Murphy’s Law: Anything That Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong: 2018

I know it has been a long time since I’ve posted and I’ve had a lot of questions as to whether I was still going to write my blog. The answer was always yes, but I didn’t know what to say. What do you say when you feel like you’re failing and not living up to your potential? I had no idea how to start this blog post. My coach/mentor from before college always told me that playing professional tennis would be the hardest thing I would do in my life. When I was younger I didn’t believe him, but over the years I realized how tough this game really is. It’s all between the ears. Even if you do everything right, there’s never any guarantee that you will win. After having the best year of my career last year I was in position to continue moving up the ranks, but something went wrong. Starting from the beginning of the 2018 I played a series of horrible matches. I kept on thinking next week would be better, but at some point the losses began to chip away at the confidence I worked so hard to build last year. I began searching for answers to figure out what derailed my progress, but with most adjustments it felt l like I was falling further behind. I lost myself for a while and pretty much shut out the world. As amazing as the highs were in 2017, in 2018 I had lows as deep as the Mariana Trench. It’s easy to share the highs, but not as easy to show the raw emotions of the lows. To fully understand my journey we need to go back to where I left off in April of 2018. Prepare to be reading for a while.

Apr 23-28 60k Quanzhou, China
After showing up the week prior to Zhengzhou for nothing, I was looking forward to playing my first tournament in China. It wasn’t your typical Chinese tournament so before I get into a recap of my tennis I have a funny story about how sometimes you really have to fight for things at the ITF level. Normally the tournaments in China are at huge facilities with plenty of practice courts and are very well run. This tournament only had two practice courts so it was near impossible to book practice times especially since there’s always one Chinese player who beats us all to the sheet and signs all the other Chinese players for courts the whole day. It’s an accomplishment when you actually get to the practice sheet first. In addition, the tournament tried to be cheap by trying to deny us new balls and bottled water. Since you can’t drink tap water in China the tournaments are required to provide us with free bottled water. The first day I was sneaky and snuck what I needed off of the match courts along with a couple other players, but the next day when they didn’t want to give me the new can of balls I was entitled to, I had to bring out the big guns. The tournament supervisor was from India and he didn’t take any nonsense from the workers. We were all chuckling as the workers were trying to negotiate only giving each player two new balls and two bottles of water. The supervisor wasn’t in a negotiating mood and after 10 minutes of arguing and two translators later, we were able to get our balls and unlimited water. It’s not easy getting what you need when no one speaks english.

While in Quanzhou I ran into another problem. The hotel didn’t want to exchange my USD because the bills weren’t perfect enough for them. In most places in China, besides hotels, they don’t accept credit card so I really needed the cash. I had to beg and plead to change some money over, but in the end I was stuck rationing money to make sure I had enough for the week until I was paid in cash for the tournament. That included going to a player party that only had six players present just for the free food. I learned that I should never go to China with any bills that aren’t new.
         
As for the tennis, I felt like I played well winning my first round before losing a tough match to the eventual winner Saisai Zheng. In doubles, Sabina Sharipova and I won our first round as well. My ankle was a bit swollen and sore since I hurt it in the gym before leaving Zhengzhou. Fortunately I was at least able to get tape from the WTA tournament the previous week because the physio in Quanzhou didn’t even have basic athletic tape. It’s a scary day when you have to see the physio in China at the ITF level since they don’t speak english and lack the basic training that athletic trainers have. I know how to tape my own ankle so as long as I have tape I’m good to go.

Danielle Lao and I found the best mango shaved ice at the mall.

Apr 30-May 5 WTA 125k Anning, China
Next up was Anning which was in the mountains a little over an hour from Kunming. The tournament was played on horrible red clay. Last year when I played the event the courts were brand new, but unfortunately people in China have no idea how to maintain a clay court so there were tons of mountains and valleys leading to some interesting bounces. The courts were so poorly maintained that in order to practice, Danielle Lao and I would have to sweep and water the courts to have a decent practice. There wasn’t much to eat around so I ended up eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in the same restaurant every day. The only exception was when our Chinese friends took us out and ordered food for us at a place with no written menu. I’m not joking when I say this tournament is in the middle of nowhere.
                           
The tennis wasn’t exactly pretty as I lost to Elitsa Kostova in the first round. With the tournament being high altitude and clay wasn’t great for me since balls were flying a ton. I wasn’t sure what I should’ve done since everything I hit felt bad. In doubles Sabina and I squeaked out our first round against one of the seeds before going out.

Before I left for Japan I wandered around Anning to check out the ancient carvings since it was a nice day.
                 
May 8-13 60k Fukuoka, Japan
After Anning I couldn’t wait to get to Japan to try out the artificial grass. I thought it would be the perfect way to begin preparing for the grass season because I had assumed it would be similar. I thought it would give me a good chance to sharpen up my serve and volley and net game before playing the WTA events in Europe, but boy was I wrong. The courts were covered with sand so it looked more like the beach than a grass court. In addition it was super slick and played like a clay court unless you hit a patch that had less sand in which case you would face plant. I felt like Bambi on ice as I tried to figure out how to move and slide (never figured it out) while the Japanese slid around with the grace of a figure skater. Every once in a while when I was playing I would feel a shooting pain in my right ankle after I pushed off on my serve. It would hurt for a few seconds and then the pain was gone as if nothing had happened. It was strange but I attributed it to the artificial grass.
         
My plan of working on my serve and volley went out the window since I couldn’t even make it to the service line before I had to hit the ball. It was not an easy surface and I had the misfortune of drawing Junri Namigata from Japan in the first round. I lost the first set badly but eventually hacked my way into the second set trying to get as much junk as possible on every ball. It wasn’t enough and I lost 6-1, 6-4.

Even though I at least won a round in doubles, I was so frustrated with the surface that I wanted to go home. My coach convinced me to stay and tough it out since he sent me a pair of grass court shoes to try out. In Fukuoka I had played in my clay court shoes which was obviously a disaster. In hindsight I wish I had just gone home.

Since I lost early I had the chance to enjoy Fukuoka a little bit. It is known as a mini Tokyo with lots of good ramen and sushi places everywhere. I checked out the Fukuoka Castle ruins in the heart of the city before I took a ferry over to an island containing Uminonakamichi Seaside Park. It was kind of like their version of Central Park so I rented a bike to explore. I almost crashed into a few people when I wasn’t paying attention since they drive and ride bikes on the opposite side of the road. I kept on wanting to ride on the right side of the path. I survived as I went to the various gardens and the zoo among other things throughout the park. I really enjoyed Fukuoka outside of the tennis.
                                                                                              
May 15-20 60k Kurume, Japan
The next tournament was only a short train ride away, but it was in more of a town so there weren’t as many restaurants. The tennis courts had even more sand than in Fukuoka, which I didn’t think was possible.

