2003 Fred Perry Cup


THE JOURNEY BEGINS…May, 2003

I have started to fire up my competitive rockets for a new journey that will conclude in Germany in August. At that time I will,again, be representing the USA in our team quest to win the Fred Perry Cup. This 50 and over event is called the Veteran’s International Team Championships, a/k/a the Senior Davis Cup. This will be my third time on the team in the 5 years I have been eligible. The first year, as a rookie, I played with stars in my eyes. I couldn’t believe I was on the team. Last year, I knew I belonged but never really got my confidence until the last couple of days of playing. This year I will be the veteran member of the team, the only one of the four players who has competed for the Cup. The USTA has appointed me captain of the squad. I will no longer have
the luxury of focusing on my preparation and play. I will have to be a leader, make lineup decisions and be on court to coach the rest of the squad during their matches. It is an honor to be put in the position of being the team leader. It also presents new and different challenges. I will need to be more focused than ever if I am to succeed both on and off the court.

I call it a journey because I have quite a ways to go from the level of my last play to where I have to get to in order to be able to compete against the very best senior players in the world. My loss in the round of 16 at the
National 50 Indoors in March marked one of my weakest efforts in several years. I went into the event with unremarkable goals and a body that wasn’t ready to compete. I was overconfident that my play of the prior year would carry me through against a field that I underestimated. My play was unisnspired and my disappointment wasn’t deep enough. I started thinking that I might have had enough of all of this competition. After all, it has been twenty years since I started to compete. I considered that my mind/body couldn’t take it anymore. I
thought that the thrill of competition had worn off. Even while thinking this way after the Indoors I felt pretty certain that I was just defending against the feeling of disappointment that I had not really given it the right effort.

Fortunately I got a call to play for the Eastern 45 and over team in an intersectional match. Not only was I asked to play, but I was told I would be playing #1. This would probably be my last 45 and over competition. I had three
weeks to get ready. During the three weeks my interest came and went. I didn’t know if I really had it in me to do the work. I started to question whether I should go to Germany. It is amazing what self doubt can do.

A couple of my Eastern tennis playing buddies, teammates on the 45 team encouraged me to get out and practice. I felt signs of the spark and interest. When I would feel the spark I would be playing pretty well. If not, well, I was kind of lifeless and uninterested.

ATLANTIC COAST 45 CUP…May 17-18

Happy to be playing and seeing a lot of the buddies that I have met over the years of playing team matches. Many of us have played against each other since the 35s. Our opening match was against the Middle Atlantic team. I had played and beaten their #1 a couple of times, so I was pretty confident that I would win. Many of the players were congratulating me on my year of playing. My confidence and their comments all went to my head. I figured that all I needed to do in my match was keep the ball in play and I would find a way to win.
Unfortunately, my oppenent had the same idea and was better at just playing steady than me. I am at my best when my feet are moving all the time in between shots and I am looking to be aggressive at the first opportunity. On this day, though, I was playing flat footed and rarely looked for the chance to attack. I kept playing a losing strategy and my opponent was rock solid. He got the win, 5-7, 6-2 ,6-2. I definitely was upset with my play and, that night, determined that the next day, when we would be playing the finals against New England, I would bring my intensity and game to the court.

I walked on the court on Sunday ready to battle. My energy was great. My interest was high. My intent was to compete for every point. I was clearly on my way to finding my game. I started out a bit too complacently, sensing that I could outlast my opponent, but at 2-2 of the first set I realized that I was close to falling into my pattern of my previous match. I rededicated myself to moving my feet and looking to attack at the first opportunity and I won easily 6-2, 6-2. I was pleased with the way in which I straightened myself out. My match was just a small part of the day. The team needed to win four of the seven matches to win the Cup. Our #2 singles finished with a win just before me, so we were up 2-0. Our #3 and #4 singles were in battles and we dropped #1 doubles. It was close. Happily, #4 pulled his out and #2 doubles came through. Victory to the Eastern team. It is special to play tennis on a team. It is rare that we truly get to pull for the same people that we are often competing against. Each of us got to drink champagne from a beautiful Cup and our names will be
engraved on the Cup and will remain there forever. It was especially nice for me being that it is probably the last time I will play on this team.

