BKK —> LAX

It’s 4:30am and I’ve just arrived at the Bangkok airport with ample time to spare for my 6:50am flight back home. I’m in a bit of daze already since I decided to hang out with friends instead of getting rest before the 18 hour journey (best decision though). I booked my flight through United airlines. The first flight taking me to Tokyo via Air Nippon Airlines and the second flight taking me to LA via United. That meant at the Bangkok airport I needed to check in at the Air Nippon airlines desk. So I’m checking in and the lady tells me my name is not in their system. I show her my confirmation number and she makes a few phone calls……nothing. She tells me I was never issued a ticket and that I should call a United agent.

I’m on Skype with a United agent and I explain my situation. Apparently, he’s never heard of a situation like mine so he has to put me on hold and talk to the ticketing office as well as his supervisor. Five minutes go by, 10 minutes, and then 20. At this point I’m delirious from lack of sleep, my stomach is howling for food, my bladder is about to explode, and now it’s 5:15am and I’m starting to worry I may not get on this flight. I just want to go home! Still on hold….I was looking at my Skype credits and they were quite low so I decided to add some credits quickly on my phone and of course my call ends because of the transaction. It’s now 5:50am and I’m really starting to panic. On the phone with the 2nd United agent, I tell him my situation and tell him to HURRY! I’M GOING TO MISS MY FLIGHT THAT I DON’T HAVE A TICKET FOR!! He explains to me why my ticket wasn’t issued. Apparently Air Nippon rejected the price I paid for because I didn’t buy the ticket 24 hours in advance so the airline didn’t have enough time to approve the sale. I ended up paying a difference of $150. Can a lesson be learned here? Don’t buy flight tickets less than 24 hours before?

It’s been a long 3 weeks since my last post leaving China. But a memorable one. I got to play in Taiwan as a Taiwanese player for the first time.

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Got to see friends and family!

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And of course Taipei night market…

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Met old and new friends in Seoul….

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And ended in Bangkok with a title and friends to celebrate it with!

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Do we look alike?

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Trying to fight some jetlag back home now. I slightly injured my foot back in Seoul and was playing on it all week in Bangkok. Will be taking a short time off and hopefully back on the road again soon!

 

 

 

JJ

 

 

Umbrella Life

It quite possibly could have been the longest week known to mankind. Three rain-delays during the week plus 8-9 hour days. Eating the same meal everyday and average wifi connection sure took it’s toll on everyone. But you know what? It actually wasn’t all that bad. I got to know some of the players I didn’t really know that well before. Lots of downtime with average wifi connection to the world really brought players closer together this week. It’s quite interesting though how player’s hang out mostly with their respective country. The Aussies, Chinese, Taiwanese, Russians, and Americans. I guess it makes sense with the language and all.

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Funny story about this guy. It's the day of my quarterfinal match, Friday. I"m first on at 10am. Tournaments usually provide a shuttle bus from the hotel to tennis courts on a timetable. Unfortunately, the time that I wanted to go to the courts was not available so I decided to take a taxi. As I walked out of the hotel a man approached me and said he could take me. Taxi would cost me about $2.50. I asked the guy how much he charged. He said, "Don't worry about it. The ride is on me." Too good to be true right? I decided to go with him anyways. I was being really friendly and chatting up a storm with him b/c of the free ride. When we arrived he asked where his money was right as I was taking that selfie with him. China in a nutshell....

Funny story about this guy. It’s the day of my quarterfinal match, Friday. I’m first on at 10am. Tournaments usually provide a shuttle bus from the hotel to tennis courts on a timetable. Unfortunately, the time that I wanted to go to the courts was not available so I decided to take a taxi. As I walked out of the hotel a man approached me and said he could take me. Taxi would cost me about $2.50. I asked the guy how much he charged. He said, “Don’t worry about it. The ride is on me.” Too good to be true right? I decided to go with him anyways. I was being really friendly and chatting up a storm with him b/c of the free ride. When we arrived he asked where his money was right as I was taking that selfie with him. China in a nutshell….