Originally I was supposed to play doubles with Laura Robson in both of the tournaments in Japan, but her hip was bothering her so she withdrew from Kurume leaving me to scramble for a new partner. Everyone was already set so I looked at the list and found someone who wasn’t getting into the draw with their current partner. That’s how I found Abbie Myers from Australia. Unfortunately she wasn’t high enough for us to get into main draw so we had to play in the doubles qualifying that day. We got off to a rough start losing the first 7-6 but cleaning up 6-0 in the second before eventually losing in the super breaker. It was a long doubles match and by the end my back was feeling a bit sore. I had no idea that was only the beginning. Side note: the grass court shoes were much better since they prevented me from sliding as much.

The following morning I woke up and I knew there was something wrong with my back, but I was hoping it would loosen up. I didn’t have singles that day so I thought I would just get through my practices and rest up for my match. I got out onto the court for practice and found that I had sharp shooting pain in my back down to my leg when I sprinted, which only got worse when I served. I lasted about 40 minutes before the pain was too much and I had to bail on practice for the day. It hurt to walk and it was freaking me out. I received treatment, but it didn’t help much. I reached out to a physio from US in order to gain some perspective on what was wrong with me. She believed it to be a pinched nerve in my back causing the shooting pain when I walked and bent down. It became difficult to even put my shoes and socks on, which was terrifying. The best advice she had for me was to allow it to calm down by laying down and avoiding the sitting position in addition to doing a couple of exercises. I laid in bed the rest of the day and hoped for the best.

The next day I had singles against Asia Muhammad and since I felt a bit better I thought I could maybe get through the match and again, I was wrong. I did my best and took some bigger cuts at the ball to avoid having to run, but my back quickly became worse. I was forced to retire after the first set. Those that know me well know I do not retire unless there is something seriously wrong. My back was in bad shape due to the slippery nature of the artificial grass. There were at least four or five players who retired due to back injuries that week. All of the foreigners were complaining about the strain the surface had on the body.

Going to Japan for the tournaments seemed like such a great idea on paper since I didn’t want to stay in China and the artificial grass had seemed like the perfect lead up to the grass season in Europe. I learned my lesson to NEVER play on artificial grass again.

May 28-June 9 25k Hua Hin, Thailand
After Japan I felt like I was in limbo since there was a week off before two tournaments in Thailand. I wasn’t sure whether I should just go home or go to Thailand anyway. The flight home sounded horrible for my back so I ended up opting to take the much shorter flight to Bangkok. I struggled throughout the travel day, but I couldn’t wait to get to Hua Hin to start getting my $8 massages. I had a massage for two hours a day nearly every day to loosen up my back, and I started seeing results within a couple days. The pain began to subside a bit, but I was hesitant to start practicing. I didn’t want to set back my progress so I only practiced a couple days before the tournament after spending the week lounging around. My coach came from the US and brought some of my old racquets to try out since he was starting to think that the change to the red Yonex racquet might’ve been why I had only won two matches until that point in the year. I practiced with my old Prince Warrior 100 that I had used until the end of 2016 and the Solinco Shadow I had used for 2017 before deciding to switch back to my old Prince racquet for the tournament. It wasn’t like things could go any worse than they already were.

The first week I won my first round in three sets before losing in the next round to an Indian girl in three. My back was getting better, but it wasn’t good enough to last a couple long matches. I didn’t sign up for doubles so I was able to focus on continuing to rehab my back the rest of the week. I started to do some beach runs and even ran to some awesome temples. At one of them I was able to feed the monkeys which had always been a dream of mine. I was able to incorporate more tennis and had some good practices towards the end of the week. The racquet felt much better in my hand as I started to make a few more balls. I came to the realization that the Yonex hadn’t been a good fit for me.
                                          
In the second event I made it to the quarters, beating the Indian girl I had lost to in the previous week in the second round. I felt I should’ve won my match in the quarters as well since I won the first and was up in the second before my back began acting up making it difficult for my to make my serve. I was upset that I couldn’t close it out, but I at least felt like I was starting to play a little better.

June 11-16 25k Singapore
My back was bothering me after Hua Hin so I was on the fence on whether to go to Singapore to play the next tournament. I had a few days to recover and my friend, Shareen lived in Singapore so that was the deciding factor in playing the tournament despite not being 100%. It had been years since I had seen her and she was kind enough to invite me to stay with her. 

The courts were much faster than in Hua Hin so it was tough to make quick adjustments. I started off fairly well in my first round and had chances at the first set, but in the end my back let me down big time. By the end of the match I was starting to have shooting pain down my leg again like I did in Kurume so it was definitely time to pull the plug on playing. I probably shouldn’t have even gone to Singapore, but I fell into the trap of weaker draws and needing to defend points. I pushed my body to the limit so I withdrew from the following week and began to plan my trip home.

It was cheaper to stay a few extra days so I took advantage of that time to see the sights. I got to swim in the famous infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands, checked out the light show, explored some temples and markets, and went to Haw Par Villa. Haw Par Villa may have been my favorite since it had statues depicting Chinese folklore along with the written stories so you could follow along. I also went to a luge track with some friends where we raced down a huge hill with tons of trails for a few hours. We only nearly ran over a couple of parents with their kids since the carts didn’t really have brakes.
                                                             
Singapore had to be one of the coolest places I’d been to. It was super clean, the people were nice and it was very green. The public transportation was efficient and they are ahead of the times in regards to their “green” laws. I was impressed by how much the country tries to take care of its citizens. My friend who lived there filled me in on some of the history and laws in Singapore which I thought was fascinating. Singapore was built into what it is today by a Chinese man who decided to form a new country without everything he disliked about China. For example, locals have to pay between $100-$200 to enter a casino in Singapore, trucks have to be washed before they leave construction sites so they don’t track any dirt around the city, and for every tree that is chopped down, a new one has to be planted elsewhere in the country. You don’t really see poverty, and there aren’t too many people smoking. In addition they’re extremely strict on drugs. Everyone there seems to be pretty happy with their small, thriving country. I’m happy I had a chance to explore Singapore.

