Hello All!

Today was a very frustrating day. It happens every now and again, but there are always days when you aren’t completely there. Today was one of those days for me. I could feel it from the moment I woke up, and fought against it all day. Normally for me it means that I miss home, and need something, or someone, familiar to make me feel better. I attempted to cure it by having lunch at Subway, hoping comfort food would help. It did make me feel a bit better, but I still felt tired and annoyed.

Luckily when I got to the club there was a beautiful Westy puppy there! For those of you that don’t know, one of my weaknesses is puppies. This definitely helped lift my spirits, and I made sure to play with him and love him as if he were my own!

I managed to pry myself away from him for long enough to string a racket and prepare for my practice. The practice went well, but definitely felt like I was fighting against myself. I was proud though, as even though it wasn’t my best tennis, I pulled it together and turned it into a worthwhile session. Throughout every World Championship process I have done, I have always encountered a day or two like this. It is bound to happen when you are spending 10 days completely focused on one task. I am proud of how I handled it though, and am more confident than ever knowing that I overcame it.

The day was capped off with a nice dinner with Julian Snow and CJ White. We went to a great steakhouse, which gave me one of the better filets I have ever had. That mixed with the pleasant company made for a very enjoyable evening. Below is a photo drawn by one of the members here in Melbourne named Michael Lindell. He does cartoon drawings of the players and was nice enough to do one of Rob and I for the match. I think its pretty cool!


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Hello Friends!

Today was definitely what I would consider a lazy day. I woke up feeling very tired, even though I had gotten a full nights sleep. This happens from time to time when traveling, and training everyday. Luckily I have experienced it many times before and knew how to handle it.

I stuck to my routine, heading into the club after breakfast to hit the gym. I did a very light session consisting of 15 minutes on the bike at a very easy pace. Just enough to warm the body up, allowing me to stretch out and loosen up for later in the day.

After the gym, I wondered back towards my apartment, stopping for lunch at a cafe nearby. Once home I went straight to bed, and passed out for two hours while watching tv. Sometimes the body just needs to do nothing for a day, and I am happy to give it that!

My practice was not until 5PM which gave me plenty of time to nap, and then wake up and prepare for it. Today I had a great session with Julian Snow and Nick Howell. Having both out there to hit is great because it overs both types of games being played at the moment.

I finished the day off with a nice dinner, joined by Nick and his girlfriend Morgan. We picked a place close by, which was great as I was still very tired and didn’t want to wander too far.

It is officially one week until the match, and I am getting excited! I can feel the club changing everyday as we get closer to the match. My family starts to arrive on Saturday, and that will be when I start to know it is really happening. Until then I will continue to practice hard, and stay focused each day on accomplishing the tasks I have set for myself.



Hey Guys!

Today was my first day hitting with an actual person on the court! It was very exciting, and I was very antsy to get out there as you can imagine. I had a great two hour session with my friend Nick Howell, who also happens to be one of the Professionals here in Melbourne. It is great because he has lots of knowledge about the court, and can help me understand more about it. The session went very well, and makes me more confident moving forward in the process.

We then went out for some lunch to catch up. The joy of the club in Melbourne is its amazing location. With a 5 minute walk you can be at so many cafes and restaurants, and if you want to go into the city it is only two stops on the train. Today we chose a place called Short Black Cafe. It was one of my favorites last time I was here, and will be hit up a few more times this trip for sure!

After lunch I headed back to the apartment to relax, and work on my PMT. This is a process Dacre has been working with me on to re-enforce positive thoughts, as well as focusing game plans and concentration. I then took it easy for the rest of the day, watching a movie and making dinner at home. When traveling, eating properly is always one of the hardest things to do. I tend to buy a few comfort snacks for during the day, which helps me be less likely to splurge at dinner. My favorite snacks are peanut butter sandwiches and raw almonds.

The main goal this week will be to get the calories in as well. Even though the match is a week away, what I eat and drink now can have an effect on it. By drinking loads of water now, and keeping my protein and carb intake in check, I can put my body in the right position for the match next week.

