July 29, Tacoma, WA
In the past week, I’ve made my way up to Washington, and currently I’m competing in the Pacific Northwest Championships in Tacoma, at the beautiful Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club. Lots of good players from all over the world were drawn to the $20,000 prize, and because of that it has been the first tournament on this circuit that I haven’t been seeded at. In every tournament, they will rank (or seed) the top players and space them out in the draw so that they don’t have to play each other in the early rounds. The disadvantage of not being seeded is that you run into the top players early on in the tournament instead of in the quarters, semis, or finals where you can make money and your game starts to find its rhythm as you play a few matches.
This happened to me this week, as I ran into Boise State’s number one player, Damian Hume, in the second round. The speedy South African came out hot, putting the pressure on me to be aggressive and counterpunching effectively. After he took the first set 6-2, I settled into the match, and started to find my rhythm. I started serving better, getting more comfortable in rallies, and started coming forward to the net to finish off points. Against a tough, counterpunching baseliner, it’s crucial to be patient with groundstrokes, not overhit, and come forward at the right times to use your volleys to finish the point. Hume and I started having better points in the second set, and it was even for most of the set. I was serving at 4-5, 30-15, when two unfortunate bounces off the net gave him a 30-40 lead in the game and a match point. Down match point, I played a strong point, approached the net to his backhand, and hit a good volley into his forehand side. Hume scampered over and hit a running forehand pass down the line, and the match was his. Just like that! Three points earlier I was in control of my service game, ready to hold and take the set to 5-all. A couple of unlucky breaks and a great forehand pass later and the match was over. It all seemed to happen too fast! Oh well…
Now that I’m out of singles, my focus goes to the doubles court. Charlie Cutler and I will be battling it out in the men’s draw, and Leona Matzenauer, fellow TW-er Suzie Matzenauer’s mom, and I will try our hand at the mixed. It’s going to be a fun weekend filled with some good doubles, at a beautiful club surrounded by great people. I’m looking forward to it! I really hope to do some damage in both the draws!
My last week was spent in Portland getting ready for this tournament in Tacoma. Portland is a beautiful city, tucked into the hills right on the banks of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. It’s known for being the Greenest City in the country, with people using bike lanes all over town, and a great public transportation system that everyone uses. The downtown area is new and hip, with lots of great restaurants, shops, and bars to explore. The hills behind the city are covered in dark green trees, and offer incredible sweeping views of the city, the rivers, and the majestic Mount Hood in the distance. One of the coolest practices I’ve had all summer was on a court in the famous Portland Rose Garden, in the hills overlooking the city. It was a hot, clear day, and people were out enjoying the garden and the beautiful weather. The court we played on was right in the middle of the garden, with the fences all covered in vines and the colorful flowers all around. We had a great time taking in our beautiful surroundings and grooving our strokes for a couple hours. Good times in Portland!
Stay tuned as I become a doubles specialist for the weekend here in Tacoma. After this, I have the last tournament of the circuit, the Washington State Open, at the beautiful Seattle Tennis Club right on the banks of Lake Washington. Thanks for reading!