A New Perspective

Hello Everyone,

Lots of people have been asking about what I am doing and I would like to update you on my current activities. I have learned many valuable lessons since taking a step away from the tour and I will now share some of my experiences, in the hope that it can help others in some way.

Over the last 9 months, I have put my focus and energy into coaching, mindset consulting (via Skype), workshops, travel, yoga and meditation. I am also helping my good friend and USTA High Performance coach Jeff Salzenstein produce video content for his online tennis instruction business, Tennis Evolution, which I would encourage you to check out. We recently connected on a YouTube Live event together, shared stories and got chatting about all things tennis.

YouTube Live Chat with Jeff Salzenstein, Founder of Tennis Evolution

Coaching, Mindset Consulting and Workshops

I am now enjoying on court coaching here in Atlanta, Georgia along with mindset consulting. Sharing my experience and knowledge from competing at all levels (Junior tennis, Division 1 College tennis, ITF Futures, ATP Challengers, ATP 250/500, Masters 1000, Grand Slams and Davis Cup) allows me to help a wide range of people. I am asked regularly by parents of young juniors and competitive club players about the strategies, performance habits and training techniques needed to become a world-class tennis player and I realize that so many players are in need of guidance in navigating their way through each level of the game. A large degree of my approach is centered around building a strong mindset but it also includes:

  • Video Analysis
  • Practice Drills
  • Footwork Drills
  • Breathing Techniques
  • Recovery Techniques
  • Motivational and Inspirational Material
  • Out of the box approaches to excelling in competition

I’ve had the great fortune to work with some excellent mental performance coaches throughout my career and I believe there is huge value in this. My mindset consulting will keep you accountable, focused and challenged consistently. I am currently working remotely with juniors, recreational players and professionals. For those interested in learning more about mindset consulting and the approach I use, please email me at: jamesmcgee01@gmail.com

Pro Tennis Workshop at Sutton L.T.C.

During the last year, I delivered workshops to a number of clubs. The goal of these workshops is to increase the exposure of professional tennis to young players, teach others about purposeful practice and share tools and techniques used by the best players in the world. In the current workshop, I go through a full 2 hour practice session with my Irish compatriot and Davis Cup professional player Julian Bradley. Much of the session is based around my practices with top players like Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios etc. If your club is interested in arranging a workshop in the future, please email me at jamesmcgee01@gmail.com

Pro Tennis Workshop poster for Club Managers 

2017 

In 2017, I accomplished quite a bit. I played the qualifying of all 4 Grand Slams, helped Ireland get promoted to Group 2 in Davis Cup, won rounds in the qualifying of the Australian Open, Wimbledon, ATP 500, Masters 1000 events and I had some good victories over some excellent players, notably rising-star Denis Shapovalov at a U.S. Challenger and Sergei Stakhovsky at Dubai ATP 500.

Davis Cup 2017 Promotion to Group 2

As the year progressed into the summer months last year, I travelled without a coach to every event including Wimbledon Qualifying, Newport ATP, two U.S. Challengers, Montreal Masters Series and the U.S. Open. I couldn’t afford a full-time coach to travel with me and the stress I was under combined with the physical demands of competing, eventually started to wear me down. The quality of my performances began to drop considerably and for the first time in my life, I stopped enjoying myself out on the tennis court. How could I stop enjoying a sport I love so much?

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With the U.S. Open around the corner and all the opportunity it presented, I chose to focus on pushing myself in order to prepare and disregarded the warning signs from my body, mind and emotions. Needless to say, I was running on empty and burnt out. My body would eventually rebel and force me to stop, whether I liked it or not.  I had no option but to retire first round in the U.S. Open Qualifying event due to a bulging disc in my back, which was impinging on a nerve. It was excruciatingly painful but thankfully I made a full recovery just a few months later thanks to the team at Santry Sports Injury clinic and my physical therapist Gerard Hartmann.

A New Perspective

Part of my decision for taking time off the tour has been to view life through a different lens. As an athlete, one eye is always on the countdown timer to the next event and I reached the stage where I inherently knew it was more important to ditch the timer, take a step back and try to view life from an aerial view. Purpose and meaning have always been driving forces in my life but I felt compelled more than ever to get outside my comfort zone and examine what my true purpose really is. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when living in an echo chamber and I knew time away from professional tennis would help me to rediscover my inner compass and gain more clarity within myself.