Finally, I was watching a show earlier called eggheads, which pits two teams against each other answering random questions. Sure enough a question comes on about the history of a expression that I had never heard of. Suddenly 3 options came on for the answer, and sure enough one of them was real tennis! I couldn’t believe it and the team answering even discussed real tennis and how the saying could be relevant to it. They had the right idea about the game, although there terminology may have been a bit off. Turns out real tennis was the correct answer, and that surprised me even more as I had never heard the expression before. I managed to grab a photo of the answers before the tv turned, but it is slightly blurry. Check it out below though!




Hello All!

Day 3 was a very straight forward day. This will give you a good idea what most of my days here will be like.

I had a nice late breakfast, sleeping in just because I could, and then headed to the club to use the gym. I try to go to the gym everyday, even on practice days. While in there I am not trying to build muscle or work on my fitness, those things were accomplished before I arrived. The gym is now used more to maintain what I have, and make sure my body is warmed up and loose later in the day. Today, for example, was what I call a PT day in the gym. This means that I focused on my Physical Therapy exercises for my shoulder, wrist, and back. Low weight exercises which are specifically designed to help strengthen my weak or injured areas. I also do 15 minutes on the bike each day before any work out, to warm up my body.

After my workout, I met up with my hitting partner and friend Julian Snow for lunch. For those of you who don’t know Julian, he was a challenger for the WC in the past, and is highly regarded as one of the best players to have played the game. His style of play was 100% on the floor, never forcing for openings. This is very rare and requires lots of hard work and practice to master. I feel my game is similar to his in many ways, although I use power more than he did. It is still great to pick his brain about the game, and have him out there with me.

After lunch I returned home for a nap, before my late day practice on the court. Tonight was my last practice by myself, and I am pleased with how it has gone so far. Starting tomorrow I will be hitting with Nick Howell and Julian each day.

The day ended with a nice long bath after dinner, followed by some icing of the sore areas. This is a very common day for me when traveling to tournaments, and practicing for WC matches. Even though I am only on court for 2 hours a day, the entire day is planned around it. I am at the club an hour before each practice to warm up, and then spend an hour after each practice stretching and cooling down. I also do gym sessions early on every day which generally take another 2 hours. This means that the entire practice day is actually 6 hours long, which only leaves time for eating and recovering.

Since I want to be primed and ready for these hours, I have to make sure I do not strain the body too much throughout the day with walking around. It means I don’t get to go explore as much as I would like, but I always remind myself why I am here, and what the primary goal is. As much as I would love to see more of the city, I would much rather be World Champion!!

Tomorrow will be more of the same, but I will try to find more interesting things to share with you all!




Hey Guys!

I had an exciting second day here in Melbourne. I managed to sleep through the night, which will go a long way towards overcoming my jet lag. It also worked well because my first practice on the court was at 10AM. Today I practiced by myself, and slowly got into the groove. Half of the battle it just getting comfortable on the court, adjusting to its size as well as how certain elements of it play. I always like to give myself a little time out there alone, just to really gain some comfort on the court.

The practice went well, and I am happy with my mindset and control for the first practice. After that I went shopping for some snacks and protein bars, followed by a nice lunch at a local cafe. The weather here has been up and down, with a few light rain showers off and on today.

After lunch I wandered through the big park next to my apartment, wasting time till my gym session and the dinner.

The dinner was a black tie dinner for a special group of people helping sponsor and supper the World Champs. It was at the club and started off with a reception in the royal dedan. We then went on court for an official photo, before heading in to the dining room. The food was amazing, and throughout the dinner Rob and I were asked to come sit and answer questions both about our tennis and our lives. It was great to share my story with the members, as well as hear some about Rob that I had not before.

Below are some photos from throughout the day.


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Hello Friends!

I have decided to do a diary of the entire world championship process this time around. Hopefully you all will enjoy hearing about the day to day, and I also think it will be a great thing to look back on in a few years.

I arrived in Melbourne after over 28 hours of traveling. Along the way I stopped in New York, LA, and Sydney which broke the trip up nicely but also added to its length. All of the flights were great, the perks of flying a lot is that I get better seats, and even business class from time to time.

Stepping off the plane I was met by Alistair Curley, a friend and also the organizer of the WC here in Melbourne. He was nice enough to pick me up and drive me to my apartment for the next few weeks. The apartment is amazing, a two bedroom place with a pool, gym, and sauna available. It is also located in East Richmond, walking distance to the club, and a very nice area for shopping and restaurants.


