End of Year Update

2013 is coming to a close and I thought I’d take the time to update everyone on my progress.

But firstly…

I just want say a massive THANKS to everyone who has read/shared/tweeted and commented on my last blog post which you can access HERE

I received well over 40,000 views on that post alone and I believe it generated a lot of interest because there are so many players/parents who have similar financial concerns to me. I hope it provided some insight into what it is like to survive on the tour.

I’ve created a slideshow of photos from 2013. Feel free to flick through them to see what I’ve been up to this year:

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There were many highlights for me throughout the year as well as some low moments. All in all, I am happy with the progress I made this year as I jumped from being ranked 401 in November 2012 to 220 in November 2013.  I also had the chance to play my first Grand Slam qualifying event in Wimbledon this year and I had some solid top 100 wins over guys like Ryan Harrison and Blaz Kavcic. I am continuing to learn on a daily basis what is required to become a top tennis player and I hope I can continue this progress throughout 2014.

Despite my progress in the ranks, I am still in a difficult position financially as I am only earning a fraction of what I am spending. I have relied heavily on funding from my local club as well as my own prize money to keep me out on the road competing. It is a constant challenge to fund myself on the tour and I am working extremely hard, both on and off the court to achieve what I want to achieve so I can stay out on tour competing. If you, or anyone you know would be interested in providing a contribution to support me on the tour, please contact me.

Next up for me is the Australian Open Qualifying event which runs from Jan 8-11, 2014. I’m really excited to go Down Under for the first time in my life and I’m hoping I can play well down there. I’ve done the preparation so now it is a question of trusting my game and letting it happen.

I will keep you guys updated on my progress throughout 2014.

In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter here and you can ”LIKE” my Facebook Page here

Lastly, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2014!

All the best,

James

Posted in Challenger Tour, General, Irish Tennis, Sponsorship, Tour Life, Update | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Financing the Tour

Hello again everyone,

I’d like to use my blog to answer some of the questions I receive frequently from younger players, parents and general tennis fans. I tend to hear a lot of questions to do with training/travelling/funding/motivation and in this particular blog post,  I will focus on finance and related matters. It will be about the expenses, the prize money and the different ways I’ve managed on tour over the past few years.

Let me first start by going back to 2009..

Cash

2009-2011:

For many years, my biggest concern about playing on the tour wasn’t so much about my will or ability, it was more about having the money to actually do it! I was extremely fortunate to have some private sponsors help me out for a short time when I first started on the Futures Tour (July ’08) but the money didn’t last long due to the economic downturn. I ended up being in a position in early 2009 where I had no sponsorship and very little personal money. Major challenge..

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I was ranked in the 400′s in 2009 after a good start on the tour from July-Dec ’08. It was a time where I needed funding to really push on and not get stuck but unfortunately, I did get stuck. My lack of funding lead to major changes in my schedule, my game, my mentality, my ranking and consequently my results. It was a difficult time and it lasted well over 2 years until mid 2011. Not surprisingly, my results were not outstanding during that period and I really felt I was struggling due to minimal funds.

I played primarily on the Futures Tour during 2009/2010 as my ranking was not high enough to get into the main draw of Challenger Tournaments. I was limited to a European schedule as cross-continental flight costs (America/Asia etc.) were too expensive and I stayed in the cheapest accommodation I could find at tournaments, including residential dorms and hostels. The fact that I had so little money meant that I couldn’t afford a coach so I traveled to over 90% of tournaments alone. At first, it was exciting to have such freedom and to be ”chasing my dream” but after some time reality kicked in. I was both alone and stressed and wasn’t sure exactly how things would pan out. Aloneness and high performance don’t mix well and it’s just not surprising that I wasn’t reaching my full potential during that period.

Cutting Costs:

Cut costs

I took strong measures to cut costs as it was the only option I had. To cut flight costs, I started travelling with Ryanair as they had the ”cheapest” flights and flew into a few cities that were close to some of the Futures tournaments.  Everyone knows how Ryanair do their best to catch passengers who are 1 or 2 kilos overweight in baggage and I learned the hard way. In order for me not to get caught by them, I had to reduce the amount of gear/equipment I usually traveled with, buy a new carry-on bag (which I made sure exactly fitted the shape/size requirements!) and hoped they wouldn’t find something else to charge me for. I learned to put my clothes, tennis rackets and a folded tennis bag into one suitcase and I used my carry-on bag for a laptop, some clothes and a few other essential things. I turned it into a game and used to find pleasure when placing my suitcase up on the scales and seeing 15.0 Kilos on the dial. ”C’MONNN!!!”

