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

Life Changing 

It’s Saturday afternoon in China, I have just won my semifnial match against Taiwan’s #2 player. After the match the reporter asks me, “Are you feeling the pressure of tomorrow’s match? There’s a lot on the line.” For those of you who don’t know where I’ve been this past week. I’ve spent it in Shenzhen, China playing a wildcard tournament for the Australian Open Main draw. What a great opportunity to play in a Grand Slam main draw. With these tournaments it’s important to not put any extra pressure on yourself. In the back of your mind though you know winning could be life changing. To be honest, in my first 3 rounds I felt the pressure, but it was just normal pressure before competition.

My answer, “I’ve just finished my semifinal match and I’m trying not to think about tomorrow and to enjoy this moment right now, but my heart is racing a bit faster now because I know what’s at stake.”

In the finals I went up against a familiar opponent, Yoshito Nishioka (a tough and fesity opponent who can run for days.) I had just played him two weeks ago in Japan. Having lost the 1st set and leading in the 2nd set I was not able to defeat him in Japan. I knew what I was up against though, a physical physical match.

Finals days. My “uncle” who has been with me all week told me I had been sleep talking during the night, something I hadn’t done all week. Is that a sign of pressure? In my mind I was trying to get rid of all those thoughts of Australian Open. Just trying to think of this as another match. Such a strange thing, the mind. How it can be so powerful and yet helpless.

It’s finally gametime. Nishioka has elected to receive first. I can’t help it, but the pressure keeps building. My legs (quads specifically) are quite heavy and my heart is racing. The heaviness in the legs would continue for four games. Eventually I started to settle in. I won the first set and had a lot of momentum going into the 2nd. For those of you who play sports know how easy it is for momentum to shift. Playing at the highest level, opponents will try their best to break your rhythym. In the 4th game of the 2nd set the momentum shifted. I started making mistakes I didn’t make earlier. I lost the 2nd set. At the start of the 3rd set I started to feel my muscles twitch (early signs of cramping). By the 3rd game the muscles started to go in and out really fast. I could no longer stay in points as long as I wanted. I look across the net and see my opponent running around like there’s no tomorrow. I just looked up and said, “Whyy?” Probably one of the most important moments in my tennis career and of the match and my body decides to give in.

Game, set, match. Just like that. I’m sitting on the bench while the tournament officials roll out the trophy presentation in disbelief. Just thinking to myself, “What the hell happened?” I couldn’t have been any closer. That’s the cruel world of sports. I couldn’t imagine what it’s like for Olympics or the World Cup, a game that happens every four years.

At the end of the day though as much as a loss stings like this, it’s important to put life in perspective. I think sometimes we demand so much of ourselves and put way too much unnecessary pressure to climb the ladder. Easy to say and harder to do of course.

Just got to remember that Life’s an adventure!

Uncle David

Uncle David

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Thanks Alan for these TV pics!

Thanks Alan for these TV pics!

 

 

 

 

 

 

JJ

 

 

Konnichiwa

It’s been quite the adventure in Japan so far. It’s my third year in a row coming here and I feel like I’ve learned so much more about the culture/lifestyle this time around. As well as my growing Japanese vocabulary list. I started in Kobe (yes! where the famous Kobe beef is from). Probably by far my favorite city in Japan so far. Kobe’s population is perfect, just the right amount of people and it’s got beautiful views of the ocean and mountains.

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Kitano Starbucks

Kitano Starbucks

sewage art

sewage art

During my stay in Kobe I was lucky enough to be invited to a fancy dinner by my friend, Rose. Needless to say it was quite an experience. The dinner was a random group of 10 (all of Rose’s friends of course) all meeting for the first time. I was very surprised to see how business cards were exchanged and how valued they are. People present their business cards with two hands and a bow and when received they are laid out on the dinner table in the order you received them. It was only fitting that I didn’t have my own business cards (maybe I should make some now!).

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New Friends!

New Friends!

After Kobe I traveled to Tokyo, Yokohama to be exact. Did I mention that everyone on trains are like robots…

The weather in Yokohama this past week was pretty horrendous. It rained half of the week and the only tournament on this trip in Japan that was outdoors. I managed to get a win during the week and got to spend some time with friends!

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I traveled to Toyota a few days ago for my final week in Japan and  was able to pick up two wins today! Hoping to update you guys on some more good news!

Mt. Fuji on the way to Toyota!

Mt. Fuji on the way to Toyota!

Ariga Family! and JP!

Ariga Family! and JP!

:)

🙂

Yup this really happened haha

Yup this really happened haha

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and this

 

 

 

JJ