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Throughout this time away from professional tennis, I had a series of unforgettable experiences, many of which happened on a trip to South-East Asia at the end of last year. I had spontaneously decided to backpack around South-East Asia as it has always been a part of the world that has enchanted me due to its rich culture, diversity, nature and spirituality. It’s hard to articulate how impactful some of the experiences were but they left me with a much greater appreciation for the beauty of our world, clearer on my own values and more driven than ever to make a difference to others.

Working out with some junior players in Singapore

I feel motivated to keep improving as a person in order to help others and influence them as positively as possible. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support, friendship and mentorship of some amazing people in my life and I am eager to share my experience and knowledge. Coincidentally, I even had the opportunity to visit a number of tennis clubs in Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and share my tips with some upcoming junior players. I almost died with the heat and humidity in Singapore but I just about survived!

There are so many factors that would need to come together to give myself a chance of competing at the highest level on tour again. I am keeping an open mind to it as anything is possible. For now, my focus is to continue helping players of all levels through my coaching, consulting, workshops and videos with Tennis Evolution. I have a lot to give and a lot to share and am looking forward to this new stage of the journey. I am always open to new ideas so please contact me if you would like to collaborate in some way. To anyone looking for mindset consulting remotely, workshops or tennis lessons here in Atlanta, you can contact me at jamesmcgee01@gmail.com 

As always, Thank you for your support and Best Wishes!

James

P.S. You can also connect with me on Facebook HERE and Twitter HERE.

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A Week To Remember

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Following a great week last week where I bagged my first ATP Challenger title in Cary North Carolina, I’d like to fill you in on the story behind what is a milestone moment in my career.

It’s funny how it all came about but I wasn’t even meant to be playing Cary Challenger! Just a few weeks before, I had qualified into Winston-Salem ATP 250 event and it was there that I chose to play 3 events in China next. I went online to enter 3 events (Nanchang Challenger, Kaohsiung Challenger and an ATP event in China) and called a friend who coaches in Singapore to see if he could help out one of the weeks in China. He agreed and I went straight into making travel plans, hotel bookings and preparing all the logistics behind the trip. The final thing to sort out was applying for a Chinese Visa and I’d be set. ”Easy” I thought..

 

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Getting Back On Course

Coming back from surgery wasn’t easy as it took some time to get the feel and confidence back in every aspect of my game-footwork, strokes, rhythm, timing etc. Since it was my first ever surgery, I wasn’t quite sure how my body would react or how quickly the knee would recover. I was fortunate to be operated on by a great orthopaedic surgeon, Mr. Ray Moran at the Santry Sports Surgery Clinic and he certainly helped by explaining the procedure and how I could expect the knee to heal. My first few days were spent on crutches waiting for the inflammation to go down and then I got straight into a comprehensive rehab programme which involved strengthening up my quadriceps, core and upper body. I have to thank my physical therapist Gerard Hartmann for his fantastic treatment, guidance and expertise as well as Mark McCabe and the whole team at Sports Med Ireland for their help and support with my rehab, strength and conditioning.

Myself, Joe, Paul and Nick

Myself, Joe, Paul and Nick in Atlanta

After a couple of weeks of rehab in Ireland, I flew to Atlanta so I could gradually pick up the level of intensity in my training. Atlanta has become a home away from home for me, thanks to some close friends I’ve made over the years and it is a city I love returning to. After a few weeks of tough training, I felt it was time to get back competing so I headed back out on the road for a series of Challenger events on the west coast of the U.S. My ranking slipped outside the top 150 as I hadn’t been earning any ranking points for 3 months and I was determined to get back on track. I was making daily improvements in my game throughout my training and I felt good going into the first week. My only concern was my lack of match play as I hadn’t played a competitive match in almost 3 months and I also didn’t know how my knee would hold up after the stresses of a full competitive match.

