I am writing to all of you from the other side of the pond - Glasgow, UK as I begin a four-week stint competing abroad in challenger events. This past month has been a very interesting one. From a results standpoint, April was not a good month, but the lessons that I learned from these losses actually made it an excellent month. I have been making great strides from a mental standpoint and now it's just about putting all of the pieces together as I get ready for a strong summer circuit push. This past month I found myself competing in Memphis and Little Rock Futures followed by Sarasota and Tallahassee Challengers.
Memphis $25k Futures: True Grit
Memphis is a very special place for me. It is where I won my first professional singles title and I have an amazing relationship with the Peeler family who takes amazing care of both Christopher and I when we are there. Coming into this tournament I knew that I was defending 27 points, if I were to lose, it would push me back pretty far in the rankings and this was bothering me for a while. In talking with my mental skills coach, Larry Lauer, and my everything coach, Christopher Williams, we were able to talk about accepting this outcome and taking the bull by the horns instead of running away from it. I ended up losing 6-4 in the third in a 3-hour match but it was probably the best tennis I have played in my entire career. I didn’t run away from the moment, instead, I embraced it and put everything out there. I was so incredibly proud of the way that I competed and produced. I had so much to lose but I played like I had nothing to lose at all.
Little Rock $25k Futures: Learn to Handle Adversity
In Memphis, I lost a match where I played very well, but this did not discourage me in terms of my prep for Little Rock. I knew I was playing well and I had a great opportunity ahead of me. I once again was blessed with amazing housing from the Jacoby family (Go Hawkeyes?), and I was ready to build upon the momentum from my Memphis match. Unfortunately, come match time I was not gritty. I had a large controversy with the referee in my match and it took away from my ability to compete. I was so absorbed in myself being “correct” that I completely lost focus. By the time I shook it off, I found myself down a set and a break. I eventually got it back to even but ultimately I ended up losing in a tiebreaker for the match. I learned that there will always be adversity in a match. If I lose because something doesn’t go my way then I should not be playing this game. I have to be able to regroup so I can focus on the task at hand and be great.
Sarasota $100k Challenger: Back on the Saddle
After a very disappointing match in Little Rock, I wasn’t going to wait another two weeks to compete. I had to get this bad taste out of my mouth. So I decided to fly back to Florida and play in the Sarasota Challenger. In hindsight, maybe it wasn’t the most professional move playing in 35 degrees and snowing Little Rock to 93 degree and sunny Sarasota, but my competitive juices were flowing and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to play in a $100,000 event just 1.5 hours away from where I live. I was lucky to be able to find housing very quickly and boy was it amazing! Thank you to the Krug family for opening your house to me. I wish I could have stayed longer but it turned out to be a quick trip. I lost in a tough 3 set match, but it was my first match on clay in over a year and it was truly a bonus week for me in preparation for the clay court season.
Tallahassee $75k Challenger: Love the Process
Coming into Tallahassee, I knew that clay courts were not my favorite surface to play on. Last year I was miserable playing on clay and I wasted a good two months complaining about it. This year I changed my mentality and viewed it as a training tool to improve vulnerable spots in my game. It’s crazy how changing the way you think about things can make such a big difference in your play. I ended up losing a tough match 6-3, 7-6 to the number 4 seed but I was once again very happy with how I competed. Thank you to the USTA for granting me a Wildcard into the main draw of the Tallahassee Challenger. I was honored and grateful to receive direct acceptance. Also, a MASSIVE thank you to the Willyoung family for once again providing my coach and I with some southern love and charm. I will be back for sure!
I continue to get better each and every day and I have 100% trust in myself and my team to have a great second half of the season. I have faith that if I keep putting myself in comfortable situations, it will make me stronger and I will prevail in the end. That is why I set off for a 4 week journey of tournaments abroad. I am in Glasgow, UK now and I will be traveling to Uzbekistan for 2 weeks and then coming back to the UK to play in a challenger to cap off my trip. I will be going to these tournaments solo and I am sure there are going to be days where I miss the comfort of home but I look forward to the experience. I CANNOT wait to write about my adventures abroad come next months June newsletter.