After settling in at the apartment, I wandered towards the club in hopes of checking in, as well as stopping off for some groceries. At the club I was delighted to see my good friends Nick Howell, Frank F, and Kate Leeming. After chatting with them and a few of the members, I wandered back towards the apartment grabbing my groceries along the way.

The rest of my day was spent relaxing, except for a nice easy 20 minutes on the bike in the gym to loosen up my legs and get the blood flowing. For those of you who travel a lot, one of the best things you can do after a long flight is hit the gym. It doesn’t have to be a hard session or anything, just enough to make you sweat and warm up.


I have now made some dinner, which is a combination of tuna salad/peanut butter sandwiches/and cereal. A weird combination I know, but the store I chose was limited and right now I just need to get some food in my system. I promise it will get better as the week goes on!

That is it so far, but below are a few pics from Day 1! Tomorrow I have my first practice, and a black tie dinner at night. (sounds like it will be a lot more interesting than today!)


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Hello Friends!

I was lucky enough to be treated to a wonderful send off at the Aiken Tennis Club Thursday night. The event was organized by my family, Dacre Stoker, and the ATC Board and I can’t thank them enough for it. A crowd gathered to hear a former teacher and doubles partner of mine, Bob Harrington, talk about my earlier days. It was such a privilege to hear these kind words, and see everyone who turned out in support. The send off has made it official as well, I am actually going to play for the World Championship! Below are a few videos and photos from the night, please take a look!

Thank you to everyone who came out, and made the evening such a special one. I can promise that I will give it my absolute best in Melbourne, and hope that I can bring the World Championship back to the US!

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Rick Send Off 2014.MOV




Hello All!

Since qualifying for the World Championships two weeks ago, time has been flying! I have kept busy organizing the specifics of travel plans, as well as all of the extra details that the WC’s entail. When I am not planning, I am also finding time to do some actual training! I will be journeying halfway across the world to Melbourne, AUS in two weeks to get a head-start practicing on the court and cannot wait to get going. 

I spent the last four days in Newport, RI hitting with Ricardo Smith, which really helped me sort things out for Melbourne. We were able to hop on court for three hours each day, and work out in the gym during our spare time. It was a great trip to help get my mind back on the tennis side of the WC. While I was at the National Tennis Club, I also hosted a fun Q&A session with the members, who were kind enough to host my first round eliminator match. There was a great turnout with some well-thought and interesting questions!

My team has been helping me along the way with all the added work that is involved in the event, which allows me to focus on staying healthy and keeping the right mindset on court. Just recently, they created a gofundme page for my World Championship campaign. The page allows people to donate and support my campaign, and even offers some cool rewards! Please take a look if you have a minute here.

Over the next few weeks, I will be continuing my training here in the South and may even make another appearance in the Northeast at some point! Thank you to everyone who has donated to the campaign and for all of the encouraging emails. I truly appreciate the support.




Hello Friends!

I am excited to welcome you to my new website. Over the last few years my blog has become more popular, and it was eventually decided that a full website would be a great step forward. Well this is it! A huge thank you goes out to John Patton who has helped build this site from the ground up.

Please take a look around the site and feel free to give me feedback on it. Hopefully we will continue to add more content and information for you all.



I am incredibly excited to announce that tonight I won my match qualifying me for the World Championships! The Final Eliminator here in Chicago was against Steve Virgona, and was a best of 13 set format played over 3 days.

On day 1 I managed to win all 4 sets played, leaving me only needing 3 more to win the match. Tonight was the second day of the match and I did what was needed, winning the first 3 sets played! The final set score was 7 sets to 0 with the actual set scores being: 6/5 6/3 6/1 6/1 6/2 6/3 6/4. Although I won all 7 sets played, the match was much closer than the score. Steve played some great tennis, but I managed to win the big games when needed.

Chicago has hosted a great event, and showed just how great of a place it is. I must thank the club for welcoming me with such open arms, and treating me so well. It is great to have the RCC back on the map, and hopefully it will continue to flourish!

This puts me in the World Championship against the current WC Rob Fahey. The match will take place May 6, 8, 10 in Melbourne, Australia. I am very excited to be back in the Challenge, after getting so close in 2008. I have not put much thought into the specifics yet, and will continue to work on them over the next few weeks. I will keep you all updated though!

Thank you for all of the kind messages and support!