After my win over Freddie Nielsen in Fairfield, California

After my win over Freddie Nielsen in Fairfield, California

Thankfully, my knee and physical condition were not an issue throughout the few weeks of tournaments but I did struggle to find my rhythm and general form.  I ran into some in-form players the first couple of weeks and couldn’t quite get over the line when it counted in the matches. I felt I was playing at a pretty high level considering I hadn’t competed in a while but I just didn’t execute when I needed to. I did have a good win over ”The Great Dane” Freddie Nielsen in Fairfield, California but didn’t keep up the momentum for the next match. It was obviously disappointing not to get the results I set out to achieve but I have to remind myself to be patient and trust in the process, especially after returning from a serious injury.  Tennis can be extremely frustrating at times but it is a great teacher in teaching acceptance. Nothing is ever perfect in this game. Continue reading

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Resilience

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Rising to challenges day in and day out is part of being a professional athlete. Whether it’s rising to meet the challenge of competition, training, finding sponsorship, managing an injury or any number of things that spring up while travelling on the circuit. If you can’t rise to the challenge, you can’t win. Having a strong mindset is everything in sport and without it, it is impossible to succeed.

Inspired by Adversity:

I have been most interested in my life in people who are able to overcome serious adversity in their lives and I love learning about how they did it. It’s something that I am passionate about outside tennis and I have always been inspired by people in all areas of life who can overcome the odds, break through their own personal barriers and achieve their dreams. There’s nothing better than that tingling sensation that runs down your spine when you witness something inspirational, something that ‘touches a chord’ as they say. I guess I have committed my life to tennis so that I can try to experience those type of moments for myself and to share them with those who help and support me. Most of the time we acknowledge famous sports stars for their achievements as they are seen regularly on television but there are people fighting everyday and winning their own personal battle that are not always seen by the masses. There are everyday heroes living all around us. For example, I have a friend who recently spoke publicly along with Christos Kyrgios about a medical condition he has called Alopecia. I was truly inspired by the courage he showed in doing this. He’s only 15 years old, had lost all of his hair and was probably feeling a little embarrassed about it. It’s something not to be embarrassed about and I am so happy and proud to see him speak up. That shows real strength and character. I really believe it is important to congratulate people who show this type of courage as it gives other people a reason to display courage in their lives too. I, for one, am inspired by it.

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Our deepest fear..

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Summer Update

Hi Everyone,

It’s been almost 3 months since my last blog post so I thought I would update you on what I’ve been up to and how the season is progressing. I’m currently at home in Dublin and taking a bit of time off to rest my body and mind before I begin preparing for the next 5-6 months on the road. It’s hard to believe we are halfway through 2015 already, I feel like things are moving faster than ever so it’s nice to have the opportunity to take a few days off to step back and relax.

IMG_0833Ireland is a lovely place to be this time of the year so I’m making sure to get outside whenever the weather is good. I live next to the Phoenix Park which is one of the largest parks in Europe and I like to spend time there whenever I’m off the road. It is an incredible park, 1,752 acres in size and home to the famous Dublin Zoo. I usually just cycle around the park or follow a few trails and I find it a great way of rejuvenating. Life on the tour can be intense at times, competing week after week, and most weeks I look for a place to chill out wherever possible. Sometimes it’s the beach or a lake and other times it’s the mountains or parks, anything that involves nature really!

IMG_0981I’m currently at a career high ranking of #146 in the world after having some consistent results during the clay and grass court season on the Challenger Tour. Since my last blog post from Mexico, I went on to make the quarter-final of a challenger in Sarasota, the final in Savannah and two Challenger semi-finals on grass in Surbiton and Ilkley in June. I lost to the eventual champion in 3 out of 4 of those tournaments and I feel I have gained a lot from these experiences. All these results have helped push my ranking up a bit more which is positive but I always feel I can do better.  I have made improvements in my game over the past few months and I believe I still have a lot more to improve, both on and off the court.  So much of tennis is about fine margins and I am always looking to get a little bit better everyday.  Continue reading

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Viva La Mexico

With Nick Cavaday after the final

With Nick Cavaday after the final

I’m taking a couple of days off in Atlanta at the moment after spending the last 10 days in San Luis Potosi, Mexico playing a $50,000+H Challenger event. Myself and my coach Nick Cavaday flew down early to prepare for the conditions-red clay, 1,850 Metres above sea level, pressureless tennis balls which all require a bit of extra time to get used to. Coming from Ireland, where I grew up on artificial grass courts, playing at sea level with heavy, wet ”Tretorn X’’ tennis balls in the pouring rain couldn’t be more different to the conditions in Mexico but after a few days I started to feel the ball much better and felt confident going into the tournament.

