2014 BRITISH OPEN CHAMPION!

Hello My Friends!

I officially won my first British Open Singles title last night, defeating Steve Virgona in the Final. This is definitely a feather in the cap of my last two years. The British Open is regarded as the premier event in our game, and it is a privilege to have won it. Alongside that, I am only the second American to have ever won the tournament!

The match was an absolute epic, with Steve and I both playing smart tennis and struggling to maintain control over the match. The first set I came out strong, dictating play and trying my best to gain an early lead. It worked as we traded a few games but I managed to grab the first set 6/3. I was hitting railroads but Steve was starting to be able to turn on them, which I knew would be a problem later in the match. Steve was serving sidewall railroads as well, which I was able to take advantage of.

The second set Steve changed to a demi-pk serve from the middle of the court. This took most of the pace off of the ball, and made me have to use more of my own strength on my cut volley. It definitely changed the pace of the game, and made it much more difficult to dictate play. For some reason I decided my game plan, which had worked in the first set, wasn’t the one I wanted to stick to. This of course is the worst thing you can do, and Steve took full advantage. I started to play at his pace and style of play, boasting and forcing more while losing control over my length. Steve was ahead the entire set, and even though I battled he took the set 6/3.

The third set saw me lose my focus and Steve control all elements of play. My error count went way up, and Steve controlled the service end for most of the set. Due to the inability to hit railroads, Steve could chip galleries very easily off of my serves, which made staying at the service end difficult. This is the hardest part about playing at Queens Club. In order to win, you have to stick to a very specific set of shots and game plan, which can be incredibly fought o do mentally. The set didn’t take very long and went to Steve 6/0.

At the start of the fourth set I had time to regain my composure, settling down a bit and focusing more on what was happening on the court. This allowed me to regain focus and start back with my original game plan. I took the first game without dropping a point, and that filled me with the confidence I needed to stick with the plan. Steve battled with my for most of the fourth set, but I always had the lead and control. Even when we had close games, I felt they were mine to win, which is very different then the earlier sets. I took the set 6/3 and we were on to a final set!!

The final set was very up and down, both Steve and I were trying to win the mental chess match as well as the physical one. Both hitting galleries regularly from the receivers end in hopes on doing damage from the service end. Steve took a 3/1 lead before I found my cut volley, and a good range on my serve. I fought back with two strong games to tie it at 3/3, and then took control of the service end. Serving well and returning well over the next few games were crucial to my win, and were my strongest mental showing of the night. I wasn’t happy with my mental for most of the night, but for the last set I was proud of how I put it on when needed. I dominated from 3/3 to take a quick 5/3 lead, and from there grabbed 40/0 after beating two second gallery chases. We then had a great rally ending up with a backhand error from Steve and that was the match!! The final score being 6/3 3/6 0/6 6/3 6/3

Looking back at the match, I had many good and bad areas within my game, but most importantly I pulled myself together and focused on the task at hand when needed to win the match. Truly one of my tougher matches, and a hell of one to play! The toughness of the match has just made the winning the title feel that much better. This has been a long tournament, with so many of the top players wanting to win.

There was a great crowd in the night being vocal for both players, and encouraging our play throughout the night. After the match there was a trophy presentation on court, and I then attended the Championship dinner at one of the beautiful rooms in the Queens Club. A huge thank you must be said to Neptune for sponsoring the event, the Queens Club for allowing us to use their facilities, and the Pros for organizing and marking the matches.

My work here is not done though, as the Doubles Final takes place tonight and has shaped up to be another tough battle. Tim Chisholm and I take on Rob Fahey and Bryn Sayers for the title. It promises to be a great battle with the top players in the world on both ends of the court.  The match starts at 6PM UK time and will feature score updates on twitter or at IRPTA.com

Thanks for all of the messages I have received since the match, they have mad eke feel so special and loved by you all. I truly would not be here and able to claim this title without your support. Below are a few images from the match as well.

#focus

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INTO THE BRITISH OPEN SEMI-FINALS

Hello All!

