National Grass Court Championships 2011


I recovered nicely from the Avory Cup. I was stiffer than I expected, somehow not believing that playing in competition would be any tougher on my body than practice matches. Great reminder, though, that anytime we are held accountable for how we are doing, when it counts, there is just a little more muscle tension. In tennis, as in many other activities, a little bit of muscle tension can have a big impact. That whole result orientation is such a trap. When we are free of the winning/losing, we are free. Federer and Djokovic showed both sides of it Saturday in the semis of the US Open. Federer, once he had not won on his two match points, completely went away. Djokovic, on the other hand, once he realized that he had little control over the outcome, played freely, unencumbered by the fear of losing. Great message. Once we know we have nothing to lose, we can play without fear. I love the work of getting to that place in my game and life. Probably why I have felt so free to just be myself and do whatever feels right.

I have been working hard to get ready for the Nationals which start on the 19th. We will be playing at legendary West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. This was the site of the US Open for many years and the history there is deep. The players who competed there over the years are all the legends of the game. It is special to play there on the same courts as Connors, Laver, Rosewall, Newcombe, Budge, Gonzalez, Riggs, Evert, King, Court and Goolagong. I have been stretching twice a day, doing my core exercises, hitting the gym, getting in some elliptical most days and playing. Playing on the clay is so different than the grass and I need to be ok losing in practice when playing in a way that is ineffective on the clay. Standing in close on service returns, getting the ball down, serving and volleying, playing soft. All good ways to get in trouble on the clay but effective on the grass. So being ok with the outcome, part of my mission, is getting some good practice.

Sunday I played some doubles on the grass. I love it. I feel like I was born on a grass court. The beauty of the green grass. The silence when the ball hits the turf. The smell of the cut grass. All special experiences that are unique to the grass courts. I was pleased with how I played. The big keys are to get the return in play, keeping opponents uncomfortable, serving a high percentage of first serves, moving the ball around and making first volleys. Mostly good today for a first day on the low bouncing wet surface. I need to remind myself to get in quicker after serving, to be courageous on my backhand returns, to move my feet on easy volleys and overheads, to make the second shot after service return and to focus deeply for the two to three shots required to finish the point. I can practice this stuff off the court by spending time in the day visualizing it just as I want it to be. Visualizing is such a wonderful tool. It amazes me how so many people reject it just because the “data” is not scientific. Hey, it could help. So what do you have to lose?

My biggest challenge though is and will be to stay in the present. I have a wonderful successful history at this grass court event. Prior to surgery I had been a finalist in 11 of the last 12 Grass Championships. Based on the past, my expectation is high. Those successes, though, were not based not on the past. They were a result of staying focused, point after point, match after match…never getting ahead of myself. Knowing that each point was one that required my stinginess…to give nothing away. One canʼt play great competitive tennis by assuming anything. It doesnʼt work that way. It comes from a determination to make every point one in which I will be a difficult person against whom it is hard to win a point. My mantra, for each and every point, is “you can compete with this person for this one point.” This is easy to say. If I treat my practice sessions with the kind of respect they deserve then I will practice this mantra. If I practice it, then it is just as easy to do as it is to say.

Now off to watch Nadal play Djokovic in the US Open finals. I was heartbroken when Federer was unable to close out the semis against Djokovic. He is my favorite and I respect him as a person, at least the person he presents to the public. It was tough to watch him mentally meltdown. Djokovic bugs me. I love his game. I donʼt like his post match posturing. Just my opinion as I know others who enjoy his personality. Regardless, when Nadal plays I welcome his play each point mentality. I am inspired his presence and his positive attitude no matter what is going on in the results side of the match. I donʼt think I have ever seen him cruise in a match, no matter what the score, no matter how strong his opponent. I want to play like Djokovic, aggressively consistent and consistently aggressive. I want to compete like Nadal. Each point as if the fate of the Universe depends on my focus and effort.

9/14

Got on the grass today for some more practice. Just love it. I walk onto it and feel like I have played on it forever. I have heard people say they ski and feel one with the mountain or surfers who are one with the wave. That is how I feel on the grass, one with it.

I played with a great guy and buddy, Ron Kahn. He is a lefty with short quick strokes that play really well on the grass where the bounce is low and irregular. He also has perfect volley technique and, as with many lefties, a tough serve. We just hit for a while and did some serve and return points. Nice relaxed stuff.