Ryanair

I fought with this many times!

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Definitely overweight for a Ryanair Flight!

I did a few other things too to cut costs like taking the boat a few times to the U.K., sleeping next to strangers in hostels and I even made equipment changes to cut down on my restringing costs. I started using a thicker string with a lower gauge which meant it would take longer to snap. This certainly saved me some extra cash but it didn’t save my shoulder-I ended up having to take 3 months off and get an injection in my shoulder at the end of 2011 because it had taken a serious beating from playing with what felt like a large plank of wood. I won’t be doing that again!

On top of that, I had to find players every week who I could share a room with to cut hotel costs. It wasn’t very enjoyable and I had my fair share of sleepless nights because my French or Italian roommate was snoring the hotel down. On one particular instance, my roommate was snoring so loud that I screamed at the top of my lungs, “SHUT THE #@!* UP!” and threw my two pillows at his head. It was enough to quieten him down for a few hours but still, not ideal. I’ve since purchased some effective noise-reducing ear plugs which I now use when flying, sleeping in noisy hotels etc.

I also clamped down on my laundry expenses by washing all my clothes in the bathtub or sink during tournaments. Laundry can surprisingly be quite expensive depending on what hotel you stay at.

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My clothes drying out on the balcony!

Expenses:

The two largest expenses are always flights and accommodation and after that, you have to take care of food, restringing, laundry, transport (taxi, train, bus), Physio (massage), equipment (string/clothes etc.) and the odd random expense (entry fees, ITF/ATP subscription fees etc.).

Expenses can really add up on a weekly basis when you take all these factors into account and you have to remember, all of this is just for myself! If you add a coach to the equation or a physical trainer, you might as well double those costs as you have to pay their flights/hotel/food along with a weekly salary. The costs end up being astronomical!

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Average week on Tour expenditure within Europe

I don’t care how good a player is or how talented he is, no player can continually progress without the help of other people- be it a coach, a trainer, a physical therapist or a mental coach. You need someone in your corner who can challenge you, support you, develop you and take you to that extra level.

I was simply in a situation back in 2009 where I literally could not afford to have someone continuously helping me so I reached out to a lot of good-hearted people who empathized with my situation and gave me free coaching, free accommodation and free advice.

Just so you know, most players (aside from very top guys) play between 25 and 30 tournaments per year, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on the player. For the other 20 or so weeks where they are not competing, most players use that time to train or rest. Large costs can still be incurred during these weeks if you choose to pay a coach or a trainer.

For the players who can’t afford this, they tend to use this time to train without a coach or physical trainer. In my opinion, these weeks are just as important as the competitive weeks and from my own experience, I always progressed more during the training weeks where I had a coach compared to when I hadn’t.

In Search of Knowledge:

In my non-competitive weeks I spent my time searching for sponsorship and looking for world-class coaching. I traveled to Italy a few times to work with world-renowned coach Bob Brett and his protégée Marin Cilic (currently world #11). Bob was kind enough to offer me plenty of free coaching and training and I am sincerely grateful for that gesture. It was an awesome experience and I got to know Marin too which is cool.

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Training with Bob Brett and Marin Cilic

I also travelled to a few tennis academies and coaches in the U.K. including the LTA Centre at Roehampton and a bunch of training centers in Europe. My old coach Larry (Tennis Canada) used to give coaching clinics/seminars in many centers around the U.K. and I travelled over to gain from his expertise in the 48 hours he was there. I slept on his hotel room floor a few times and used to take notes and record the conversations we had so I could listen to them when I was back on the road competing. I was spending money to travel to the U.K.  but I saw it as an investment in improving my game and keeping me on the right track.

Prize Money:

The prize money at Futures tournaments is scandalously poor.