Today was a pretty good day here at the British Open. We were treated to some amazing matches, and I am happy to say I won through to the semi-finals. There were two matches that came down to a final 5 set, but luckily I was only watching them from the outside, not on court experiencing them!

My match against James Stout went about as well as I could have hoped. James seemed a little off throughout the match, which gave me the opportunity to get on top early in each set. We had some amazing rallies, which isn’t surprising when two retrievers are on court. I felt like my serve and return were on again, which will help as I move forward in the tournament. The final score was 6/1 6/2 6/1 and I managed to get off court reasonably quickly, saving my body for a tough semi-final on Saturday against Bryn Sayers. Bryn won an incredible 5-set thriller over Ben Matthews just before my match.

Rob Fahey and Steve Virgona both won their quarter-finals as well, setting up the top 4 players in the world all competing in the semis. Tomorrow is the quarter-finals of the doubles, where Tim Chisholm and I take on Josh Bainton and Rich Smith. It should be a fun match, and I am looking forward to a change of pace that the doubles generally brings.

Thanks for all of the support!

#focus

INTO THE BRITISH OPEN QUARTER-FINALS

Hey Guys!

Things are moving quickly here in London, with today being the second round singles matches. I started the day off at 10 am against Rod McNaughtan. Rod and I have played many times, and I was looking forward to a great match with him.

The match was a very good one for me. I felt very comfortable on the court, and was reading the ball very well in the corners. This is alway every important for me, considering my style elf play relies on my retrieving skills. The most important bit though, was that I was serving and returning serve well. This court can be incredibly different to serve and return on, making them a must focus on area when preparing.

Rod and I had some great rallies throughout the match, but I always found myself in control when I needed to be. I managed to keep my focus, and took the match 6/1 6/1 6/0. I now find myself in the quarter-finals again James Stout, who is the rackets world champion and is ranked in the top 10 in the world in court tennis. We had a great battle in the US Open Final earlier this year, and I know he will be looking for revenge. I will need to play some of my best tennis to get a win, but I am looking forward to the challenge!

On a side note, my doubles partner Tim Chisholm had an early exit from the tournament today, which is very unfortunate. He played well and had a few match points, but just couldn’t close it out losing to Chris Chapman 6/5 6/5 4/6 5/6 3/6! It was an epic 4 hour battle, and hopefully Tim will bounce back from it for the doubles.

My match starts at 2pm tomorrow so I will keep you all updated!

#focus

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BRITISH OPEN BOUND

Hello Friends!

I am officially on my way to London for the 2014 British Open Singles and Doubles Championship. The tournament is incredibly strong this year, with most of the top 20 players in the world in the draw. I have struggled to get to this tournament over the last 5 years with injuries and World Championships getting in the way, but I am very excited to go this year. I have been training hard, and feel ready for the challenge.

 

I am the top seed in the singles draw, as well as in the doubles draw with my partner Tim Chisholm. Below are the links to the draws for you all to see. It is going to be a tough tournament for me, as I haven’t played on the court for a few year snow, but I will do my best to figure it out.

Singles Draw    Doubles Draw

As I sit in the airport right now, I am starting to prepare myself mentally for the challenge ahead of me. Trying to imagine the feeling of walking into the Queen’s Club, and the atmosphere I will be met with. This is one of my favorite parts of the tournament, I feel like a kid on Christmas eve, antsy to have tomorrow arrive so that I can get started.

While I am starting this preparation, I tend to put on the soundtrack that has been on my mind the most lately. Sometimes the same playlist may last for 2 or 3 tournaments, but this year I have a new one just in time for the British Open. I thought I would share some of the songs on the playlist with you all, so that you could start to mentally prepare with me! Right now the top 3 songs are:

1. Reflections by MisterWives

2. James Dean by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

3. Figure 8 by Ellie Goulding

Wish me luck!

#Focus

BRITISH OPEN PREPARATIONS

Hello Friends!

