Preparations for Summer

Biking in Cayucus, CA

Biking in Cayucos, CA

May 23, 2011

Summer is just around the corner, and I’ve been enjoying my last days at home here in Los Angeles before I take off for my summer stretch of tournaments. I’m gearing up for a series of eleven tournaments in eleven weeks, starting with the West Coast Championships this weekend at USC. As soon as the tournament is completed I’ll begin my drive up the coast, stopping first in Sacramento and Chico for two professional Futures events. Following those will be the eight-tournament Pacific Northwest summer circuit that has been a favorite of mine for a number of years.

A big issue for tennis professionals starting out in the lower ranks (like myself) is finance. When you are first starting out and the prize money in the lower level (Futures and Challengers) tournaments is small, it is difficult to support yourself and you are traveling off only your winnings. Guys on tour have to worry about their food, accommodations at tournaments, travel between tournaments, ongoing equipment needs (shoes, string, racquets, grips, etc.), and sometimes even a traveling coach. At the Futures level where the guy that wins the tournament is only earning a little over $1,000, most weeks your paycheck isn’t even enough to cover that week’s expenses. Thus, players have to find other ways to raise money for their travel, and they do so in a number of different ways. Some of these ways include finding sponsors (either individuals or companies) that will pay for some or all of the expenses, teaching private lessons during the brief stints at home, having some sort of job that one can do remotely via the internet, playing money tournaments between the professional events, or a combination of all of these things.

I earn the majority of my traveling funds from playing money tournaments in between professional events. These money tournaments are usually put on by country clubs, open for anyone to enter, and often times have upwards of $20,000 in prize money, twice as much as the Futures events that have only a $10,000 purse to offer. There are money tournaments across the country for most of the year, and a lot of the mid-level pros (guys ranked between 200 and 1500 ATP) have figured out a way to travel and work in significant money tournaments between their professional events. There are also great money circuits abroad, the most prominent one being in France, where there are multiple tournaments every week throughout the year. The one downside to playing these money tournaments is that it does take you away from your professional events, where you might be forced to miss weeks that are good opportunities to earn ATP points. The more pro tournaments you play the more opportunities you have to move up in the rankings, and if you’re playing money tournaments then you’re not playing the pro tournaments. However, I believe that matches are matches, and often times the competition in these money tournaments is as good, in not better, as that in Futures events. As long as I’m getting competitive matches, I’m getting in better shape and improving my game, which is the most important thing in my opinion.Plus, if it gives me a chance to earn some much-needed traveling money, then even better!

Nine of the eleven tournaments in my upcoming schedule are money tournaments, with Sacramento and Chico being the only two Futures events. My travel funds have run a little low, and if I prepare well and give myself a good chance to be successful, I’ll be able to earn some money for the fall and winter to travel with. I know this is going to be a long stretch with a lot of tennis being played, so right now I’m training hard and managing my body to make sure I’m healthy leading into the summer. I’ve been cross training a lot by either surfing or road cycling in order to decrease the pounding on my body from the hard courts. I’ve been stretching between 45 minutes to an hour a day, keeping myself loose and limber, and also being sure I ice down anything that might be sore during the day. If you treat your body well then your body will treat you well, and I want to establish a good daily “body-maintenance” routine before I hit the road.

Stay tuned as I play the West Coast Championships this weekend, and then head up north for the Sacramento Futures…thanks for reading!

-AG

Vive le French Open

Dust off your berets. Take out the croissants. Le French Le Open is Le here! (Get Official Roland Garros gear here)

Once again, all eyes of the tennis world will fall upon Roland Garros. The ultimate clay court tournament will feature the world’s best tennis players and some intriguing story lines.

For the first time in many years, Rafael Nadal is not the clear-cut favorite. To call Novak Djokovic hot right now is like calling the Grand Canyon a crack in the ground. It’s like calling John McEnroe mildly tempered. It’s an understatement, people. And with all these talks of Nadal and Djokovic, we all seemed to have forgotten a guy named Roger Federer. It’s funny how shortsighted fans can be; when the 16 time Grand Slam champion who’s not yet 30, is no longer in the conversation of contenders or when the King of Clay, a 5 time French Open champion, and STILL world #1 can be called an underdog. That just goes to show you the magnitude and impact of the 2011 Djokovic run.

