We start our time back in the US with a win!!

Sasha and I are both happy to be back in the US.  We are at the condo in Delray Beach.  We got in late Saturday night, practiced a bit on Sunday and he won his first round Orange Bowl match 6-2, 6-1.  

Let’s let Sasha speak for himself about the tournament in Panama.  This an excerpt he sent someone about the week in Panama.

So I just reached the final of my first ITF! It was a great tournament, and I can say that each match got better and better, even in the final, which was a bit shaky.

We employed the tactic of just playing my game on the clay and basically ignoring the surface. As we found out, doing this against better clay players got progressively more difficult, but when I did take control of the court the point was generally mine. 

We’ve been stressing this mindset for days now. After the Bahamas and especially the Langmo match, I needed to bounce back and start stepping into the court again. It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough confidence to go do it in the Bahamas, I just had to “do it”, as Nike would say.

I started out Panama strong with a pretty dominating performance in my first round against some kid from Guatemala with an ATP point. 6-2; 6-4. 2 times in the match where I stopped being so aggressive and I paid the price, but it was very good overall.

In the second round, I played a completely opposite player, who was super defensive. I needed to step into this match or else I would have lost due to the kid getting to every ball. I blitzed the first set after a slow start at 0-2, 6-4, but then I was unable to continue this dominance and lost my touch to lose 3-6. Thom has always told me that cramps are mostly mental, and that if u think about them you’re more prone to really cramping up. That’s exactly what happened in the 2nd; I started to mentally cramp up and make excuses. I won the 3rd by stepping in again!

In the quarters and semis, I also played very well and was continuing Thom’s strategy of patient aggression. A slow start in the quarters was a bit tough, but i won 2-6; 6-2; 6-0. The semis was perhaps my best performance over a good clay courter, who did try to play aggressive as well, but I prevailed 6-3; 6-4.

The final was rough, no question. The kid played a very flat, deep ball but was nevertheless a true clay court grinder. I didn’t come out of the gate strong enough, despite a good warmup and preparation, mostly because of nerves and wrong strategy. In truth, it is a bit of an excuse to blame the loss on nerves, but it was the case; the first half of the first set was a bit of paralysis. 😛 I found my way in the second with an early break to go up 3-1, but the kid fought back. I saved 2 MP with big serves to win 7-6 (4). Again, in the third, the kid found his way back. During the match I did a lot of the running, he didn’t, because I wasn’t stepping in enough, so he wasn’t tired in the third set. Again, nerves took part and I overplayed balls to his FH thinking that it was his weaker stroke.

Anyways, it was an awesome experience. People like to say that a good experience is what you get when you don’t win, but I can’t say that was true. The tournament was run extremely well with a microphone to call out matches (like Kzoo), and the courts were maintained beautifully. We loved it there! Our apartment contributed to our great stay.

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