The fans were amazing!

The fans were amazing!

I started off the tournament with a great win over the #3 seed and world #93 Damir Dzhumur followed by an absolute dog fight win over Guilherme Clezar 7-6 in the 3rd set in the 2nd Round. I thought I was down and out at 0-4 down in the third but managed to somehow scrap out the win on the dirt. I played a great quarter final to beat Andres Molteni 6-1 6-4 in the quarters and my best match of the tournament came in the Semi-Finals Vs. the #2 seed and world #87 Paolo Lorenzi. Paolo is well respected on the tour for his work ethic, toughness and consistency so I knew I needed a good performance to win. I won my semi-final 6-3 5-7 6-3 after 2 hrs 40 mins in front of a passionate, fun and vocal Mexican crowd. It was a huge buzz to come through it and I was very grateful to be part of such an exciting match. I play tennis for matches like those, where other people are involved and there is genuine excitement for the tennis being played.

The fans were amazing! Continue reading

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March Update

Hello again Everyone,

Life on the tour over the past few months has been fun, difficult, interesting and just a fantastic learning experience. Even though I’ve been playing for years and have plenty of experience by now, I find myself constantly learning new things. Sometimes small, sometimes big but I have to say I am enjoying the experience and am extremely grateful to be living this life. I never take it for granted, that’s for sure.

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Dubai ATP 500

Consistency is my focus this year. It’s a real challenge to remain consistent throughout the 10-11 month tennis year but that’s the name of the game. A lot of it comes down to preparation and I am doing everything in my power to be the best I can be on a daily basis. The quality and depth in men’s tennis is remarkable now and you need to be at your best in order to keep progressing up the ranks, it’s as simple as that. There are so many things to manage-your game, schedule, finances, fitness, mindset, injuries and it requires being very organised and clear on your objectives. Even though there are obstacles everyday, I take inspiration from overcoming them. No one said this sport would be easy, it’s bloody tough but in a strange way, I like the fact that it’s hard. I like the fact that it requires full focus and commitment in order to succeed.

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October Update

Hi Guys,

I just finished up a great training block in Atlanta before flying out to play my final 3 tournaments of 2014. I am ranked #188 in the world this week and I’m hoping to end the year as strong as I can. The last 3 tournaments are all $50,000 Challenger events and will be held in Charlottesville, Knoxville and Champaign. For updates on my progress, follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

My focus now is on breaking into the top 100 so I can get direct acceptance into the main draw of Grand Slam events and avoid playing the qualifying event. Easier said than done but in order to break the top 100 you need to earn roughly 550 ATP Rankings points within a year. This can be done by winning Challenger Titles or by winning consistently on the ATP Tour. In order for that to happen, I will need to keep working hard, keep improving and keep believing.  

Dream

Qualifying into U.S Open

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2014 so far…

Firstly, let me thank everyone who has written to me, commented, tweeted, shared and sent positive messages my way over the last few months via my Facebook Fan Page and Twitter page. I read them all and I really appreciate it so THANK YOU once again.

2014 has been an interesting year so far and I am really excited about the upcoming weeks and months. Each day, week and month on the tour is filled with exciting moments and challenging moments and I am expecting plenty more to come!

First time playing at Roland Garros!

First time playing at Roland Garros!

Some of the high moments for me this year involved playing the qualifying of The Australian Open, Indian Wells, Roland Garros (all for the first time), getting some solid wins over players like Alex Bogomolov, Guido Pella and having the opportunity to meet and learn from some great people, players and coaches. It has been a dream of mine to play these tournaments and now I am focused on reaching the next level.

Davis Cup was also a great moment this year when we managed to defeat Egypt in our Group 2 relegation match in April which was held at my home club, Castleknock L.T.C. (Thanks to everyone who came out to support)

© Kevin O'Brien

© Kevin O’Brien

 © Kevin O'Brien

© Kevin O’Brien

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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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