A short summary of the first leg of my Asia trip:
Chinese Taipei F1: Quarterfinals
Chinese Taipei F2: Quarterfinals
As these tournaments were $25K Futures, I walked away from my first two tournaments as a professional tennis player with 6 ATP points.
Chinese Taipei F1: I was definitely very nervous going into the first qualifying round. It was my first real tournament as a professional tennis player and I certainly had expectations for myself. I try to keep goals a little more long-term and process-centric but I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be disappointing and disheartening to come out of college with hopes of making it on the ATP and failing to qualify. Luckily, I shook off a bit of a slow start to win both my qualifying matches and make main draw. First round of main, I beat a young TPE player ranked around 1000. Again, I was exceedingly nervous during the match and couldn’t make a return for nearly the entire first set. Luckily, I served well and once I settled into the match, I was able to come out with the victory and my first ATP point. Second round, I played perhaps the best match of my entire trip. I beat a seeded TPE player in straights to advance to the quarterfinals and collect my first Top 500 win. I was definitely overmatched in the quarterfinals and while I don’t feel like I played well, it was nice to have someone expose the weaknesses in my game so I can pay particular attention to them in training.
Chinese Taipei F2: Seeing how successful my first week in Taipei was, I entered qualifying much more relaxed and cruised through two matches to make the main draw again. With a bit of an unlucky draw, I pulled an experienced seeded Japanese player ranked around 450 first round. Again, I felt pretty nervous going into the main draw. I had just had a very successful first week and I wanted the positive reinforcement of doing well in consecutive weeks. Luckily, I don’t think he was fully ready for outdoor tennis. Rain caused the entire first week to be played indoors and with the switch to outdoors, his consistent game coughed up some errors throughout the match which allowed me to cruise through easily. Second round, I played the same TPE player from last week’s first round except this match was much closer. While it was definitely the worst match I played on this trip by a small margin, I really tried to scrap the entire match and won in two very close sets. While the quality of tennis was very disappointing, it’s a good feeling to win a dogfight and something I’ll need to grow accustomed to as I grow into professional tennis. In the quarterfinals, I played the 1 seed who was ranked 280 from Japan. Playing a top 300 player for the first time, I could feel the amount of pressure he placed on me every point with his accuracy and the quickness of his ball (bigger ball and earlier contact). However, I was serving really well that day and he was having trouble getting traction in my service games. Through two and a half sets, I wasn’t broken until I was up 6-3 6-7 4-2 serving. Perhaps it was the humidity or perhaps college fitness just isn’t enough to hang in the pros, but I started to feel my quads and adductors cramp. I blew a 40-15 lead to go up 5-2 and before I knew it we were back on serve. When the match got to 5-5 however, my body was done. I started full-body cramping and was forced to retire. In fact, my cramping was so bad I ended up being sent to the hospital in an ambulance (Props to Taiwan’s universal health care for the 100 USD total bill). While this was a bitter bitter disappointment for me because I was so close to a top 300 victory and the point totals jump from 3 to 8 between quarters and semis, it was still an encouraging sign for me to be so close to closing out a top player.