Hi, everyone. This is the first time I’ve ever done a blog, and honestly it is a bit embarrassing for me to do this because I don’t ever really like calling alot of attention to myself. It seems cocky, but hopefully I can say some things that people will find interesting about becoming a professional tennis player.
I just got back from spending last weekend in Boca Raton, FL at USTA National Training Center
for the USTA’s Pro Transition Camp. I got invited to do this as part of the USTA Summer College team. There were 12 guys down there, all really good players, along with our coaches Chris Brandi
(from Wake Forest) and Tony Bresky
(from Virginia). You can see a picture of us all below.
This is the first time the USTA has held one of these camps, and I was impressed at how much thought the coaches had put into what we were doing that weekend. Every aspect of the drills, the play, the workouts, and the meetings was completely thought out ahead of time. The four days we were there we got so much done because of that.
, USTA National Coach for Men’s Tennis, headed the camp, and he had a very clear vision for what he wanted to accomplish. Berger had spent some time on the practice court with Rafael Nadal at the French Open this year and his vision for the camp seemed to come from that. He told us how hard Nadal practices, hitting for an hour and half all out with only two short breaks. Players like Nadal have revolutionized tennis in terms of being physically demanding. You have to work hard because the game has gotten extremely physical. People are beasts out there. I will always remember what Berger told us: If you work your hardest and do everything right, you work hard every day, training and lifting and hitting, you MAY make it (no guarantees!). But if you don’t put the work in every day, you have no chance.
Because we were so busy everything is kind of a blur, but our days basically were to wake up and eat, then do a couple of hours of fitness in the early morning followed by fed and tossed ball drills for a couple of hours. Alot of us hadn’t done any tossed ball drills for a long time. That’s like what you see when kids are just learning to play. Even though it seems basic, this showed that having a strong foundation is vital when every small bit can be the difference between winning and losing. Everybody on tour seems like they have pretty good strokes, so a little bit better footwork or a little bit better fitness can make a big difference in the end.
After a day or so we started playing more live ball drills and sets where we had to do specific things like play the first two balls cross-court or only hit second serves. This really showed me the importance of practicing with a purpose, trying to do specific things, and recreating playing situations in practice, rather than just banging balls for a long time.
On the first day of training, Connor Pollock (from Texas A&M), Bradley Klahn (from Stanford), and I had the bad luck of getting put on Jay Berger’s court. He worked us harder than anyone the whole weekend. It couldn’t get harder than that.
Berger was helped on court by Hugo Armando and Leo Azevedo. Both are South American clay court specialists, that I think are part of Jose Higueres’s team. You probably know that the USTA has hired Higueres to help American players learn how to play better on clay, and to take the lessons from that and use them on other surfaces, too.
I will never forget the head fitness guy, Satoshi Ochi. A little Japanese guy (on the far left in the picture above) who ran the crap out of us every day. Not so much running sprints but doing tennis specific footwork drills that were burning, just absolutely killing our legs.
Off the court I roomed with Connor Pollock, which was cool. I knew he from juniors and we also had alot in common because he also just graduated from college. We stayed at a Hilton hotel near the facility, which would have been nice if we weren’t so tired every day when we got back there. I crashed out around 9pm most nights.
That’s all I have for now. I’m getting ready to fly to Rochester for a Futures event next week. I’ll write about that when I get a chance.