After taking some time off this fall, I was getting back into playing and training hard. Unfortunately, I have not had good luck as for the last 3 weeks as I have had pretty bad plantar fasciitis. I had a mild case several years ago, but this is really uncomfortable and limits my movement. I’m trying to do different things to heal it, but I am always on my feet coaching. Hopefully, something will work to get me back doing what I love. In the mean time, I tried a few of the new racquets and have feedback on that as I’m sure many of you are looking at some of the newer racquets out there.
As some of you know, I have been using Head Radical racquets since I was in middle school. The first racquet I playtested this fall was the Prince Tour 98 ESP. I chose this racquet as it was a similar weight to my Radical and is also pretty flexy. I tend to like racquets that are not too stiff. I could definitely tell a difference in spin on my shots from the 16×16 string pattern! I had nice control in a very comfortable package, but felt I was just not quite getting enough sting on my serves and forehands that I am used to. Continue reading →
It has been nice to have a bit of a break in the last few months. I have just had the one tournament in Texas and otherwise life has been very busy, but good at the same time! At this time of year with fewer tournaments, I like to get back onto a schedule of doing more off-court workouts, and harder practices. I try to do an upper-body workout every other day or so, and lots of sprinting and anaerobic type work throughout the week on the track or various machines. For the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to have a coach who works with me once or twice a week in the winter. We do some of these off-court sessions together, as well as drilling on the court at the club I work at. In return for his help, his 14 year old daughter hits with me during most of these sessions. That might sound like a weak partner for me, but as I mentioned a few times last summer, she is in the top 10 nationally for her age and has a bright future. She is very capable of hitting a good ball and giving me a good practice in the drill setting. I was lucky enough to have my girlfriend come to watch a recent practice, and she took some interesting videos of some of the types of training that we do on the court:
Saturday was a long day! When I woke up to get ready for my 9 am match, it was in the 40s and windy. This definitely was not the ideal match conditions I was expecting or wanted, but I was ready to battle. My opponent was a very good college player and spent some time on the futures circuit. Last year, we met in the semi-final and within the first 2 or 3 games I hurt my ankle really bad and somehow managed to take the second set, but lost 6-3 in the third. I figured if I played well this time around, I should be able to win in 2 relatively close sets unless I was not playing well.
I started off very energized and playing very well. I was taking control of the points and moving him around a lot, and found myself up 4-0, cruising. I was very confident that it was going to be my day, and gain some revenge for my loss and his antics after last year. But, after I won the first set 6-2, I was starting to miss a little more and was down 0-1 serving and down in the game. He made a bad call and though I don’t believe it affected me, it seemed from that very moment on, I was never quite the same as I was in the first set. Continue reading →
It seems that it has been a while since I traveled to a big tournament! I’m in Tyler Texas this weekend for the USPTA Hard court nationals. I’m playing 3 events — singles, doubles and mixed.
We got in Thursday to see our wonderful host family again, had dinner and zonked out. On friday, I got a morning practice in with my doubles partner and was able to get adjusted to playing outdoors and with bright sun again. I cruised through my first singles match and then after a couple hours played my quarterfinal against a pretty solid player. I was hitting well and won 6-1 6-2.
I potentially have 4 matches to play on Saturday. I’m feeling pretty good at the moment but have been low on sleep, so hopefully I’ll hold up. The first match on Saturday is the singles semifinal against the player I hurt my ankle against and lost to last year. Then it will hopefully be 2 doubles matches and one mixed before the finals on Sunday. I’m anxious for the first match. I’ve been wanting this all year and now I’ve got it. Anytime I get a chance to redeem myself, I am up for the occasion.
The tournament is awesome and well run! It’s also perfect tennis weather in the 70′s — so hopefully I have good news for you tomorrow!
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Things were so awful emotionally for me not long ago, even during New Haven. But right now, none of it matters. Because it has made me a stronger and better person in numerous ways.
I ended up winning the Minnesota Open tournament that finished September 1st, and won some nice prize money as well. I had to play an Israel-born opponent in the final, and he was very good. I knew he would be tough since I knew he had been a circuit player for several years and with an ATP ranking. I skipped the Colorado State Open in Denver to take a break, but won another small tournament last weekend at the LifeTime Fitness National tournament.
My next event will be in Tyler, Texas for the USPTA Hard Court Nationals, October 18-20. This tournament is very important to me in several ways. The last 2 years I have lost there due to physical issues, including my terrible ankle injury last year. My off-court problems were becoming much worse around this time as well, and the opponent I lost to was also quite a jerk. I’m looking forward to the rematch, with a goal of winning the tournament, and with my father and girlfriend will be coming with me as well. It will be symbolic for me with everything going so great for me a year later, win or lose.