We decided to play a set as I wanted to feel the rhythm of the points and to be in specific point scenarios. That makes it feel more like the real thing. I served first and hit two in a row into the net, Then, a second double fault. Weird. Oh well, love 30, no big deal. It is important for me to think that way in practice, so that I am practicing the right thoughts for when it counts. You canʼt just do this stuff when in the heat of the moment. Another two serves into the net. Three doubles in a row. Maybe a first for me. Seventh serve, long. I just couldnʼt find the box. This is definitely not a boost for my confidence. When getting ready for a tournament you want to work up to feeling amazing and your best by the time it counts. On the one hand, it is only Wednesday and there is time. On the other hard you want to be on a good trajectory. Managed to get the the next serve in and grabbed a point. I, then, remembered that when I was playing my best in the past, I always felt that when I was down 15-40 I was in good control of the game. I just always believed that. Sure enough, I managed to win the game, get on track and played a good, solid set.

It was great that I hit seven faults in a row. And it was great that I served pretty erratically through the whole set. It is good when these things happen when leading up to competition. I donʼt like to practice badly but I am happy when practicing badly teaches me something. I hit a few serves after the set and they all went in effortlessly. Bingo, I wasnʼt serving effortlessly. I was trying to hard, trying to get so much action on the ball that I was pulling it into the net. What a relief that I got to see this in my game before the tournament gets under way.

It has been challenging but I am staying with twice a day stretching and visualizing daily. I am out of the habit so it takes will power and planning. If I am loose about it, I just wonʼt do it. I just need to stay on myself until it starts to be habitual and then I will do it with no effort.

No effort. It just came up twice in this entry. Thatʼs a hint. I think that will be my mantra for this tournament. Well, now that I think about it, no effort doesnʼt really say it. The words are “effortless effort.” That is my mantra. My mission for this tournament now includes to compete with effortless effort. It is easy. It keeps me from too much wanting. It keeps me in the present. This feels good. This feels right. Canʼt wait to play tomorrow.

9/19/11

I had a couple of wonderful practice sessions this week. The first was one where I played with Brian Hainline, who was practicing for the 55 and over tournament. We rushed to beat rain and just as we started to hit, the drizzle started. We both went against what was smart, which would have been to get of the grass, and played a full set as the court got more and more slippery. The conditions were very bad and, yet, the worse the conditions the more the practice became useful. Grass courts are all about bad bounces, shaky footing and funky shots. So we had a ball. I was serving great, having corrected my problems from the day before. I was aware of playing with effortless effort. By the way, I remembered that I had first heard that phrase when reading Zen master Suzukiʼs, Zen Mind, Beginner MInd about 30 years ago. It is a state in which the world seems to be working for us. We feel calm yet alert, focused yet receptive, drawing force from the storm while standing in its eye. Amazing how some things just stay with you, germinating, until the moment is right for them to be brought into your life. Well, it was a great place to be, slip sliding on the grass in effortless effort.

The next day, Friday, I was unable to play on the grass as it was still too wet. I was stuck with attempting to find the balance between playing, in order to feel more tuned up, and resting so that my body would be less broken down. I have had some concerns that my body is not entirely ready for what I am asking it to do this week: to possibly play ten matches in six days. Regardless I decided to play and had a great workout indoors, returning 100+ mile an hour serves and practicing serve and volley, which I only use when playing on the grass. I also was able to give some playing advice to my practice partner, who is very good and just getting ready to compete. When I teach someone about competition it raises my game because it is one of the things that I feel best about. When I do something that I do really well, it makes me feel really good and, in turn, I tend to do everything just a little bit better.

I rested on Saturday…well, I did play a two set match in the Super Century (combined age of the two players is 125 years) tournament. My partner, who is in his late 70s played awesome and made my life pretty easy on the court. What was great for my preparation was that I was totally plugged and felt that I was focused on every single ball for the two sets. Even though we won pretty handily, concentrating on each shot is a huge feat. It felt like a wonderful warmup for my mind.

Sunday my dear friend and doubles partner, Brian Cheney, arrived. I have not seen him since Carolʼs funeral last year. He and Anne, his wife and Carol and I had spent many days together around the World on teams where bonding is such a huge component. I have been eager, over the last few months, for all of my friends to meet Jo Ann and to give there thumbs up. Brian is one of the last of my friends to meet her and I am so glad that he finally has. I have no doubts about his feeling great about this.

