June 25, 2010
Call me strange, but I often enjoy long drives by myself, getting lost in some good tunes and my own thoughts. Yesterday I made my way from Chico, California to Roseburg, Oregon in a little over five hours. The sights and sounds of the drive become a big part of your life on the road as you spend countless hours traveling from city to city, for tournament after tournament.
I set out heading north from Chico on Highway 99, a two-lane highway that passes through sprawling farm country, dominated by the rice and almond fields that make up a large part of this farming community. The 99 weaves its way through the farmlands, periodically running through tiny towns which couldn’t contain more than a couple thousand people each, consisting of a general store, a couple gas stations, your locally-owned roadside diners, and maybe a fast food drive-thru or two. The pace in these towns seem to follow the speed limits that govern it, slow and listless as you slow to a crawl, getting a better look as you traverse through these neglected road-side whistle-stops.
After what seems like a travel through time backwards 30 years, the 99 leads you to Interstate-5, the largest highway in the west that can take you all the way along the coast from Mexico to Canada. After a little more farm country, Mt. Shasta suddenly looms in front of you, and the grassy plains beside the road turn into lush, majestic forest with countless towering fir and pine trees. The road turns into a winding highway as it carves through the forest, always in the shadow of the snow-covered Mt. Shasta peak to your right. I thought a picture stop was necessary as I crossed the bridge of the incredible picturesque Shasta Lake.
More beautiful views of Mt. Shasta await as the road winds through the Siskiyou National Forest, and you cross the Oregon-California border. Beautiful rolling hills extend as far as the eye can see in every direction, absolutely covered in these enormous trees. You can feel the shift from the California desert to the more mountainous terrain of the Pacific Northwest. The air becomes cooler and fresher, the clear blue sky is now changing into a mix of white and grey clouds. The flat highway of California in the middle of the flat, grassy plains shifts to a winding mountain road that carves its way through the forest, gaining and losing elevation with every twist and turn. The colors that dominate the world around you change from a pale yellow and brown of the dying summer grass to a rich forest green, met by a deep blue cloud-lined sky. It’s about 8:00 in the evening as I reach Oregon, and it becomes a race against the setting sun to my left as I continue heading north.
A couple things dominated my thoughts along this five-hour drive, and since I had no one to share them with on the road I figured I could share them with you now. A big part of becoming a successful tennis player is goal setting. Your outcome goals (rankings, match and tournament results) provide a destination, and your performance goals (take strides in different parts of your game) become the road map on how to get there. As I set out on this journey of becoming a professional tennis player, my ultimate outcome goal was to be the first Cal Poly tennis player of the modern era to participate in a Grand Slam. My coach and I set up a number of performance goals for the summer months in order to take my game to the next level, and kind of left the outcome goals open to see what things I might begin to desire as I set out on the road. After participating this past week in the Chico Futures, I realized the outcome goal I wanted. I want to work my butt off, and in a year come back and win the tournament that first got me started on this journey. It’s a clear vision, and one I hope to use to guide my training and travels in the coming months. After seeing the level of play and the level of commitment required for this accomplishment, I think this goal is difficult but attainable.
Roseburg is a small roadside town right in the heart of the Umpqua Valley, with a little over 20,000 residents. A lot of motels for weary road travelers making their way up the 5 line the side of the freeway, along with some fast-food and standard American chain restaurants. I sit now in my room at the Howard Johnson in town, waiting for my 4:00 first round singles match. My doubles partner (who I am sharing a room with) and I will head out for a light hit later this morning, and perhaps get a glance at our afternoon opponents. Life is slow here in Roseburg, and even slower for two tennis players in town for a tournament, with nothing to do but prepare for the matches ahead. Stay tuned for updates from the Umpqua Valley Open.