I’ve spent over two weeks in Sardegna (I’m using the Italian spelling because I’m feeling a little extra pretentious this morning), which is an island off the coast of Rome. I had a travel nightmare getting over here. The flight from NY to Rome was great. I didn’t sleep one second of the over night flight, but it was still a great flight. We arrived in Rome, and we realized we’re scheduled to fly into an airport 4 hours away from our hotel. We change our flight to 12 hours later, so we could explore Rome. We were promised our bags would make the change with us. I thought Horacio was going over-board with the questions like, “Are you sure the bags will follow us?” He was skeptical, but he was ultimately right. Our bags came to our hotel 30 hours after us, which wasn’t a huge deal, but the amount of scrambling and tedious tasks the airlines made us do (which I won’t get into) made this fact so annoying.
I played my first main draw matches the first week. I lost my singles and doubles matches pretty routinely the first week, but I can’t say I played my best, which is okay because it was my first time on red clay.
Last week, I got my main draw win in doubles and boy was there a lesson to be learned. The match came down to the wire, where we won 10-8 in the third set super tiebreaker (for the non-tennis fans, the match was decided literally by the last couple points). The last 10 minutes of the match I was thinking “Holy shit if we win this, I’ll get my first ATP point”. Well, I’ll skip to the end, we won but I didn’t get the ATP point. I had to get to the semifinals and not the quarterfinals like I initially thought.
Getting pro ranking is something all competitive tennis players aspire to get, but there’s definitely a lesson here: You never really know what will be the best for you in the end. Or, things are not always what it seems. Or, what you think you want is not always what is best for you, maybe? Or, do you f***ing research Benny boy. I thought winning this one doubles match was everything I needed. Something that would give me what I wanted essentially. I did not get an ATP point. Fine. I’ll get over it, and truthfully, I believe I’ll get one soon.
But what I didn’t see coming is that I got a sense of belonging. In previous posts, I’ve talked about creating this attitude where I belong and I’m a force to be reckoned with. And I still believe that. But I got a sense where I’m no longer in anyone’s way or taking up space. I’m a player that has won a professional match, who deserves to reserve a practice court like everyone else ehre.
I’m playing my singles and doubles matches tomorrow on Tuesday. This week is my last Italian tournament, as I depart for Israel on Thursday, which I’m unbelievably excited for.
What I’m trying to keep in mind is this: I don’t have to do much. I came into this scene thinking I have to be a shot maker and be aggressive. The truth is players at this level are good because they’re animals: they are consisent, fighters, fit, and they give there opponent nothing. I will try to force things less– if I’m not comfortable pulling the trigger on the short forehand, I won’t. It doesn’t matter if it was an oppurtunity. My gameplan this week is to adopt traits of highly successfully players that I’ve seen. I’m not talking about turning into a 5 foot 5 baseline grinder, but I’ve realized what it takes to be successful at this level. More than anything, it’s competing and not giving your opponent any free points or openings.
With that being said, I feel like I’m playing well. I’ve been practicing with players inside the top 500 and it’s helped me learn these insights. They aren’t another level in terms of skill, however, they have shown me how I must compete and treat every ball like it’s my last.