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2016 FRENCH OPEN SINGLES AND DOUBLES CHAMPION

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Hello CT Fans!

I am excited to say that I won the French Open Singles and Doubles title last week in Paris. It was a great week for me, playing some of my best tennis, and only dropping 7 games throughout the entire singles event.

 

My first round singles match was against a qualifier named Jamie Giddens, who is an amateur playing out of Cambridge University. Jamie won through the qualifiers over some steep competition, and has a lot of potential to improve in the future. We had a great match, but I could tell he was a little nervous out there. I felt my control was solid, and the court was just as I remembered it, leading to a 6/0 6/0 6/2 win.

 

This put me into the quarter-finals against Rich Smith, who I know very well having spend many years in Newport with him. Luckily for me, Rich has not been playing full time lately, and was a little rusty. My reading of the court continued to improve, and more importantly, I felt my serve was putting lots of pressure on him. I tried my bets to stay focused on each game, and before I knew it the match was over 6/0 6/0 6/0 in my favor.

 

The semi-finals put me against world #7 Kieran Booth, who had upset world #6 Chris Chapman in the quarter-finals. Kieran and I have been playing since we were kids, and he is currently the top amateur in the world. My form continued to improve throughout the match, and my serve was as good as ever. Kieran seemed to be feeling the pressure and gave me more free points than I am sure he intended. I dominated the service end for most of the match, which allowed me stay in control of the match, winning 6/0 6/0 6/2.

 

14390726_661063704058613_5212114738777456962_n            The final was a world championship rematch with my nemesis, and former world champion, Rob Fahey. Rob had won over Nick Howell in a tight 4 set semi-final, but can never be discounted. He has always managed to come alive when he needs to, so I knew I needed to play my best. Luckily that’s just what I did. We exchanged games to 2-all in the first set before I found my footing. After that I felt in complete control, reading the court well, controlling the service end, and hitting my targets. I stormed through the match winning 6/3 6/0 6/0. This is my fourth consecutive French Open Singles title, having won 3 in a row before missing last years due to injury.

 

In the doubles, I teamed up with my good friend John Lumley, hoping to help get John his first Open title. We were the #1 seeds, and knew that the competition would be tough, but I was incredibly proud of Johns composure throughout the week. Our first round match was against Rich Smith and Andrew Fowler, which was the most enjoyable match of the week for me. We felt in control, and John was moving well around the court, which only makes life easier for me. We stayed on top, taking the match 6/0 6/0 6/1.

 

The doubles semi-final pitted us against world #5 Ben Matthews and world #6 Chris Chapman. I knew this would be a great test for John and I as a team, and I was proud of our teamwork. John stepped up, returning serve well, and volleying everything from the service end. We had some close sets, but found our form when needed winning 6/4 6/4 6/2.

The doubles final put us against the #2 seeds Rob Fahey and Ricardo Smith. They are a formidable team, and it was going to take our best to beat them. The first set was very close, with Rob and Ricardo taking a 5/3 lead. I buckled in and tried to take over, playing more aggressive and trying to take the pressure off of John. This worked well, and we grabbed the first set 6/5. We continued the m14470605_661900783974905_4039374854402090276_nomentum into the second set, grabbing an early lead and not looking back. We took the set 6/0 quickly, and now only needed 1 more for the championship. The third set saw Rob and Ricardo fight back, putting the pressure back on John and I to earn every point. We snuck a 5/2 lead, but before I knew it the score was 5-all and the pressure was immense. John and I buckled down though, and found our best form in the last game to take it and the title 6/5 6/0 6/5.

 

A huge thank you to the Paris club, sponsors, and professionals for a great week. I always enjoy coming to Paris, and truly believe this was the best French Open I have been lucky enough to attend. I can’t wait to head back next year and defend my title.

 

#FOCUS

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FRENCH OPEN TRAINING AND DRAWS

Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 10.13.03 AMHello Friends!

I have finished my preparations for the French Open, and am now in recovery mode before heading over to Paris Saturday night. The tournament is set to start this weekend with the qualifiers, but my first match isn’t until Monday evening. This year the draw is missing a few of the top 10 players due o injuries and conflicts, but it will still be a very tough week.

The last week has been spent traveling around the US training with various partners for the event. I 14212540_652010521630598_860116369769572827_nstarted in Boston, where I hit with Leon Smart, T&R Assistant Professional, and even had a chance to do some cross training with one of the top squash players in the world Amanda Sohby.

I then packed up the car with the essentials (tennis clothes and of course my best friend Gus) and headed down to Tuxedo Park NY. It was great to catch up with my friend and doubles partner Tim Chisholm. He is always the best training partner, and I am sad that he will not be at the French Open this year.

After a few days in Tuxedo, I continued my trip south to Philadelphia for some intense 4 hour training days with John Lumley, RCOP Assistant Professional. John is one of my close friends, and is also my doubles partner for the French Open this year. Along the way, we made a side trip to visit the Georgian Court, which is a court built by Jay Gould that has now become part of a University in New Jersey. It was one of the few courts in the world I had not played, and it was an amazing experience to see it. 20160910_180523

Below are the links to the draws for this years event. Please take a look, and wish me luck! I will be posting reviews of all my matches so keep watching the site!

