Just wanted to let you guys know how the semi-finals of the US Open National Playoffs went for me. The way I saw it, almost all of the pressure was on him to win since he was the top seed. I have been surprised with how well I have been playing recently, and it was time to just let it all hang out and do everything I could. At the same time, I was enjoying the tournament with such a fun setting.
My opponent, Jeff Dadamo, was a #1 player at Texas A&M, and was able to win the NCAA doubles title with Austin Kraijeck. On tour, he has won a few doubles titles, as well as being ranked in the top 500 for singles. I watched him play his match the other day, and he looked good. He plays a very aggressive game, with a huge serve. Whenever he gets a chance, he will go big on the shot. He has a one-handed backhand that he is content to chip a lot, but is capable of hitting big on that wing as well. To make matters worse, he is a lefty. I knew I would be able to be in the match with him based on groundstrokes, but the keys to having a chance to win would be returning serve, playing defense, and managing my own service games with smart play.
As the third match on yesterday, I was able to sleep in again, and take my time getting a good breakfast and lunch. I was able to sleep well and was feeling better, but my plan was to conserve energy. Normally, I would want to get a hit in, but I played well in my first match and the biggest issue was overcoming my recent fatigue and stress.
At lunch, I saw all kinds of house names around me. I ate next to Lisicki again — so hopefully she doesn’t think I’m stalking her or catches me taking pictures! I also saw Sloane Stephens, Cibulkova, Errani and more. My opponent and I talked a little too, he seemed friendly. We talked about a couple common opponents we’ve played, and how he will be at Harvard this year. I certainly wasn’t outsmarting my opponents these last two matches!
At about 3, I went right on court into the warmup. I expected a tough, quick and strong player and he definitely was. I picked up from yesterday and was playing very well the first set. Making almost every return and first serve, rallying consistently, moving the ball around and doing damage with my forehand. I won 6-2 and hoped to get off to a good lead again in the 2nd.
My heart has been heavy, and I have been so exhausted the past 3 weeks. But I have started to regain some energy and spirit, and have been practicing better lately.
We arrived at New Haven late in the evening Thursday, and after a good dinner I crashed for the night. I got checked in at the tournament sight — getting credentials, lunch tickets, parking passes, guest match tickets, booking a practice court and so on. Now all I needed to focus on was winning!
We ate some lunch in the player’s and coaches lounge, and saw many WTA faces that I have watched on TV. The main ones I could put a name to were Lisicki and Puig, who I ate merely 5 feet away from. It was all a very cool experience. I warmed up in the afternoon with a friend from Minnesota who just moved out this way! She actually played in the mixed championship here 2 years ago. We had a good hit and she was there to watch and support me play.
Finally it was match time, and we got golf-carted to my court. I was the last match on of the day against a player from Stanford, who also grew up in New Haven. He had a lot of fan support there! He played very well to start as I was feeling my way in, and I got broken in the first game. I played a great return game to get it back, and we repeated the whole sequence again. Fortunately, I started to play very well without missing and moving the ball around a lot. I was playing like I did in Thunder Bay where I felt really in control of everything. I took the first set 6-2 and held the first game of the 2nd set.