After coming back from my first trip, a few friends and family told me they would like it if I started a blog so they can keep up with my travel and results. Now whether or not they are actually interested is open to debate, but I figured I’d give it a go anyway—plenty of free time on the road to try it out. I’ll do my best to entertain you all, but if you don’t enjoy it I’ll go ahead and apologize for wasting a few precious minutes of your life. Well…. here it goes!
Loud music. Traffic. Phone Calls. Probably the best way I can describe the first part of my trip. Driving from Louisville to Toronto alone wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever come up with, but hey, live and learn. After 12 hours in the car, I probably called just about everyone possible in my contact list and listened to the same songs five times each, so once I arrived I would have been happy to see anybody at that point. Fortunately I was able to arrange housing for my stay in Toronto, so I didn’t have to start talking to random strangers when I got out of the car. Early on though it was pretty clear I don’t want to make a drive like that again, so note to self: find travel partners.
My time in Canada was supposed to be a 3 week swing where I played 2 tournaments in Toronto and one in Niagara, a nice start to my pro career. It was also my first trip out of the country, if we really want to count Canada, and gave me a good taste of what life is like on the road. I got a good idea about second part, but the whole start to my pro career didn’t quite go as planned.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but like anything else because of some stupid rules and other regulations I wasn’t able to play singles in any of the tournaments. As you can imagine, definitely not how I envisioned my first trip going. I went from being excited about my first ever trip to wanting to go home in less than 48 hours. Don’t worry though, there’s a silver lining. Even though I wasn’t getting to play matches, I met plenty of other players and got to practice with a lot of the main draw guys. After a week up there, my tennis was better than it had ever been, I just wasn’t able to put it to use yet.
The second Toronto tournament was held north of the city at the same site as the ATP/WTA Rogers Cup. If I said that to someone who doesn’t know a ton about the futures circuit they would probably think I’m on the same level as Federer and Nadal. Not quite, but I’ll let them keep dreaming. It doesn’t hurt anyone to let them think that. Still a cool experience from my perspective, though. It isn’t every day you can say you got to practice on the same court where Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray battled each other. Luckily I found another player to sign in for doubles with this week. We ended up losing first round, but honestly I was just excited to play a match. After 8 or 9 days up there without competition I was getting a bit stir crazy, so it was nice to be out on the court for something that actually counted. It’s also never a bad thing to get the first prize money check of the year. Before you go thinking I’ve made it big time the check was only for $76, but you have to start somewhere.
One thing a lot of people probably don’t realize about pro tennis is the grind of being on the road all the time. With the exception of the ATP players, life on the road is a lonely path with a lot of free time, and it isn’t meant for everyone. Every day you wake up questioning if it is worth it to stay there another day. And there are plenty of times you want to go home. For me, I found that out pretty quickly as I wasn’t even getting to play singles in the tournaments, literally the whole reason I had originally gone there. With that being said though, I realized how lucky I am to even have the chance to play pro tennis. I had been waiting for it to happen, but while I was gone in Canada things started to click for me. Since there’s so much free time, you have a lot of time to think and find ways to pass the time. For me, I finally realized that I have a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel the world doing what I love and chasing my dream. How many people can say that? Are there still days where I don’t want to be away from home and I’d love to sleep in my own bed? You’re absolutely right. But I’ve wanted to play professional tennis my whole life, and I’m going to make the most of the chance I have. Who knows where it will take me, but I know I’ll never look back and regret not going for it.
I was pretty lucky to have housing both weeks in Toronto. It’s crazy how many people in different cities and countries across the world you actually know, and I’m super thankful they were generous enough to welcome me and host me during my stay. During the first week, I met two Dutch guys who were about to road trip it from New York all the way to San Francisco and sleep in tents along the way. On one of my off days the three of us biked into downtown Toronto and along the waterfront during one of the big summer festivals and air show. The second week I had an awesome host family that took me around the city and also gave me what is one of the highlight of my trips— sailing in the Toronto harbor at night. When I look back on my career, I’m sure I’ll remember good matches and wins, but in the long run I’ll never forget the people I met or places I got to visit. Sailing around Toronto looking at the city skyline as the sun sets is one of those memories that will stick with me forever (the picture up top isn’t the greatest, but it’s the best I could get while tyring to stay on the boat).
After two weeks in Toronto, I headed down to Niagara for the last week. For those that are wondering, yes, I saw Niagara Falls while I was there. It was a pretty spectacular view and something that had been on the bucket list. One perk of traveling while playing tennis.
After two weeks of disappointment with not getting to play much, it looked as if this week would turn out the same, but I found a doubles partner again for this week and we managed to get into the draw— shoutout to former Louisville Cardinal Andrew Carter for helping me out. Since I hadn’t been playing many tournament matches, I still wasn’t expecting much of the result. I just wanted to enjoy my time on court and give myself the best chance to win. The words I’m typing here won’t do the next thing I say justice, but I won my first ever professional main draw match, singles or doubles, so it was a very exciting time for me. I was ecstatic to call my parents afterward and tell them what had happened. I also remember my hand shaking so badly while I was serving on match point that I could barely hang on to the racket, but we came out on top and that’s all that matters. For every pro player starting out, the first main draw win is a milestone to always remember. And in my case, not a bad way to finish off my trip to Canada. It’s always better to finish on a good note.
I’m writing this a little late, but I’m actually on my way to Egypt right now for four tournaments in Sharm-el-Sheikh. I have to do a little backtracking for the trip I took to Texas, so stay tuned for another post in a week or two!