French Open Singles Draw

French Open Doubles Draw

#Focus

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UPCOMING COCKTAIL PARTIES

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Hello All!

I have been honored to receive calls from a few clubs around the US who have asked to throw cocktail parties in my honor. The first of these will be at the Boston Tennis & Racquet Club on Thursday July 21st. Boston has always been a second home to me, and it means a lot to see the great support they have for me.

The second event will be down south in Aiken, South Carolina, my hometown. There is a whole day of events to take place, and I am looking forward to finally getting to share this achievement with them all. The first event will be at the Chamber of Commerce in Aiken, where Mayor Rick Osbon, Senator Tom Young, and Representative Bill Taylor will be present to honor my achievement as well as announce August as Racquet Sports Month in Aiken. The event will start at 11am and I would love to see anyone who can attend!

This will be followed by a lunch at the Wilcox Hotel, which I am hosting to thank many of my friends and sponsors for their support.

In the evening, the Aiken Tennis Club will be hosting a cocktail party for its members, me, and my family. As many know, Aiken is where I grew up playing, and I can’t wait to celebrate with all of my friends.

Thank you to all of the clubs and people who have helped to organize these events. It is truly an honor to see the amount of support there is for my achievement of becoming World Champion. It motivates me even more to continue to grow, and to be the best champion possible.

#FOCUS

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JULY UPDATE

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Hello My Friends!

Coming off of an amazing May and June, I have been trying to recover (both mentally and physically). Most of my July has been spent back at work in Newport, and focusing on building my schedule for the next year. With my new title comes much expectation, both from others and myself, and I am going to do my best to reach those expectations.

One of the biggest changes in the next year, is that I will be working with the USCTA by attending more nets to promote the great game of court tennis. My hope is to encourage those who play to stick with it, as well as convince those who don’t yet play to get out there.

I have also started back with my training, and have to say it is harder than I remember! My first session back with Mike Cecchi at Bridge to Fitness was one of the hardest I have ever had. There are new mental barriers I must overcome, as well as new goals far above what we had set before. I am looking forward to the challenge, but am very aware of how difficult it will be.

I hope you all are enjoying the summer, and I hope to see you at one of the upcoming events around the US!

#FOCUS

 

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2016 US PROFESSIONAL SINGLES CHAMPION

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Hello My Friends!

My incredible month has continued by winning my seventh consecutive US Professional Singles title. It was an awesome week, and by far one of my toughest tournaments mentally coming off the WC. The draw featured almost all of the top 10 players in the world, and with my new WC status I knew they would all be looking to take me down.

In the Finals I had a rematch with the now former World Champion Rob Fahey, and I wanted to back up my WC performance if possible. We had a close match, especially the first two sets, which we split 6/5 5/6 before I managed to grab a steady lead. I won the match in four tight sets 6/5 5/6 6/2 6/1, and it was one of the toughest mental matches I have ever played.

With the win I have tied Rob for the most consecutive US Pro titles at 7, and will now look to surpass it next year.

Thank you to the entire NTC Board and members who helped make the week a great one. Now it is finally time to shut down for a few weeks before starting back in my training. It has been a month to remember, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has for me.

#Focus

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March Update!

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Hello Friends!

March has been a crazy month for me! I have been doing more traveling than I thought possible, and have been working hard to prepare for the Final Eliminator. Overall I am feeling good though, with my game coming along just the way I would like it to for next week.

I started the month with a 4 day trip to London where I trained with former World Champion Chris Ronaldson. It was a once in a lifetime trip, and I can’t thank him enough for his time. It was the first time I have had my game broken down or thought about so intensely in a while, and it reminded me how much fun the mental side of the game is.

After returning from the UK, I went to Chicago to support my good friend Tim Chisholm, who was taking on Steve Virgona in the first round of the World Champs Eliminators. Unfortunately Tim couldn’t get the win and Steve moved through to the Finals to play against me! Of course I will do my best to get revenge for him!

Since then I have been training with John Lumley in Philadelphia, preparing for the match, which is set to start April 6th. We have been working hard, breaking down both our games, and hoping to rebuild them at an even higher level. It has been great to work with him, as I really think he will be knocking at the World Championship door very soon.

We are now less than a week from the start of the Eliminator, and all of the training has been completed. The next few days are all about proper preparation for the matches, which means preparing the body and mind! I am doing my best to relax by spending time with my dog Gus, and am trying to work on the mental preparation everyday.

I will be doing daily posts starting Monday the 4th of April about my preparation as well as my thoughts on each day. Please stay tuned and feel free to ask any questions you would like about my training!

#Focus

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2016 US OPEN SINGLES AND DOUBLES CHAMPION!

 

Hello All!