GETTING DOWN TO WORK…The week of May 19

So I am feeling more motivated. Feeling that excitement of working on my game. Looking at the parts. Finding newness in my mental approach. I am clear that I want to feel the level of confidence in my shots, movement and strategy that makes the game so much of a focused experience. I will be working on keeping my shots really deep, on locking in my serving rituals, on opening the court up with my forehand (this is new for this year), on attacking on service return and on playing courageously, unafraid to make an error when being aggressive. Just writing about it fires me up. I practiced with one of the 45ers today and found that I was playing
differently that during the Cup matches. Instead of trying to win, I was working on my game. Those parts that I had planned to work on were right there on the court with me. I wasn’t always executing (how could I be with so little time playing over the last few months) but I was in the hunt. When I missed, my correction would relate to the tasks that I had set for my self. I felt positive. As the playing session when on, I saw some of the early fruits. I lost the first set but toughed out the second by winning me serve after being down love 40. This is always something that gets me incredibly juiced. I start to believe in myself. Today it was a turning point. I started to adjust my tactics to break down my opponent and I sprinted to the end of the practice session by winning the last five games of the second set. It was enough.

I have accomplished step #1….I can’t wait to get out there again. I pulled out the Eastern tournament book and selected three tournaments to play in the month of June. Hey, Fred Perry Cup, look out. Here I come to bring you back to the USA.

One Month into Preparation…The Week of June 16

Well I have been steadily progressing in my preparation for the Perry Cup. Sometimes I think I may be overly focused on an event that is so far away although that attitude usually has me looking at an event that smacks me right in the face before I know it. I find that you can never start thinking about what you want and where you are going too soon or too much. Having this much time allows me to add parts to my training slowly, so as to avoid the frustrations and injuries that are often a result of cramming. the flip side is that on many days I feel that I am not doing enough or I am not progressing fast enough. It certainly is a delicate balance. If I wait too long I put too much pressure on myself or lose motivation. If I start too soon I question whether I am working hard enough.

As is often the case with me, I think way too much about future results during my preparation phase, ie winning the Cup, rather than processing those things that I need to be doing well both on and off the court. By writing I am able to see these weaknesses in my approach and to make the necessary adjustments. In a practice match the other day against a very steady 45 and over player, I got very frustrated with myself for making silly shot selections. I started thinking, “I can’t be hitting shots like that if I am going to win in August.” It didn’t help and I ran a streak of very bad points. In fact I lost 13 points in a row at one stretch.

Part of finding my game is facing the truth about myself. Recognizing that I am thinking too much about the future results is the first thing that sets me on the right path. It has often been said that we learn much more from our failures than our successes. That being the case I am fortunate to see my weaknesses at this point in getting ready. One of my competitive challenges is to time this whole experience just right…to be involved in the process of playing good tennis and to be free of concerns about results by the time I get to Germany. I feel certain that I will find that timing.

My overall game is progressing nicely. Physically I am feeling more and more fit every day. Each day I do something, whether it be practice, bike, treadmill or specific movement exercises. I am not compulsive about it. I just do a little each day. This keeps my mind tracked in on my goals. The Cup is never that far from my consciousness. I am playing well, although I may not be challenged quite enough in my practice sessions. I need to play more people who will beat up on me. If not, I will develop a false sense of confidence, something
that will trip me up when I meet a very tough opponent. I am playing a 55 and over tournament this weekend with a couple of 45 and over events coming up in the next month or so. The 45s should be a good challenge for seeing how far I have progressed since the team match I played a month ago. One thing is for certain…I am really into it.

