November 2, 2010
I earned my first ATP point yesterday! I drew the sixth seed, Frenchman Dorian Descloix in the first round here in the Laos Open. I was very nervous, very anxious, and very excited to take the court.
I started the match on fire, breaking my opponent’s serve in the first game. However, I might have been a little too “amped” up, and I got broken right back in the next game. We took turns holding serve until I broke him again to go up 4-3 in the first set. Feeling strong and confident, I held and broke yet again, taking the first set 6-3.
The tall, lanky Frenchman showed his determination by responding with a more aggressive game in the second set, attacking the net and utilizing his slice backhand a little more than he had in the first set. The adjustment caught me off guard, and he got up an early break in the second set. I began to struggle a bit off my forehand side, and I never could regain control of the set. He took it by the same score, 6-3.
The third set began, and I began struggling with my first serve, along with my ailing forehand. The games in the third set seemed to follow a certain pattern…Descloix would hold easily, and I would stumble through my service games, fighting off break points but somehow getting out of each game unscathed. It seemed like I was fighting off break points in every game while at the same time I was getting none of my own on his serve. The set progressed with no breaks of serve, and suddenly I’m serving at 4-5 to stay in the match.
I play a very tight first few points and find myself down 15-40, and two match points. After a long rally and a good serve I fight them off. I play another nervous point and I’m down a third match point. We get into a rally, he rips a forehand cross court into the corner, and follows it into the net. I barely retrieve it, and stumble in the process. He has an easy backhand volley, and I’m out of position and off balance. The ball seems to take 10 minutes to reach the other side of the net. I concede defeat in my head. However, I look up from my shot just in time to see his high backhand volley strike the net tape, and fall harmlessly onto his side of the net. I look up at my buddies Brad and Charlie sitting courtside and smile, realizing the good fortune I just received to have another chance at the match. I have to make him pay for his careless mistake…
Another deuce point later and my back is right up against the wall, facing another match point. I fight it off. Match point number 4 saved. I do this two more times, and after saving six match points in the game I get a game point of my own and capitalize, scraping by to get the hold and even the match at 5-all.
Descloix hits a couple big serves, I play a couple solid points, and we are at 30-all on his serve. He misses his first serve and catches me off guard with a second serve wide to my forehand. I step in anyway and take an aggressive cut at the return. Live by the sword die by the sword. I get a bit lucky as my return strikes the net tape, and dribbles over to his side, awarding me with a break point. 30-40. After a long rally, the Frenchman’s down the line backhand sails long, and I had the break of serve I needed in the third and final set.
I’m now serving for the match, a win over the six seed, a berth in the round of 16, and my first ATP point. Unfortunately, all these thoughts scurry through my head as I step up to the line to serve, and I play a sequence of very tight points once again. I find myself down another break point, 30-40. I’m noticing though that he is struggling with my kick serve up to his one-handed backhand. I use one to save the break point. Deuce. A long rally followed by an inside-out backhand volley winner awards me my first match point. Why mess with a good thing? I go back to the kick serve out wide to the backhand, and this time follow it in with a serve and volley. As soon as he strikes the return I know the ball is sailing long. I don’t even bother looking back. I let the ref call it out, and collapse onto the net, exhausted, relieved, and slightly in disbelief at the match I was able to weasel away from my opponent. I had done it! Fought off six match points, defeated the six seed in the tournament, and earned my first ATP point!
It was a match that I’ll remember forever. The twists and turns, the struggles I managed to overcome, and the joy I felt after finally obtaining my first ATP point. But now I have to move on, and prepare myself for my next match tomorrow morning, against another very formidable opponent. I’m on a mission, because now that I’ve got one point, I’m hungry for more…
Thanks for reading…