Chico Futures Doubles Main Draw

June 24, 2010

Through some more good fortune, I will able to make it into the main draw of the doubles here in Chico. A friend of mine who I had not spoken to in almost ten years saw my name on the singles draw and knew that I was in town, and contacted me via Facebook to ask me to play since we were both searching for partners. Due to his doubles experience (he has been playing on the Futures and Challengers circuit for years), we were able to receive a wildcard into the main draw, where we were set to play another familiar foe, a good friend of mine in the top 300 in the world in doubles.

We started off strong in our match, taking an early 5-3 lead in the first set, but got a little tentative late in the set and ended up losing the first in a tiebreak. Second set, same story. We stormed out of the gates to a 5-2 lead, before once again letting our foot off the gas pedal a little bit, and falling once again in the second set in the tiebreak, losing the match 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6).

Like I have previously mentioned, it’s how you respond to tough matches (and especially tough losses) on the road that make or break you. Do you put your head in the sand, lose confidence and begin doubting yourself? Or do you realize that because the match was so close, there were many things that we did right, and by learning from the couple mistakes that we made we could become even better? I prefer to see things in the latter context. I admit, I am disappointed and upset we lost the match. We had great opportunities to win both sets, and it would have been a very nice first win over two very accomplished players. However, I look at the match and realize how close the level really is, and by continuing to work hard, improve, and keep a positive mindset, with a little bit more experience those matches will begin to go my way. It was very encouraging for me to see that I am right in there with experienced players on this circuit, and gave me confidence that my keeping up my work ethic and positive attitude I will be climbing the rankings with them soon.

Next up today is a five-hour drive further up Interstate-5 up into southern Oregon, where I will be playing an Open tournament (anyone can enter) in Roseburg, OR. Though the Open events do not offer opportunities to obtain ATP points like the Futures tournaments do, they are great because they typically have more prize money than the Futures events, and it is great experience picking up matches against very good players. Action is set to kick off tomorrow, so I will arrive there this afternoon, get a good practice in, and be ready to go for my match at 4 pm on Saturday. I am the #2 seed in the singles draw, and the #1 seed in the doubles draw, so I am excited for big things over the weekend. I will be playing doubles and traveling with a good friend of mine, the same guy who I lost to in a tight match in the opening round of qualifying here at the Chico tournament. We have never played doubles together before, but we know each other’s games and personalities very well, and I think we will make a very formidable team.

Going into the weekend I want to stay positive, and though the expectations are a little higher for this tournament than the one I previously played, I need to maintain a relaxed intensity throughout the tournament. It’s important to keep a level head, not getting too high when you win a couple matches, and not getting so down when you lose a tough one. You must view every match as a learning experience, and realize that each opponent on each given day will have its own unique obstacles, which can only make you better with the right attitude. Stay tuned for updates from the Umpqua Valley Open in Roseburg, Oregon!

-AG

String Review: Prince Poly EXP 16

polyexp16-1

A pleasant surprise awaited me when I was handed a set of the Prince Poly EXP 16 to try. I knew little about the Prince Poly EXP 16 string before I tried it. I have enjoyed the Prince strings I had used in the past (I enjoyed playing with the Prince Syn Gut w/ Duraflex as a junior, as well as the Prince Tour in my college career), but I had never heard of the Poly EXP. And after playing with it I had found another Prince string that I really liked playing with.

I strung up the Poly EXP in my Prince TT Warrior MP at my standard 56 lbs for a polyester (I typically do 56 lbs for polys and 58-60 for multifilaments). It was a relatively easy string compared to other polyesters because of its smooth texture and slightly softer feel.

After just the first shot in the warm up I immediately noticed the incredible feedback and “pop” I was getting off the string bed. At contact the ball seemed to explode of the racket, resulting in a lot more power than I was used to out of a full bed of polyester.

Off the ground the Poly EXP felt excellent. I was able to generate large amounts of pace on the groundstrokes and a decent amount of spin to bring the ball back down into the court. Precision and control was slightly less than normal than other polyesters, but since I enjoy a more explosive and responsive string I did not mind.

Volleys and serves were also nice with the Poly EXP. I would have liked to be able to generate a little more bite on the ball, especially for knifing the volleys, but the pace I was able to generate, especially on the serve, was awesome! I was definitely hitting the big flat serve up the tee with a little more juice than normal…

Tension maintenance was good, but not great. It maintained tension for most of the life in the string bed (a little over a week), but started to lose tension towards the end. Durability was about average for a polyester string.

Overall I was extremely pleased with the Prince Poly EXP 16 string! I had played the Prince Tour string for a while during my college career, and definitely felt that the Poly EXP was a significant upgrade from the Tour (even though I did like the Tour a lot). The power and “pop” I was able to generate would be extremely hard to match from any other polyester on the market. If you enjoy a lively polyester with lots of potential for power, like I do, then I definitely would recommend giving the Prince Poly EXP a try!

The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the…..Pond

I can now say that I’ve spent a whole day at Wimbledon. Yes, my first experience at the All England Club. Not to mention that it’s my first experience in Europe, let alone London. From spending what seemed like one day running into the next traveling (wait, it was one day running into the next!), to learning about how to use the Underground “Tube” for cheap easy transit, to figuring out which coin is which when using the currency of “£.” Then trying to do the quick math of how much I actually spent in US dollars. Jason! where are you when I need you?!

After a night that felt like no sleep (jet lag) and now that we (my fiancée and I) had discovered the ins and outs of the Tube, we were off to Wimbledon. The Grand Slam of all Grand Slams. Out of the Southfields stop and walking into the gates, I was in awe. Wimbledon and John McEnroe were the two reasons I became interested in tennis. With a camera in hand and two hours before the first match on Centre Court, we had some exploring to do. (Yes, we were very fortunate that some VERY good people helped us out with tickets on Centre Court.) First stop, Henman Hill. Or Murray Mount, whatever your preference. With a beautiful sunny day hovering around 80°F, it was already filling up with spectators getting seats and sun in front of the big screen. Next we walked by Court 19, where Flavia Pennetta would soon be playing. Right across the walkway, Sam Querrey was slated to play. We kept walking past some more outside courts and came up to Centre Court. It was just shy of two hours before Serena took court. We had plenty of time to cruise the grounds and get some pictures.

12:30 pm. We can’t wait any longer. We saw the order of play for the day and knew we’d get to see both Men’s and Women’s No. 1 players today. First up, Serena Williams handled business without trouble against Michelle Larcher De Brito. Her big serve and big groundstrokes are rather impressive. Next up: the Bull. Rafa Nadal took on Kei Nishikori. A straight set victory with dominating groundstrokes off both wings. No surprises there. However, I must say I really like Nishikori’s crafty game. Though it was a straight sets loss, it was much more competitive than the previous match. Lastly, Robin Soderling took on Robbie Ginepri. All I can tell you is that Soderling CRUSHES the ball. A big guy with even bigger strokes.

After that, we walked the grounds a bit more and caught bits and pieces of some of the outside court matches, then called it a day. We probably would have stayed a little longer if we didn’t have…wait for it…tickets for Wednesday as well!!!!!

Cheers!

Spencer