It has been a heck of a week here in Chicago, and I am happy to say that I will be returning home with both the Singles and Doubles titles. This makes it my fourth consecutive US Open Singles title as well as my fourth consecutive US Open Doubles title with Tim Chisholm. I have to say that it has been one of the hardest weeks of tennis I have ever played. Coming off of an injury break, and not getting any competitive play since June, I wasn’t sure how my game would fair. Overall I am incredibly pleased with the result, especially in the singles, where I had to dig deep in the fifth set to win the title.

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The singles Final pitted me against Steve Virgona, who had the home crowd on his side from the first point. This is always to be expected, and I looked at it as a great training tool for practicing my focus. The first set went back and forth until 3-all. I wasn’t finding my range both on the floor and with forcing, and Steve took control. He won the next 3 games and the set 6/3.

The second set I started to find my game, working the floor, and taking advantage of opportunities. The set went quickly in my favor 6/1. The third set started, and I instantly fell back into bad habits. Overhitting and poor shot selection allowed Steve to gain momentum, which is when he is at his best. I found myself down 4/0 before I could regain composure. I fought back one game at a time, slowly regaining control and winning the next 6 games and the set 6/4.

The fourth set was an absolute battle, with Steve and I exchanging games although he always maintained a slight lead. I felt as though I was forcing points more than I would like, which is not my normal style of play. Steve took full advantage of the openings and closed out the set 6/4 to tie it at 2 sets all.

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The fifth set saw Steve take control early. I was yet again making poor decisions and allowing Steve to control play. He jumped out to a 4/1 lead, and I knew I was in trouble. I tried my best to buckle down and focus on my game more than anything. I slowly chipped away one game at a time before battling back to 4-all, and then a 5/4 lead. Once ahead I did my best to put my foot down, fighting back from a love-30 hole to gain a match point on the service end. I only needed one to finish the match and win my fourth consecutive (and fifth overall) US Open Singles title. The Final score was 3/6 6/1 6/4 4/6 6/4.

For my first tournament since June I am incredibly pleased. I was able to regain much of my form both physically and mentally, and kept my head together when I absolutely needed it. This gives me great confidence going into the World Championship Eliminators, as I know I can get back to my best. I am always looking to improve of course, but am proud of the heart I was able to show this week.

A huge thank you to John Cashman and his team at the Racquet Club of Chicago for putting on one of the best US Opens I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of. They have set the bar VERY high for all clubs in the future.

In the Doubles Final, Tim Chisholm and I took on Steve Virgona and Chris Chapman. Tim had been suffering from the flu most of the week, and was stuck in best for the two days leading up to the Final. I was worried, as our style of play tends to involve a lot of running around, but I was incredibly proud of his level for the Final. Tim is one of the best competitors I have ever seen, and he showed that tonight, playing great tennis from the first point. We had some great exchanges, but felt in control most of the match. We even dug out of a 3/5 hole in the second set to the the match in straight sets by a score of 6/3 6/5 6/0.

 

February Training Update

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Hello My Friends!

I have been working hard to prepare for the upcoming US Open, as well as the Eliminators. I am looking forward to using the US Open to play myself back into tennis, as a long lay off generally leaves you pretty rusty! Lately my training has involved trips to Philadelphia to hit with John Lumley and Gabe Kinzler, as well as trips to Boston to hit with Tony Hollins and Leon Smart. Both clubs have been very welcoming, and I have enjoyed getting back out there with my friends.

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My game is starting to come back, and I feel confident it will be at 100% when I need it. The hardest part has been managing my expectations over the last month, while playing myself back into tennis. I always push myself pretty hard, and have high expectations for myself on court. It has been a mental battle to accept the slow recovery, and building process with my game on court.

This weekend I am in Boston putting in my final training sessions before I rest up for the Open. I generally like to take a few days off before a tournament to make sure the body is at 100% for the week. This is especially important coming off of injury, as it can help ensure I don’t reinjure myself during the event.

I appreciate all of the support from you all as I get back out there, and promise I will give it my absolute best like always!

#Focus

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2015 US PRO SINGLES CHAMPION!

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Hello Friends!

Yesterday I won my 6th (!!!) consecutive US Pro Singles title, defeating Steve Virgona in the Final. This caps off what can only be called my best season yet, and I couldn’t be happier. The tournament featured 7 of the top 10 players in the world, and was a great week of tennis. The Finals was one of the hardest ones I have played in here, with Steve playing very well, but I managed to win the big points when I needed to, taking the match 6/2 6/3 6/2.

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A big thank you to Jay and Suzie Schochet for sponsoring the event, and the National Tennis Club and International Tennis Hall of Fame for hosting. It is always great to be in Newport this time of year, and I think that is a big part of my success at the tournament.

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I am now looking forward to getting home to catch up with Gus the corgi, and a little well-earned time off from competitive tennis. The season will start back up in early September with the French Open, where I will be defending both the Singles and Doubles titles. I can’t wait for next season, but am looking forward to recovering over the summer.

#Focus