I remember making the final of a Futures in Madrid in May 2011 and receiving under €500 in prize money. It was atrocious and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the cheque. It was both discouraging and sad to see my hard work earning me very little money. Up to that point, it was my most successful week of 2011 in terms of ranking points but I still lost more money than I made!

Futures tournaments can be of a high standard with guys ranked as high at 190 in the world playing them. Even with winning the whole tournament, a lot of the time the prize money earned will not even cover costs for the week!

The whole reason for playing Futures tournaments is to earn enough rankings points so that your ranking can be high enough to start playing some Challenger tournaments but the process of getting into the main draw of Challengers can be very tough, especially if you do it without help. It is possible to do, but requires a lot of mental strength and physical ability.

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After tax, I made less than €500 for final of a Futures in Madrid

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Prize money receipt for 1st Round of $15,000 Futures

Prize Money Receipt for 2nd Round of Challenger

Prize Money Receipt for 2nd Round of Challenger

Challenger Tour:

Once you make it to the Challenger Tour, life gets a little bit easier in terms of the organization of the tournament, the general setup and for a lot of Challengers, hospitality can be provided for the week. The standard of competition is obviously that much higher but prize money and ATP ranking points are so much greater than Futures.

In order to break through from the Challenger Tour to the ATP Tour, you need to be able to win consistently at Challenger Tour level and very seldomly do I see a player who is doing this without help. A huge portion of Challenger players have a coach with them for the week as it can give them an advantage with regards to scouting, practice, off-court management and general company.

For the players who win consistently at Challenger Tour Level and travel alone, they are exceptional players and from my observations, they are almost always the older, more experienced players who have been on tour for years. They know what they’re doing..

League Tennis in 2009/2010:

I wasn’t receiving positive responses on the sponsorship end of things so to keep myself afloat financially, I started playing Club tennis in France and Germany as it was the only viable option to get fast cash. In 2010, I think I played about 11 league matches on 11 consecutive weekends in different parts of France and Germany. In between each league match I was playing different Future tournaments around many countries in Europe and I was hustling every Saturday to catch one (sometimes 2) flights to play my club matches. I would play 2 club matches on the Sunday (singles+doubles), get paid and hustle to get a flight out late Sunday night to go to the next tournament for a 1st Round match on the Monday, regularly in another country. Talk about grinding!

To say it was hard is an understatement, it was one of the most physically draining schedules I had and one which led to a lot of stress and injury. It was extremely tough and led me to question a lot of my inner beliefs as to why on earth I was putting myself through this type of lifestyle. It was stressful, physically draining and lacked any real financial reward. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of “what could be” if I manage to keep grinding.  I was basically in a losing race, at some point I either had to stop playing altogether or something great would have to happen..

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My old league team in France, great guys!

Most league tennis around Europe is played during the summer months but I had to get money for the other 9 months. I started playing French money tournaments around different parts of France. Basically, these tournaments were in the middle of nowhere in France with nothing around apart from a large shed/warehouse that had a few tennis courts inside. The tournaments would last 3-4 days and I would usually be put up in housing. Matches weren’t even all that easy but I did win a couple of tournaments here and there. A nice €600 paycheck to keep myself going for the next week or so..

Indoor clay court

I would regularly play league tennis/money tournaments in this type of venue

Counting pennies

I’m not the only tennis player who has had to live this type of nomadic lifestyle but when I talk to other ATP Tour players about the cost of the tour and how they handle their finances, each one has shared a different story..

European Club Tennis/World Team Tennis

Many players I talk to play league tennis across Europe and you will regularly see Top 100, Top 50 and even Top 20 players playing for a variety of clubs. The payment for playing varies but can be from €500 to €10,000 per match depending on ranking. A player ranked in the 500′s can earn over €1000 per match. A top 200 player can earn over €2500 per match plus expenses. The club tennis is a big business and many players would not survive on tour without it. I, for one, can vouch for that!

Some of the U.S. and international players play World Team Tennis in the U.S. but I’m not familiar with their system.

2006 World Team Tennis

World Team Tennis

Davis Cup

Other players I’ve talked to rely on their Davis Cup earnings to take care of a good chunk of their expenses throughout the year. Obviously it depends on which Davis Cup Group your country is in but I’m aware that many Challenger Tour players receive a substantial payment to perform for their country.

