First and foremost, my apologies for being not having updated you all lately. It has been a crazy start to the year and I have been trying to get my ducks in a row!
As many of you may or may not be aware, the ITF and ATP went through a structural reform at the beginning of 2019. The whole idea behind this restructuring was to provide more money in the pockets of ‘professional’ tennis players by trimming the amount of ‘actual’ professionals to around 750 in the world. This number used to be over 2000.
I will not dive into depths of the specifics because quite honestly they are a little bit confusing, but if you are interested in reading more, click here.
Unfortunately this new system has proven difficult for me. Since there are less tournaments being held, less people are taking weeks off and now the tournaments ranking cutoffs are a lot more difficult. My current ranking is 350ATP and I am not able to get into tournaments that I once was able to.
The good news is that I have matured in my thoughts and am just going to control what is in my control. I began working with a new coach, Dennis Nevolo, and we are just focused on moving forward and getting better every day.
Let's rewind three weeks. I was sitting in my living room watching TV, upset that I missed the cut to play in the Cleveland Challenger by 1 spot. As I was sitting on the couch, I received a call that someone pulled out of the qualifying draw and that I was the next one in. This call came at 1pm on Sunday and I would be playing my match at 10am on Monday.
I was a little reluctant to go at first due to the flight cost being $500 from Florida, with a layover and I would arrive at midnight.
However, knowing that my tournament opportunities are extremely limited, I booked the flight, packed my belongings and made the trek to -40 degree Cleveland. With no expectations set, I ended up playing some awesome tennis and made it to the Quarterfinals. The highlight of the week was securing a win over former #21 in the world, Thomaz Bellucci.
The following week there was a challenger in Dallas, TX. Once again I had no idea if I was going to get in. Luckily, 20 minutes before the withdraw deadline I got an email that I got in! I was incredibly excited because I knew that I have historically played well in Dallas and I was coming off a great run in Cleveland. Using my momentum from the previous tournament, I won my first two rounds and eventually lost to my good friend Bjorn Fratangelo, 7-6, 7-6.
These past two tournaments were a big learning experience for me. Coming in, I had no expectations and my back was up against a wall with all of the recent ranking changes. I knew that if I did not perform then I pretty much wouldn’t be able to get into any more tournaments and would have to go back to playing futures. I couldn’t let this negative thinking get the best of me, so I took the high road and just focused on playing my best tennis and enjoying the process. Its funny how strong your mind with a little kick & nudge in the rear end to get you focused on the right things.
Moving forward I am excited to play some tennis matches with this new mentality. Unfortunately, I do not know when this next time will be. For the next 1 to 2 months the tournament cutoffs look very difficult and I do not know which ones I will be able to get into. All I can do is keep my head held up high and rely on the support for all of you and my loved ones who keep believing in me.