First Tournament of the Season


March 26

I was away for a few days last week and had to use lots of self discipline to get to the gym and to get on the courts. I am too close to the competition to take time off but being away makes sticking to my rituals a bit more difficult. I thought about this as I was about to bail out on the gym and then remembered that every little battle that I win makes me a stronger mental competitor and that moves me closer to completing my mission as a player. Off to the gym and immediately scheduled an on court practice. I left the family on the lounge chairs around the pool.

First time outdoors and on a hardcourt since last July. Funny that I didn’t even realize it until I tried to figure out why my serve and my read on the ball was off. I finished a first set against one of the 50s Cup players, wondered what was interfering with me playing up to my current level and it hit me. Outdoors. Hard court. I used to make such
a big deal about these transitions and adaptations. This time, though, once I realized that the conditions were unfamiliar, I just reeled my game in a little and had some good success. Frankly, I was a bit surprised that I split sets. I am often surprised when I compete evenly with players I perceive are better than me. Need to keep working on
avoiding comparisons with others. I end up falling behind or losing a set before I find out that I can compete. Not a good move in a 2/3 set match.

I also practiced with good friend and awesome 60s player Charlie Hoevelar. We only played a few games but he taught me a couple of lessons by the way he played me. Keep the ball in the court and giving points away on errors is a good way to lose. It may seem obvious but sometimes things need to hit me right between the eyes. Every time I play there is another piece of the equation that falls into place. It is so important that I always keep my eyes open for the lesson that is always there. Sometimes it is something brand new and other times it is just a reminder of
something that I have always known but has slipped off my screen.

Returning to New York I worked out with a nice 16 and under player who was being coached by top junior coach, Adrian Cirici. I was fortunate to get some helpful tips on my forehand from Adrian. Always something to learn.

This week the tennis industry lost a great voice and friend. Gene Scott, a former Davis Cup player, the publisher of Tennis Week and a multiple USTA National Champion, died of a rare disease at 68. Gene had double hip replacement surgery about 7 years ago and recovered to win the World 65 Championships in 2004. He was the rare former tour player who continued to thrive on competition and put it on the line in USTA tournaments. He was an inspiration. He was fit, ate well, exercised often and was young for his age. Again, the reminder to live life for today, to be grateful for what we have and to, daily, remember what really matters.

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