I wish I had better news regarding my results in Korea.
Learning. Growing. Training.
Although we lost first and second round, we continued to learn, grow, and we took advantage of each training day to do so. Busan was the first city I traveled to in Korea. I unfortunately arrived to tournament in Korea from America, late. I arrived Wednesday morning and played Thursday afternoon. I normally get to tournaments two or three days before competition starts, but I was unable to in this case. The flights that left over the weekend were entirely too expensive for me to afford, so I had to buy a flight that left on Monday. Once I got to Korea, I felt like I was hitting the ball well. I had two practices before I played my match. I had one practice Wednesday afternoon, and I had a smaller practice Thursday morning before competing Thursday afternoon. I thought I felt ready once match time came around, but I simply wasn’t. I had a terrible start to the match and seemed to react to everything a split second late. I played a bit better as the match went on, but it was too late by that point. We played the 3 seeds and a good team. Their names were Sander Arends (ranked 89 in the world) and Tristen Samuel Weissborn (103 in the world). I would have loved to prepare a bit better for a team like that, but this is the reality of a professional tennis player. It’s unrealistic to get perfect preparation each week I’m on the road. It’s up to me to produce results even when I feel under prepared. After Busan, we took a 3 hour bus ride to a smaller city in Gwanju. I had 3 days of good preparation before competition. We won our first round against a good team. One of the players, Blake Ellis, made the third round in the Australian Open this year. Evan and I played a very clean match. We got rocked the following round however to a Korean wildcard team. I didn’t necessarily know who they were, and I had never seen them before, but they played very well. It was definitely one of those days where it seemed that everything was going their way. They seemed to connect on most returns, make most first serves, and hit winners at a higher rate than usual. There are times where you run into teams that are simply having a good day, and it’s a lot easier to have a good day when you get to play front of home fans. Despite the imperfect preparation the first week, and losing to a hot team the second week, Evan and I have to find ways to get better results. It was tough for me to properly evaluate the first match because I hadn’t properly adjusted to the time difference between America and Korea. However, after evaluating both of my matches in the second tournament, I have found two new areas that I need to work hard to improve on before my next professional tournament, June 3rd in Arkansas. The first area that needs extra work is my first volleys. I hit them decently well, but if I'm going to break inside the top 100 this year, they need to be a lot better. I have been hitting them well when there is no pressure on my first volley, but as soon as I felt pressure, I struggled a little bit. People put pressure on my first volley by putting in a good return and having the off guy at net moving forward and shutting off the middle of the court. When a net guy does this, the target area that I want to hit into becomes smaller. I must be more consistent when hitting my volleys into smaller targets. The next area I will look to improve is my groundstrokes when hitting at two people at the net. This is an area I excelled in when Evan and I won Monterrey. I haven’t been terrible in this area of my game, but I haven’t been excelling in this area either. If I want to consistently win tournaments, I must excel in this area. There are bright spots as from the last two weeks as well. From my last blog, I was focused on improving my serve and mindset as it pertains to staying in the present. I can confidently say that those two areas of my game have improved. I tend to do a good job of improving the specific area of my game I am focus on which is a positive thing. As I move forward, I will be spending the majority of my time improving my first volley and my baseline to net skills. I am currently in Newport Beach, California for a doubles money tournament. I am playing with Raymond Sarmiento. He played his college tennis for The University of Southern Cal (USC), and was an All-American. His career high in singles is 287 in the world. While in Newport, I am staying with Eric Diaz. He and I were teammates at the University of Georgia. I am doing a combination of training in the morning with Eric, and teaching a little in the afternoons to make money. The money tournament starts on Sunday and finishes on Monday. I’m hoping to make enough money this week to support myself for the training week at the USTA in Orlando next week. We will run a small doubles camp before heading to Arkansas for our next pro level tournament. I will not be playing with Evan for my next tournament, I will be playing with Donald Young instead. Although Korea didn’t go as well as I planned results wise, I have a great plan to make a little money and improve my game over the next two weeks. I will be putting in lots of time on court working on both my first volley and baseline skills when hitting to net players. Please follow along and watch my matches once Arkansas starts! The link to my livestream matches will be on the top right corner of the page.