Week of June 26

I feel like I am really on track this week. Some obvious playing ideas have crystalized. I am now sure that running every ball down and getting each shot back deep is the way I need to keep playing. My overexcitement about getting back to competing manifested itself in overexcited shots. I had been trying to do way too much with each shot. I am clear, at least for right now, that I can use my speed to play patiently and to look for opportuinities. No need to force them. If they aren’t there I can always postpone and look for another chance. This is a very freeing experienceon the court. Eliminating the fear of the other player being able to win the point at will takes a lot of pressure off. Over the next few weeks I can work on developing specific weapons to use in specific situations. I will start to work on the patterns that will force my opponent to play into these situations. Today when playing, each shot I hit had a purpose…to keep my opponent from winning the point, to get me out of trouble, to develop the point, to apply pressure and, ultimately, to give me a chance to end a point.

I made a big step this week on my serve, as well. I have slowed down before tossing. I am taking the time to visualize the serve I am about to hit. I am staying ritualistic, always bouncing the ball the same number of times, taking a deep breath before initiating the toss and looking into the court the same way each time. There is a feeling of certainty about what I am doing when I prepare the same way each time. The more I do something the same way, the better I get at it. Of course, I have to make sure I am doing somethng that works for what I want.

July 13 One Month to Go

Have really kicked into gear, doing on court training five days this past week. My motivation is very high, so doing the work comes easily. It doesn’t matter if it is hot, humid or raining. I look forward to my game developing a little bit each day.

I was inspired by seeing Roger Federer playing such relaxed tennis during the second week of Wimbledon. He, as many great athletes, provided us with a glimpse of what they do that contribute to extraordinary levels of play. When he completed his run to win the title he said that for the last two years, since he beat Sampras at Wimbledon, he has been struggling to live up to his own and other people’s expectations that he was the new greatest player. He decided before Wimbledon started that he was going to simply relax and enjoy the experience. He apparently was able to do it because he seemed to be playing completely within himself, with no pressure to overextend himself. The result was that his mechanics, tactics, emotions and spirit were all perfect.

Seeing this helped me become more aware of how “hard I am trying” on each shot…probably too hard…and that I can truly dial it down and be much more effective. This is ongoing for me for I tend to think, instinctively, that if I
am not working really hard, then I am not doing enough. When I start to do what feels like enough, it is, in fact, too much, and I start to break down.

So all week I was staying aware of relaxing and having a good time. Playing within myself. Letting myself fall into the flow and absorbing my opponent’s shots rather than being overly-aggressive and trying to hurt him with each shot. Patience feels great.

I needed to doing some spiritual work too. This involved making a decision to relax some of the “win the Cup” pressure that I have put on myself. I realized that playing for the USA is a gift and something that is an experience to truly enjoy and I am committed to doing just that.

Some of the high points of my week of practice: feeling completely energized while and after playing a two hour practice match on a very hot and humid day; working out for doubles for 45 minutes on just returning serve with my backhand, developing the a return that will get me to the net quicker; an amazing set in which I went down 5-1, fought back to 3-5 and while serving that game fought off 6 set points playing without fear. I won that game, lost the set in the next, but still felt a huge win.

This week I will do more work on staying relaxed, being purposeful on each shot, serve location and spin and more backhand service returns.

My goal continues to be to be a little better today than yesterday. As long as I can do that and let the winning/losing take care of itself I will be playing good ball when I arrive to play.

July 14-20

Workouts this week are showing the fruits of the last few weeks’ labors. Played two strong sets on Monday against a very steady 45 and over player. I got much more in touch with dialing down my intensity. There was too much tense in my first set intensity. I was trying to do way too much with each ball and found it difficult to maintain consistency. As a result when we got into a tiebreaker I was too edgy and made a few bad selections to lose the set. I had a short talk with myself and rededicated myself to relaxing into the game. Even though it often felt like I wasn’t doing enough with each ball, I became much more consistent and broke my opponent down. Doing less I won the second set easily at 6-1. So important that I continue to play within myself even though I keep thinking I can do more. It just isn’t necessary and just creates earlier breakdown in mechanics or shot selections.