 

Next stop, Taiwan! Need to get through this delay though. Been delayed at the Nanjing airport for 2 hours now!

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Until next time China

 

 

 

JJ

 

Travel Day

It’s 3:30am, alarm goes off. 3:32 another alarm. 3:35 my 3rd alarm. 3:40 I’m finally up, but still laying in bed trying to brace myself for the travel day that lies ahead. As well as lingering thoughts of my three set loss the day before. I brush my teeth quickly and I’m on my way out. Fog covers the city of Gwangju completely. The taxi driver honking his horn every time he passes an intersection to make sure no one else passes through. I was told by the hotel that getting to the bus station would take 20 minutes. I arrived at the bus terminal in 10 minutes. The taxi driver dropped me off and I was just thinking about how I could have had 10 more min of sleep. And also how dangerous the drive was considering that you could not see 10 feet ahead. I patiently waited for 30 min until it was time to leave.

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Four hours to the airport….yep you heard correct. Four hours. The first thing I noticed when boarding the bus, no bathroom. I’m getting the two water bottles out of my bag and thinking this is probably a bad idea. Okay, maybe I won’t drink any water as I munch down on a power bar. Luckily, the bus driver makes a pit stop at the middle point. But with no announcement, he just leaves the bus. Unsure of how much time I have to go to the bathroom and maybe pick up a snack, I run like the wind to the bathroom and only have time to pick up a bag of almonds.

I get to the airport with good time. Three hours before my flight to China. As a foreigner I think China may be one of the tougher countries to travel to and to understand the culture. The Chinese people can be a bit rude and brash at times. Why? I’m not so sure. So as soon as I arrive to the gate before boarding the plane I feel an instant Chinese presence. People yelling at each other, people cutting you in the boarding line, and people bumping into you. It can be a zoo. A short 2 hour flight to my destination, Nanjing. Very manageable. It’s already been a 12 hour day and now I need to grab a taxi to take me to the tennis courts. It’s a one hour taxi ride plus 30 min of the taxi driver not knowing the exact location.

At this point in the day I’m starting to get delirious with lack of sleep and food. But somehow you need to muster up enough energy to get a short tennis practice in. Usually I like to drop my luggage off at the hotel first, but this time I have no choice. I finish practice at 5:30pm. A tournament shuttle bus is supposed to arrive at 6pm to take players to the hotel. Bus arrives at 6:30. Pretty much starving at this point. A couple of us players manage to find a place to eat after checking in. For those of you who have had authentic Chinese food (not Orange Chicken or General Tso’s chicken) know just how much Chinese love to grease up and put tons of oil in their food. Great way to end the day!

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You can find me here for the week…

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Well somewhere on that map 😉

 

 

 

JJ

 

 

 

León

Tough trip to Mexico this time around with tennis, but had one of the most fun and exciting experience thanks to the people on this trip. I’ve only been able to spend a few days at home and will be taking off to Asia tomorrow. Excited for the next trip! Let’s get it!

Running with the bulls.......just kidddding :)

Running with the bulls…….just kidddding 🙂

Downtown León

Downtown León

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The best Mexican ice cream ever!

The best Mexican ice cream ever!

Take me back!

Take me back!

The Jaime Family!

The Jaime Family!

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See you in Asia!

 

 

 

JJ

State of Mind

It’s been quite a journey since my last post in January about my decision not to play Australian Open. About a month ago I was planning my tournament schedule for the month of March and faced a similar decision, but this time it was Indian Wells. At the time I was looking to go to China for a couple weeks as opposed to waiting to see if I would get in Indian Wells. If I went to China it meant I could get more tournaments in and potentially more matches. If I played Indian Wells it meant being able to prove myself at the bigger stage. As it turned out, many players were thinking the same thing which made China tougher than it should have been. So I decided that playing Indian Wells was the best option for me. I made it to the last round of qualifying and almost had a chance to make it to the main draw!