July 10-15 60k Honolulu, Hawaii
After Singapore I had to take a couple weeks off so my back could fully heal before I began practicing again. I figured it gave my ankle the chance to heal as well, so I stopped taping. I went to Maui to train for a week leading up to the tournament since I have friends I stay with there. I figured it would be good because the conditions would be almost the same as in Honolulu. I put in a lot of work on moving forward and on accelerating more on my shots. Towards the end of the week I started feeling the twinge in my ankle again so I started taping once again and it was fine. After the week was up I hopped on a flight over to Oahu to play the 60k. I wish I could’ve had more time to train before getting back into tournaments, but I also wanted to get back out there after playing better in Thailand.

I had a couple days of practice before my first round. One evening I was practicing serves and I hit one serve where I heard the racquet crack. I was instantly reminded as to why I switched away from Prince in the first place. They are poorly made and all of my racquet heads would fly off the handle at some point through no fault of my own. I don’t ever throw my racquets or even hit them on the ground. I immediately started worrying that the rest of them would break as well and I would be left with nothing to play with. The rest were intact so I just had to cross my fingers that they would be fine.

I drew a qualifier in the first round of singles and felt ok going into the match, but for some reason struggled finding the court. I would set points up and rip, but was consistently missing routine balls especially short balls. I didn’t understand why it was happening and as the match went on I became more and more angry. I’m not naturally an angry person yet I was glaring at my coach and at some friends who came to watch. I lost 4 and 6 to a girl I would’ve beaten easily the previous year when I was playing well and I had no idea why. Maybe it was the expectations, or maybe it was the pressure I was putting on myself, but I wasn’t happy. I had lost myself and started retracting into myself more and more. Doubles was a little better since I had a partner to keep me centered, but we got a walkover first round and then lost 10-7 in the super breaker which was heartbreaking.

The only saving grace for the tournament was that I had awesome housing with Matt and Kevin who took great care of me. I met Matt when I played the WTA in Honolulu in 2017 and he invited us to stay for the week which was nice. He was a great cheerleader even though I wasn’t playing well.

July 16-21 25k Nonthaburi, Thailand
The following day we were off to Thailand which I thought would be better since I normally thrive there. I was looking forward to being back on slow courts and enjoying a new city in Thailand. We had a really cool Airbnb on the 31st floor that was overlooking the tennis courts and with good food there wasn’t much more I could want. Although, I did almost die in the elevator at the Airbnb. Something must have gotten jammed in the elevator since the elevator would start to go down and then the emergency brake would catch and jerk the car to a stop on ever floor. It would stay there for a few seconds and then start its descent again. I started panicking since we were 30 floors up and I was terrified of the cables breaking due to too many jerking stops. I started ringing the help button repeatedly until someone answered. Thankfully they found someone who spoke english and in the end they told us to hold the door open button to stop the descent. At this point we were between the 20th and 21st floor so we had to wait for someone to come and force the doors open. It was a long 15 minutes waiting for someone to get us out. In the end we had to climb out of the elevator, but at least we survived. I proceeded to take the stairs down since I was still shaking. Never a dull moment.

As for the tournament, it wasn’t as hot as I had hoped but it was still humid. It rained pretty much every afternoon so everyone scrambled to practice in the mornings. I drew a young Chinese girl in the first round who was very volatile. I had a ton of chances throughout the match, but I wasn’t converting games. I would have break points and then be unable to get the ball in play. The anger resurfaced at times but I kept fighting to get more chances, however I ended up losing 6 and 5. Another disappointing week since I seemed to have lost all the progress I had made in Hua Hin. I was doubting myself and couldn’t seem to get over the hump. Confidence is everything and mine was fragile after losing a lot of matches.

I didn’t play doubles since I wasn’t willing to potentially miss singles qualifying in Nanchang due to doubles in a 25k. My coach and I went back to the drawing board since I had 4 days until qualifying started in Nanchang. After my Prince racquet broke in Honolulu he had started thinking that maybe switching back to it wasn’t the greatest idea. There was a chance that it was in my head and I wasn’t trusting the racquet anymore. He was hitting with the Solinco Protocol, so he gave it to me to try out. The ball started coming off my racquet better immediately so I switched to my third racquet of the year. At this point our motto was becoming, “well it can’t get any worse.”

July 23-29 WTA Nanchang, China
I arrived in Nanchang thinking I would be playing in the qualifying, but at sign in the cut moved quite a bit so I became the last person into the main draw. I was thrilled since it gave me the opportunity to have a few extra days to adjust to my new racquet. I was hitting well. Every once in a while the ball would fly since the Protocol is like the Solinco version of a Babolat, but I was feeling hopeful that the racquet could be the answer I had been looking for.
                 
I drew Eri Hozumi in the first round of singles and I played really well to take the first set 6-3. It seemed like things were on the right track until they weren’t. For some reason I started missing a lot and couldn’t find my rhythm the rest of the match. It was frustrating, but I still had doubles.

I played with Prarthana Thombare and we drew a Chinese wild card team in the first round. We had the chance to play on center court with hawk eye which was a blast even though the crowd was against us. All the matches started at 4 pm or later so every match was a night match. In our next round we played a favorite Chinese doubles team on one of the outer courts. It was one of the most infuriating matches I have ever lost since we got robbed on multiple game points. The worst of the calls was that at 4-5, 40-30 one of the girls missed her second serve long by 6 inches and the chair allowed it to be called good. She repeatedly told us it wasn’t her job to call lines which was laughable. After the match we waited to pick up the match USB so that we could rewatch the horrible calls that were clearly visible from even the single camera angle. Playing in China with a Chinese umpire can be a real trip.

July 30-Aug 5 WTA San Jose, California
It was late when we finished our doubles so I immediately booked my flight to San Jose for the following day. I was hoping to sneak into the singles qualifying and since we lost Thursday night, I needed to get there asap so I could play on Saturday. Travel arrangements never seem to go as planned since at midnight I received an email stating that my flight wasn’t confirmed due to the the first leg being unavailable from Nanchang to Shanghai. I spent the next two hours on the phone with the airline trying to find another option or way to get to Shanghai. All the flights to Shanghai were sold out for the morning so I had to research other options. In the end I was faced with a ridiculous travel day of: 30 minute taxi to the train station, 3 hour train ride to Shanghai, hour and fifteen minute subway ride to the airport, 11 hour flight to LAX, 1 hour LAX to San Fran, and then finally picked up by the tournament for a 30 minute ride to where I was staying. I was wrecked. It was late Friday night by the time I arrived and I didn’t know what to feel.

