Hi, everyone. I’m in Rochester, NY this week at the USTA Pro Circuit Linda Bogdan Memorial Futures $10K tournament.
One of the perks of being on the USTA Collegiate Summer Team is the chance to get wild cards into the main draw of some of the USTA Pro Circuit events this summer. I got one for this week, which is cool because in 2007 my former Wake Forest teammate Todd Paul and I won the doubles here.
I’m really excited to be playing in my first event as a professional, but I also had quite a few things to take care of before I left Winston-Salem. I graduated in May, but I still had a German Lit course to take so I was in summer school, five days a week for all of June. I actually had to miss a few days of class for the Pro Transition camp last week and was nervous about telling the professor, but she was cool about it. She said, “I guess it’s like going on a job interview,” which it sort of is.
I also had to ask to take my final exam a day early so I could fly to Rochester on Monday. I spent all weekend packing up my room, studying for my German Lit exam, and spending some time with people at Wake. I was also trying to get my rackets and strings right because I’m changing both (more on that in another blog). So it was a busy weekend. On Monday, I went to class, took my final, grabbed my bags, and headed to the airport. I got in to Rochester around 9pm that night, finally done with school. That four years went by FAST.
Right now I’m staying with the family of my doubles partner Marcus Fugate, who grew up in Rochester. We are the #3 seeds, and because he is a well-known local player we will be playing our doubles matches at night on the stadium court. In our first match we played Steve Johnson (from USC) and Bradley Klahn (from Stanford) and won 6-4, 7-6. I was actually serving at 4-5 and love-40 in the second set and we managed to pull it out. In the second round tonight we played a couple of other guys I know really well from juniors and college, Reid Carleton from Duke and Austin Krajicek from Texas A&M. There are a lot of college guys out here in the summer time so that makes the tournament situation feel more comfortable, more familiar. Anyway, it was a good, tough match like I was expecting, and Marcus and I pulled it out 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 (10-7). We were actually down 6-4 in the match breaker, and won 6 of the next 7 points. Felt good about that. Tomorrow we play in the semi-finals.
In singles, I drew the #2 seed, Michael Quintero from Colombia, who is #438 in the ATP rankings. Tough draw. He’s been as high as 250 in the world. But as the match got going I knew I could beat him because I was up 4-3 and 40-15 serving in first before I ended up losing it. When I got down a set and 3-1, I just tried to play a little more aggressive, taking the ball earlier because I could see that I wasn’t going to be able to wear him out. I ended up winning 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
In each of my three matches I have had moments when I was behind and ended up coming back, even when I have a blister on my foot, rash on my legs, and a stiff back. I think this reflects my new attitude toward tennis. I know in every match I have to dig deep because this is it for me — this is my job, this is what I do for a living. I am playing for a paycheck.
As my college career was wrapping up and I was thinking about becoming a pro I realized that it is not just about playing your match on the court that matters. Its the stuff that you do before and after the matches that make the difference. For example, after my tough three set match today, the old me would have finished the match and sat down right after and had lunch. The new me knew I had to be a professional, so I hogged for a mile after the match and stretched out for a good while after that. I know that helped me with my doubles match tonight and will help me in my singles and doubles tomorrow.
OK, it’s late and I have to get some rest. Hopefully I’ll have more good news tomorrow.