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After Indian Wells I had to make the decision whether to go on a 3 week swing of tournaments or wait to see if I could get into another big tournament, Miami. Here I am in Mexico after a tough outing in the first round as well as Dallas the week before. There were a handful of players who decided to play in Mexico and skip Miami as well and lost first round. As players it’s so easy to think we should have gone “here” after a first round loss. But like I said before it’s impossible to know what lies ahead.

I’ve been having a tough time with losses lately while traveling by myself. After a loss you have so much “me” time and thoughts running through your mind. Sometimes having all those thoughts drives you crazy. It’s very easy to get caught in that state of mind anytime you face a minor setback or trial. We have to do our best to catch ourselves though. The journey is all about the trial and errors. Without failures we can’t improve and move forward. Sounds cliché, I know. But so true.

Belmar Family in San Luis!

Belmar Family in San Luis!

New friends! Fernando and Sofia!

New friends! Fernando and Sofia!

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Time to get back on the saddle and go to work!

 

 

 

JJ

Right Decision?

It’s January 4th and I’ve just received an email saying I got into Australian Open Qualifying. Playing it would mean I have competed in all four Grand Slams. As players that is what we work so hard for, the opportunity to play at the big stage. Before 2016 I was unsure if I was going to get into Australian Open with my ranking so my coach and I decided we would skip it to give me an opportunity to push my ranking up. Since many of the players go and play in Australia it leaves a lot of the other tournaments in prime position to do well in. I can’t tell you how many times I second guessed myself if I was making the right decision. Before the start of the year I was determined to carry out the plan. But after I received the email I started to think twice. Then I had tons of people ask me why I wasn’t going to go to Australia. Like I was stupid for passing up the chance to play in another Grand Slam.

I’m serving 15-30 at 4-4 in the 3rd set. My first round in Bangkok yesterday and I am literally dead and cannot move. At this point bad thoughts really start to creep in as much as you try to ignore them. “You should have gone to Australia!” Everything after that point was actually a blur. I’m really not sure how I was able to pull off a victory in the next two games.

We are constantly making decisions on a daily basis. Whether it’s choosing a place to eat (I find this quite hard), choosing a university to attend, or choosing a career path. You want to make the “right” decision. But the truth is how do we ever know if we are making the “right” decision. I don’t think there is such a thing. We do our research and make the best calculated decision and we stick to it. No second guessing!

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JJ

2015

Dear 2015,

You have gone by way too fast! You let me visit five new countries. You have given me opportunities, some I took and some I missed.  You have brought me closer to friends and family. You have given me tears and tears of joy. But most important 2015 you have given my mom strength to keep fighting her battle with cancer. For that, I can’t thank you enough.

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I’ve been in Singapore for the last 10 days prepping for the 2016 season. Before arriving in Singapore there was only one focus, get in incredible shape. I have to thank the coach who put the training camp together, Robert Davis for opening up my horizon. This training camp was not just about us (tennis players), it was also for Singapore tennis. With Singapore being such a developed country and with vast resources their tennis programs and players are scarce with only a few top players. This training camp was about setting a strong foundation for Singapore tennis to grow. By leading Singaporean coaches and players through high performance training.

As players we obviously try and focus on ourselves and cater to our specific goals and plans because ultimately this is a job and we have to perform in order to make a living and reach our dreams. But tennis has given us so much, well at least for me. Tennis has allowed me to go to college, build relationships, visit amazing places, and etc. It’s important to give back to the game as much as possible. And this trip to Singapore has allowed me to do that.

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Got to meet some amazing people in Singapore…

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umich crew!

umich crew!

Xmas dinner with Roy, Braen, and Bandit!

Xmas dinner with Roy, Braen, and Bandit!

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I wanna thank everyone in my life for helping me make great memories this year! Bring it 2016!

 

 

 

JJ