Claremont Qualies

Well, it was a tough weekend of qualifying but I managed to make it through. Thankfully I only had to play one match a day, anything else in the heat of Claremont would have been a real challenge. I got a first round bye on Friday, meaning that I started my qualifying campaign first thing on Saturday morning. I won my first and second rounds convincingly, 6-2 6-1 and 6-1 6-4 respectively. I played my final round of qualifying this morning. My opponent was Emmett Egger, a player from the University of Washington. On the line, a spot in the main draw and a little bit of revenge for me. Egger and his partner Kyle McMorrow had been the only team to beat my doubles partner, Andre Dome, and I in the collegiate regular season last year.

I got off to a great start. Serving big and really putting pressure on my opponents return games. I broke in the third game and never looked back. Although I was putting more pressure on him than he was putting on me, we both held serve for the rest of the set. 6-4 to me.

The second set was a carbon copy of the first. I broke early and then held serve convincingly to take the match 6-4 6-4. It was a great feeling to qualify without losing a set and an even better feeling to get some wins under my belt. Qualifiers get the following day off, so I’ll play my next match on Wednesday morning. The draw was just posted and my opponent is Marcos Giron, the standout from UCLA. Not the greatest draw, but definitely not the worst. My partner, Fabian Matthews, and I are scheduled to play doubles tomorrow afternoon.

I’ll let you know how it goes. I have to get back to watching the US Open final, Nadal up 4-3 in the third. Unbelievable tennis going on right now. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal really are taking our sport to new heights. It’s incredible to watch.

Enjoy it!

Matt

The beginning

Getting ready to embark on this long journey...very excited!

Getting ready to embark on this long journey…very excited!

Excited, anxious, nervous…it’s difficult to describe how I feel right now. At this moment I’m sitting at LAX waiting to board my flight, awaiting the arduous trip ahead of me -10 hours and 30 minutes to Paris, a 10 hour layover, followed by a 4 hour flight to Tel Aviv, Israel. From there, I need to jump on a train and catch a taxi to the tournament site in Herzliya.

My biggest concern right now is trying to avoid being exhausted when I arrive. I really struggle to sleep on planes and in cars. I suppose being 6’4″ doesn’t exactly help my cause. Considering that I arrive early Thursday morning and I’m going to have to practice Thursday/Friday and play on Saturday, I am going to have to find a way to get some half decent sleep somewhere along the way. Hopefully somewhere in the airport in Paris I can find a nice spot to pass out for a few hours.

Other than that, I’m feeling good. Overall, I’m very excited to finally be doing something I’ve wanted to do for so many years. On the confidence scale it’s difficult to say how confident I’m feeling because quite honestly I haven’t really tested myself yet. I’m just really looking forward to getting over there, getting my head in that competitive mode for the next 6 weeks and seeing what happens. The nice thing is that I have 6 weeks and 4 tournaments to put it together. In the past, it has always been a tournament here and a tournament there, which tends to create a lot of pressure and unnecessary nerves. So it’s all very exciting.

Anyway, my flight’s being called.  Time to go!  I’ll update you once I get over there…

Matt

Milos Raonic – The biggest server on tour

Milos Raonic's explosive game has catapulted him to a career high ranking of #14 this week.

All you tennis fans out there better get ready to welcome a new face into the ATP top 10 really soon. 21-year-old Milos Raonic is taking his game to new levels, reaching a career high ranking of #14 in the world this week, led by a world class serve, the likes of which is one of the best that we’ve seen in a long time.

The 6’5″ Canadian has had the best year of his career to date, moving from outside the top 30 at the end of last year to his current ranking of #14. He’s won two titles already and reached two more finals, doubling his  2011 efforts. Most importantly, he’s been good against the game’s elite. He’s 2-1 against Andy Murray this year, and even though he’s 0-3 against Roger Federer, the losses were 7-6 in the third, 7-6 in the third, and 6-4 in the third.

More impressive, however, is his service game and the statistics that he’s been putting up this year. He’s holding serve 93% of the time, which is tied for second highest holding percentage for a year since the ATP starting keeping these statistics in 1991. He’s the tour leader in aces with 921, which is already nearly 300 more than he had all of last year. He’s also won 83% of the points when he gets his 1st serve in, which also leads the tour,

In the infamous words of my former college coach Matt Anger at the University of Washington, “all tennis is is holding serve and breaking serve.” Raonic has turned into the most dominant server on the pro tour, which is putting more and more pressure on his opponents to hold their own serve. As Milos’ game continues to develop, I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t become even more dominant on serve, as well as utilizing his explosive game to become even better on his return game.  If he starts breaking even more, he’ll become an extremely dangerous player.

So what can we expect from the big serving Canadian? He’s got very few ranking points to defend through the rest of the year, and the rest of the season is going to be indoor hard court tournaments, which happens to be the conditions he’s most effective in. He had a long week in Japan, which resulted in an early exit in Shanghai, but look for him to use the extra rest this week to recharge the batteries for the rest of the year. I like his chances to crack the top 10 and maybe even make an appearance in the year end championships in London.

He’s got a ways to go before being a top 5 player, but as long as Milos Raonic stays healthy, he’ll be a staple in the top 10 for a good long while.

Click here to see Milos Raonic’s gear!

Thanks for reading!

Andy G.