The warm up started with that all too familiar feeling. Heavy, lethargic legs, sweaty palms and a sudden inability to think straight – I was tight. While it was quite a rush to feel this way again having not played a match in what’s felt like forever, I unfortunately had the immediate problem of getting through the warm up without whiffing (completely missing) the ball and then attempting to win the match. Luckily towards the end of the warm up, through excessive bouncing around, I managed to get myself going.
I was playing against Brennan Faith, a big serving left hander from Southern California. Having not played a left hander in a long time this in itself brought up a whole new set of challenges. I had decided going into the match that if I won the toss I would elect to receive. I’ve done this quite a lot in the past as I’ve always felt like that first game is your best opportunity to break serve, as your opponent’s head isn’t quite in the game and his shots aren’t dialed in. Plus, I knew starting out I would be a little tight. My plan worked and I broke serve fairly easily. I made a lot of returns and hit the ball to big targets. My basic game plan was to be as solid as possible. I wanted to try to control my urges to go for flashy shots and simply try to be consistent while still being aggressive. For example, make a lot of first serves, hit a lot of returns up the middle, and try to be aggressive to a big target. This way I knew I wouldn’t be asking too much of myself and I’d give myself a little room for error and the inevitable tightness.