I was scheduled against Irina Falconi for the afternoon on Saturday so I slept in a little bit before going to the courts to warm up. In the first set of my singles I felt like I was in a fog and it was over before I even knew it started. I began to find my way into the second but it was too little too late. I couldn’t be too upset since I had flown from the other side of the world.

Instead I turned my focus to doubles with my partner Nicola Geuer. I felt better going into the doubles after getting some doubles work in with coach, Ryan Stotland. He helped me with my doubles the previous year so it was nice to be back on the court with him. We had a tough first round against Johanna Konta and Shuai Zhang. They both played really well and weren’t really missing anything. We lost a couple of deuce games which made the difference. Unfortunately losing was starting to be the norm.

I barely walked off the court before I saw a text from the manager of the Orange County Breakers saying that he was sorry for my loss, but asking whether I was interested in playing World Team Tennis for the Orange County Breakers. He had been following my scores since he was looking for someone to replace their injured doubles player for the last three matches of the season. The only catch was that I needed to leave right away since the match was the following evening. It was kind of a whirlwind since I was sad I lost, but was pumped to have the opportunity to play WTT. It was just what I needed to raise my spirits.

July 31-Aug 2 World Team Tennis (WTT)
The team manager booked my ticket for the following morning and after a quick flight, I was checked into the hotel and was on my way to the courts to get a hit in. The colorful court played as weird as it looked. It was cool that it was colorful, but I quickly realized that each color was a different speed with the alleys being the fastest of them all. Since I had never paid attention to WTT, the coaches had to explain the rules to me. The weirdest of the rules was that you had to play lets, but the net person could cut across to get the ones that landed short. The scoring was also interesting with a total of five sets played first to five games, consisting of men’s and women’s singles, doubles and mixed. Each game won was vital since the winner of the match was the team who had the most total games. Then you throw in time outs and changing sides after four games then you have an interesting match.

The team consisted of Yanina Wickmayer, Darian King and Marcelo Demoliner with coaches Rick Leach and Scott Lipsky. The first night we played the San Diego Aviators and even though we lost it was the most fun I’d had on the tennis court in a while. The energy was really good and I felt like I was immediately accepted by the team and the fans. I was surprised by how many people came out to watch, especially after spending most of the year playing in front of a handful of people. I only played doubles the first night, but I felt I adjusted to the format pretty well since the set ended up being close. Rick thought so as well, so the following night he put me into the mixed.

We played the Springfield Lasers the following night but came up short. It was much tougher playing teams who had been playing together the whole season since it was only my second time playing with Yanina and first time playing with Marcelo. I felt like I played better with each set though. By losing that night, the Breakers were officially out of the running for the WTT championship.

We still had one more match against the Washington Kastles the next night. After a last minute trade we ended up having Marcelo swapped for Daniel Nestor of the Springfield Lasers. Nestor fit right in saying we had to beat the Kastles to finish the season since no one likes the Kastles. Doubles were the fourth and fifth sets of the night so I cheered on my team as I waited for my chance to take the court. I played great that night and it was a blast to finally win some sets. Yanina and I won the doubles comfortably, but the mixed got a little dicey after Nestor and I went down a break 3-2 and were one point away from going down 4-2. We ended up playing really solid to work our way back in. My proudest moment of the match may have been in the final game when Nicole Melichar had a serve that dribbled over and I remembered to run across to hit it for a short angle winner. It was an awesome match to finish the season on. At one point during the match I had the realization that I was the only person on the court who hadn’t won a grand slam since Robert Lindstedt won the Australian, Nestor won at least one of each and Melichar had just won mixed at Wimbledon. I wished the season could’ve been longer because after the tough year I had so far it was nice to play some matches where there was no pressure to chase points. Playing those matches made me remember why I played tennis in the first place. In addition playing for the team came with some pretty cool benefits. Everything was organized for me from flights, to hotel, to even being given a BMW to drive around for a few days. I felt like royalty and finished WTT hoping to be drafted for next year.
        
Training Break
I took a much needed break after WTT finished. Even though WTT went a long way to rekindling my love for tennis, I still needed to take a step back to regroup after a mentally draining seven months. I took a couple weeks for myself to relax, hike and do some yoga before beginning to train again. My favorite of those hikes was hiking the Subway in Zion. It was picturesque and went far to remind me that there is more to life than just tennis. In the end we’re all insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
                                 
Once I was mentally refreshed, practice became a lot more fun and I felt I was no longer upset with how I was playing. I started looking for solutions to turn my year around. I removed the step from my serve in an attempt to simplify my motion. After having a step serve for my whole life, it felt strange to remove it. My kick serve benefitted a lot, but I still needed to hit a ton of serves to get the timing down.

Sep 4-8 WTA 125k Chicago, Illinois
By the second week of the US Open I felt ready to get back out on tour. I set up to play doubles with my friend, Nicola Geuer for three weeks in a row. Originally we had planned to play a couple weeks in a row in Asia, but those plans had to be thrown out when we saw that the cut for doubles was going to be too strong for us to get in. Instead we went to Chicago.

I got into singles at the last minute and was set to play against Jamie Loeb. The tournament was extremely disorganized. For example, they kept on changing the shuttle schedules without notifying the players so the day of my singles I showed up for the shuttle along with 15 other people only to find out the shuttle wasn’t leaving for another 30 minutes. That’s a huge difference when it comes to warming up for a match so we somehow convinced the driver that he was wrong so he would take us. Then once we started the match they didn’t bring water until three games in, and once we did have it there was no ice. It was almost comical since it was the first week of September and hot and humid. Drinking hot water for 3 hours was not exactly beneficial in staying cool on the court. There were high winds during our match though, to the point that lobs would turn into drop shots. I played pretty well throughout but eventually lost in the third. There were a lot of positives to take away since I was feeling refreshed and on the right track.

In doubles we had a tough first round against Asia Muhammad and Maria Sanchez who eventually made it to the finals. The disorganization translated into the doubles. During our doubles, they started mowing the grass right next to the court so we couldn’t even hear the umpires call the balls or the score. Also at the WTA level they’re required to have ball kids, or in this case ball people. We all felt bad for the adults having to pick up the balls since they were injured and hobbling around in addition to not having much coordination. We did our best to make it easy for them, but it didn’t make our match run smoothly.

