Mats Merkel: From the Australian Open 2013, Day 10

As the draw is getting smaller and smaller there are 4 matches today.

Two quarterfinals for the women and two for the men. First on Victoria Azarenka vs Svetlana Kuznetsova. A tight first set between the two where Kuznetsova was leading 4-1 but Azarenka came back to win the set 7-5.

1Victoria+Azarenka+2013+Australian+Open+Day+ZzowWJK8QqGlThen an unexpected result occurred when Serena Williams lost to Sloane Stephens in three sets 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. A great result for the young and upcoming American tennis talent! Congratulations and best of luck for the next round!

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At the Open with Kveta Peschke

WTA Tour player, Kveta Peschke blogs from the US Open.

Kveta Peschke gets ready to rip a backhand in this file photo. Photo by TW Staff.

Hello everyone! I am very happy to have the chance to write to you here on the Tennis Warehouse website. I love Tennis Warehouse and it’s been great to work with them together this year so far. We decided it would be nice and fun to give some insights into what’s going on here at the last Grand Slam of the year in New York…last but not least!

Right now I am sitting on a couch in the player’s lounge waiting for my first round mixed doubles match. I’m excited to get the match started soon because the wait is getting long! I am playing with Marcin Matkowski here. He is a very good doubles player, ranked number 6, his best ranking so far. I have played with him once before in Australia…we hope to play even better this time. We are both doing better in doubles since that time! I speak a little Polish so I think we will have fun on court!

I prepared myself well for this tournament because it’s an important one so that’s why I spend a lot of time on site. It’s the last big one of the year and I have lots of special memories from here from the previous years. So that means not too much time for fun in NYC yet but last night we went to Rue 57, a French restaurant, for dinner with friends.

Looks like the match before me is nearly done so I am going to warm up. Wish me good luck! I will write more tomorrow hopefully with some good news and photos!

Bye bye!


Pacific Northwest Championships

Andy gets ready to strike a backhand in this file photo.

July 27, 2010

Had a wonderful weekend this past week at the Pacific Northwest Championships at the Tacoma Lawn & Tennis Center.  The beautiful event is the second longest running open tournament in the United States, in its 119th year.

From the way the courts are set up you feel like you are playing at a pro event.  As you walk in, there is stadium seating on your right cascading down to six courts, all in a row, with sponsor banners everywhere, lining the fences on the court and the seating behind them.  On your left is a beautiful green grass lawn, with a hospitality tent for food and drinks, a player’s tent, tables for spectators to sit at, and two brand new cars being shown off by the title sponsor of the event.

The club is nestled right into the heart of the old Tacoma residential area, surrounded by gorgeous old homes and just a couple blocks from the water, and has such a classic, rustic feel to it.  It is maintained to perfection, and you can tell that the TLTC takes pride in their historic event.

As for the tennis, I had another good week on the courts.  When the draw came out I knew I was going to have a tough road ahead of me, but like I mentioned last week I knew how important it was to stay focused on the one match that was directly in front of me, and try to refrain from looking ahead.  I was seeded fifth in the main draw, and first round I faced a qualifier, Geoff Hernandez, a tough counter-puncher and clean ball striker who wears the purple of the University of Portland Pilots.  The 6-2 6-1 score was not indicative of the challenge of the match, but nonetheless it put me in the round of 16.

Two Boise State players loomed ahead of me in the next two rounds on Friday.  First up in the round of 16 was Filipp Pogostkin, the reigning WAC Freshman of the Year and an extremely tough and talented player out of the Seattle area.  I knew I was going to have to play a very disciplined and solid match, because I knew Filipp’s capability to get hot and start hitting every shot in the book.  When you play someone with that type of game you can’t let the way they are playing get in your head and bother you.  Sometimes they will come up with great shots and other times they will miss.  You must play percentage tennis with them and force them to beat you with the low percentage shot.  If they can beat you doing it then “too good”, but you’ve forced them to beat you when the odds are not in their favor.  Fortunately, I played a disciplined and smart match for most part, and won in three sets.

