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)
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:
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.
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.