It’s been a whirlwind of emotions and new experiences for me the last two months. It’s crazy because I feel like I haven’t really sat down and let all the emotions settle in and feel them. I’ve just been on the go constantly, moving on from one tournament to the next. One airport to the next. One hotel to the next. And just pushing my body to prepare physically and mentally for the next tournament. I’ve been getting a lot of messages from friends congratulating me, I am truly thankful for all the wonderful messages.
After my win in San Francisco earlier this year there have been some ups and downs. A lot of times when you win a tournament and have so much momentum rolling you feel like you should be able to win everything and that things should be easier. The mind is funny sometimes when you have certain expectations. I was still putting in hard work. But there were times when I would doubt because I felt like the effort I was putting in wasn’t exactly matching the outcome I was getting. And that’s a tough part, not just in tennis. Your outlook starts to get a little blurry, sometimes you second guess your work ethic. Maybe the work I’m putting in is not enough.
Before leaving to England to play on the grass I was feeling really good. I had put in some good work and was ready to do some damage. I didn’t quite get the results I had hoped for the first 2 weeks. I thought it would be tough for me at Wimbledon Qualifying because I didn’t get as many matches on the grass as I would have liked. I did my best to keep pushing and I gave myself a chance at qualifying for the main draw, just came up a little short. With all the injuries that happened at the French Open it only made sense for me to stick around and see if I had any luck with a lucky loser spot.
I was really bummed not qualifying. Qualifying meant I would get to play my first Grand Slam. The days leading up the main draw I was just kicking myself and hoping that I could just get another chance. I was asking other players/coaches if they knew anyone that might be pulling out or if they had heard anything. Two days before the tournament one of the supervisors asked me to come to his office. I remember walking to the office with butterflies in my stomach. The supervisor said, “You are in. But we can’t make it official yet because there is going to be a press conference with this withdrawal.” I’m just in shock at this point. Probably one of the craziest feelings I have ever felt. You just have flashbacks of all the work you put in. All the sacrifices and all the struggles. Finally you get the chance to play on one of the biggest stages. The feeling was truly unbelievable. I definitely have to thank Andy Murray though. You never want to see players injured, but in this case it gave me the chance to play my first Grand Slam!!
Playing my first round at Wimbledon was something I will never forget. There were so many people behind me and supporting me. The atmosphere was just so fun to play in. After great points you could hear the roar of the crowds, the ooooh and ahhhs. I had my chances in the first two sets, but my opponent played well.
I landed in Chicago five days later to play a Challenger. Moving from grass to hard was going to be a little bit of an adjustment, but I was excited to be back on the hard. The only thing with this tournament was that it was a Saturday final, which meant if you made it to the finals you would have to play 4 consecutive matches with no rest day. The other thing I had to think about was my next tournament was going to be back on grass in Newport, Rhode Island. I was in the qualifying though. Qualifying usually starts on a Saturday, but for Newport it started on Sunday. My final for the Chicago tournament was scheduled for Saturday night. So the plan was to play the finals, pack up my things, and catch an early morning flight to get to Newport in time to hopefully play in the afternoon.
This was the plan. The day before the final, the supervisor asked me what my plans were. If I was still planning to go to Newport to play the qualifying. I told him, yes. He said he would still need to check with the supervisor at Newport to see if I was allowed to play under the rules. He got back to me and said I wasn’t allowed to play qualifying at Newport as it had something to do with the withdrawal deadline and that it cut too close with the time I was supposed to play the final. At first I thought it was a bit unfair for them to not let me play because I was in the finals of a tournament and there was still time for me to travel and play in Newport on time. But it was also okay because I could just rest after the finals and prepare for the following week. About 30 minutes later the supervisor called me again and told me they changed their mind, I could play Newport.
The next 48 hours was going to be a tough one, but I was ready to take it on. The morning of the finals in Chicago I got an unexpected call from Todd Martin (tournament director for Newport). He called to tell me that he was giving me a WildCard into the Newport ATP. I didn’t know what to say. Todd told me, “You earned it.” I couldn’t believe it. I have never received any type of WildCard into a singles event of any tournament since I started the pro tour and here I was receiving one from Todd Martin. Thank you again Todd! Being straight into the main draw helped me out big time as I had more time to travel and adjust.
And sure enough that WildCard helped me reach my first ATP 250 quarterfinals. After my 2nd round win the ATP reporter asked me if there was anything I wanted people to know that they didn’t already. I want people to know that I’m not an overnight success. A lot of times people see the result and say, “Wow, where did he/she come from?” The results come from a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. I have been faced with a lot of opportunities throughout my career, some I have capitalized on and some I haven’t. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my coach, it is, showing up. You keep creating opportunities for yourself and you keep showing up, the results will happen.
After I lost on Thursday in Newport, I flew straight to Atlanta the next day to prepare for qualifying on Saturday. I won my match Saturday, but caught some sort of virus and haven’t been 100%. It’s been a crazy eight weeks with a lot of physical fatigue and an emotional roller coaster of new experiences. I’ve been pushing my body too much. So I’m sitting here in the Atlanta hotel kicking my feet up and talking to y’all! Hoping to recover in time to prepare for Washington D.C.