Next up that afternoon in the quarterfinals was Luke Shields, a two-time All-American for the Broncos and an excellent player with a big forehand and great hands around the net.  Coming out I knew he was a bit hobbled from a tough match earlier in the day, which turned out to be a big mistake.  Whenever your opponent is hurt, cramping, or whatever it is that might affect their level of play, you cannot fixate on it.  You must maintain your focus on your game plan and not assume anything about your opponent.  I thought I would just be able to run him around a little bit in the beginning and then maybe he would throw in the towel, but that kind of thought only turned out to be destructive.  Luckily, I won the first set 6-4, but then he seemed to only get stronger as the match progressed and he took the second 6-3.  I tried to regroup but still remained fixated on trying to perhaps expose his fatigue, but to Luke’s credit he never made it evident.  We held serve all the way through the third, and after I served out of a jam at 4-4, down 0-40 and triple break point, I ended up breaking him to win the match 6-4 in the third.

After the long day on Friday my Saturday morning semifinal awaited against the number one seed Roman Borvanov, a very experienced touring pro who has reached the top 300 and now sits currently at 645 in the world.  He’s a very solid baseliner who takes control of points extremely well and forces you to play a great match to beat him.  I knew I was going to have to take a little bit more risk than usual in order to keep him off the baseline and dictating play in order to have a chance.  He came out strong in the first set, and was serving for the first set at 5-4 when he threw in a couple mistakes and gave me a some chances.  I took them, broke back, sustained my level of play and won the first set in a tiebreaker.  I continued to ride the momentum into the second set, playing aggressive and serving big, trying to give him little rhythm and opportunity to dictate the play of the match.  I got my break in the second set at 3-2, and reached 5-4 where I had the chance to serve for the match.  To Roman’s credit, he played his best game of the match up until that point, broke me, and kept up his increased level of play which led him to a second set victory in a tiebreaker.

At this point, we had filled the stands and the local crowd was getting into the match, cheering loudly after every point.  The other semifinal that was going on next to us was just finishing, and so everyone huddled over to watch our third and final set.  With the crowd growing above and the tension rising, Roman kept up his high level of play early on in the third and got off to a 4-0 lead.  We played a long deuce game on my serve, and I ended up holding after what seemed like a half hour of going back and forth from deuce, and I let out a huge “Come on!”, half-kidding with the crowd at 4-1 down in the third, but also trying to rally myself and turn the negative energy that had built up inside me early on in the third into positive energy, trying to keep the fight going as long as possible.  We proceeded to hold serve for the rest of the match, and he finished me off 6-2 in the third, but not after a long, tough fight, a three and a half hour battle.  The TLTC crowd made it a special moment for me, giving us both a standing ovation following the last point of the match, along with another standing ovation as I walked off the court, exhausted and defeated after the grueling match in the summer heat.  I had given it my all, which is all you can ask for I guess, and it felt really nice to know that it was recognized and appreciated by the people there watching.  I was told later in the day by tournament staff that it was one of the loudest crowds they had ever seen at that tournament in all the years they had worked there.  I want to thank everyone in Tacoma for the beautiful event and the wonderful support, and it will be a match that I will learn and grow from, and remember for a long time.

I’ve been resting for the past 36 hours, letting the body and mind recover from the tough weekend.  My muscles were sore and all the emotion that goes into competing had drained me, but today I start preparing for the next tournament that starts this Thursday, the adidas Open Championships in Portland, OR.  I will be getting in two hits today, each of which will be about an hour and a half long, and a 20 mile bike ride to loosen up the muscles and get blood flowing again.  Tomorrow will consist of one longer practice session, and then tournament play begins Thursday night for me with our first round doubles match, followed by two singles matches on Friday.  Hopefully I can keep up my level of play and continue the success into the weekend!


Adventures at Crater Lake

Crater Lake is seen here.

Crater Lake is seen here.