Just wanted to let you guys know how the semi-finals of the US Open National Playoffs went for me. The way I saw it, almost all of the pressure was on him to win since he was the top seed. I have been surprised with how well I have been playing recently, and it was time to just let it all hang out and do everything I could. At the same time, I was enjoying the tournament with such a fun setting.
My opponent, Jeff Dadamo, was a #1 player at Texas A&M, and was able to win the NCAA doubles title with Austin Kraijeck. On tour, he has won a few doubles titles, as well as being ranked in the top 500 for singles. I watched him play his match the other day, and he looked good. He plays a very aggressive game, with a huge serve. Whenever he gets a chance, he will go big on the shot. He has a one-handed backhand that he is content to chip a lot, but is capable of hitting big on that wing as well. To make matters worse, he is a lefty. I knew I would be able to be in the match with him based on groundstrokes, but the keys to having a chance to win would be returning serve, playing defense, and managing my own service games with smart play. Continue reading →
As the third match on yesterday, I was able to sleep in again, and take my time getting a good breakfast and lunch. I was able to sleep well and was feeling better, but my plan was to conserve energy. Normally, I would want to get a hit in, but I played well in my first match and the biggest issue was overcoming my recent fatigue and stress.
At lunch, I saw all kinds of house names around me. I ate next to Lisicki again — so hopefully she doesn’t think I’m stalking her or catches me taking pictures! I also saw Sloane Stephens, Cibulkova, Errani and more. My opponent and I talked a little too, he seemed friendly. We talked about a couple common opponents we’ve played, and how he will be at Harvard this year. I certainly wasn’t outsmarting my opponents these last two matches!
At about 3, I went right on court into the warmup. I expected a tough, quick and strong player and he definitely was. I picked up from yesterday and was playing very well the first set. Making almost every return and first serve, rallying consistently, moving the ball around and doing damage with my forehand. I won 6-2 and hoped to get off to a good lead again in the 2nd. Continue reading →
My heart has been heavy, and I have been so exhausted the past 3 weeks. But I have started to regain some energy and spirit, and have been practicing better lately.
We arrived at New Haven late in the evening Thursday, and after a good dinner I crashed for the night. I got checked in at the tournament sight — getting credentials, lunch tickets, parking passes, guest match tickets, booking a practice court and so on. Now all I needed to focus on was winning!
We ate some lunch in the player’s and coaches lounge, and saw many WTA faces that I have watched on TV. The main ones I could put a name to were Lisicki and Puig, who I ate merely 5 feet away from. It was all a very cool experience. I warmed up in the afternoon with a friend from Minnesota who just moved out this way! She actually played in the mixed championship here 2 years ago. We had a good hit and she was there to watch and support me play.
Finally it was match time, and we got golf-carted to my court. I was the last match on of the day against a player from Stanford, who also grew up in New Haven. He had a lot of fan support there! He played very well to start as I was feeling my way in, and I got broken in the first game. I played a great return game to get it back, and we repeated the whole sequence again. Fortunately, I started to play very well without missing and moving the ball around a lot. I was playing like I did in Thunder Bay where I felt really in control of everything. I took the first set 6-2 and held the first game of the 2nd set. Continue reading →
Sorry for not giving any updates or details for a long time. The truth is I am going through something awful right now that is personal. Any support and prayers right now mean more than ever.
I went to Thunder Bay for a big open (prize money) tournament last weekend. I was having a hard time focusing with tennis and not on my problems, but the tennis was a great distraction and stress relief and I was actually playing very well. Continue reading →
With rain through the evening, our semifinal match was moved up an hour and we started play at 8 am on Sunday. I was happy to be getting a re-match with the player that left me feeling terrible 4 years ago. He was hitting the ball pretty well, however (and I guess I don’t know a nice way of saying this) he is not in good physical shape anymore and I was working and moving him around pretty hard. I was in control of the points but was over-using the drop shot and trying to extend the points to wear him down. I actually ended up losing more points this way, and therefore lost a couple games more than I might have liked, but I felt it would still be the best strategy. Unfortunately, toward the end of the first set, after angling him off the court, he returned it and pulled up lame, possibly tearing a ligament in his lower leg, and he was forced to retire. I felt bad for him, as injuries are never fun. He was also really nice about noticing how much I have improved since we last played.
After a couple hours break, it was time for the final. I knew going into the finals that my opponent was going to be very tough. His playing resume proved that he was a solid college player — playing tight with the number one players at UCLA and Pepperdine, as well as a lot of good wins over top ranked NCAA players, and to top it off, he has played Davis Cup for his country, which shows his experience. There really is not a lot I can say about the match, as it was a disappointing display. Continue reading →