The tournament was pretty much a disaster all around, but Nicky and I were able to at least explore the city by bike. We went to the water, up Willis Tower and of course saw the Bean.
                                       
Sep 10-16   WTA Quebec City, Canada
I left Chicago pretty quick since I wanted to play singles qualifying in Quebec City. I moved into the draw at the last minute after players competing in Chicago weren’t able to make it. I played Jessica Pegula in the first round which was a tough draw. I lost 4 and 2 after having multiple chances in the first to tie it up. She played really well on the super fast carpet like surface, and pretty much stormed through the tournament to make the finals. 

Nicky and I had some time to enjoy Quebec and prepare for our doubles. The weather was fantastic so we spent a lot of time wandering the cobblestone streets of the city. We of course went to the Chateau Frontenac to marvel at the beautiful hotel that looks like a castle. 
                                  
After a practice, Jason Duval, an extremely talented fan caught up to me to show me the sketch he did of me. He’s been going to watch the tournament for years and every year he drew my picture so it was amazing to see his progress as an artist. This years drawing captured me perfectly and was from my first round qualifying win at Indian Wells in 2017. It almost brought tears to my eyes after the rough year I’d been having because I wanted nothing more than to be that person again. The year had beaten me down a bit and I felt I had only recently started to find that fiery spirit again. I was determined to continue finding myself.
         
Doubles was a missed opportunity since Nicky and I won the first 6-3 and had chances to go up 4-1 in the second against Naomi Broady and Kristina Pliskova. We started off playing really well, but after missing our chances the momentum shifted and we weren’t able to get it back causing us to go down 10-7 in the breaker. 

Sep 17-23   WTA Seoul, South Korea
Next up was a long travel day to Seoul, but I was fortunate to at least get a full row to myself. It’s always cool to land in Seoul and not have to fight your way through people to get your bag. Personally I love the asian countries where people are polite and don’t hover over the belt. 

Since we lost early in doubles, I was able to get there a couple days before the singles qualifying started. The tournament in Seoul has a history of having weak cuts for the qualifying so I felt fairly certain that I would get in. Boy was I wrong… It ended up being the strongest cut out of the three WTA’s that week so I didn’t get in. I would’ve made it into the premier event in Tokyo or the international in Guangzhou so that was really frustrating. In the couple days before the tournament I had tweaked my forehand a bit to make my take back more Federeresque and I was hitting big. I felt more ready to play singles that week than I had the previous couple weeks, so that was a major letdown for me. Instead I turned my focus to the doubles with Nicky. 

We played a lot of practice points against other teams so we were feeling good as a team. We drew the top seeds, Begu and Olaru, but came out firing. We had a lot of good points and I felt amazing nailing forehands cross court. We lost 4 and 6 after having the lead in the second set. It was a very disappointing three weeks of doubles for us since the last two matches were right there for the taking. We traveled a long way to lose in the first round, but at this point I was just happy to be playing well again. I kept telling myself that the results would come eventually. I just needed to break down that wall. 

Some highlights of Seoul were a nice player party where there were tons of prizes for the present players to win, I rarely win but good lucky this time and of course getting Korean BBQ. Being white in a Korea BBQ means that they don’t trust you to do your own cooking so we had our own personal cook. 
                          
Oct 8-14   WTA Tianjin, China

After Seoul I went home to train since I lost early and didn’t really want to hang around in China for a couple weeks before the next tournament. The plan was to play a bunch of events in China through the end of the season so time to regroup seemed vital. 

I was anxious about going to Tianjin again since previously the hotel had been an hour away from the site if there wasn’t traffic. In addition the air quality is horrible there which is why everyone tries to play Hong Kong instead. It was off to a much better start since I got an awesome suite and the hotel was only 30 minutes away this time. 

In singles I played Han Xinyun from China. I started off playing really well, but my game seemed to disappear towards the end of the first set. I stopped making first serves which really hurt me and contributed to my loss. 

I got my act together in doubles with Prarthana Thombare where we beat a Chinese team by playing smart, high percentage doubles. The following round we lost to a Russian team who hit everything as hard as they could. 
                         
Overall Tianjin ended up being better than I expected, however I still made the decision that I didn’t want to spend 6 weeks in China. The tournaments were looking really strong and I wasn’t feeling China, so I made a last minute decision to only play one more week in China before flying to Canada to play. Chalk it up to being a little jaded, but I feel like I have to be in the perfect mindset to stay in China for long periods.

Oct 16-20   100k Suzhou, China
After I finished in Tianjin, I hopped on the bullet train to Suzhou (Anhui). Every year there are a handful of players who end up going to the wrong Suzhou since there is one by Shanghai and another 3 hours by bullet train into the middle of nowhere. Of course the tournament is at the one in the middle of nowhere. Suzhou might be my least favorite tournament since the pollution is really bad, there isn’t much food around the hotel or tennis courts, and the facility isn’t great. The tennis courts are fine, but there is only one western toilet and they are always running out of toilet paper. In addition everything there seems dirty regardless of how often they clean. 

Needless to say I wasn’t too excited to be back. I lost a close first round in singles to Gaby Dabrowski after a long day of waiting around. Losing that match affirmed my choice in deciding to leave China after the tournament. 

In doubles I played with Thombare again, and we lost in the second round 10-8 in the breaker. I don’t have much to say about it except we played horrible. I was ready to get out of China.

Funny information about Suzhou is that it is so far into the middle of nowhere in China that most people there have never seen a white person. In most places in China people stare at white people, but in Suzhou they all stop what they’re doing to turn around and stare. I’ve had people actually catch up to me as I’m walking to continue staring at me after I pass by. They do things a little different there in their small restaurants like having all the produce brought directly into the restaurant on scooters. 

One of my favorite things about China is getting a kick out of the translations and Suzhou was no exception. The player party had a very appetizing and unique dinner menu this year. 
       
Oct 22-28   60k Saguenay, Canada

Getting from Suzhou to Saguenay was nothing short of challenging. It would’ve been easier to stay and play the tournaments in China, but I would’ve been in the singles qualifying and stuck in China for weeks. Playing in the main draw of the two indoor tournaments in Canada made sense. To get out of Suzhou, I had to take a three hour train ride to Shanghai, then another hour and half on the subway to get to the right airport. Since there weren’t many flight options, I had to take a twelve hour redeye to Los Angeles, then another five hour redeye to Newark, and an hour and half flight up to Quebec City where I rented a car to drive the couple hours up north to Saguenay. I basically travelled for two days straight and wasn’t sure what to feel by the time I arrived. Fortunately my housing family, Florence and Martin, were ready to make me feel at home. 

