My dad and I. He’s going to help me with my game for the next couple weeks here in England.
Leading up to the first day of qualifying in Ilkley I had put in some hard work and had a few days of good practice. I felt as though I was hitting the ball well but still felt a bit tight and stiff in the knees and hips. I took the court feeling pretty confident, although definitely not totally at ease.
Unfortunately, what transpired was an absolute shocker. The first set I really struggled with my movement. I felt I was out of position for every ball. I wasn’t reading my left-handed opponent’s shots, and as a result I was just guessing on returns and short balls. I was serving and volleying fairly well but struggling to get any kind of speed behind my serve. My timing and rhythm was way off. I got broken early and never really came back. I fought as hard as I could, but to no avail. I lost the first set 6-4. Things didn’t improve much in the second set, and I went down 6-2.
Practicing on the grass, getting ready for the next tournament.
Following my match on Sunday, mentally I was in a bit of a bad place. I wasn’t thinking rationally and I was incredibly negative about everything. Honestly, when you’re on the road, in a hotel room, by yourself, it’s very easy to get negative. I felt like I had wasted a good opportunity and now I would have to pay for a hotel room for a week for nothing and just hang around and wait for the next tournament.
The grass courts that looked so appealing, but we were unable to use due to all the rain.
After practicing in London all week, I arrived in Manchester ready to hustle through three rounds of qualifying. Unfortunately, the afternoon before play started we were hit with a bit of a bombshell. Due to the rain and the cold weather, the groundsman felt that the grass courts needed a few days to dry out. Therefore, the qualifying rounds of the tournament were to be played on the synthetic courts.
The best way I can describe a synthetic court is terrifying. What they are is basically a carpet covered with a thin layer of sand. They are incredibly slippery. Unfortunately, I could only get a 30 minute practice in as there were so many players trying to squeeze a hit in on this foreign surface. I hoped that if I could somehow just get through my first two qualifying matches they might move play to the grass courts the following day.