Southern Swing

21 days and 2,567.4 miles later I’m back in Louisville after a swing down south for some tournaments. I feel like I’ve spent more time in the car than I have anywhere else, which might not be too far from the truth. After my Houston expedition last fall I vowed to never do a drive like this again, but I guess I didn’t learn my lesson. For all those reading this right now…. I’m pretty disappointed in you all. I’m still waiting for one of you to chauffeur me around to tournaments. You all are nice people, so I’m sure the offer will come.

Overall the trip was pretty disappointing. The plan was to play four Futures. One in Memphis, Little Rock, Orange Park, and Vero Beach. In Memphis I lost in second round of qualifying, but midway through the second set I injured my ankle. To be honest, I have no idea what I did to it because I didn’t roll it. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like it jams itself or locks up and then I can’t put weight on it for a minute or two. Luckily I was able to finish out this match, but my ankle would bother me on and off the rest of the trip.

Since I lost on a Sunday I headed straight to Little Rock to play in a wildcard tournament before the qualifying started later that week. I ended up retiring in my first round match after winning the first set when my ankle flared up again. For those of you who know me, I NEVER retire. Ever. Ever. Ever. Never. The only time I’ve ever had to stop a match before this was because I went into full body cramps and was defaulted by a ref for time violation warnings. I was pretty disappointed having to retire in the middle of the match, but I was trying to think big picture as I still had 3 more tournaments to play. I ended up staying in doubles because I didn’t want to bail on my partner, but we fell in the final of the tournament, one win away from playing our way into main draw.

I took the next few days easy to let my ankle calm down. It was feeling pretty good for the qualifying and I ended up making it to the final round before losing. Once again, one match away from main draw. Realistically, I should have headed straight home from Little Rock because of the problems with my ankle, but at the time I didn’t really consider it too much. It had held up for the three matches in qualifying and I was happy with my tennis, so I liked my chances to qualify in Orange Park. Obviously I can’t predict the future, so little did I know that my ankle wasn’t going to hold up for another week. After two days of sheer misery on the road grinding the 14 hour drive to Orange Park, I had to retire again in the first round of qualifying. I also went ahead and withdrew from Vero Beach. I’ll be seeing the doctors soon to find out what’s going on and hopefully be back on the court again soon.

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My cousin Sophalicious and I taking in the sunset at the beach

If there’s a silver lining to all this, it’s that I was able to sneak in a little vacation time before coming back home. My entire family had organized a trip to Hilton Head Island at the same time I finished up in Orange Park, and since I was only a 3 hour drive away I swung up there to spend some time at the beach. I had planned on taking a few days off anyway to rest my ankle, and I couldn’t think of a better place to get away. It’s not very often that we’re able to get all of the Gornet clan together with our hectic schedules and how spread out we all are. I had a great time getting to see all of them at once, especially since I’ve been missing a lot of the family events due to traveling. I also got to work on my tan, obviously the most important highlight of the trip. One day I came back from the beach looking like a splotchy lobster, but hey, it will turn to tan eventually.

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Got to experience my first PGA tournament! Featured here is the legendary cousin Baby Joe

On the way home from Hilton Head I made a pit stop in Columbia, SC to see my old friend Valentina. We came in to Louisville the same year, and she played on the women’s tennis team there. But after freshman year she went back home to Germany. We had always kept in touch, but I hadn’t seen her in over four years, so I’m happy I was able to catch up with her. That is if 3 hours can count as truly catching up. She probably still pictures me as the 18 year old baby face from freshman year.

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Valentina warned me there wasn’t a whole lot to see in Columbia. But she took me by the State House which had some pretty cool history and architecture.

 

I also had the chance to spend time with my cousin John and his renowned cat Russdiculous. John has been living in Little Rock for his medical residency, so it was pretty convenient having a place to say. In between his weird work hours, we found some time to do a couple of hikes and also duel it out in a battle royale putt putt contest. It’s become a tradition for us to always play, so I’m still pretty bitter about losing because he gets bragging rights until next time we play. Putt putt is no joke for the Gornet cousins.

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John and I at the top of Pinnacle Mountain. If you don’t laugh at his tank top I’m questioning your sense of humor.

I want to give a shoutout to my old teammate Sebastian Stiefelmeyer as well. For those of you who don’t know him, he was a heck of a player and in his senior season he had one of the best seasons all of college tennis has ever seen. He and I still keep in touch pretty regularly. My next task is convincing him to come out of retirement to play with me. I think he’s taking the Federer approach, though, and won’t be making his comeback until at least the age of 35.

As of now I don’t have any tournaments coming up soon. I’m in the process of switching rackets so I’ll be trying out a bunch of different ones over the next couple of weeks to find one I like. Exciting life of a tennis pro, right? I guess for us switching rackets is like a little kid getting a new toy and candy.

Thanks to everyone for keeping up with me and all of the support! Hope you all are gearing up for the Derby festivities. There’s no better place to be than Louisville at derby time.

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