as Amanda seemed not interested at all beyond playing tennis. Lying in bed and staring at the ceiling Elise also knew that it would be a good day.