Let’s face it, the talk of the tournament will be Novak vs. Rafa. But that doesn’t mean the women’s draw will be any less interesting. The field is wide open as to who will become champion. Until she actually wins one, people will always ask, “Is this where Caroline Wozniacki finally wins her first Grand Slam title?” Kim Clisters returns to tennis after her freak accident, and even though this is her first time competing in a few months, would you bet against her? Victoria Azarenka is making some noise lately, both figuratively and literally speaking. No Venus. No Serena. Maria Sharapova is surging with a win in Rome. And you know there are always a couple new faces (Julia Goerges and Petra Kvitova) that will make a Cinderella-like run.

It’s going to be a fun, 2-week ride. So grab a baguette, sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Here are my picks:

Men’s Final Matchup
Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic. This will be the 5th time these two see each other in the finals of a tournament. I’m torn as to whom to pick. My heart says Nadal, but my head says Djokovic. Either way, it will be an epic match 5 set match. I have a feeling Nadal gets his revenge and his 6th Roland Garros title.

Men’s Sleeper
Juan Martin Del Potro. Del Po has won a clay tournament already this year at Estoril, beating both Fernando Verdasco and Robin Soderling.

Women’s Final Matchup
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Maria Sharapova. The battle of great offense versus great defense. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, Wozniacki will once again come up short.  Sharapova gets her career Grand Slam.

Women’s Sleeper
Julia Goerges. Won the clay court title at Stuttgart this year. No one’s happy to see her on their side of the draw, especially world #1, Caroline Wozniacki, who is 0-2 this year against her. Could she be the future face of the WTA?

Au Revoir,

Jason, TW

Be a volunteer at La Costa WTA event

La Costa Resort and Spa offers volunteer opportunities

Carlsbad, Calif. — The 2011 Mercury Insurance Open Presented by Tri-City Medical Center, July 30 to Aug. 7 at the La Costa Resort and Spa, is looking for volunteers.

The women’s professional tennis tournament returned to Carlsbad in 2010 after a two-year hiatus and volunteers played a vital role before and during the event. Once again this year, volunteers are needed to fill a variety of positions during the tournament, including: Guest Services; Tickets and Gates; Ushers and Media Center. Local residents familiar with North County San Diego are also needed to serve as Tournament Transportation drivers. Training for each position will be provided.

“We are looking for energetic volunteers to help make this a successful event at the La Costa Resort and Spa this summer,” said Raquel Giscafre, Mercury Insurance Open tournament director. “Being a volunteer is a great way to become part of our team and to get involved in this fantastic community event.”
According to Giscafre, one of the common factors for successful professional tennis tournaments around the world is having a strong core of dedicated volunteers.

“Enthusiastic, committed volunteers are crucial to the success of an event like the Mercury Insurance Open,” Giscafre said. “We have been fortunate to have a great group of volunteers in the past and we hope to continue the tradition this year.”

Tournament volunteers should be at least 18 years of age and able to work a minimum of four shifts during the event. A shift is approximately five hours. Volunteers will receive a uniform consisting of a tournament shirt and sweatshirt. They will also receive one meal per shift.

“The volunteers who contribute their time and dedication to the tournament are invaluable,” said Gail De Weese, a Carlsbad resident who serves as the Mercury Insurance Open Director of Volunteers. “They are our lifeline. There are many benefits to being a volunteer at this event. You get to meet new people, spend the week at the beautiful La Costa Resort and Spa and you’ll get to see the world’s best tennis players battle for the Mercury Insurance Open title. ”

Tennis experience or knowledge of tennis is not required to be a volunteer, only a desire to help fans, players and officials have a more enjoyable tournament experience.

Anyone interested in being a volunteer at the 2011 Mercury Insurance Open should fill out a volunteer application form, which is available under the “Get Involved” tab, Volunteer Information at mercuryinsuranceopen.com.  For more information, call (760) 930-7031.

The Mercury Insurance Open, a Premier 700 WTA event offering $721,000 in prize money, will feature a 56-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw in 2011. The women’s professional tennis event returned to the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad in 2010 after a two-year hiatus.  Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova won the singles title last summer when she defeated Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the final. The tournament will be televised on the Tennis Channel and ESPN 2.

The Mercury Insurance Open is a participating tournament in the Olympus US Open Series. The US Open Series, now in its eighth year, is a six-week summer tennis season that links 10 ATP World Tour and WTA tournaments together. The series leads into the US Open. The Mercury Insurance Open is the second women’s event within the series. For additional information about the Mercury Insurance Open, log onto http://www.mercuryinsuranceopen.com/, join us on Facebook or follow frequent updates on Twitter.