I started my trip to Iowa with a cancelled flight and a early morning wake up at 4am the next day, but we made it successfully to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The tournament was in Iowa City and it’s absolutely surrounded by farmland.
The tournament was played at the University of Iowa tennis courts, and their facility is incredible. Saturday afternoon I played my first round in the qualifying. I won 6-3 6-0 in a pretty straightforward manner. He was a solid player, but I was able to break him, while holding my serve comfortably. Played a little too much defense in the first set, but overall, played well.
Sunday, I played a friend of mine who I practiced with twice last week. It’s always a little different playing a friend because there’s more to think about. But, the fact that I traveled across the country to play someone that I was with in Florida felt stupid, but that’s the way tournaments go sometimes.
I came out of the gates firing. Moving really well, and had a high first serve percentage. I was playing my game and it felt great. Very offensive tennis and moving to the ball quickly. Rosen took the first set 6-4.
My opponent that day was someone I always considered another level from me. Someone I admired and took mental notes on his game to incorporate it into mine. After the winning the first set, I relaxed. I took my foot off the gas pedal which affected my mentality on the court. I stopped being quick with my movement, which affected all parts of my game. First serve percentage probably dropped by 40%, forehand had less racket speed, and as my fitness coach Caco would say, “I was closing the net like I was running into the kitchen to grab some ice cream (not a good thing).” I lost the second 6-1. It was reported 6-0 but I could have sworn I got a game. Either way, it was over quickly.
I changed my socks, shirt, ate some fruit, and prepared for an absolute war. I went up 40-15 in my opening service game, and made two unforced errors to bring it to deuce. Just no urgency in my movement. After a few deuces, I got broken, which wasn’t good. The first game of the set is likely to set the tone and it’s pretty crucial.
He was running away with the set. I held my serve a couple times after that and so did he, and I was down 5-2. I eventually lost. My mind always defaults to focus on the negatives, but there was a lot to be proud of.
The first set was probably the best tennis I’ve played in a tournament. ever. I served using my new motion and got easy power with consistency. I played “big man tennis” where I had an aggressive mentality and really imposed myself. I was offensive and aggressive with my forehand. All of this was mainly just in the first set, but still. I know I’ll get used to playing at this level for longer, and this was only my first tournament after training for a while. I balled, and almost beat a player that I considered to be better than me for most of my career, and it allowed me to understand that I’m dangerous on the court at any level.
Ok let’s get er started…I mentally relaxed after the first set. I was complacent with winning the first set, and really wasn’t hungry for the next sets. I lost focus and stopped hitting my first serve consistency. I didn’t keep an offensive mentality and played more defensive than I liked. I had an overall wavering with my intensity the whole match. Lastly, I placed this guy on a pedestal when in fact I’m just as much of a force as he is.
I’m off to Champaign, Illinois today to play a tournament tomorrow. I forgot to sign up for the futures next week in Champaign. I’m trying not to beat myself up about it, but it’s a rookie mistake and I just got to accept the fact that I forgot. Anyway, I’m playing a wildcard tournament tomorrow in which the winner gains entry into the tournament. It’s 3 and a half hours away so it’s a grind, but it’s my only chance to enter the tournament, so we’re road tripping.
Also, just seeing great players around me has taught me a lot on what I need to work on. I saw other big players that move well and play great offensive tennis, and I realized the some of the steps I can take to become feared on the court at any level.