In the usual fashion here’s my several weeks late update for you guys. At least I’m consistent…
After my last tournament in Columbus before Thanksgiving, I spent the rest of 2017 rehabbing my knee due to a severe case of tendinitis. It looked like I had a mini golf ball tumor in my knee, and it got to the point where walking up and down stairs without extreme pain wasn’t even possible. I’m still kicking myself around over not taking some rest time sooner, but all that matters now is that I’m healthy and 100%. I was losing my mind not being able to practice, but luckily between double rehab sessions and teaching some lessons I was able to stay busy.
In one of the best early presents to myself I was able to start practicing a few days before Christmas. Well, practicing might be a strong word. For the first week I only hit 30 minutes a day and I wasn’t taking any steps or moving. After all the work I put into getting my knee better I wasn’t about to come back too hard too soon. The racket felt like a foreign object in my hand so I was spraying shots the first couple days, but after a few practice sessions I started to feel the ball better and my instincts kicked back in.
After a whirlwind of Christmas festivities with my family (my grandparents and most of my aunts and uncles also live in Louisville) I made my way down to Nashville for New Year’s Eve. The night didn’t quite go to plan and I almost turned into a popsicle, but it still ended up being a great weekend. Our initial plan was to go to a club where I could buy a ticket at the door first thing they opened and get in with my friends as they had bought their tickets in advance. Well wherever we went seemed to be the hot spot that night because when we showed up there was already a line of 500 people, so no chance I was getting in. It was 7 degrees outside and all I had on was jeans and a button down so I made friends real fast and hightailed it to another club with a random group of people for no other reason than to save myself from shivering to death. Luckily my friend Mackenzie worked her magic and saved the night by sweet talking the bouncers into letting me skip the line.
Once January 1 hit it was back to work. I was scheduled to fly out to Egypt in two and a half weeks so the rush was on to get my tennis and fitness back to competition level. I always forget how much harder it is coming back from an injury. It takes twice as much effort just to get back to your original level, then even more to start improving again. Maybe one day I’ll learn to stay away from the injury bug, but right now it seems I might have the injury plague. I was also in the process of frantically demoing rackets and trying to get them ordered for my trip so it was a bit of a stressful time. Fortunately they came in the day before my flight, saving both my sanity and my wrist as my old rackets weren’t cutting it anymore.
I wish I could tell you the fourth time was the charm (I know I know, it’s supposed to be third time’s a charm), but I left Egypt empty handed again. My lack of match play for two and a half months definitely showed, but on the bright side each week got better. The first two weeks I lost in qualifying but the third week I lost first round of main draw to the 7 seed in three sets. So yes, yet again, I’m still looking for my first ATP point. I also played doubles one week with George Goldhoff, a Texas alum, but we lost in the first round in three sets. Seems to be the theme for me in Egypt.
While in Egypt, my friend Kanika was also there so it was fun seeing her. If you recall she made a cameo in the last blog post. I’m not sure if she planned on having to deal with me again this time around but it’s always good to have a friend on the road. Her coach Seb started helping me out and working with me some the last week, though she’ll claim I hijacked her coach away. Luckily they were nice enough to let me join in on some fitness and practice sessions. Let me know who you think has the best abs of us three. Kanika also convinced me to try Indian food for the first time. I was a bit hesitant at first because I thought it would be super spicy and I’d end up breathing flames like a dragon, but she ordered something I could actually handle. How I made it 23 years of my life without trying Indian food is a bit of a mystery, but I was a fan. Super tasty!
Since this was my fourth time in Egypt, I figured it was finally time I made my way over to the pyramids. My friend Daniel Nguyen had gone the week prior and did a private tour with a guide his friend suggested and said it was a blast so I did the same. I flew into Cairo first thing in the morning and spent all day running from one site to the next. I saw the pyramids, the Sphinx, and the Cairo museum. I learned enough Egyptian history in an 8 hour span to make my brain explode, and I got to eat some awesome authentic Egyptian cuisine. I learned how the ancient Egyptians made papyrus and got to see some of the oldest churches around. Okay enough nerdiness. I also got to take some pretty cool photos. Check out the one below. Pretty sure I risked potential paralysis to get this one but thankfully the camel didn’t move. If any of you ever find yourselves in Egypt Hany Mahmoud is your go to man for a tour. Not only does he know his history, but he can also navigate the madness of Cairo like the conductor of a symphony. Seriously, driving in Cairo traffic should be an Olympic sport.
If you have some free time check out Cracked Racquets. It’s an up and coming multimedia site covering all of the latest tennis news and events with a focus on college tennis as well. During my injury layoff I started doing some freelance writing for them and have been writing articles every two to three weeks. If you’re a tennis fan then you’ll love this site! Here’s the link for anyone interested: https://www.crackedracquets.com
In another crazy turn I’m now in Paris getting ready for my next tournaments! More on that in a few days. Thanks to everyone who has reached out since I’ve been gone. Always nice hearing from friends and family back home!