Tuesday I did a full hour of returning serve drills for doubles with a fine Colgate player. I am progressing on my task of getting in behind my return.Spoke to Mike Zim, who was a great doubles player at Harvard and on the tour. He gave me some terrific new insights into doubles tactics. There are so many people out there that can provide great information and I need to remember to go them for advice.

I did a presentation on Focus for a ladies club team and heard myself say a few things that were great reminders for me about my own focus. I was stressing over and over again, for them, the importance of being relaxed and enjoying the playing experience. I told them of Billie Jean King telling me to keep reminding all my players that “it is not about the trophies…it is about the playing, the challenges, the relationships, the discoveries…” When I said to her “that is easy for you to say…you have won 20 Wimbledon titles.” Her answer
was “that is just why you have to trust what I am saying. I have been to the top of the mountain and I have seen that it is not that big a deal. It is the journey to the top that is meaningful.”

I certainly intend to listen. I played a few doubles exhibitions this weekend and played totally fun tennis. I am truly the player that I want to be when I am in this playing mode. This continues to be my goal.

July 21-August 2

Spent some time during this stretch with Peter Fishbach. He was the greatest high school player in Nassau County history and went on to become an ATP Tour coach. I picked his brain about doubles service return theory. He helped me clarify what it means to “go for the return,” something that I am trying to do more often. He pointed out that when you play aggressively on the return, you have made a choice to miss more…and that is ok. So my attempts at being able to be aggressive and not miss very many returns was bound to fail. I am free
now to go for it without the fear of missing.

It is helpful to remember that there are always people out there who know more and can help.

During this stretch I have started to feel very solid with my game. I have been playing both singles and doubles so that I am prepared to play either when I finalize the lineup next week.

In singles I have managed to get myself into a patient and opportunistic mode of play. I am playing within myself when my opponent does not give me the pitch that I want. I am alert to the possibility that, at any moment, I will get the ball I want. It is then, and only then, that I am attacking. There is a security in knowing exactly what I am trying to do in the point. I will maintain this mode as a way to stay relaxed and focused.

I am ready to go. Ready to play. Feeling eager, confident and focused.

We arrive in Germany on August 7, practice for three day and then go for the Cup. There will be 20 countries competing for this championship with Spain, Australia, Germany, England and USA being the favorites. There is no guarantee, though. Our Davis Cup team remembers how, two years ago, Roger Federer singlehandedly won a Cup match against the USA team. We know that there may be a great player from any one of the other countries that could win at singles and doubles every day. We must stay alert and avoid team overconfidence. As the captain of the team, this will be my job.

I consider myself lucky to be playing and sharing this extraordinary experience. All the work over the years has led to this opportunity. I have worked hard over the last couple of months and have prepared effectively. I have gotten myself to a place, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually that will give me the best chance to play well and to help the team.

It is my intent to continue to send email journal entries when I am away assuming I can get easy access to the web.

Aug 2 afternoon

A quick followup from today’s practice sessions…played good friend and great player Adam Rosen who absolutely took me apart. I was impatient, overhitting, being non ritualistic on my serve and, generally, not doing anything that I had thought that I had solidified in my game.
GREAT REMINDER…DON”T GET LAZY MENTALLY OR OLD HABITS QUICKLY TAKE ROOT!
Better that it happened today and not next week. Tomorrow’s practice session will give me the opportunity to rededicate myself to working hard and taking nothing for granted.

THE DAY BEFORE LEAVING

I have played hard for 20 of the last 22 days. I am ready. I am moving well, getting to every ball and have gotten back to making myself a tough opponent to win a point against. I am still making a few too many errors in specific situations such as on 2nd serve returns (I am a little too casual) and forehands on the run (I am going to improve my positioning). I need to serve more into the body and continue to use my pre serve rituals so that I am taking my time.