Brian and I have won this tournament five times in a row. We have never lost together in the National Grass. Despite my having no record for almost three years, the seeding committee made us the top seeds. This triggers for me an expectation. Expectations are often traps as they drag me into the future and that is not the best place for me to be to play and do my best. However I would be kidding myself to think that I am not thinking ahead. I just need to be aware of it and to continue to drag myself back to the present. Using deep breaths, reminding myself of how grateful I am to simply be back in a tournament and welcoming the process of refinding my level will keep me paying attention to what works.

I will also review some old notes about why I compete, what it give me:

             At the beginning, for me, it was all about winning and losing. Who I was, if I was a success or failure, had to do with results only. I won a lot. In fact, most of the time in Eastern tournaments and it just wasn’t enough. The winning didn’t seem to mean that much and I didn’t feel as good as I thought I would. Winning was too easy b/c I was just better than a lot of the opponents or I got someone on a bad day. So winning didn’t feel that good most of the time. Add to that, losing felt awful no matter how it happened. The whole thing just started to get old and I stopped enjoying playing. The problem was that I was good at it and tennis was my job and what I did every day. Competing was part of the job that I had to do.

So I started to search for what I could pull out of the experience to make it special. I made lists of what I did love about doing the work and competing. Each match had something in it that made it a positive experience. I loved developing the craft. New ways to hit the ball. New places on the court. Developing a sense of purpose for each and every shot. I loved trying to work it out while someone was trying to keep me from doing it. I loved the engagement. How long I needed to pay attention to really get the job done. I loved the stress and pressure of each point being a win/lose experience. I loved attempting to impose my will on my opponent as he tried to do the same to me. I loved when it was close and I had to deal with pressure. I loved, when I lost, having to be a good loser…and when I won, being a good winner. I loved being faced with failure and giving full effort at pushing it away for as long as possible, and sometimes, I would be lucky enough to be able to win from the precipice. I loved when I was pushed to my limit, when it felt like I just couldn’t squeeze out one more drop of focus or effort or energy. I hated working out. I didn’t like taking the time…but I loved the effort that I needed to put in to get myself to do it. I loved having a reason to eat well even though I would rather eat badly. I loved the texture of the experience. Most of all I loved that I constantly needed to do the work of making my days at work meaningful and special. It is not up to the job to do that. Waiting for only good results to get myself to feel good is a certain way to be unhappy much of the time. Kennedy said “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what can you do for your country.” I say, ask not what tennis brings to me—ask what I bring to my tennis. I fail at some or all of these things on some days and I am disappointed but just decide that I will do better the next time. I want to look in the mirror at the end of the day and say, “you did good.”

The joy of working on the details every day has kept me engaged, focused, interested, happy and young. The fact that I am better today than I was 10 and 20 years ago is a huge payoff. The fact that I will be better tomorrow is what makes me jump out of bed each day.

Brian and I practiced our doubles yesterday and it felt really special. He is a remarkable player and he raises me as a player. We mesh well and playing together, today, for the first time in so long, it is apparent that we have not lost a thing.

I start with singles today at 2:30. I feel calm and eager. I will be challenging myself to play with effortless effort. I will do all I can to bring my mission to life once again…

To be an extraordinary competitor who plays, in competition, at the high end of my skill and talent. To love the competition more than I love to win and to accept whatever the outcome with dignity and class. To have every match be an experience where I grow as a player and a person.

I got in touch this morning, as I thought about my upcoming match, that this is not just about finding my fitness, my strokes and my strategy. It includes me getting comfortable, again, with the pressure and tension that comes with the game. It may not be overnight. I was comfortable before and I expect to be again.

Off to the courts…

Home now after a 6-0, 6-0 win. Not very challenging. My opponent was nervous and inexperienced on the grass courts. The biggest challenge was staying focused on each point. I did that well through the first six games, losing only three points. I could have focused better in the second set but also didnʼt need to in order to win the games. That is no excuse. Each point and each shot deserves my attention or I am missing an opportunity to practice something that is important for when I am in tougher situations. Tomorrow: singles at 11:30 and doubles at 2:30.

