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The Grind

I know it has been a while since I’ve updated, so first off I would like to share my fantastic news. I received a wild card into the qualifying of Indian Wells, so I will be playing tomorrow at this amazing tournament. I found out on Friday when I was with a friend doing some shopping and I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was jumping up and down like a little kid in the store so I can only guess that everyone there thought I was nuts. Indian Wells is pretty much like a 5th grand slam and this year I get to be a part of it. I honestly didn’t think I would get the wild card when I asked because although I’ve had multiple top 100 wins the last few months, the wild cards generally go to the young favorites which I am not. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to compete and show my skills on a large stage. Luckily I was in LA when I found out so it was easy to hop in the car and drive over Saturday morning to begin my prep for the tournament.

Now let’s back up since there’s more to the story of what I’ve been up to. The tour is tough. It’s hard to go from playing big tournaments like Honolulu, Auckland, and even Midland and then play 25k tournaments that nobody cares about. In addition it was back to the same old tournaments that I’ve been playing for years with no success. I think I have a mental block playing the same old tournaments in the US, which is why I don’t feel like I play as well in them.

So I started with Surprise, AZ where I drew Urszula Radwanska. She’s a former top 50 player who has been injured recently. I was feeling pretty good going into the match, but I got out there and I felt like I couldn’t hit anything clean. My balls were flying and it wasn’t pretty. I ended up losing 6-3, 6-4.

Doubles was a wash as well. I played with Jovana Jaksic again and we were the second seed, but we lost 6-4, 6-3. My doubles game was still feeling pretty rusty after not playing for months. Towards the end of the second set I felt like I was beginning to make the right moves again, but it wasn’t enough. At least I have awesome friends in Surprise who Jovana and I were staying with, so I spent some time with them. My friend pretty much has Michael’s in her craft room so I made a bunch of cards for various people which was fun.

After a couple days of practicing, it was time to drive over to Rancho Santa Fe to get ready for the next 25k. It was a pretty easy 5.5 hour drive. It was raining when I got there on Saturday so I just went to meet my new housing mom for the week. My friend Amanda Fink was able to help me with housing since she teaches in the area and she understands how difficult it is to grind on the tour since she played for a few years. A lot of people would confuse us when we were both playing because we look a lot alike.

My housing mom, Karen, made sure I was fed at all times by keeping the fridge stocked with good, healthy food. Joel was the chef and prepared most of the tasty meals we were eating. Unfortunately the tournament didn’t go the way I had hoped. I drew Maria Sanchez first who is around 50 in doubles. I started off playing very poorly and having trouble getting the ball further than the service line. Eventually I figured out that my racquet was strung tighter than what I was used to so I switched to an older one for the second set. The second set was close and I had a lot of chances but wasn’t able to pull through. I ended up losing 6-0, 7-6(5). I was upset, but I still had doubles. with Jovana one last week. This time we drew Jacqueline Cristian and Kathinka Von Deichmann from Romania and Lithuania respectively. They played vey well in the first set to win it 6-1. In the second we started playing much better and even went up 5-4 and had a set point, but we weren’t able to convert. In the end we lost the set 7-5. Jovana and I were disappointed that we weren’t able to win a match the past three tournaments, but it happens.

There was a silver lining though, since I found out that I got into doubles in Acapulco with Nicola Geuer from Germany. Nikki is a good doubles player and is ranked around 100. She has great touch and court sense on the doubles court so I was excited to play with her. Since it was a last minute decision to go to Mexico, we had to get things figured out quickly. We found it was cheaper and easier to fly from Tijuana so we left our car in Rancho and took an uber to the border where we walked across into the airport. It was simple and a very neat set up. The only thing that sucked was that the flight was at 1:30 am on Friday, so we landed in Acapulco around 7 am. It had been pretty cold in Rancho so I was excited that it was going to be in the 80s.