I am going to rest my body, process all of the info that I have gathered about my game , make decisions and choices that will help me play good tennis. I look forward to the challenges in this game of me vs. myself. I am psyched. I am eager. I am ready.

hello all from bielefeld germany

we arrrived late on thursday after a very long a hot trip. we had a 10 hour layover in paris. carol and i spent several hours walking around the left and right banks in 105 degree weather. it was brutal. europe is in a terrible heat wave. a/c has been cut back all over including the airport. but we finally made it with another flight and two train rides. bielefeld is delightul and the germans are wonderfully hospitable. the food is excellent. the weather…that is another story as it is reaching 95 every day.

the team is made up of neal newman of columbus ohio, fred robinson of north carolina and jamie pressley of palm beach florida and me. i have been glad to seem many familiar faces from the international tennis scene. friends i have made from polaying this event the last few years feel like old friends. the bonding with players from south africa, france, austrailia, israel, germany, sweden and on and on. it is a special experience. we all share a wonderful passion for tennis and competition that is special. we all talk about how lucky we are to be participating in an event such as this. the whole city is excited about this event. bielefeld is hosting the Fred Perry Cup for 50 and over and the Dubler Cup for 45 and over. the american 45 and over team are good cronies as well and we are pulling for each other.

my teammates and i have been dong two a day practices at Tennis Club Dortmund. it is a wonderful club that has all of the amenitites. well, not really…no soap or shampoo and towels that feel like sandpaper. tennis balls are $13 a can…well at least they give you 4 balls in a can. the beer flows in the clubhouse like you cannot believe. by the way the beer is locally brewed and delicious. the courts are the famous euorpean red clay and very very dry becaus of the hot dry weather. footing is terrible and players are searching the city for sneakers that offer better traction. as for me, i like bad footing and crummy conditions so i am ok with it. the first day of practice was awful. i thought that my game had abandoned me. it was not that, though, it was simply no legs
from the long trip and feeling exhausted. by today, day 3, i am feeling good on the court and ready to go.

i have a captains meeting tonight with the ITF (internationa tennis federation) to present lineups and, make the team seedings and scheduling. i met with my teammates today and we discussed who should be playing our two singles matches and one doubles. each of us is good enough to be playing first singles but only one of us can be listed in that position. i heard everybody’s opinion and made my decision based on all of the input. i have put pressley at 1, me at 2, newman at 3 and robinson at 4. Robinson is def. our best player and putting him at 4 gives me the most flexiblity to play him at #2 or doubles. i can play 1 or 2 or doubles. pressley can play only 1. we will trade off at singles a bit. i don’t know who we paly tomorrow in the first round yet but will go with pressley, robinson aat singles. newman and i will play doubles. we need to win 2 of 3 matches each day in order to win our flight to advance to thursdays quarterfinals. the best teams are spain, australia, england, germany, france, and usa.

all of our wives are with us and provide remarkable support and our infintely patient with our endless tennis stories, dirty laundry and an occassional massage for our physical complaints, of which there are many.

the team has bonded teriffically. we eat all meals together, hang out and help each other out with plying suggestions. how very different than he normal tennis experience.

first match tomorrow at 11:30. the format is that we get one court and play in order #2 singles, followed by #1 singles, and then the doubles so we all watch each other. i will be on court to captain and coach my players during their matches, another aspect that is different. coaching is allowed and is a huge benefit. we are all used to being alone out there when playing. in this event, as in davis cup, we can receive the benefit of an on court coach.

you may be able to find the results at www.itftennis.com. the link would be cups and compeitions, veterans, and we are the Fred Perry Cup. i will attempt to write after each day but it appears to be tricky to get a computer each day.

go USA!

