Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tennis is funny sometimes

Five-and-a-half years? I could do that standing on my head: Try 20 and we'll talk!

Feliciano Lopez won his first title in more than five years at the South African Open, beating Stephane Robert in the finals in straights. His game has some holes in it (mainly that topspin backhand), but he does have a lot of versatility that should've resulted in more than two tournament wins to this point. But I can't be too hard on the guy, because in a way, I really relate.

See, I follow the careers of players like him and Francesca Schiavone pretty closely: For all their solid results over the years, winning a tournament is an extreme rarity -- much like my own USTA results. If I hit October 2010 without winning a USTA event over the year, my winless streak will be at 20 years. That's not a typo either. What it is is almost a lifetime since I got a trophy as a 17-year-old kid for winning the Mobile Tennis Center's Junior Grand Slam round robin tournament. (I don't think that event's even played anymore!) Funny thing about that time, too: I was on a serious roll where things were starting to fall into place for me in tennis. I was named best all-around camper at tennis camp that summer, my partner and I had won the city championships in doubles and I was training with some of the best players in Mobile, and I felt holding my own with them.

But for whatever reason, those heights weren't hit again. Sure, I've gotten deep in tournaments over the years, but I just haven't held up the big trophy at the end. I'll keep plugging away, though. And seeing a win by Lopez or Schiavone always gives me hope!

Conversely, you have young kids like Marin Cilic who win titles like it's a walk in the park, like he just did in Zagreb: God, I hate those guys!

Just kidding, Marin! But do think of the Lopezes and Siases in the world for who it isn't so easy!

(Photo: Getty Images)


Taf said...

Wow Van I had no idea you were still on tour. 20 years huh? At least you're still playing and giving it your best. I wish you well and a win, before October. :)

van said...

Thanks, Taf! It's gotta happen at some point!