9/22/11

Tuesday was a rainout. Even a rainout has some challenges. When playing a tournament we are at the mercy of the weather and the people who run the tournament. An overactive ego can make the day difficult. There is no such thing as, “hey, this doesnʼt work for me. You canʼt make me wait. Donʼt you know who I am?” Quite the opposite. A rain delay is like sitting in traffic. It is all about acceptance. There is nothing you can do. You just need to roll with the day. We find ways to stay relaxed without losing the edge that needs to be there if the courts dry or if, in a moment the tournament director tells us we are playing indoors. It is a day of expecting nothing and, at the same time, being ready for anything. Primed and relaxed. After three hours of waiting for the rain to stop, we were told that the tennis had been cancelled for the day. Brian and I, rather than taking it as a day off, headed to some indoor hard courts and worked on the pieces of our games that needed tweaking. I was nervous even walking on a hard court because of my hip. I kept my movement to a minimum.

Wednesday brought a break in the bad weather that may make this grass court tournament and indoor clay event. Again, patience was an important skill for the day. I arrived scheduled to play singles at 11:30 and no doubles for the day. Because a few courts were unplayable I didnʼt get on until 1:00. Waiting and watching other matches can drain energy so, again, acceptance was key. At the same time, I needed to keep moving around, stretching, running in place. During delays you never know when they will call your name. A ready for anything attitude also helped when we were told that they were adding a quarterfinal doubles match to the day, to be played one hour after the last ball is struck in the singles. I didnʼt anticipate that but, happily, I just relaxed into the idea and put it on my mental and physical agenda.

Singles match went great. I always love the game a little more when I play a someone who I like. Today I played Jeff Gocke, a very quick and steady player, who has strong belief in his game. When playing someone who has that type of belief, being the favored player, as I probably was, levels can get thrown out. Federer has often been a victim of thinking that the way things are supposed to be is the way things always play out. It is important to attack that belief early by playing tough points early in the match. We started out even through a few games but I was returning serve consistently and that chipped away at Jeffʼs confidence and his serve started to get shaky. I got an early service break and cruised through the first set. Although I got the early lead in the second set, I lost a bit of focus but thinking ahead. Future tripping, that way of getting ahead of the present is a good way to lose attention to the task at hand. I managed to continue to hold the lead but played way too many loose points. I won the set 6-3 and advanced to the round of 16 but definitely need to tighten up mentally as I move on in the tournament. I know that being away from matches for so long has taken its toll on my focus. I am getting tripped up with results thinking. The more matches I play the less this will happen. In the meantime, though, I will need to be more diligent about keeping my wandering mind in check. It is a fun battle. I donʼt want to think about results. I know it is not the way to think. My mind, though, tends to do what it does. Thinking I can control my thoughts is absurd. It is no different than thinking I can control digestion. Thoughts just come. For me the key is to observe thoughts as they come up and to attempt to let them go by saying “oh my, look at that thought that one small part of your being is having.” This way I donʼt become the thought. It just tends to dissipate.

We won our doubles match 6-2, 6-2. The score makes it sound like it was easy. For me, it wasnʼt. I was distracted before the match by one of my opponents, who has a long history of being a difficult guy. He was 45 minutes late, claiming to have been told a different starting time. Even though he was on the site, he took his time getting ready. Brian handled it fine, going to the lounge to refocus. I, again because I have been out of practice, spent some of the time complaining. Once the match started there were some very questionable line calls and, being predisposed to this happening with this guy, it really bugged me. So mentally I was multitasking: trying to focus on the ball and the shots necessary and, at the same time, mumbling to myself about how irritating he was. The result of this way of non focus was that I missed quite a few easy shots. Thankfully, my game didnʼt fall off so much and my mind wasnʼt able to offset the shots that I needed to hit to support Brian, who played great. Doubles is a team effort and we win and lose together. Today Brian held me up as I have done for him in the past. I am lucky to have such a supportive partner. When done I talked of how tricky it is to be out of practice for matches. He clarified for me by saying I was not out of practice, I was out of matches.

I have played only five matches in my return to competition and I am now in the final 16 of the singles and the semifinals of the doubles in a National Championship. I am pleased. I am not done yet. I have more to go. At the same time I have the perspective that, years ago, I was simply happy to win one match in a National. I am happy to simply be out on the court competing.

Today we will play indoors on clay as the rain is here. Todayʼs tool is adaptability. A complete change in playing strategy from what I have been doing. No more charging the net. Today the game will be finding the balance between offense and defense from the baseline. Canʼt wait to get out there to see what I can do.