Salem, Oregon

I arrived in Salem for my next tournament, the RDAdventure Summer Classic, where I am set to play in all three events; men’s singles, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles. I’ve spent the last couple days down in Medford, OR getting a couple hits in as well as some awesome hiking around Crater Lake, which was as picturesque and beautiful as anything I have ever seen. Shout out and thanks to my buddy Jon for letting us stay with him and his dog Brick.

My travel partner Jocelyn and I headed northeast from Medford on Wednesday morning to go check out Crater Lake, which is said to be the deepest lake in the United States and one of the deepest in the entire world, at almost 2,000 feet deep at its deepest point. The lake sits in a caldera, or large volcanic crater, that was formed by violent volcanic activity 7,700 years ago, when Mount Mazama produced such a powerful eruption that its cone collapsed in on itself and created this large crater in the earth.

Part of Crater Lake’s beauty is how you marvel and wonder how it was actually created, because it looks like no other lake you have ever seen. Steep cliffs cascade up along all sides of the lake, which are covered in snow for most of the year. Two small islands protrude up through the surface of the lake, produced from more volcanic activity after the caldera was formed. The water is a deep, dark blue color, and stands so still that it’s like a mirror, reflecting the snow-covered peaks that hug its shore. The dark blue color reflects the deep blue sky that defines a beautiful summer day in the Northwest, where the air is so crisp and clean and you can see endlessly in all directions. The immense pine and fur trees that survive in this harsh climate make the air fresh and crisp when you breathe it in.

I love the summers up here in the Northwest. Nothing is more beautiful than a clear summer day up here. The air is so fresh and clean from all the trees and constant rain that purifies it. When the weather is nice the sky is filled with a rich blue color, and the dark green of all the trees that surround you provide a wonderful contrast against the blue sky. The people are so nice, warm, and welcoming, and you can feel their excitement when they get these rare clear, sunny days. Their enthusiasm for exploring the nature around them seems to radiate from one another, and you fill with this positive energy just being in their presence.

Andy is seen on a hike with Crater Lake in the background.

Andy is seen on a hike with Crater Lake in the background.

Once at Crater Lake we decided to take a hike to take in all the beauty around us. The hike (if you can even call it a hike) that Jocelyn and I did to get up to the historic fire lookout on Mount Scott that overlooks Crater Lake was a story I’ll remember for a long, long time. As we entered the park, I asked the ranger about this hike we were planning on doing, a three hour ascent of Mount Scott that would take us to the highest point in the park, almost 9,000 feet above sea level. She informed us that though the trail was closed and covered in snow, people were still using it and assured us that we would have no problem exploring it and reaching the top. So we continued on our way, reached the trail head, and prepared everything we would need for the hike while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, the evidence of which I still have today as I keep itching both my arms every five seconds as I write this. We escaped the attack from the mosquitoes and set out towards the trail head, which pointed us in the direction of numerous mounds of snow that rest at the foot of the climb up the mountain. As we looked around, we couldn’t locate the trail that is supposed to lead us up to the top, so we just start walking towards the foot of the hill, hoping to find some evidence that points us in the direction of the trail. We walk closer and closer to the foot of the mountain, growing increasingly concerned that we are walking farther and farther away from any sign of the trail. And at this point, perhaps led by the lack of oxygen reaching our brains or perhaps our utter stupidity, we decide to ascend straight up the mountainside, with no need for a trail to point us in the right direction.

We start up the 1,500-foot face and the ascent began slowly. The ground consists only of loose rocks, some of which were small pebbles and some the size of basketballs, which would sometimes slide out from underneath our feet and tumble down the side of the mountain beneath us. It felt at times like we were on a treadmill as we tried to climb, as the ground would slide out from beneath us and stunt our progress. Eventually the mountainside became so steep that our hands were required for balance and stability, and we were on all fours climbing up the loose rocks and ice. It was so exhausting we had to stop every couple of minutes to rest, as our hands got sore and scratched and the muscles in our calves and quads burned. After two and a half hours grueling hours, we finally reached the top, and right as we did we laid eyes on the end of the trail that we were supposed to take to the top. But we just laughed at ourselves, sat at the top for a good 45 minutes or so, munching on trail mix, taking pictures, and taking in the incredible view from 9,000 feet, overlooking the incredible Crater Lake and what seemed like all of southern Oregon, as the Cascade mountain range loomed in all directions around us.

