I played two tournaments here. I was initially scheduled to play three, but I dropped out of the last one. Well, I never got in. I’m #15 on the alternate list. I was planning on signing in and seeing if anyone dropped out, but truthfully I’m exhausted.
First Tournament: Herzaliya, Israel
I played a fellow American first round. What are the chances. I fly around the world to play an American who actually played division 3 college tennis like me! Crazy. I won pretty routinely 6-1 6-3. I didn’t know I had to play a second match the same day and it was HOT.
I played a Lithuanian who had ATP points. I came out of the gates feeling stiff and maybe even a little tired. I lost the set 6-1.
The second set I go down a break and it’s looking like a routine bulldoze session. But I start to just play solid with no errors. I started to play loosely and he began to become frustrated.
To get ahead, I completely altered my game style. It’s funny. I stopped trying to hit my first serve fast. This guy was a good returner. I was essentially trying to lull him out of his game. I was serving slowly on purpose, like slower than my second serve. He began to give me short balls. I was confused, but was not complaining. He returned well when I hit my usual first serve, and maybe he was not used to a change of pace. Any way, I started to throw in junk-shots with a lot of slicing and even giving him short balls. He was thrown off. I go up 5-2 after a few incredibly long games.
He then held serve– I made too many mistakes off the return. Then, I failed to hold serve– my mind was just wandering. I started to question what I was doing well. I was thinking about why I was winning and I was like, “I have no clue”. Maybe that was mistake. I should have just stayed in the moment and continued what I was doing well.
Long story short, I lost the match 6-1 7-5. I got tired. Lots of positives to take out of the match.
Second match: Ashkelon, Israel
The next match was down south, closer to Gaza and Egypt. There were several bomb shelters at the tennis club, which was a little nerve-racking.I played a Swiss dude first round. He was the fifth seed in the qualifying, which isn’t a great draw, but the guy certainly was not unbeatable.
The first set was an absolute war. It probably lasted an hour, which is a long time for one set. The first few service games I faced break points, but I held tough. I was serving great and powerfully. I was serving for the first set and…. got broken. This is something I can’t stand; out of all the things in tennis, not holding serve (for a tall dude) really frustrates me. But, I held composure and forced a first set tiebreaker, where I failed to win a single point. TOUGH.
By this time I was a little disappointed, but more tired. I shouldn’t have been tired, but I was. It was a scorcher out there and I was probably feeling the effects of it. I lost the second set 6-0. Besides some mental lapses, the single reason why I lost was because of my fitness. This something I’ve had to learn before. The red clay exposed my fitness and now its hot climates. I’m a bit embarrassed honestly. I’m a pro tennis player, and I’m feeling Charley horses in my legs. I am forgiving myself, but it’s something I’m going to improve. My future objective: a combination of improving my conditioning, and scheduling tournaments to cater to my strengths.