9/22/11

Effortless effort…I had forgotten it. I have been trying too hard. The wanting so much to advance through the tournament has been winning the mental battle with the part of me that wants to relax into the process. To just play the game free of tension. I was tired in todayʼs match. My body is feeling it. I won and have advanced to the quarterfinals. But I am only winning the battle of the score. That is good but it is not my mission. I will rededicate myself to playing in a state of effortless effort. Let the results be what they will be. I know I want to win. I donʼt need to invest as much mental energy in it. It doesnʼt help. It makes me tight. It makes me critical. It increases my impatience. Tomorrow is a new day. A new day to start again with effortless effort.

My singles match today was tough. The guy was very scrappy and had an unorthodox game. He snuck up to the net at random times and had a very good volley. The first set was one where I first had control and then he fought his way back. I fought for each point. Won it 6-3. The second set was interesting. I won the first three games and he was serving the fourth. I thought that if I could go ahead 4-0 I might break his spirit. It turned into the best mental game that I had played in the tournament. He won the first three points with great volleys. I fought back to my advantage and then, I had the challenge. He would find a way to win the my ad points and I would keep winning the deuce points. Back and forth, seven times. I had several moments where I figured that it wasnʼt worth the effort. Thinking like that is a sign of loss of spirit. Not wanting to fight because “it is so hard…” But mentally I kept fighting for the point and finally won the game. This was a great moment for me because I didnʼt give in mentally. I stayed focused and persisted. Finally won the game, broke his spirit and won the final two games for 6-0 win.

The tournament committee surprised us by scheduling the doubles for today. After playing on the indoor clay courts for singles, we moved to the grass for the doubles. I played rock solid. We won 6-1, 6-3.We are now into the semis.

Singles tomorrow: 10AM, Doubles at 1PM. Tired now, falling asleep.

9/23/11

Firstly, I need to make a correction from yesterdayʼs journal. After our doubles win yesterday we moved into the Finals. This is the sixth consecutive time that Brian and I have made the doubles finals at this National. Of course, I havenʼt played in it for two years so we are not the defending champs. In our minds though, it is our title to defend.

We awoke this morning to torrential rain. The singles quarterfinals would be played indoors on the clay courts. Quite a difference from the grass. It would be challenging for everyone. For me it would be a question of how well my body recovered from yesterday and how much I had left in the tank for this kind of match. The grass matches are shorter and the points arenʼt as much of a grind.

My opponent, Paul Wolf, is the current #1 in the country in the 60s and is in his first year in the age group. He is riding high levels of confidence as he was just selected to play for the USA Senior Davis Cup team in Turkey in October. I am operating with confidence based on distant past performance and am slightly uncertain about what I would consider a successful tournament. It has certainly changed during the week. At first success was just being in the tournament trying to compete. After winning a couple of matches, I redefined success as getting to the quarterfinals of the singles. Last night I redefined again with reaching the finals being success. This is often the case with goals: we set them and as we approach them, we find out that there is something different that we want. The farther up the mountain, the different the view. I had to beware of wanting too much, which creates tension and of being satisfied with what I had already accomplished, which would create complacency. I am in the quarters and my job is to get out there and play tough and hard and to compete to the highest levels of my talent and skill. No excuses.

I was definitely below 100% physically when I practiced before the match. My movement was going to be a little less than I would have liked. Legs aside, I felt good. I went on the court knowing some important things. I am blessed that I am playing again. I am playing with no pain. I can play with no fear as I learned, over the last few years that I have nothing to lose. Whatever the outcome I have accomplished so much by playing six National matches this week so far. I am in the finals of the doubles.I love playing and competing as much or more than I love winning. Most of all, I knew that I would play with effortless effort.

I played even with Paul for the first six games and then made a couple of sloppy errors when serving at 3-4. I was not moving my feet well but I was still playing mentally tough. I wasnʼt thrown off by my errors and believed I could get back in it from being down 5-3. Good player that he is, he served a very strong game and the first set was over. I was pretty satisfied with how I competed. I wasnʼt quite done though. You canʼt just say that you are going to try harder and that is it when competing. You need to come up with something different. I knew that trying to outsteady him in rallies was not working often enough and I was ending up on the defensive. I was also exhausting myself. Okay, I needed to be more aggressive, especially on my backhand service returns. This is very out of my comfort zone. I usually “chip” my returns but this was definitely not working. Now I needed to find it in me to do something that I always felt was plan B and rarely went to. I was able to do it and jumped out to the lead in the second set. I was tiring but kept staying positive mentally. When I missed I maintained a neutral exterior and strong posture. I was so pleased with how I was staying focused. Thoughts of score were barely there. I won the second set 6-4. All this done with effortless effort.

