So great of Gage to update us with how things are going in Greece...
So far so good here in Greece. The first two rounds of qualifying went well, and I will play a Greek player in the final round tomorrow. The circumstances surrounding my match on Saturday were less than favorable. With the sun hidden behind black clouds, the Island was cold and windy. Showers throughout the morning resulted in a three hour delay for the matches, and a three set battle on the court I was set to play on pushed my start time back another two hours. My original 12pm start time became a 5pm start time. On Crete, the sun sets around 6pm and most of the courts do not have lights. I knew I needed to be efficient on court. I came out strong and stayed strong throughout, serving out the final game at 6-0, 5-0 for a 6-0 6-0 win just as the sun slipped behind the mountains.
Today, the conditions were far more preferable: blue skies, warm weather, and no delay. I stepped on court to face an 18 year old Slovakian. I knew to expect a big game from the 6’4”, 200 pound lefty. The first four games were a battle. His power and accuracy put me on defense, and I found myself down a break serving at 1-3, 15-40. Fortunately, I was able to recognize weakness on his forehand side, and I fought my way back to capture the first set 6-4. I carried my momentum into the second set, continuing to attack his forehand and break his will. I closed out the match at 6-1.
Even while competing, I am constantly trying to improve my game. One way I do so is by studying film. My dad films each of my matches, allowing us to immediately analyze both my strengths and weaknesses on that particular day. However, the camera is only able to capture the physical aspects of the match. Just as important -- or even more important -- are the mental improvements I strive to make. In addition to studying film, I try to give myself simple notes that reflect my thoughts and feelings during the match, which I can use for future reference. Today, my note is short and sweet: Stay calm when you are down, stay focused when you are up.
All the best from Greece,