Champaign, Illinois

I’ve had a good week in Illinois. It’s been a week since I landed in Iowa. I just played in a wildcard tournament to get into the main draw of the tournament that I forgot to sign up for, and……… I lost. I lost to a very good player. It was a similar situation as my last loss in Iowa.

This guy was a very good player; someone I always considered to be better than me and he played for a big school with a major tennis program. It would be an understatement to say that I just “held my own” against him yesterday. I had many chances to take charge of the match and he is certainly not another level than me. I remember in the middle of the first set just smiling after realizing that these guys that I’ve followed for years are no longer better than me. In this match, my game was too up and down, and when I was on top of my game, he simply had no answer for it. The problem was that it was difficult for me to maintain the high level, probably because I’m simply not used to playing at that level for a long time, and because my opponent was a great player and an animalistic competitor. I have a very calm demeanor on court, but I can definitely take notes from the way he competes. Wow. I’m proud of how I played (even though I still had hints of complacency).


Also, Horacio gives me incredibly detailed and thoughtful notes. He texts me the notes because he knows tennis players need some time for the steam to come out of their ears after a tough loss.

Good news: I was given entry into the qualifying this weekend (for the tournament I forgot to sign up for), which is where I would be placed if I had actually remembered to sign up! Crisis averted. I’m glad I told myself not to worry about the mistake.

Bad news: No bad news. We chilling out here. Check back for updates. 😉


I’ve had great practices with Horacio here at the University of Illinois. These courts are so nice.


Today I found myself resisting help. Resisting help from Horacio, even though I knew at the time, and know now, it’s what I needed. If someone tells me to do something, and I already know the answer, I sometimes get annoyed and resist performing the solution. Or sometimes I’ll do it after a few instances. I’m stubborn. It’s a pride thing. I’ve always enjoyed being independent and sometimes see help from others as failures.  Especially when I’m tired or when I’m trying to prove something. But, I only tend to get annoyed if I happen to already know the piece of advice given to me.

My thinking goes like this: listening to advice from others’ means I did not figure out the problem on my own and thus, I failed as a self-sufficient person, student, or athlete.

I grew up resisting my dad’s help in almost everything. It’s pretty common for sons to say this, but I’m pretty sure that my instinct is still to do this, to this day. If I’m packing for a trip, I tell him that I can handle it. If, god forbid, he starts giving me tips on my tennis game (tips that I actually should use and incorporate into my game) and I happen to already be aware of it, I want to snap and cut him off.

In high school and middle school, if I needed some guidance from my mom with school work, I remember being so pissed and self-loathing due to my incompetence as an independent student. I wanted, desperately, to complete my work on my own, and show my mom proudly that I had answered all the questions on my own and that I did not need help.

I have become a lot better at asking for help and I don’t see this as a serious problem in my life. But, I’d like to get better at receiving criticism, especially if I know the answer. It’s not a complete waste of time to be reminded of a known, but useful tip. Also, I’m not a failure if I need others’ help to fix a problem, on or off the court. I wish I was less annoyed when this occurs, and hearing advice that I already know could be what I need to incorporate into my tennis game or life.

Another option would be to tell Horacio to be less frequent with reminders, but I know this is not the problem. If he gives me reminders, it means I’m not successfully doing it. Bottom line. I may know it’s the right thing to do, but at that moment, I’m simply not doing it. And the fact that I see this same pattern outside of tennis tells me that I should be more tolerant of advice just in general.

This situation, also, goes back to my instinctual feeling of self-consciousness. I have a problem with hearing advice that I already know because subconsciously, I tell myself that the other person will think less of me because I can’t handle the problem on my own. I do many things well independently and tend to nit-pick things that I do need help with. I know I don’t give myself enough credit for most things I do.

My dad, my mom, Horacio, and the employee at the Wendy’s drive-thru will not think any less of me if I don’t figure out everything on my own. Taking others’ advice is not a sign of weakness Benny boy.


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