Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mama has told me about it on the phone today/yesterday - Ukrainian tennis players barely escaped violence in Andijon, where they were taking part in a tournament.

Oleksandr Yarmola, Serhiy Yaroshenko and Orest Tereshchuk (the best-known of the three), they all lost in the first round of the event - and for once must have been happy about it...


Tashkent used to be a very popular junior tennis destination in the Soviet times - and although I've never been there (unfortunately!), I remember papa taking kids to Tashkent every once in a while and always bringing back those amazing, huge, sweet cantaloupes...


The screwed-up Andijon tournament seems to have been big news in Britain...

Here's a BBC piece on it:

Tennis players caught in unrest
May 14, 2005

British tennis players have been driven by armed guard away from trouble spots in Uzbekistan to safety in the capital.

Richard Bloomfield from Norfolk and Arvind Parmar from Hitchin, Herts, were taking part in a tournament in the city of Andijan where clashes broke out.

Others are: Jamie Delgado (Berks), Dan Kiernan (Cleveland), David Sherwood and Jonny Marray, (both Yorks) and coach James Trotman and referee Carl Baldwin.

Government forces fought with militants on Friday and 200 are reported killed.

The players, coach and referee are being driven to the British Consulate in the capital and they are due to fly back to the UK on Monday.

They had been competing in the Andijan Futures but were caught up in the mass civil unrest in the city in the east of Uzbekistan.

And a report in the Times:

Britons fear for safety as violence erupts
By Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent
May 14, 2005

THE sound of gunfire was frighteningly audible down the phone line. James Trotman, the LTA coach, was huddled together yesterday with six British players at a tennis club in the strife-torn city of Andijan in Uzbekistan waiting for the word that it is safe to pack up and get out of the country as fast as their transport will carry them.


“We still don’t know what’s going on, to be truthful,” Trotman said yesterday evening. “We have been hearing conflicting messages all day, but as far as we know, a team from the British consulate is arriving to assess our situation and see when it is safe to leave. As of now, we have been told to stay at the club and not move. Some other guys have left, but we were told the roads were all blocked and that was too dangerous.

“The trouble is, we’re not sure what to do. Some people tell us it’s under control and then we hear how many people have been killed. It’s pretty bloody scary, to tell you the truth. It’s been horrible from the day we arrived. Three guys, including myself, have been sick with the food and we are staying in a place where most of the windows are smashed.”

Confusion spread to the event itself when initial reports that the tournament was to be cancelled were overruled and Marray went out to play his semi-final yesterday morning. “There was a 90-minute delay, but then the tournament director told us to get on with it,” Trotman said. “Jonny lost, it was not a good performance, but I don’t think that was uppermost in any of our minds. We just want to get out of here as quickly and safely as we can.

“I know none of us has experienced anything like this in our lives. There is so much uncertainty, no one really knows what is going on and every few minutes for the last six hours or so we’ve heard really loud gunfire from what seems to be a few hundred yards away. There are said to be a lot of snipers on the roofs around here.”

The British players were facing a five-hour car journey to Tashkent for next week’s challenger event in Fergana. “All we want to do is get home in one piece,” Trotman said, as another loud crack of gunfire was heard in the distance.

And a piece from some local British paper (the Suffolk Evening Star or something):

Suffolk tennis coach in riot
May 16, 2005

RELATIVES of a national tennis coach from Suffolk have spoken of their ordeal after he was caught up in civil unrest in Uzbekistan.

James Trotman, 26, a former junior Wimbledon doubles' champion, was working with a group of British tennis players in Andijan in the former Soviet republic when violent clashes began at the end of last week.

He has told of being surrounded by loud gunfire, while the players spent a night huddled together in a tennis club before escaping the mass panic under armed guard.

Mr Trotman has sent two text messages to his family in Tuddenham St Martin, near Ipswich, to assure them he is safe – but his mother Linda said she was still waiting to speak to him and would be relieved when he arrived back in England. The group are due to fly home today.


Last night, Mrs Trotman said: "On Friday, we thought he was going to fly out on Saturday morning, but they could not leave Andijan because there was a curfew.

"They missed their flight on Saturday and there was not another flight until Monday.

"We heard on Saturday that they had left with an armed guard from Andijan and that was a relief. They went to Tashkent and I do not think there is any trouble there.

"I have not spoken to him but we have had a couple of text messages from him and he said that he is okay and we have been kept informed by the Lawn Tennis Association."


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