The ten minute break did me in. I stayed mentally contained. I thought about what I was going to do and felt ready. But somehow, during that few minutes, my physical energy drained a bit. I felt it. I ate some energy beans, I bounced around. I talked to myself about my spirit of loving being in the battle. I thought optimistically. I got clear that I would be very aggressive. These all contribute to my overall energy. It was all good. But, all due respect to Paul, he came out for the third set like a warrior, seeing the finish line in front of him. I started a little slowly and he pulled away. He won the set 6-1 but I made it a match, fighting hard each point and game. I was so happy that I never got down that my body was not quite able to bring it. I just kept playing. It would have been easy to use it as an excuse and reason to not give full effort.I was happy for Paul and how well he had played. I felt good in losing. I feel like a winner. I had played with effortless effort throughout.

This is a huge step for me in getting back to the level that I have seen in my mind. I have been picturing it since lying in the hospital after hip surgery in July, 2009. I know that I am climbing a mountain and am eager to do all that it will take. Waiting out there for me is another World Championship. I will keep climbing until I get there.

Tomorrow is the finals of the doubles. Not too shabby to be getting a silver or gold ball in my first tournament back.

9/25/11

We had a wonderful, competitive, quality match for the doubles championships. Our opponents played just a little bit better and won 7-5, 7-6. It was close throughout, never more than a game separating us. As with most matches that are exciting to play, each point was crucial and it is a gift to have to keep your attention. I imagine it is like climbing a steep wall…one misstep can lead to big problems. What a special experience, paying attention over and over again for a couple of hours. It is refreshing and invigorating. It helps define what is meant by “being in the present is where life is best lived.” When in this space, all other thoughts fade away. It is an addictive feeling and, each time I experience it, it fans my flame of competition. I played well, probably my best match of the seven matches I played this week. For the first time in the tournament I felt that I had completed the mission I have for myself. I ignited the high end of my talent, was a good winner/loser, accepted the results with dignity, learned from the match and played in a state of effortless effort. I was pleased that I played without fear: fear of losing, fear of playing less than my best and without fear of what others might think or say about me. I played with joy. I smiled after easy misses. I rejoiced my best shots. I was mentally chilled in moments that can be perceived as tough ones. I loved the points when I was in troublesome point scenarios, like being down 15-40 on my serve and having to hit a second serve. I experienced the highest quality partnership with Brian Cheney, who is an extraordinary partner. The bond created in these matches deepens our friendship and connection. Another special gift of these competitions.

When I put my fingers on the keyboard this morning, I thought that I was going to write about whether or not I would be willing, going forward, to work as hard as I have to work to get back to being the very best player I can be. There is so much to have to manage for me to be more than I am and to get beyond that level that I was. Diet, card work, strength training, footwork and balance exercises, agility drills,visualization, stretching, practicing, yoga, writing, exploring, awareness, acceptance, making changes. There are so many little disciplines. The fruits of the labor are sweet. The labor is intensive.

In my life, for the last year, I have just moved forward step by step, day by day, letting life direct me. I have been less concerned about achievement, both in little and big ways. I am moving forward and, yet, I am putting out only effortless effort. I thought I would write, this morning, about feeling ambivalent about putting the effort in.

Could there be any doubt? As I was writing about the doubles finals, the smell and the taste of the fruits of the labor were all around.It is moments like this very one that remind me why writing in my journal is so helpful. Writing takes me from the loudest thoughts to the quiet truths that are just under the surface, quietly waiting for me to shine light on them.

Of course I will do the work. Next big event: Sarasota in January.

Thanks to practice partners, Ron Kahn, Kyle Permut, Brian Hainline, Mike Powers, Rick Liebman, Dan Cahill and to Robbie Wagner for the footwork lesson. Estrella Caban and Boyd Dyer for keep my body primed. The support of those that showed up and all who sent emails. And Jo Ann, I welcome you to this world. Your support and love inspire me to go for more. You won a gold ball in your first National.

You and Brian, all week kept reminding me to be patient in my climb up the mountain. Yes, I will remember that and, at the same time, Confucius said, “be demanding of oneself, be indulgent toward others.” So I will advise others to be patient and I will be demanding of myself.

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