First things first was to get some food so Joel and I went to the supermarket to get some exotic fruit such as papaya and mamay. Mamay only grows in Mexico and tastes and looks like a cross between an avocado and a papaya. Delicious. We sat in the parking lot eating our fruit around 9 am before heading back to the hotel. The hotel was amazing and I could see the ocean from my room. There were 5 or 6 pools, a couple of golf courses and pretty much anything you could possibly need. The tennis courts were at the hotel and I couldn’t believe the set up that they had since I didn’t realize the tournament was that big of a deal for them there. They had Nadal and Djokovic coming for the mens event. It’s always fun being at coed events and getting to watch the men play. I rested a little bit before practicing for a couple hours in the afternoon and signing in for qualifying. It was stressful waiting to find out whether I was going to get into the qualifying draw because I was 6 out when I got there. I was happy to find out that I was second to last in since it was a bit of a gamble for the singles.

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I went to the beach with Jamie Loeb to relax for a while. The sand there was so soft so it was nice being out there. We also checked out the pools, but the water was a bit too cold for me to go in. Eventually I went up to my room to get ready for dinner, which was when I found out that I was going to be playing Jamie the next day. I feel like that’s always how it works. We were scheduled to play second after 4 pm. In Mexico they’re pretty laid back and treat the tournament like one big party.

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Since matches were late, I practiced for an hour in the morning, took a nap and then warmed up again later for my match with Jamie. The match ahead of us went pretty fast so before I knew it I was on. I didn’t start off playing great and fell behind early by losing some close games. The chair umpire didn’t help since it seemed like she had no idea what was going on and screwed me on a few important calls throughout the match. I played a lot better in the second set and I thought that I was going to be able to get it back, but Jamie played very well so I lost 6-2, 6-2. I couldn’t be too upset though since I had only just flown in the previous morning and didn’t even know if I would get into the tournament. Jamie has been doing well recently and just came off of winning a 60k in her last tournament.

At least I still had doubles to look forward to. Nikki flew in Sunday morning so we started practicing as soon as she got in. We were able to play some doubles points and get used to playing together. We meshed well so I was excited to play with her. Sunday night was also the night of the player party, which was unreal. I wish I had gotten the memo that it was a white theme because everyone was wearing white. I hadn’t brought any white so I just stuck out with a couple of the other players who also had no idea. Next time I will know. It was a bit intimidating going through the interviews on the red carpet by myself since there were a lot of cameras and lights in my face. The food was great though and the party had a nice atmosphere. The party went very late, but I didn’t stay too long since I was tired and was practicing at 8 am.

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On Tuesday Nikki and I were scheduled to play Veronica Cepede-Royg and Mariana Duque-Marino second after 4. We started off pretty well minus the fact we lost my serve the first couple times. Luckily we kept on breaking Duque-Marino so we more or less remained on serve. We ended up losing the first set 7-6(5). We started off the breaker going down 3-0 but we battled back and got it to 5-5 before losing the set. Nikki and I stayed positive and played a fantastic second set since we were both very aggressive. We won it 6-2 to take us to a super breaker. We spent most of the breaker down, but we continued to fight. We were down 8-5 and ended up winning 4 points in a row to give us a match point. The other team played a couple of tough points to go up 10-9, and then my partner double faulted unfortunately. It was a tough loss to stomach since we had played pretty well to get ourselves back into the match. You win some you lose some, but I did have a blast playing doubles with Nikki.

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I had really wanted to win so I could stay in Acapulco longer because it is an amazing place, but we needed to get back to San Diego. Before leaving Wednesday evening I had the opportunity to go on a cruise through the tournament. The tournament took any of the players who wanted to go out on an amazing yacht to watch the cliff divers that Acapulco is famous for. It was so cool watching the cliff divers jump from 30 meters high. After watching them, they took us back to the bay where we could either go back or stay and jet ski, kayak, paddle board or swim. I didn’t bring my swim suit so I opted for the jet ski. It was a really cool day and fun experiencing the high life. It was strange having the paparazzi around filming and taking pictures of everything. It makes me even more determined to play more of these WTAs because it’s really nice being treated well.

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So that’s where I’m at.. I may not have done well in my tournaments, but it’s all about the process. I know I’m going to get there and I’m all ready to face what’s coming this week.

Check back for pictures coming soon.