Following our Crater Lake adventure and two day stay in Medford we headed up north to Salem. The tournament director found housing with a member from the club for a couple friends and I in town. Special thanks to Mark and his family for being so hospitable and allowing us to stay in their beautiful home. Matches run throughout the weekend. Stay tuned for updates from the Northwest!


Definition of success…

Andy Gerst is seen here training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

Andy Gerst is seen here training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

Week of July 5th…

San Luis Obispo, CA

It’s been a great week of training here in SLO this past week. I have been getting in one or two practices a day, with drilling and practice matches, combined with a good lift, quickness and agility training, and conditioning drills. A special thanks to Hugh Bream and Mike Napoli who have taken the time and energy to work with me over these past two weeks, along with the months prior. They are great men and great coaches who pour their heart and soul into tennis and working with others…Thank you!

As I put more time and energy into my training and preparing for my upcoming tournaments, I have to define what success is. What does it mean to have success? Is it winning every tournament I play? I have goals that I want to achieve, for instance winning a Futures tournament in the next year, or ultimately playing in a grand slam, but am I only successful if I achieve these things?

It’s important when you set out to try and achieve something to define what success means to you, because success to one person does not necessarily mean the same thing to the next person. For example, in the recent soccer World Cup, they were interviewing a former German World Cup player and coach, and asked what the expectations were for Germany’s relatively young and inexperienced World Cup squad. The former coach responded by saying that anything less than a semifinal appearance would be viewed as a failure for the German squad. He said that this is the definition for success for Germans in the World Cup every year. In contrast, it was the US World Cup squad’s goal to reach the knockout stages of the tournament, or the round of 16. By simply reaching the round of 16, the US had a successful World Cup. Two different countries, two different definitions of success.

However, success does not always have to deal with outcome goals, or goals concerning winning and losing. In fact, by focusing all your energy on these types of goals, it can end up being destructive for your game. You cannot always have full control over the outcome of a match. We all have played matches where you play seemingly as well as you possibly can, and either due to your opponent playing extremely well too, or maybe some unlucky calls or conditions you still lose the match. Even when you do everything in your power to arrive at the outcome that you desire, it is still possible to come up short. You want to be able to have full control over your success.

Gerst is seen here hitting a backhand volley while training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

Gerst is seen here hitting a backhand volley while training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

This is why it is important to let success be based on your performance goals, or goals that you have total control over achieving, regardless of your opponent or practice partner, conditions, or anything else that can externally affect you. For example, our Cal Poly team last year focused on our A.C.E. (attitude, concentration, and effort) every time we went out on the court. These three things are always entirely in your control, and you can make the decision whether or not to allow outside influences to get the way of your attitude, concentration, and effort.

It can be very stressful and destructive when success is defined in terms of your outcome goals. You want to be able to have total control over your success, otherwise when you do everything in your power and the outcome still doesn’t go your way, your confidence and mind struggles to stay sharp and in tact. As I set out playing tournaments in the coming months, it’s important for me not to have my definition of success tied up in whether I win or lose. Instead, success to me is competing my best every match, giving myself the best chance to win by preparing my absolute best, and getting the most out of each new city and each and every day. These are things I have complete control over, and though my outcome goals are what drive me everyday and give me something to work towards, they do not define my idea of success. So when I step out on the court, either in competition or in practice, my focus stays internal on the things that I can control, and not on external distractions like the result, the opponent, the conditions, or anything else that I do not have control over.

I leave San Luis Obispo this Friday morning (July 9) for the Tracy Austin Doubles Tournament in Palos Verdes, CA. Check back for updates from the tournament!