The lights were a little dim and the courts were lightening fast so it took a little getting used to after being in China in slow conditions. Since I flew from the other side of the world I at least got my singles pushed back to Tuesday, but didn’t have the same luck for doubles. After one day of practice, Usue Arconada and I played doubles against Sharon Fichman and Maria Sanchez. Having only one day to adjust to the time change wasn’t really conducive to great play. I felt I was in a fog the whole first set as I misjudged a lot of volleys. In the second we started playing better as a team although we got robbed of a few calls by the chair umpire. We had one of the worse calls we had ever seen in the doubles. The chair umpire called a slow lob that was about 8 inches long in on a game point. Even our opponents coach was shaking his head in disbelief. We had seen tons of bad calls on the other courts so it appeared that the Canadian umpires didn’t have much experience calling lines. In the end it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the doubles, but it was annoying. I knew it was going to be tough flying there and playing, but I think I underestimated the difficulty.

In singles I played a young Canadien, and once again I started out slow. I lost the first set 7-6 after having some chances, but I ran away with the second 6-1 as I found my serve and volley game. I continued playing well in the third and went up with a match point, but was robbed after she rocketed a short ball six inches long that the chair umpire “didn’t see.” Funny enough the same coach from the doubles was sitting on the baseline where it happened and he agreed with me that it was out. I felt like I lost my focus a bit after that and my opponent started making some good shots. In the end I lost 7-5 in the third. The biggest thing I wasn’t happy with from the match was that I realized how much I had lost my flat serve by switching to the platform stance on my serve. It wasn’t as apparent on the slow courts I had been playing on especially since my kick serve was much better with the platform, but in Saguenay I noticed I couldn’t snap off many aces. 

I had about a week before my next match so I drove back to Quebec City and went to Detroit to train. This time I was actually able to appreciate the beauty of the drive since there was lots of snow and beautiful lakes at every turn. Saguenay was such a nice place so I was disappointed it went so poorly. 
         
Oct 29-Nov 4   60k Toronto, Canada

While I was in Detroit I tried out my original step serve and I immediately noticed a difference in my timing for my flat serve, so I opted to move away from the platform serve. It never felt right for me since I had always had a step serve. By the time my training week was over I was pumped to drive up to Toronto for the next event. 

In singles I played another young Canadien in the first round. I went down 3-0 and 5-2 in the first since I started off staying back. Once I started serving and volleying and making a comeback she crumbled. I started bombing aces which helped wear her down mentally as I made quick work of my service games later on dispatching her in straight sets. I felt my serve and volley was much sharper which was necessary because the courts were very quick.
        
I’m not exactly sure what happened in my second round, but I played horrible. I struggled sleeping the night before and I felt I wasn’t thinking clearly. I played Jessika Ponchet who was pretty crafty and seemed to pick up on some of my tendencies. It just didn’t seem to be my day. 

My bad day continued into my first round doubles match later that day. I played with Arconada again and we drew Maria Sanchez and Sharon Fichman again. It was a little comical not only because it was the second week in a row, but also because I was staying at Sharon’s parents house. Funny how often it happens that players draw whoever they’re staying with or rooming with. The first set started off close. At 3-4 Sharon was rallying with Usue on the deuce side while Maria and I were at the net. Sharon hit a ball deep to Usue who popped it up a little bit to Maria who took a huge swing that looked to be a hybrid between a high forehand volley and an overhead that ended with the ball hitting me in the head point blank. My head hurt to say the least, but after a medical I decided I would try to play. I felt a little woozy so after the first set I decided it would be smart to retire. 

I saw the doctor and they said there was a chance I had a concussion so they wanted me to wait a day before flying out. At this point all I wanted to do was leave. I did the smart thing and waited the night since Maria had hit me really hard. The next morning I was feeling better so I decided to fly out later that evening. What a tournament.

Nov 6-11   80k Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas… I was happy to be back in familiar territory. After being hit in the head, I didn’t practice until Saturday since I wanted to play in the qualifying on Sunday. My coach decided I should try hitting with the Solinco Shadow (the racquet I used all of 2017) again. He had watched my matches in Canada online and had started thinking that the racquet might be better for me since I had changed everything back to the way they were in 2017. I felt more control with the Shadow in my hand so I decided to make my final drastic change for the year so I officially switched back to the Shadow. 

I signed in for qualifying that evening and asked to be put later in the day so I could be cleared to play by the doctor in the morning. The following morning I found out that I wouldn’t be allowed to play in the singles because a week had to pass following a head injury retirement in order to be allowed to play. I was angry since I felt fine and didn’t think I even had a concussion. If I had finished my match in Toronto, I would’ve been able to play. The only silver lining was that the doctor said that I could potentially be cleared to play doubles as long as I was scheduled for Wednesday. 

The supervisors agreed to schedule me for Wednesday so I signed in for doubles with Naomi Broady. We were scheduled to be the night match on center court against Ulrikke Eikeri and Reka-Luca Jani. Tennis channel ended up deciding to put a different doubles on center so we were pushed to an outer court that had bad lighting. Since it was the desert in November, the temperatures plummeted once the sun went down so not only was it near impossible to see, we were also freezing. It pretty much wasn’t even doubles with all the whiffs and mishits. We lost 10-7 in the third set breaker, but at least I knew that the Shadow was the right racquet for me. 

Nov 12-18   WTA 125k Houston, Texas
After the tournament in Vegas I was planning to be done for a few weeks before going to India, however with the racquet change and not being allowed to play singles in Vegas I decided to play the WTA in Houston. I was offered a wild card into the qualifying and I couldn’t wait to see how I would play with the Shadow. 

I decided I was only going to play singles so I wasn’t guaranteed hotel. I was lucky to get housing a couple blocks away from the site in a cute little guest house. I fell in love with the family’s little girl and would play games with her almost every evening. 
                
It had been decently warm when I arrived on Thursday, but the next day the temperatures plummeted and stayed there for the tournament. Everyone was bundling up as best as they could. The tournament bought hand warmers for the players competing each day. In my first round of singles against Erin Routliffe, I don’t think I ever warmed up. Most of the points were short and despite my bouncing around I felt cold and stiff the whole time. I finally felt like I was playing well and more confident in my shots. 

For the final round of qualifying I played Lauren Davis. We had a lot of long tough points and I felt I played better and better as the match went on, but she played tough. She went on to make the finals of the tournament so talk about a tough draw. I ended up losing 6-3, 6-4. After the match I was told I had a chance at getting in as lucky loser as long as all the higher ranked players won (the WTA tournaments go by ranking for lucky loser). I’ve never watched live scores so intently. I thought I was going to go insane. Long story short, I ended up getting in! It was only the second time I’ve gotten lucky.