Playing Davis Cup Vs. Egypt 2012

Playing Davis Cup Vs. Egypt 2012

Unfortunately for Irish tennis players, this is not the case. When it comes to earnings for Davis Cup, I receive much less than I would for playing one club match in France.  Most club matches are played on Sunday afternoons and all are best of 3 Tie-break sets. Davis Cup on the other hand lasts the entire week and the matches from Friday to Sunday are all best out of 5 sets! 

To give you an example: In my last Davis Cup match Vs. Finland in April, I received €500 for my efforts in a tight 5 set match which I lost to Harri Heliovaara. I also received an extra €320 for team selection. Total of €820. That money didn’t even last me a full week on tour!  

Let me be clear, I am extremely honoured to be in a position to play for my country and represent Ireland. I’ve always given 100% in my matches in Davis Cup but I believe the payment for playing for Ireland is grossly unfair. Playing Davis Cup 2 weeks out of the year results in missing 4 weeks of professional Challenger and ATP tournaments throughout the year. That’s 4 weeks of earnings and 4 weeks of gaining vital ATP rankings points. From my personal experience, Davis Cup is extremely demanding on a physical and emotional level and I have always needed to take a few days off after Davis Cup in order to rest and prepare for the next tournaments. These weeks away from the tour can be crucial in terms of ranking points and earnings.

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Ireland Vs Finland Live on Setanta Sports

National Federations/Governing Bodies

Some players, such as the Spaniards/French receive funding from their National Federations up to a certain age or ranking in order to help them out in their career.  It is no surprise to me at all why these countries continue to regularly produce world class players. They have a fantastic system in place, support their players and they have a fantastic tennis culture. (I will go into more depth on this subject in another blog post)

Irish Sports CouncilUnfortunately, I have not been awarded any funding from the Irish Sports Council in 3 years despite being number 1 in Ireland for the past year and winning the Irish Open in 2011 which is an international event.  I very much appreciated the grants I received from them in 2009 and 2010 as I am certain I would not have survived without them.

tennisireland

In my entire junior and senior career, I didn’t receive any funding from Tennis Ireland aside from a small payment in 2010 that would have lasted me less than one week on the tour.

If Irish Tennis is to survive or progress at all, funding our players will need to become a top priority.

Clothing/Racket/String Sponsorship:

There are many players who have reduced their expenses by receiving clothing/shoes/racket or string sponsorship.

Solinco Logo

I am fortunate enough to receive free rackets from Head and a fantastic discount with the string company Solinco. I do not have a clothing sponsor or a shoe sponsor but I am presently looking for one.

The cost of clothing and shoes have become a large expense for me over the years and on average, I am going through about 12 pairs of hard court shoes per year, 6 pairs of clay court shoes and 2 pairs of grass court shoes. That can cost up to €3,000. To add the cost of clothing to that figure, I’ve come up with a estimate of €5,000 per annum in clothing/shoes expenses.

Some players are paid to use certain rackets or clothing and I believe a lot of them are the ones ranked at the top of the rankings, in seniors or juniors. Head Logo

In order to have these type of deals, it helps a lot to have a manager/agent negotiating on the player’s behalf.*

*I don’t have any financial deals with commercial companies nor do I have a manager or agent helping me. Any form of sponsorship would be of invaluable assistance to me.

Private Sponsorship:

Ladder

Many players work their way up the rankings ladder on the tour with the mindset of attracting a sponsor who can step in and provide funding to ease the financial strain. Fortunately for me, this was the case at the end of 2011 when I received substantial funding from my home club which has kept me going till now. For me, it was a miracle as I was in desperate need for funding to keep going on the tour. At that particular time, I was over €6,000 in debt due to costs incurred that year and I was not making any headway in my search for sponsorship. I am forever grateful to my home club for helping me in such a huge way and my results have improved significantly due to their help. It has allowed me to play on the tour without the enormous stress of financial worry and it has allowed me to play a full schedule of tournaments. On top of that, their financial help has led me to use Barcelona as a training base in my weeks off from the tour where I work with some excellent coaches and trainers.

I would also like to acknowledge the financial assistance from The Fitzwilliam Development Fund over the course of my professional career.

