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

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Posted in Challenger Tour, Grand Slam, Irish Tennis, Tour Life, Tournament, Update, Wimbledon | Tagged , , , , | 3 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

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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

Posted in Coaching, Development, Irish Tennis, Junior Tennis, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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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Irish Open Just Around The Corner

Just a short message to let everyone know that The Irish Open begins next Monday, July 23rd and is being held at:

Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club
Appian Way
Dublin 6
 
Phone: 01 2815600
 

It’s the only professional tennis tournament we have in Ireland so make the most of it and come down to watch some top players battle it out!

 
 
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Grinding and Hustling on the Pro Tour

There’s a bit more to it than hitting tennis balls…

One of the biggest things I’ve learnt since being on the tour is that so much of it is not just about hitting tennis balls. There’s a huge amount of “behind the scenes” work that goes on before I even step onto the match court.  And I don’t mean practice sessions, time training in the gym and stretching.

Let me explain.. Continue reading

Posted in General, Irish Tennis, Tour Life | 7 Comments