On a rainy day off I had the chance to go to the Space Museum which was amazing. I loved seeing the Apollo 11 shuttle that was charred to a crisp from reentry and the replica of the space shuttle. It was a perfect afternoon. 
                         
I drew Ellie Halbauer in the main draw and I felt resurrected. I played her on the coldest day of the week where the temperatures were in the low 30s not including the wind chill. It was miserable. I wore two pairs of leggings, a dress, a long sleeve and a short sleeve shirt. I looked ridiculous and yet I was still cold. The match was a matter of will and mine was much stronger that day. I played aggressively and moved in well despite the cold. I couldn’t feel my hands at all so on the changeovers I would grip hand warmers like they were a lifeline and bundle myself in a blanket. The funniest thing was despite it being in the 30s they still brought out coolers with ice and water in them even though everyone was asking for room temperature water. We needed that ice in Chicago, not in Houston. Anyway, I won the first set 6-2 and Ellie promptly took a medical timeout. Since she was wearing layers as well she had to go inside to be treated. I was not about to be iced so I actually went to the bathroom and sat outside the physio room in the warmth. All in all, it took about 10 minutes for Ellie to be ready, if I had stayed outside I don’t think I would’ve been able to move. The medical didn’t seem to help since I never let off the gas on my way to winning the second 6-4. It was miserable out there, but I was excited to be moving into the next round. I needed the confidence boost. 

It finally warmed up a bit before my next match against Fanni Stollar. She was so up and down that it was tough to get a rhythm. In both sets I went down 5-2 before I would start playing better and working my way in. I lost 7-5, 6-3 and had lots of chances to keep the comeback rolling. Overall it was a good tournament for me, and by far my best singles result of the year. I found myself in Houston. I found that girl from the picture that was drawn in Quebec City so that was encouraging.

I had a great little cheering section since my housing came out to watch and Susanne Taylor and her husband Michael came out to watch. They’re the ones who always make sure that I look good on the court in my InPhorm clothes.

Dec 17-22   25k Navi Mumbai, India
I had three weeks before I was planning to leave for India. I wanted to play the 25k events in Pune and Navi Mumbai for a couple different reasons. I was excited and motivated because I was playing well with my old racquet and I had always wanted to go to India. 

I bought my plane ticket so that I could apply for my Indian tourist visa. I was told that it was easy and would take three or four days to receive online, so I figured three weeks would be plenty of time. I was baffled when I received an email saying that I was denied and that I needed to apply for a sports visa. I tried to apply again online and wasn’t able to do it successfully since the Indian government somehow figured out that I was coming to play in the tennis tournament. It was just my luck that I was the one player that was caught. By this point my departure date was nearing so I was really nervous as I tried to get answers. Because of the time difference it was difficult to talk to anyone so after multiple nights of emailing back and forth in the middle of the night, I was stuck waiting to get a bunch of documents that were necessary for the sports visa from the tournament. It took a few days because the first time there was an error in one of the documents. 

Once I got the documents I had to fly to San Francisco which was the closest consulate to drop off my passport along with the visa application. My plan was to fly there to drop it off and immediately fly back, but I almost got stuck there for another 24 hours because they only accepted visa applications before 11 am and it was 11:15. Cue the waterworks and sniffling as I tearfully told her how I flew there just to do it and I needed it as soon as possible to go to India. It somehow worked and they took my application. They told me it would take 3-4 days to be processed, so I flew home to sit and wait. 

The days went on and eventually I had to cancel my flight. Next thing I knew I got an email saying they were missing another document. I was furious since it took more time to get the document from India so I could email it in. I had many sleepless nights since I kept having to check if people in India responded to me in the middle of the night because if something wasn’t correct I would have to wait another 24 hours. It was terrible. 

Eventually it was processed and approved so I called to have them hold it in San Francisco for me to pick up like they told me I could which is when I was told it was already picked up to be delivered to Seattle. I wasn’t in Seattle though and that would be wasting even more precious days while in the mail. After calling UPS and the consulate in a circle it was finally tracked down and I was able to fly back to pick it up. At some point in this process I started thinking that maybe I just wasn’t meant to go on this trip. Nothing was going right and I was doubting whether it was even worth it. After all the trouble I went through to get the visa I pretty much had to go for the one tournament at least. 

With visa in hand I could finally leave for India with my coach. We arrived early for the tournament since I knew the time difference was going to be brutal. I always thought India was closer to China so I was surprised when my flight went through Newark and Zurich before arriving to Mumbai. My flight from Zurich was late so by the time I made it through customs and picked up my luggage, it was 2 am. 

I called an Uber and was on my way to the hotel that was an hour away. I immediately noticed how India smelled. It was dirty with trash discarded everywhere and dogs roaming the streets and people sleeping under bridges. It was sad to see as we went down smaller alleys. For the most part the city was quiet and sleeping once we were away from the airport. 

By the time we pulled up to the hotel it was past 3 am. The tournament hotel had been fully booked the first couple nights so I resorted to Expedia to find a place close to the official hotel to facilitate the move. I found a place called the Indiana Hotel that looked to be ok. The taxi driver pulled up next to a train station and signaled that we had arrived, but I didn’t see a hotel in sight. All I saw was a sign for the Indiana Hotel that looked like it hadn’t been changed in the last decade. As it turned out the hotel was above the train station and only had one hallway with rooms. The people were really nice and I was surprised when I didn’t have to give a deposit for the room. Once I saw the room I understood why… There was a thin comforter with holes placed over the mattress and an old red blanket to sleep with that had seen better days. There were no windows, the wall by the bed was crumbling with debris all over the floor, there was no real shower or hot water, and to top it all off there was no toilet paper. Instead there were two buckets, one large and one small, to be used for bathing. In addition there were tons of mosquitoes in the room that had to be killed before being able to even contemplate sleeping. It was approaching 4 am so there wasn’t much we could do besides tough it out for the night. I took out a bunch of clothes and slept on them for the night and covered myself with a jacket. I was exhausted so I fell asleep only to be woken up by the walls shaking a few hours later. I thought the building was about to collapse on itself until I realized it was just a train coming into the station. The people working the hotel actually lived there. If there were rooms available they would sleep in them otherwise they would sleep on the floors in the hallways and even in the kitchen. The hotel appeared to be their home. It was an interesting insight but I couldn’t wait to leave the hotel. 
           