Future Sponsorship:

As I’ve already explained, I have benefitted and progressed greatly from my home club’s sponsorship.

That sponsorship has now expired and I am actively seeking alternative sources of sponsorship in order to take me to the next level. I am confident in my ability to climb further up the rankings which will allow me to play ATP Tour and Grand Slam events. With financial assistance, I know I can do it.

I kindly request anyone reading this blog to share it, tweet it or email it to anyone (private/commercial) you believe can be of financial assistance to me.

I am so grateful to you all for your moral support,

Slán agus beannacht,

James

Email: jamesmcgee01@gmail.com

Final Thoughts:

I know this blogpost has been a long one and quite detailed but I felt it had to be thorough in order to fully explain the costs involved to play on the tour.

I want to make it abundantly clear that money is not the be all and end all of success in tennis, it just helps.  I’ve seen players, teams and federations with all the money in the world yet they haven’t produced the same amount of success as individuals and federations with a limited budget. Sometimes it actually helps to have a limited budget, it gives people that burning desire and hunger that is necessary to achieve great success.

If you don’t have a lot of money but do have a lot of passion, then the only way forward is to beat everyone else you play. When you do that, you will eventually get recognised and hopefully that will lead to some sponsorship and opportunity. I know I’m being blunt here, but it’s true. The only way is to be absolutely exceptional at what you do and strive for excellence everyday.

Strive

Posted in Challenger Tour, Club Tennis, Coaching, Davis Cup, Development, Finance, Futures, Information, Irish Tennis, Junior Tennis, Sponsorship, Tour Life, Tournament, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Post Wimbledon Update

Hello Everyone!

I know it has been months since my last update but I figured I might as well stop procrastinating and get back writing.

I am back home in Dublin now after returning back from Wimbledon Qualifying earlier in the week. The past few weeks have been a fantastic learning experience for me in many ways but I’m happy to be home to have some time to reflect. I have learned through the years that time off to rest and reflect is just as important as the training and the competition. It just gives you some breathing space and a chance to see everything from a different angle.

I was delighted to make the cut for Wimbledon qualifying this year but it wouldn’t have happened had I not had some great performances in China and Korea back in early May. Going into Busan $75,000 Challenger in Korea a few weeks ago, I was aware in the back of my head that I needed a good result to make the cut for Wimbledon but I took the approach going into the tournament of “whatever will be, will be.” Even though it meant a lot to me to make the cut, there was no point in putting too much pressure on myself so I just went out, did my best and the result took care of itself. Fortunately, I was ranked #241 in the world when the new rankings came out and the Wimbledon qualifying cut ended up being #242! Lucky me..

Me and my old coach Larry at Wimbledon

Me and my old coach Larry at Wimbledon

Unfortunately, my time at Wimbledon qualifying didn’t last  long after I lost 1st round to Paul Capdeville 6-3 6-4. It wasn’t my best performance by all means and it was a tough one to take but there’s no point getting down about it. Tennis has taught me some great lessons and more often than not, I have learned a lot more from my defeats compared to my victories. For me, that’s what makes the sport so special. Tennis is a metaphor for life and I believe there are many ways of applying the lessons you learn on the court to your own life off the court.

I want to thank everyone who continues to support me throughout the year, you know who you are so thank you very much.

Lastly, here is a link to an excellent Irish Times article written by Jonathan Drennan about me before I went out to play Wimbledon qualies.

http://tinyurl.com/netj272

Best Wishes Everyone,

James

Posted in Challenger Tour, Grand Slam, Irish Tennis, Tour Life, Tournament, Update, Wimbledon | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Last Few Months On Tour

2013 has started off on a positive note. I reached the final of my first tournament of the year in Israel 3 weeks ago and followed that up with a couple of solid performances in Davis Cup the following week. We ended up beating Estonia 3-2 in a very tough and tightly contested Tie. Sam Barry and I both won a singles match each as well as a vital doubles match on the Saturday. We had to claw our way back from a 5-2 deficit in the fifth set of the doubles and save 2 match points along the way but we eventually got the job done and won 9-7 in the fifth set!

