Hey, everyone. I just wrapped up my first event as a professional Sunday. It went pretty well.
I the singles, I won a round then lost to Vasilis Mazarakis of Greece pretty badly, 4 and 0. He played well but I could have played alot better. I had my chances in the first set but just didn’t come through. In the end, he smoked alot of people on the way to the title (won the final 2 and 0). I’m not sure about his whole tennis situation, but I read on Zoo Tennis that in 2005 he was ranked 115 in the world.
Marcus Fugate and I ended up winning the doubles on Sunday, 2-6, 6-4, 10-8 over my buddy from New York Bryan Koniecko and Chase Buchanan (Ohio State). We were actually down a set and 0-2/15-40 on our serve in the second. At that point, we realized that if we lost the next point, we were probably done, down a set and two breaks. So, we started focusing more and taking time to strategize each point. We realized that we were doing exactly what they wanted us to do, so we had to change it up by playing more aggressive, coming to net more, and playing away from their strengths.
At the end of the tournamnet, I had my first paychecks as a professional: $200 (and 1 ATP ranking point) for winning a round in the singles, and $315 for winning the doubles (Marcus and I split $630).
On to Pittsburgh this week. Monday morning I played in the final round of qualifying for the Pittsburgh Futures event and beat Viju George (2 and 3) to get into the main draw. Even though I just wrapped up the Rochester event on Sunday, I had already won two rounds in qualifying before I played on Monday. On Friday night I rode 5 hours from Rochester with Tony Bresky and a bunch of the college team guys to Pittsburgh to play Taylor Fogleman (UNC) on Saturday morning in the first round of qualifying. I won that match and was supposed to play Brennan Boyajian (also from UNC) Sunday, but I had the Rochester doubles final at noon on Sunday, so we both agreed to play our second round qualifying match Saturday. I beat Boyajian then rented a car and drove right back to Rochester. I got back to Marcus’s house at 9:30pm Saturday night. After the doubles final on Sunday, I got right back into that rental car and drove (with Jean-Yves Aubone) 5 hours back to Pittsburgh!
The funny thing is that I just missed getting a direct acceptance into the main draw of Pittsburgh. Austin Krajicek was the last person accepted based on ranking and I would have been next after him. That would have saved me two round trip drives from Rochester to Pittsburgh as well as three qualifying matches. It’s a big difference between a direct acceptance and having to qualify to get into the main draw. Hopefully I can keep earning points to improve my ranking and get more direct acceptances and just leave qualifying for the higher level tournaments.
Anyway, I’m here in Pittsburgh now and I play in the first round today against Blake Strode (U. of Arkansas), who got into the main draw as a “lucky loser.” The funny thing is, we’re rooming here together and before the draw came out we were joking about drawing each other in the first round. Sure enough, we were sitting together in our hotel room when the draw came out and just had to laugh when we saw it.
I think you can tell already that there is alot of work that goes into playing these events. We’re not flying NetJets between events, having meals prepared by our private chefs, or being chauffered around from our luxury hotels to the clubs. One of the nice things, though, is that there are alot of people associated with the tournaments we play who really want to help us succeed as professionals. At the club yesterday a woman came up to me and asked me if I needed housing. I definitely did, but I didn’t want to leave Blake behind at the hotel and told her that, but she said we could both stay at her house. So, Blake and I are sleeping in her basement. She’s been great — we had a BBQ for dinner last night and she provided breakfast for us this morning. We’re playing for such little money out here that saving on hotel and food is really helpful.
Only one bad note this week: Marcus Fugate and I won’t be playing in the doubles here because we forgot to sign in when we got to the tournament! Things were so rushed because I just drove in from Rochester on Sunday night and I was playing my last qualifying match at 10am on Monday. I just missed the Monday noon entry deadline for doubles. I won’t be making that mistake again soon.
I’ll let you know how things go in the singles this week when I can.