The official hotel looked like a palace with a delicious breakfast, hot water, relatively clean rooms, and toilet paper. When I checked in I noticed that they didn’t require a deposit either. People in India are honest and they expect that everyone else will be as well. I guess the people there don’t ever think about skipping out on paying which I thought was really cool. 

Since we arrived a few days before the tournament, there wasn’t a shuttle yet so we chose to walk to the courts. As soon as we walked out of the hotel we were on a bustling street where everyone was honking and weaving in and out of traffic. I’ve never seen so many tuk tuks in my life and there seemed to be no order. The walk to the courts was a couple miles which gave me plenty of time to absorb the city, but it’s hard to even put it into words. There were entire developments made under bridges where people cooked, did laundry and had fires to cook whatever food they could find. it was hot and humid yet the people never seemed to notice. Stray dogs would sleep in the middle of roads and on sidewalks where they would blend into the surroundings, I nearly stepped on a couple. Every once in a while I would see someone who didn’t seem to have much themselves, walking around with a bag of dog food to feed the strays. The people there were very kind and giving and not obsessed with the material things that westerners are obsessed with today. Most of the people live humbly and just want the basic necessities. It broke my heart to have barefooted children running up to me begging for money. They would follow us for half a mile at times. We wanted to give them money but we learned early on that as soon as we took out any sort of money we had people running from all directions wanting money so it didn’t feel safe. Being in India made me realize how privileged I really am. I play tennis. I don’t have to scour the streets for my next meal or to find clothes, so having these cultural experiences helps me become more mindful, aware and remind me how lucky I am and to never take any of this for granted. 

By the tennis courts there was a small market where they sold fish and produce that were covered in flies. It reinstated the decision that I would eat no fish or meat while in India since I didn’t want to risk getting sick. At the market there was a man that sold fresh coconuts which I would have every morning. I thought it was worth the risk even though he was using a rusty machete to open them. They tasted amazing in the heat during practice. Other than that I only ate at the tennis courts and at the official hotel. Some of the street food smelled amazing, but I didn’t want to risk getting sick during the tournament. The food was to die for. I had always loved Indian food, but in India it was so much better. My favorite dish is Palak Paneer which is a cheese with creamed spinach and I was shocked by how much cheese they would use. In the States they definitely skimp on the cheese and it’s expensive whereas in India you could have a feast for a few dollars. I was more than ok with eating Indian food breakfast, lunch and dinner. What I didn’t realize was that certain dishes that are appetizers in Indian restaurants in the US are actually only available at breakfast in India, such as sambar and idley. 

Getting around in India is different. The trains I saw were old and didn’t even have doors that closed so people would be hanging out of them enjoying the breeze. Riding in a car was even interesting since there were no traffic laws so basically if you have a bigger vehicle you have the right of way. The smaller vehicles are expected to get out of the way. The only thing everyone is careful of avoiding is cows since they’re sacred there and if you hit one you will go to jail. It was absolute mayhem, but somehow everyone would get to where they were going eventually. 

I didn’t have too much time to explore Navi Mumbai, but I did take an afternoon to go to Belapur Fort and Shri Venkateswara Swamy Temple. Belapur Fort was tough to find since there weren’t any signs pointing in the right direction. After some wandering we found the hilltop where it was situated. It was built in 1570 and held by the Portuguese, British and Marathas over the course of time. Parts of it were destroyed over time, but it still had a rugged beauty. 
                         
The temple was one of my favorites that I’ve visited. The colors were beautiful and it was a true sanctuary. Before entering the temple you had to leave your shoes across the street in a little hut and then walk barefoot across the street to the temple. From there you visited each of the gods in a clockwise direction. At each of the gods there was someone who would show us what to do to pray to the god whether it was putting our hands over a flame and bringing them to our face or drinking their holy water (definitely didn’t actually drink it). They made us feel welcome even though we had no idea what we were doing. It felt very spiritual though. I didn’t get any pictures from inside since they had big signs forbidding it and I didn’t want to disrespect anyone so you’ll just have to take my word that it was a really pretty temple. 

I did actually go to India to play in a tennis tournament, so here’s how that went. The tournaments in India ended up being pretty strong so I had to play the qualifying. The draw wasn’t full so I only had to play one match to get into the main draw which I won 4 and 3. I didn’t play great since I think I was a bit nervous going all the way to India for potentially one match. 

In the main draw they started matches in the afternoon and played into the night. In the first round I played Polina Leykina who I dismantled 6-3, 6-3. I had loosened up after getting a match under my belt and played well in the heat as I watched her tire out. That evening I had doubles with my partner Ana Veselinovic under the lights. We beat a Japanese team 4 and 2 as we figured out each others tendencies. It was our first time playing together, but we matched up well. 

That night there was an Indian wedding celebration under my hotel room which I was worried was going to keep me awake. In the middle of the street they had people dancing with a full marching band surrounding them playing music while the groom sat on a white horse. Oh and the cars just had to drive around them. That was a first. 

I was still able to get some sleep thankfully since I played Hiroko Kuwata next. I had played her the previous day in doubles and she came out firing in the first set of singles winning it 6-2. In the second I started finding my game and mixed up balls more to run her. By 3-3 in the second she looked exhausted so I won 6-3, 6-2 in the final sets. I wore her out. After a break, Ana and I won our second doubles match to move into the semis. We had a close call in the second where we squeaked it out 7-6 after our opponents started playing better. 

I was looking forward to the quarters of singles since I felt I was improving with each match. I played Diana Marcinkevica, but I didn’t play as well as I had hoped. My aim was a little off as I barely missed balls wide. It was really frustrating since I wasn’t hitting badly and I still had my chances. In the end I lost 6-4, 6-4. Doubles that night didn’t go any better as we lost 6-4, 6-4. It was not my best day, but I finally felt like I was on the right track for a better 2019. 

The only thing that worried me a little was that every once in a while I would feel a twinge in my right ankle during matches. I was still taping my ankle so I tightened up my tape job which did the trick for the most part, but it seemed to be getting worse. I was going to have a short break so I figured that would be all my ankle needed to recover. I had been pushing it pretty hard with all of the tournaments I had been playing.

I finished the 2018 season enjoying the game and hopeful for a better 2019. It felt like I had finally figured things out and was in a much better place mentally. I know it has been a long read but I hoped you enjoyed it. Stay on the lookout for another long blog looking at 2019 so far. Thanks for reading!