Here are some pictures from the Tie (Courtesy of Kevin O’ Brien)

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Prior to my off-season training in Barcelona, I had played 4 tournaments in Asia to end 2012. Two Challengers in Japan followed by 2 Futures in Jakarta, Indonesia. Each week was an amazing and new experience in itself and I’ll never forget one match I played in Indonesia (more on that later).

I was mesmerized by the beauty and culture of Japan and their unique way of life. I soaked in the whole experience and even took a day trip down to Kyoto to see the beautiful temples, shrines and spiritual places. The people were extremely polite and well mannered and I couldn’t get over how much bowing they did! Even if I bought a bottle of water in a local shop, the shopkeeper would make sure to bow to me 2 or 3 times before I left. I didn’t know whether to bow back or to keep my head down and wave goodbye! I already look forward to going back in the future.

Here are a few pictures:

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Japan and Indonesia couldn’t be more different. The culture, the weather, the people, the food etc. Everything was different and I wasn’t prepared for what was to come after I flew over 12 hours (incl. connection) from Tokyo down to Jakarta. I had left Tokyo in my winter jacket and trousers and landed in Jakarta only to be blown away by the heat and humidity of the noisy, crowded city. Talk about a shock to the system! In all my years playing, I had never experienced such uncomfortable conditions to play tennis in and I was really struggling the first few days of practice. For me the heat wasn’t really an issue (even though it was plus 34 degrees celcius) but it was more the humidity. I would be dripping sweat after playing for 5 minutes and by the mid way mark of any practice I had to change my shoes as the sweat was soaking through them and onto the court. I was finding it hard to grip my racket and probably changed 5-6 grips per practice. After a few days, I realized it was impossible to prevent the sweat and had no choice but to accept the fact that staying dry was not an option!

In the 1st tournament I drew an Indonesian wildcard who I knew nothing about but I quickly found out after a few games that he could play to a decent level despite his low ranking. I also found out that the conditions weren’t affecting him half as much as they were affecting me! Not good. Within minutes I was 3-0 down and I started to realize that I could lose this match if I didn’t get my act together! I ended up making a comeback and winning the match 6-4 6-3 but not without some drama. I vomited twice on the court (see pics below if you really want) and basically went through the match in a sort of weird daze. I don’t know whether it was sun stroke or dehydration but whatever it was, my head was spinning as if I was on a roller coaster. I got through my second round match the next day as well but things took a turn for the worse after that match, I spent the night hovering over the toilet bowl as I had picked up some awful food poisoning from the hotel restaurant. I slept 3 hours that night and went to the court on empty. In hindsight I shouldn’t have even taken to the court but I played the first few games before having to retire with severe dizziness and dehydration.

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I spent 3 full days in bed after that experience and then decided to play the final tournament in Jakarta. It was my 30th and final tournament of the year and I wanted to end on a good note. I won 3 matches to get to the semi-finals but didn’t manage to go all the way. That was it, the end of my 2012 season. I ended the season ranked 346 in the world. I would have liked to have made the cut for the Australian Open Qualifying event this year but it wasn’t to be. The good news is that I am more motivated that ever to change this for next year!

Right now, I am at a career high ranking of 321 and I am getting ready to play two $15,000 Futures tournaments in Texas. I’ll do my best to keep you updated.

James

 

Posted in Challenger Tour, Davis Cup, Irish Tennis, Match Report, Tour Life, Tournament, Update | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Davis Cup Vs. Estonia

Hi Everyone!

I’m back home in Ireland now after spending one month away training and competing. I spent my first 3 weeks of January training at my base in Barcelona and the last week playing a $10,000 Futures event in Eilat, Israel. I had a solid week and won 4 matches to get to the final but didn’t take the title. Good start to the year nevertheless.

Next up for me is Davis Cup vs. Estonia which starts next Friday, February 1st. There will be two singles matches played on Friday, first match starting at 4 p.m. followed by the second singles. On Saturday, the doubles match starts at 4 p.m. and on Sunday, the reverse singles matches will begin at 1 p.m. The Tie will be held at:

David Lloyd Riverview, Beech Hill, Clonskeagh, Dublin 4.

Phone: 01 218 9600.

For Tickets, go to http://www.tennisireland.ie

It should be a great Tie and it would be great to have as much home support as possible! Come on down to watch some great tennis!

