Roenicke, Ross Blog from Australian Youth Festival

Jan. 17, 2009, 9:54 a.m. (ET)
Summer Ross serves at the Australian Youth Festival. Photo courtesy of the USOCJan. 17, 2009

On our flight to Sydney, Australia we were upgraded to Business Class due to our amazing connections with "Tony the Pilot." We had so much room to sleep. Our seats reclined completely flat, and we had our own private 14" TVs with touch screen access to any movie of our choice. 
There was one problem, though. The food was a little too fancy. We just don't do uncooked salmon. Other than that, the 14 hr. flight just wasn't long enough to finish all of our movies. It was awesome to be spoiled and a great way to start off our trip.

We're staying in the dorms at the University of Sydney. We each have our own individual rooms with queen size beds, private bathrooms, and NO TVs, which is a shame, although the space makes up for it.
We play at beautiful Maroubra Beach, which means Windy Place, and that's a fact. Our first day of practice the winds were bad. The second day they were intense during our scrimmages with China and Great Britain.  The sand is like butter, and the water is shades of blue but cold.

This competition is being run just like the Olympics. The Opening Ceremony was fantastic. 

Tara said, "It was such an honor to represent USA and carry the American flag." 

Many athletes from other countries were taking pictures with Tara and our flag. The Australian youth choir, symphony and dancers were great.  Our favorites were the kids on stilts.

On the first day of competition, there were medium winds, and we beat Australia's No. 2 team 21-14, 21-16. Immediately following the game, Summer was required to take a random drug test.  It was serious and intimidating, but the officials were very professional. Later the winds picked up and were the worst we've seen. We were happy to beat China 22-20, 22-13.

Today we beat Great Britain 21-11, 21-11, which made us undefeated in our pool even though the Australian web site has it wrong.

Tomorrow we face Norway's 1 team.  Winners advance to the Gold medal match, and losers play for Bronze.

Go USA!!!

Tara & Summer