June 19, 2010
Lost a tough match today in the first round of the qualifying, 4-6 6-4 6-4, to a very familiar foe. We grew up in the same town practicing together weekly, played on rival high school and college teams, and now in my first tournament back I face him again in the first round. It was a tough match all the way through, but I found myself getting a little emotional during the match which got me away from my game plan a bit. I got caught up in our “rivalry” (though it has always been friendly and respectful between the two of us), and when I start making mistakes I let my emotions get the best of me.
It’s easy to get irritated or real disappointed with a match like today, but it is so important while you are on the road to stay positive. The worst thing about a loss is you come away from it with good things to work on, which I definitely did today. Being around the tournament you can tell which guys have taken hard losses and let it get to them, wearing on them until they are zapped of all their positive energy. They look like war-worn veterans who have been in battle after battle, walking around the tournament like wounded soldiers. Their passion and energy for the game is gone, their effort starts to slip, and they go from tournament to tournament because the game has become a drug for them. The game takes over their lives and becomes their existence. That is what it’s like for the struggling, road-weary tennis professional.
So it’s my job to stay positive, fresh, and enthusiastic, in order to make it in this world. You have to challenge yourself to be the best-prepared and most positive person out there in order to give yourself the best chance to succeed. Otherwise, you just sink right into the pack of struggling players who never make it out of the Futures events into the higher-level tournaments. Therefore, tonight as I reflect on the match and in the coming days as I prepare for the next tournaments, that is my challenge; to be optimistic, positive, and remember that it is only a game, a sport that we are all privileged to be able to play day-in day-out. Detach from the results, and treat every match as a learning opportunity. Learn, forget, and move on.
Next up I will try to get into the main draw of the doubles event. The players with ATP points will have priority into the draw, and they only accept 16 teams, so we will see what happens. Depending on how that goes, my next event will be an Open tournament in Roseburg, Oregon which begins on Thursday the 24th. Stay tuned for more updates on the road from Chico!