See you there!

Posted in Davis Cup, Information, Irish Tennis, Update | 1 Comment

Thank You

Hello again!

I will keep this short and sweet..

I just want to express my gratitude to everyone who has been supporting me over the past year. I appreciate all the texts, tweets, comments and messages of support I receive from all of you. Thanks a lot for your support and positive energy! :)

I wish you all a happy, healthy and successful 2013!

James

Posted in Irish Tennis, Update | 2 Comments

October Update

It has been fairly ”full on” for the past 2 months so I thought I would take this opportunity to fill you in on my progress.

I’ve played seven tournaments in the past 8 weeks (Bolzano Italy €15,000+H*, Este Padova €15,000+H, Como Italy  €30,000+H, Alphen Holland €42,500, Istanbul Turkey $75,000, Izmir €64,000, Nevers, France €15,000+H)

*The ”H” stands for hospitality

I got off to a tough start at the beginning of the trip and didn’t pick up any points until my fourth week on the road. I didn’t feel like I was playing poorly but I was given some tough draws and ran into some players who were on a great run at the time. I felt I had chances to win most of the matches I had lost in the first few weeks so I was feeling optimistic about my game but frustrated not to get some more wins under my belt.

I managed to earn some points at a Challenger in Holland by winning 3 matches to qualify in and from there, I started playing better and better. I qualified into Istanbul $75,000 Challenger the following week before losing a tight 3 set match to the veteran Michael Russell. I knew I was playing at a high level so I took that form into the next Challenger in Izmir, winning 5 matches in a row before losing to the eventual runner-up Ilya Marchenko in another close quarter-final match.

That had been 6 long weeks on the road in a row so I took a few days off to recover before playing the €15,000+H in France last week. I had a decent week by beating 3 tough players before being knocked out in the semi-finals.

I’m catching up on some rest now and I’ll head back out soon!

Thanks for the support,

James

Posted in Update | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Our Junior Days

A combined blog post with James Cluskey..

James Cluskey and I travelled to Izmir, Turkey last week to compete in a €64,000 Challenger event. We both had some good wins throughout the week and left Izmir with a lot more ATP points than when we arrived. Throughout the week, we spent our evenings chatting about our junior tennis days and about the sacrifices we had to make to get to where we are now. We talked about our training growing up, the environment we were in, the competition in our age group, our coaching and how it has all changed over the years.  We both felt we had an excellent training structure throughout our teens that was always fun, challenging and highly productive. James agreed to join me on this blog post to share with you some of those things that helped both of us play to a high level in juniors, U.S. College tennis and now in ATP Pro tennis.

Photo Courtesy of Kevin O’Brien

I hope this information will be beneficial to anyone in Irish tennis and I hope those of you who are interested in improving tennis in Ireland (players/coaches/parents) can take something away from this. Please share this blog post, retweet it or email it to people who you think would be interested! Also, please share a comment and let me know what you think. Thank you Continue reading

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Penza, Russia: 5 Days I’ll Never Get Back

I hadn’t heard too many bad things about Penza from guys who played the event last year aside from the fact that it was difficult to get to so I decided to go ahead and enter the tournament. Little did I know, the tournament venue and official hotel had been changed from last year which meant we would be playing in some remote forest in Russia with not too much around. Just one main road (no public transport), an astro-turf football pitch and a lots of tall evergreen trees. Depending on traffic, it could take anywhere between 30 and 60 mins to get to Penza City so we were a fair distance out from any real action.

It was a $50,000 Challenger tournament which meant a lot of ATP points were up for grabs, good money and you would expect, good hospitality. Nyet! (Russian for ”No”)

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Quick Update

Hey Guys,

Just wanted to give a quick update to those interested in my progress.

I was sidelined with an external oblique injury for 5 weeks in May/June and got back out on the road roughly 7 weeks ago. Since coming back, I’ve played 6 tournaments and had very little rest in the week I had ”off”. Right now, I’m taking a proper week off and I am loving it. :) Nothing beats waking up in your own warm bed, opening the window and inhaling in the fresh Irish air. I tend to miss the simple things like this when out on the road.

Enjoying my time off at the Cliffs of Moher

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