It’s been awhile since I blogged last, but after a tough loss this weekend in Charlottesville, I wanted to blog about something positive. Within the last month, I accomplished two results that I had yet to do since being on the Circuit. I qualified for my first 100k Challenger and made the finals of my first 15k Future.
Challenger qualies can be a tough transition going from Futures main draws as the cut is usually higher and you don’t get any points until you actually qualify. When I decided to skip the 10k Future in California and go play my first 100k qualifying it was somewhat frowned upon by my coach. This was largely due to the fact that I had won just one match in the previous two Futures. It’s true I didn’t get the results I wanted at those Futures, but I felt like I was playing well and just happened to lose a couple of tight matches.
Against my coach’s recommendation, I headed up to Sacramento for the Challenger qualies. During the first day of practice, I realized the courts were much nicer and slower than the ones I had played on in Costa Mesa the week before. I felt this would set up well for my game style so I was looking forward to seeing my draw.
That night I looked at the draw and saw I was set to face the three seed from Italy, Salvatore Caruso. I went in to the match knowing nothing about him or his game style. In the first set, this did not play a role as I played confidently and won the first set 6-2. Things got a little trickier in the second set as I put myself in a 5-2 hole. I didn’t give up and I fought back to force a breaker, which I won 7-4 to win the set and the match. This was a solid win and had me ready for the second round.
My match up in the second round was Philip Bester. On paper this did not look good for me. He was coming off a Futures final appearance his last tournament, plus he had beaten me the last three times we had played including a month earlier in Calgary 6-3 7-6. If that wasn’t enough, he had beaten me at the same club badly six years prior…yes, six years prior, I don’t forget… This time was different, it was in California and I felt the conditions suited me a bit better.
I started off very solid, but gave a break back and found myself in a tight tiebreaker. Some luck was on my side as I sneaked out the breaker. The second set was not one to remember as I was beaten fairly easily. It was in the third set though where I dug deep. I managed to save a handful of match points before I ended up prevailing in a three hour marathon match. So it was on to the qualifying round.
My opponent in the qualifying round was a good friend of mine, Mico Santiago. He is a bit younger and less experienced than my first two opponents, but I knew I couldn’t take him lightly. Fortunately for me I won 6-2 6-2, but with it being the qualifying round I’ll be honest, I felt a little more tension throughout the match. I was happy about qualifying, but I didn’t have too much time to celebrate as I was scheduled first up the next day.
I drew fellow American and tour veteran Bobby Reynolds in the first round of the main draw. Luckily I was pretty familiar with his game since I was able to see him play a lot at the Challenger in Champaign back when I was in school. We had a roller coaster of a first set. We both had two breaks over the other person. I was feeling good, I felt like my return was on and I was moving really well. After twelve games, we were tied six all and headed to a breaker. Sadly, he played the big points a little bit better than me pulling away 7-4. My good play carried over to the second set. I jumped out to a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately though, I wasn’t able to hold on to the momentum. Bobby fought back and won the second set 6-4 to win the match. I felt like I did some things really well in this match, but going into the indoor Challenger season I realize I need to play the bigger points a little smarter in the future.
This event happened to be a great experience and confidence booster for me moving forward. I really think the momentum in Sacramento carried over to Texas and gave me the confidence I needed to make my first 15k Final. Losing a tight match this weekend in the first round of qualies in Charlottesville hurts, but I have a week to make some improvements and get ready for Knoxville qualifying.
Peace out ADNA readers!