Having finished my USCTA National League matches for the year, I am now putting 100% of my focus towards the British Open, which starts in about 10 days. I have been preparing for it for the last month or so, but now I can dedicate myself more fully, having returned home and finished my other matches. This next 10 days will be the finishing touches on my training, and I want to share them with you all. The training will be more focused on the court at Queens, which means preparing certain shots and serves, rather than working on my fitness or strength in the gym. My workouts will be shorter, and and concentrated to prime myself for when the event starts.

Yesterday was a fitness and legs focused day, and I was lucky enough to be joined by Ben Cook at the Daniel Island Club gym for the workout. Ben is steadily improving, and wants to work hard on his footwork and leg strength, so the workout was great for both of us. The workout focused on leg strengthening exercises like lunges and squats, but at the same time incorporated a fitness element by not allowing for breaks, and going for higher reps. We also tried to use proper “court tennis” form on all of the movements, so that they would transfer on to the court better. We finished the workout with 10 minutes of non stop abs, focusing more on the sides and rotation exercises.

Today was a more relaxed day, trying to allow my legs to recover, but also making sure that I kept the body working so that it would be used to the daily workouts when the tournament comes around. I focused on my shoulder physical therapy, which I must continue to do multiple times a week to keep it healthy. The exercises for this are mainly back related, and tend to involve little to no weight resistance. When I am doing my PT, I also try to focus on the mental side of the game, imagining the court at Queens, and how I remember it playing. I use this time to think about the atmosphere at the club, hoping to make myself more comfortable with the club before I even arrive. I find this helps make the transition to a new court much easier, as I am prepared for it ahead of time.

I will continue to write as the week progresses, and I hope you all enjoy this insight into how my training works. Keep in mind this is not everything that I do, there is also a lot of stretching and icing that goes on behind the scenes! If you have any questions please feel free to comment, and I will make sure to answer them!

#FOCUS

USCTA NATIONAL LEAGUE

Hello All!

Things have not slowed down at all since returning to the US, with the USCTA National League in full swing. This season I am playing for a combined Washington/Boston team alongside Tony Hollins, Neil MacKenzie, and Ivan Ronaldson. Our season started well, with a win over a tough Chicago team of Steve Virgona and John Lumley a few weeks back in Chicago, and continued last Thursday with a a match in Boston against the Tuxedo team of Tim Chisholm and Josh Dodgson. The Boston club hosted a Halloween party to coincide with the match, which made for a lot laughs with the spectators in very creative outfits.

Tony was on court first, against Josh in what would be a very close 2 set match. It was Tony’s home court, which we hoped would help him take advantage, but recent ankle injuries had stopped him from getting as much practice as we would have hoped. Tony and Josh played well, with each trading leads in the sets. Tony was struggling with his volley return of serve, and Josh took advantage when he could winning the match 6/5 6/5.

I then took to the court against the one person who knows my game better than me, Tim Chisholm. Luckily the same could be said in reverse about Tim’s game! Tim walked out on court and I instantly knew it was going to be a long night, because Tim was in a full costume that looked like me!! He had colored his hair red, given himself a fake red beard, and even wore a short which stated “Tim Chisholm taught me everything I know.” Needless to say the crowd as well as I were very amused by the outfit.

Unfortunately, the fumes from the hair dye seemed to go straight to Tim’s head, and he was struggling to read the court very well. We had some great rallies, but Tim just seemed a little off the entire match. Before I knew what happened the match was over with me winning 6/0 6/1. It was a fun match to watch and play, but was definitely not Tim’s best night of tennis.

This meant that the night came down to the doubles. Tim came out looking refreshed after washing away all of the coloring from his hair and face, and I knew we would be in for a battle now. Tim and Josh started the match playing very steady tennis, not allowing Tony and I to get any free points. We found ourselves in a 0/3 in the race to 8 games, but managed to battle back to 6/6 before taking the match and the night overall with a final score of 8/6.

The Tennis and Racquet Club did a great job with the event, and I must thank all of the members who dressed up and came out to support the team. The atmosphere was exactly what you would want for a National League match, and the event afterwards just added to the fun.

#Focus