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.
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.
I didn’t have a huge amount of recovery time from my semi-final match but regardless, I felt good going into my first Challenger Tour final. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite get my game together and get the momentum I needed to sink my teeth into the match. My opponent, Guido Pella played a very solid match, served well and was the better player on the day. I would have loved to have won my first Challenger Title in San Luis Potosi but it’s ok, I will learn from it and get better as a result. I’m already excited and looking forward to my next event where I hope to improve from this experience. My ranking is now at 170 in the world which is a career-high. Time to push on!
Here are some pics from San Luis Potosi and also the ATP University in Miami:
I pretty much lived at the hotel, courts and restaurant throughout the week in San Luis Potosi and didn’t get to see much of the city but I hope to see it sometime again. I did, however, complete a season and a half of the TV Series ‘’Suits’’ (Harvey Specter is the man!) which I’m pretty proud of. I’ve never been much of a TV watcher but this show has drawn me right in! Other than that, my evenings were spent having dinner with my coach and hanging out with James ‘’Duckman’’ Duckworth at the local Chilis restaurant. 🙂
A week or so before San Luis Potosi, I spent 3 days in Miami at the ATP University with 23 other players. The ATP invite players ranked inside the top 200 at the end of the year to participate in the ATP University which is mandatory. It was a really fun experience to spend time with other players and learn all the ins and outs about being a top player. I learnt about the ATP, the organisation, Media, Finances, Anti-Doping, Anti-Corruption, Nutrition, Health and Insurance as well as a number of other benefits the players receive. Overall it was a worthwhile experience which had a few perks as well-3 nights in the Marriott Hotel, seeing a Miami Heat game and eating some exceptional food! I gained a lot of insight into the ATP and became more aware of the role we have as players. There is so much more to being a top professional tennis player than hitting balls and playing matches.
My next event will be a $100,000 Challenger event in Sarasota, I am in the qualifying of the event as the ranking cut was super high this year. First match starts next Saturday.
I have posted up a lot of my pictures on my Facebook Fan Page, Twitter and Instagram accounts also if you want to follow me on there.
The support online has been fantastic and I’m grateful to everyone who is supporting me. Thanks a lot to all of you!!
GRACIAS San Luis Potosi!
Love your blog James….keep going……..your positivity in defeat and self belief is wonderful and it seems to be paying off as the season progresses. I look forward to more from the only Irish tennis player who has a true insight into the professional tennis world and is willing to share! Not too much of that in the tennis world in Ireland! Can’t wait for another post and more good news I believe is nigh!
Enjoyed reading your account of your experience in Mexico.
Will be thinking of you next Saturday. Best of luck.
Sent from my iPad
Congratulations on 170 and climbing!
Still following closely James. Hope to see in June
Great writing in that Mexico story.
We’ve been glued to the thrilling live feed from Savannah through to Saturday and will be on Sunday too.
Best of luck in everything you do.
Jim and Alice and Mark
Your blog is really awesome, very informative and gives such a great look on your life and the lifestyle for most players. Please keep updating from time to time. Best of luck to you and I hope you keep climbing the ladder.