I’d like to start off by saying how extremely proud I am of my mom fighting cancer another year! She’s been incredibly strong this year. It hasn’t been easy, but she is continuing to fight and words cannot express how thankful I am to have her. I just remember going in for foot surgery this October and how scared I was (being my first surgery and all). Doctor told me the procedure was going to be 20-30 min and only needed local anesthesia. I was so scared I wanted to be put to sleep for the procedure. I can only imagine what my mom has gone through.
There are so many things that 2016 has thrown at me. 2016 has given me many opportunities once again, some I was able to capitalize on and some I came close to pulling through. This year was a really defining year. Although I’ve had more success this year (ranking wise), I think out of all the years on the professional tour this one has been the toughest.
As tennis players you never want to focus on your ranking, but you do need to be aware of it and being aware of the ranking helps you set goals. In the beginning of the year I was playing a lot of close matches against good opponents, but couldn’t quite breakthrough in any of those matches. Then I saw my ranking drop in April as well as a foot injury that set me back this year. It’s tough because it’s your 5th year on the professional tour and you know you can compete against the best in the world, but results aren’t quite getting there. Then before you know a lot of outside voices are starting to influence you. A lot of times it’s from friends and family who ask you questions about your career choice and 100% they don’t mean anything when they ask these questions. It also doesn’t help when you get on social media and start comparing yourself to other peoples lives. The snowball effect. It’s something I think many of us are guilty of.
I am proud of myself for fighting through those tough times this year though. I figured something out towards the end of the year and my results started to show. It was unfortunate my injuries took me out of competition the last 3 months of the year, but I’m glad I was able to make a big breakthrough this year.
It’s been awhile since I’ve spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with family in the same year and I’m extremely grateful for that time. As we get older it gets tougher and tougher to have the whole family get together.
It’s been a great 2016 and looking forward to 2017!
Sorry for being MIA. A lot has happened since my last tournament in September. As many of you know I had been battling a foot injury since April. The pain has been on and off. But after my tournament in Taiwan it started to get worse. Through a network of friends in Taiwan, I was recommended to get my foot looked at by a physical therapist. He took one look and said, “What is that??” He called his network of doctors to see if they could figure out a solution and treatment plan. The last doctor we met with recommended that we do immediate surgery, same day! I’m sitting there in the doctor’s office trying to think if I have time to think this surgery through. The doctor reassured me that the recovery process would be short and that the team of doctors around me would do their best to get me back on the court ASAP!
It’s been three weeks since my surgery now and I’m recovering quite fast. Can’t thank these doctors enough for helping me through this tough time. Seeing the physical therapist every day, doing my exercises, and making the most of my time off! I appreciate those who have sent me messages already; also to the new friends in Taiwan that have helped keep me company. I even experienced my first typhoon during this time off….have to admit, I was quite the wuss.
P.S. If you’re wondering why my title is “7” that was the number of my surgery gurney.
It’s been a crazy 72 hours. On Thursday I was scheduled to play my quarterfinal match in Nanchang, China. With the forecast saying rain all day. Woke up Thursday morning only to see no rain though, but cloudy. Warmed up and got loose. Ready for the match at 11am and then it began. Rain. Well, you can’t even call it rain it was misting/spitting just enough to make the lines on the court slippery. This spit was persistent. As soon as we’d finish 2-3 points we’d have to stop. My opponent and I would go back to the bench and wait 5 minutes. Go back out and play a couple more points. This happened 4-5 times. And mind you you don’t get a warm up if you’ve stopped less than 15 min. We’ve now gotten to 5-6 in the 1st set, I’m serving and the rain finally comes. We pack up and go inside.
After two hours and some not so tasty food in my body because the only available food source is at the courts we are back on the court. As soon as we arrive on the court it’s spitting once again. We do the same for the 2nd set, on and off. This time I’m able to get ahead and manage to get myself two match points on my opponent’s serve. He finds a way to save those two match points and now the rain is coming. Inches away from finishing the match and we have to stop. It was about 3pm when we stopped the second time. We waited till about 6pm and the supervisor canceled the singles matches for the day. The doubles matches that were scheduled would finish indoors. And I was in doubles as well. Finished doubles at 8pm and was back to the hotel at almost 9pm . 12 hour day!
The feeling of being so close to finishing a match and having to think about it all night and all morning is indescribable. My singles match could potentially take 3 points or 2 hours. We resumed Friday and my opponent came out firing, I lost the first 5 points. Now serving 5-3 0-40 I’m starting to really think. Somehow I manage to come back and not lose a point after that. As soon as we finished it started to rain again. Was just so relieved to finish that match. I would later lose in the semifinals, but just tough tough mentally having to deal with this situation.
I am now currently still in Nanchang, China at a hotel by the airport. Was scheduled to fly out at 8:30am this morning. Our plane left the gate, but then just stopped for 30 min. They announced that we would have to go back to the gate because of mechanical problems. Then 20 minutes later they announced that we would be delayed even longer because of the typhoon hitting Taiwan. We had to go through customs again and take a bus to an organized hotel. You hate to have days like this, but it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. Better to take the precautions. Lives depend on it. Even though I’m complaining I’m not complaining 🙂
People getting restless waiting on the plane
nice business cards upon entering the room
See you Taiwan!
I don’t even know where to begin…
It’s been an incredible 2 weeks in China. It has been over a year since reaching my first Challenger final and all the expectations of myself to keep up that level really just made me lose sight of enjoying tennis. I started focusing on results, chasing ranking points, focusing on wins and losses, as well as other player’s wins and losses. I lost sight of why I love this game and why I play this sport. Playing at a professional level requires a level of determination to want to be the best so in essence you treat it as a job, as it should be. But I can’t tell you how many times I haven gotten off the court in the past year just shaking my head and asking myself, “What am I doing?” Wanting to quit. It’s easy to think that way though when all you think about is the end result.
I play this sport because I enjoy the challenge, the problem solving, and the grind. Not the results. Results follow if you focus on the process. And I can’t thank my doubles partner enough for helping me through these two weeks. Always encouraging me and getting me in the right mindset. Thanks JP! As well as all my friends and family for sticking with me. It’s just the beginning. Time to get to work!!
Spent the first week of this trip celebrating one of my best friend’s wedding! Congrats CS and Mind!
First time going to Kazakhstan! And no luck of finding Borat..
And then the most epic travel day from Kazakhstan to China. From my bag being stuck in the security X-ray monitor because the people in front of me decided to put their passports on the belt and it got sucked underneath to spending a 4 hour layover in some old musty hotel the airline provided.
Finally making it to Chengdu! Why we are smiling, not sure
To new friends in Chengdu!
To JP throwing me under the bus at the player’s party. This girl wanted JP to sing a song in front of everyone and he said, “I’ll only sing if Jason dances.” All for a cute stuffed Panda.
I got one of these for the first time!
To new friends in Qingdao!
Thanks for all the love!
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.
Got to see friends and family!
And of course Taipei night market…
Met old and new friends in Seoul….
And ended in Bangkok with a title and friends to celebrate it with!
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!
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.
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!
Until next time China
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.
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!
You can find me here for the week…
Well somewhere on that map 😉