Sorry I haven't updated this at all, but I'm currently in New York gearing up for my next set of tournaments, which will be in 2 weeks in Colombia. I'm really excited to get back on the road with my sister, Nia, who will be playing her first professional events with me. To recap the last month and a half, I spent most of my time in Oregon and Canada playing an ITF event and some money tournaments. Bear with me for a long update....
Week 1: $10,000 ITF in Victoria, Canada:
Last year, I made the quarterfinals and knew I would lose my ranking if I didn't make it that far. It wasn't really on my mind because I was just grateful to be back after missing the last 10 months because of my rotator cuff and back/hip. The beginning of my trip was eventful as two nights before I was leaving, I somehow witnessed a crime and had to spend most of my day at the police station to go all Law and Order. Finally, I was up at 4am to make my way to Victoria and I realized I was missing my reel of string. Not the worst scenario, but to buy or test out different string for my month on the road wasn't something that sounded appealing (fortunately, it all worked out). I arrived to Victoria a few days before main draw to acclimate and gear up for my first match. I was drawn against the 5th seed, Steffi Carruthers, 6-1, 6-2. It wasn't my best showing, but it helped get rust out and show me where I'm at and what I need to work on. Sometimes, you have to get rid of the kinks before you can rise again.
Week 2: adidas Open in Portland, Oregon
I played this tournament last year after Victoria and won the whole thing, which was exciting and I was glad to be back. I played in the pro-am, but didn't make the finals for the grand prize, but had a lot of fun. I won my opening match, 6-1, 6-4, after a big struggle in the second set - but to get the first W on this comeback was good. In the quarterfinals, I played Bess Waldram, who is going to play at Notre Dame in the fall. I would guestimate I hit around 100 errors in that match and lost, 6-4, 6-4. To play that bad and be pretty close wasn't encouraging at the time, but there are going to be a lot of bumps in the road before I get used to things.
Week 3: RBC Wealth Management Open in Eugene, Oregon
After Portland, I hopped on a BoltBus to Eugene and was very excited, as Nia plays for Oregon. I got to stay in her apartment and make home-cooked meals. I also got to hit with her team and work out and do some acupuncture on my shoulder while there. This tournament had basically the same people as Portland, but a bigger draw. Fortunately, I received a default in my first match before taking down the 4th seed, 7-5, 6-1. Being unseeded is a downfall in this comeback, but I know things will only go up. I made things a little hard on myself in that match, but won my quarterfinal, 6-1, 6-2. In the semifinals, I played Maya Jansen, who won the NCAA Doubles Championship in 2014 and 2015. She's a really good doubles player and I had to rally and save a set point in the first set, but found a groove and kept my foot on the gas. I won 7-6(6), 6-3 and faced off against Kristina Smith in the finals. I know her from the circuit and she gets every ball back, which can be really frustrating. I was still struggling finding a groove and thew what I could at her, but she ended up winning, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. I still made some money and stayed in Eugene to train for a money tournament in Vancouver I was asked to play in instead of a $25,000 ITF in Winnipeg. I also got to help surprise my Dad with a trip to the Olympic Trials in Eugene and we all got to go. It was pretty inspiring to see and maybe one day, I'll be quick on the court :P
Week 4: Stanley Park Open in Vancouver, Canada
Khristina Blajkevitch, a former college and professional player, runs Tennis British Columbia and invited me to stay with her and play her tournament. It's one of the largest public tennis tournaments in all of Canada, so it was cool to see all the levels. I was really surprised to see a few Jamaicans that I'm sure my Dad knew through tennis. I asked for a late start and played my first match against a pretty good junior from BC and won 6-3, 7-6(1) and played another good junior, Juliet Zhang in the quarterfinals. I know Juliet and her sister Wendy from playing a few of the same tournaments, but I still couldn't grab any rhythm against her - especially the backhand side. It was so weird to feel one side feel so off, but I won the first set and then I let her just take the second after a couple of close games. We had a long third set and I went up 5-2, before I completely took my foot off the gas. We battled to a tiebreaker and went down 2-5 before having some clutch serves (including an ace at 5-5) and won the last 5 points of the match to make the semifinals against Wendy. I didn't have a large turnaround, especially when Wendy was finished with her match as Juliet and I finished our first set. We had a close match, but I lost, 6-2, 6-3. I wasn't happy with how I played, but Arthur Ashe said "success is a journey, not a destination."
Now in New York, Nia and I are having some really good practices and I'm starting to find my groove. We were supposed to go to Canada for 2 ITFs, but the cutoff looked tough and we decided to train and book our trip to Colombia instead. Getting my footwork, serve and consistency back are high in priority for me. I got cleared to play and had a week or so of hitting before I left for Victoria, so using this time as a solid training block has me excited to compete again. I'm figuring out where I'll be playing this Fall and if you know of any tournaments or would like to donate money or flyer miles, please let me know!
I really appreciate the support - I think big things are in store and would love for you to be a part of it.