I drove out to Claremont yesterday in the sweltering heat to sign in for the singles qualifying. It was 99 degrees at 6:30pm! It’s certainly going to be a hot week out there!
The draw was posted last night at 9pm and I am fortunate enough to be seeded 5, which means I received a first round bye and a day off on Friday. This came as great news as I felt like I really needed the extra day to work out the little kinks in my game and more importantly rest and rehab my bruised quadricep.
My long weekend of tennis started out well. I had a great practice on the newly resurfaced Cal Poly courts late on Friday afternoon, followed by a great Barbecue with my hosts Kip and Randy Dettmer. My doubles partner and I got up early on Saturday and headed out to Santa Maria. I played a guy by the name of Hollingsworth, a left hander. He had powerful strokes but lacked the consistency to put them in the court on a regular basis. I got off to a good start and never looked back. I won comfortably, 6-0 6-0.
After waiting around all day, my doubles partner and I finally took the doubles court. On the other side of the net was a shot at revenge for me. I was playing Ventre and his partner (I lost to Ventre earlier in the year in my first tournament back in a men’s open tournament in Palos Verdes). I got off to a blinder and didn’t miss a ball in the first four games. My partner and I capitalized on our early breaks of serve, held our own and sealed a comfortable victory 8-4.
Preparations this week for the Santa Maria Open have gone really well. I have been playing as many sets as possible and trying to get my mind into match mode. I have 4 tournaments in a row coming up — so it’s important for me to get off to a good start. My movement is improving more and more every day and I’m feeling confident about the next few weeks.
What’s interesting is that this movement change and my rediscovery of the split step has really helped to alleviate some of the pressure I feel during the points. I don’t feel as if I have to go for broke anymore. I can bide my time, move the ball around and set up the point.
I think too many players get caught in the trap of the never ending pursuit of perfect technique and ball striking, and forget the simple fact that they are trying to get the ball in the court, more times than their opponent. There have definitely been times when I have been guilty of this. Sometimes I’ll almost brainlessly swing for the fences and forget that I’m playing a game of cat and mouse. Fortunately, those days are over. I really enjoyed my week of practice, I was able to relax, play within myself, not go for too much and just play the game.
I’m on my way to Santa Maria right now. I play my first singles match tomorrow morning at 9:30 am. I’ll update you as I go. Enjoy the US Open action!