NIGHT BEFORE THE COMPETITION BEGINS

at sunday night’s meeting, the seedings were determined and we were #4 of 6 seeded teams: spain, australia, france, usa, germany, austria. next in line but unseeded was great britain. we had a bye on monday and had our first match today, tuesday, against the brits. they were anchored by one of the finest individual players at this event. for us this was not a happy prospect. when i reported to my teammates who we would be playing for our first match everybody got overly focused on how tough it would be. i stressed for all the importance
of just going out and concentrating on our games and playing good tennis when the time came.

on monday night i discussed lineup with all and decided to put myself at doubles. we had pressley, a super clay court master at 1 singles and robinson, our youngest player at 2 singles. to win the match it is necessary to win 2 of 3. i put myself at doubles with newman, the finest sr. doubles player in the usa.

robinson won easily, 60 64. pressely went out to play the great British player and lost a
2 1/2 hour marathon 62, 64. the doubles would now be the crucial point to determine the winner who would advance. feeling that robinson was a far superior doubles player to me i made a last minute change in lineup and put him in to play with newman. it was a difficult decision because i am here to play and wanted to be out there. but it also felt like the right decision for the team. alas it did not pay off as the brits won the dbls 75 62. i felt like the loss was mine. i know what it feels like to be the manager or coach of a team. if the team wins, it is the players. if the team loses it is the coach whose head rolls. i have been second guessing myself for the last hours. my teammates all supported the decisions and that feels good.

this takes us out of the running for the cup this year but we still have a match against mexico tomorrow followed by at least two more matches in the second level flight. i must motivate myself and my teammates for tomorrows match. we are from the usa and we are accustomed to success. our goal will be to win our remaining matches and to hold our heads up high.

last night, the opening ceremonies were held at a fifteenth century castle. it was an extraordinary experience with all teams wearing their nations colors and, as captain, i got to hold our flag when the national anthem was played. it was moving and i felt pride at being an american. the israeli players wanted to take pictures with our flag and me. the argentinians wanted a picture with me as well. they said they wanted to bring home pics of teir team and the captain of the most powerful country in the world. carol of course was moved to tears. as i looked around i realiyed how far i have come as a player, standing with the top 4 players from 18 countries from around the world. i was aware last night that regardless of what would happen on the court we were all winners and will never forget it. the relationships that i have developed by playing on this cup team for 3 of the last 4 years will stay with me forever. i have made friends from spain, france, germany, israel, australia, england, ireland, and on and on. we all talk of making sure to visit one another in the future and i am sure that we will.

a local family has been assigned to be our hosts for the week and we are off to their home for dinner tonight. they are opening their home to both our 45 and 50 and over teams as well as wives. incredibly hospitable.

there will be more to report as the week continues.

Before 2nd Team Match

had to have a team meeting with players last night to fire everyone up for future matches. we are still here to place as highly as possible. the guys were kind of depressed in that each one contributed to the loss. by morning we were ready to go again. we played against mexico and had two close singles matches with the second match of the day going three sets. it was nervewracking. i played doubles for my first play of the week. i was determined to put the past behind and to play really well. i was really pumped up and was so eager
that i would have picked up the balls for the opposing team if i were allowed. we won 62, 62 and i played about as well as i can play. happy to report that my returns were great. i had practiced them for weeks before arriving and it really paid off.

i feel really good to have won a point for the team and the usa. tomorrow we play sweden. i am thinking of playing singles and doubles but wont decide until the morning.

we had a wonderful dinner last night at our host family’s home. they hosted both the 45 and 50 teams as well as wives. 12 of us were in this lovely apartment and we ate and drank much beer until very late. the germans are delightful and incredibly hospitable.

Quarterfinals of back draw vs. Sweden

a wonderful day for the team and for me, personally. today we played the quarterfinals of the back draw against a very strong team from sweden. we swept all three matches. i played #1 singles for the first time ever in an international cup match and played as well as i have ever played. i beat the top player from sweden 62 62. i played with a confidence that i dream about but don’t often feel. this was clearly a continuation of the way i felt in the doubles against mexico, where i felt like the best player here. to win so handily against such a fine player contibuted to how i played in the doubles as well. neal newman and i won 62 62 in that match. now we advance to the semis against swityerland on friday. our team is clearly on a mission. we have left the disappointment of our earlier defeat to great britain and have moved on. since that day we have won all six matches that we have played. i am happy that i have won 3 of those 6 matches.

our team continues to bond and the four of us will be close friends forever from this remarkable experience. again we are aware of how we are loved by the aussies, the brits and, mostly, the israeli team. the israeli team will need to leave before their final match and have suggested that i wear one of their shirts, speak a little hebrew and play in their place. won’t happen but it was a cute idea.

