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!
With rain through the evening, our semifinal match was moved up an hour and we started play at 8 am on Sunday. I was happy to be getting a re-match with the player that left me feeling terrible 4 years ago. He was hitting the ball pretty well, however (and I guess I don’t know a nice way of saying this) he is not in good physical shape anymore and I was working and moving him around pretty hard. I was in control of the points but was over-using the drop shot and trying to extend the points to wear him down. I actually ended up losing more points this way, and therefore lost a couple games more than I might have liked, but I felt it would still be the best strategy. Unfortunately, toward the end of the first set, after angling him off the court, he returned it and pulled up lame, possibly tearing a ligament in his lower leg, and he was forced to retire. I felt bad for him, as injuries are never fun. He was also really nice about noticing how much I have improved since we last played.
After a couple hours break, it was time for the final. I knew going into the finals that my opponent was going to be very tough. His playing resume proved that he was a solid college player — playing tight with the number one players at UCLA and Pepperdine, as well as a lot of good wins over top ranked NCAA players, and to top it off, he has played Davis Cup for his country, which shows his experience. There really is not a lot I can say about the match, as it was a disappointing display.
Another title under my belt after a fun and hot week of good competition at the Aquatennial Tournament!
Day of the SemiFinals
After getting up at 5:30am for a work meeting, I had my semi-final match at noon. It is starting to get really warm here in Minneapolis, as it was up to 97 degrees today!
My opponent was a college player who has been on the Wisconsin Green-Bay team. With a big serve and nice looking strokes, I knew I would have to focus especially on returning today so that it would not get too interesting, and that is exactly what I did. I played overall very well from start to finish, with the main factor being my returns both consistent and aggressive. From there, as well as after my own serves, I was finishing a lot of short balls with putaway forehands. It was pretty smooth sailing as I won the match 6-1 6-0. Lots of friends came out to support today along with a good sized general crowd, which makes this event more fun.