Semifinals of Back Draw vs. Swiss

another banner day for team usa. we swept swiss without the loss of a set (i won in the doubles 62 60) and have advanced to the finals of the back draw. tomorrow, closing day, we go against #3 seeded french team. they, like us, were upset on the first day. i considered them to be the favorites before we arrived so it will be our toughest match. i will play #1 singles and doubles. my singles opponent was the 45 and over world champion two years ago so i will be up against it. i am eager for the opportunity to play him. my goal is to play good tennis, to run down every ball and to make no unforced errors. this guy will be seeing me at my best and i will be a tough opponent for him to win a point against. my speed will be my weapon. how great that i have a chance to play against someone of his level. as agassi said after beating roddick a few months ago…”between the lines there is no age.” at the opening captain’s meeting last sunday, the french captain called the usa team old (three
of out players are 55). i told him that age means nothing and that we are simply more intelligent. we have been kidding each other all week so tomorrow will be fun for all.

i have mentioned the great relationships that this sport and competition has given me. last night at the big players party two of the israeli players remembered that we had competed against each other in the 1985 maccabian games in israel. we shared great memories and talked of how we will always remember each
of these special events.

tonight at dinner i toasted my wonderful teammates who have truly eliminated the word “I” from their vocabularies. we are tryly a team forever. we saluted our wives who have been so supportive, have put up with our endless tennis talk, and have allowed us to be a bunch of self absorbed kids.

one comment about late last night when we returned from the party. standing around the bar we saw the reports on BBC about the power outage. we all were glued to the tv and were nervous about what was going on. we had limited info as i imagine many of you had. we wished that we were there even though it must have been awful. when something happens at home, tennis is forgotten and we just want to be there. we were relieved to hear this morning that this was not what we had feared. hoping that all of you are doing ok and that everyone is fine.

Back Draw Finals vs. France

well it was the #3 and #4 seeded teams playing fo rhte finals of the back draw. france vs. usa. our #2 player started off the day with a very tough 3 set win and things looked pretty good for us. i was feeling eager and excited to be playing a former world champion. i had to wait two hours to get on the court for the first match to end. istarted out on fire against an extremely crafty player, a lefty who sliced all backhands and snapped topspin foehands. he mixed in an incredible number of drop shots and i took hím out in the first set, 6-2. up 15-40 on his serve in the first game of the second set i was poised to take control of the match. he escaped and quickly broke me. at 2-0 down in the second i popped a string in my racket, had a little trouble adjusting to my
second racket that was strung a little looser. several games later i broke a string in that one and never really got my feel back. he won the second set, 6-1. before i knew what wswa happening he was on a roll and i was unable to catch up. his game took me out of mine and i had no ansers on the slow clay against somebody who was feeling more and more comfortable. i went down 6-3 in the third.newman and i went out to “play the doubles” immediately after a fifteen minute break, had chances in the first but i didn’t hold serve at 5-4 in the first
and they won a tiebreaker. we went down 0-4 in the second, fought back, but lost 6-3. the loss was disappointíng but the team feeling at the conclusion was memorable. as i have said all week, the experience, the relationships, the opportunity to play for the usa… this is what it is all abóut. never to be forgotten.by the way germany beat australia for the cup. after splitting the two singles matches it came down to the doubles. there were nine, yes 9 consecutive service breaks and in the tenth game the germans held. fitting that they won the cup as the host team. cheers to them.

it has been a great run. i now prepare to go to boston in two weeks to play the potter cup, a competition between the brits and usa on the grass at longwood, a historic club. can’t wait to get off the dirt and on the turf.

best to all.

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