Tag Archives: Halep

Brought back for 2016: Writing about Kvitty and Simo’s Matches

Hello all! I wanted to share with you the news if anyone cared that I am bringing back something I really missed last year. Recapping every match that Petra plays at least that I can see, and new for this year is doing the same for Simo. I have a feeling most of you never knew I did this in the past but I started doing this when I first became a fan of Petra in 2013 and I thought it turned out great. I still have both articles I wrote about every match she played in 2013 and 2014 before taking 2015 off. If anyone wants to see those I can gladly show you; 2013 was like 19 pages and 2014 was almost 40 so yeah there definitely was a lot of work put into it, but I really enjoyed doing it as I like to write.

This year I will try to do the same, and I’m not saying that you have to read any of the recaps, it’s just I have never shared it in a blog form match my match so I thought since some like how I write I would open it to you to see if you enjoy it or not. If it’s too long for you it’s quite alright because I will still do it anyway because I do a lot of this for myself because I love looking back at all of Petra’s matches and the reactions I felt years ago. I didn’t remember a lot of the stuff I wrote and felt until I read those again and it was neat to see. That’s what I hope to accomplish this year as well to try and remember the 2016 matches in 2017, 2018, etc. Also if you guys can’t remember a specific match maybe it will help you as well, if you like the written version to go along with the highlights which I know a lot prefer but that’s ok.

Some of the features that I hope to include in every recap are best/most clutch points, point of the match, photos, maybe twitter moments from fans and such; who knows exactly where this will take me. There can always be room for additional things with every passing match and hopefully if it goes well enough from your side there can be some nice feedback, but like I said even if it isn’t a huge hit with others I’d like to keep doing it to help me remember. This isn’t something I will bombard you with like ‘read this, read this’ it’s a one-time post and if you don’t read it fine, it will always be there if you change your mind.

So that’s basically it, I will try to get these out close to after the matches are over otherwise whenever I have free time. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to watch and recap every single match but I try very hard to work around things to be able to see them play, or I record them for later if I can’t see them. So that being said I hope one way or the other I’ll have enough info to write about them.

I don’t know if anyone else is doing anything similar to this because I know there are a lot of tennis fans out there with blogs and that’s great because there are a lot of good writers out there. I just wanted to do something I love which is write about my two favorite players and their 2016 journeys so come along and follow it if you like! Can’t wait to get this season rolling!

Jake

#PojdPetra #HaiSimo

 

My 2015 Cincy Tennis Experience; Faves Galore

For the 2nd time in 2015 I attended a tennis tournament, and for the third straight year I attended the Western and Southern Open here in Cincinnati and once again it failed to disappoint in a big way. This post mainly tries to show some of the best and unique experiences I had everywhere on the grounds, especially with all of my faves who I always have some fun stories to share whenever I see them. It may also include some comparisons of Miami and how things were better or worse than what I experienced there, and how this year here compares to last year in Cincy. Hope you enjoy it!

The easiest thing to notice over the course of the week was how crowded it was this year and it seems to grow every year. For example, on the first day Saturday you would think maybe it wouldn’t get too crowded since it’s only qualifying. I know a lot of big name players practice too but I just didn’t expect it to be how it was. They had a record crowd on the first day over 13,000 which I couldn’t believe when I first heard it. Then on Thursday which I knew would be the busiest day, they set an overall record crowd on a single day of over 26,000 which is amazing. I never had a problem with crowds and lines this time, but it’s nice to see how well this place continues to do in a country which tennis isn’t very popular compared to other sports.

Another note worth talking about that is always a concern whenever you go to an event is how the weather is going to be. Now let me say that for the most part, it was very nice and it never got so bad where they had to play multiple rounds in one day which was good.  However, unlike Miami, there were considerable delays on a couple of occasions. As long as they don’t drag out all day then it’s not the worst though which was the case here. On Tuesday I believe there was about one-two hour delay in the middle of the day, then the next day there was a bit of a delay at the beginning and more of it after the first wave of matches ended. Then a pretty big one like three hours at night due to thunder and lightning which was a bit rough. All in all though it just meant for some late night tennis which you can’t complain about!

I wanted to lay it out so you could hear about the experiences I had with each of my faves and the other players I really like In case you wanted to hear just about a particular one. It’s easier for me this way because these are the players I spent the most time watching so there is a lot to talk about. I could not have asked for a more perfect week with them and unlike Miami, I got to see all of them which I was so happy about it. It certainly makes for a better week.

Lucie Safarova- Lucie is always an enjoyable player for me to watch just because of how positive she always is and how much she enjoys being out there. I saw her practice once and watched a match and a set of her week that saw her reaching the QFs. I watched her practice in Miami and she had a good time practicing with genie, and this time she practiced with Petra which I knew would be pretty fun. She walked to her practice about 15 mins early so I got to experience a lot of extra free time with her that I enjoyed. I said it before but her and Rob get along so well, they were always laughing and joking with each other, you might not think they are two hard core professional tennis people. I didn’t even see that much but they still seemed the most happiest with each other based on that practice. It’s not that other teams aren’t happy it’s just they showed it the most.

Another experience with Lucie is with her fans during that time period. Before her practice, as she was walking from the players lounge to the courts there weren’t a ton of people recognizing her but whenever they did she happily signed or took photos and usually players don’t really want to do that before practices. Also at the end there was a big difference between the people who wanted her autograph and Petra’s. Everyone waited for Petra, and Lucie kind of just walked along the side and looked for people, obviously some were there but not that much. I was happy to get her signature and a selfie with her which I also did in Miami. She is so sweet and a great player to watch. The funniest thing I saw was in her match when she faced Coco and on double match point it started to pour so play was suspended. Then after the kind of lengthy delay was over, they had a decent rally and Coco netted it and it was already over. They both laughed about it at the net it was pretty funny DSCN9521

Stanislas Wawrinka- Stanimal is such an interesting guy it’s hard to figure him out sometimes but he seems like a cool guy. It’s amazing how big of crowds he draws these days, as everywhere he went it was always packed. The very first day he practiced with Roger which that wasn’t a surprise, but every doubles match he played it was always filled. It was dumb though that the first match was on the smallest court so not a lot of people could get good spots. I guess they didn’t realize how big of a draw he might be. Stan was one of the rare players that got to play on so many different courts in his stay. He played on stadium, grandstand, 3, 4, and 9 and every single one was full like I said. Having said that, it made it really hard to get any autographs which I never got. However, there were two great chances I had but I missed both. The first one was when I sat right on the rail of court 9 during the doubles match where the players leave the court, but I left early because I had to eat and get ready for Roger. I saw pics later of those people near me getting stuff signed. Oh well. Then he also had an autograph session but I had no chance because it was during the very end of the Lucie Petra practice and I didn’t know anyway since they don’t alert you unless you stop by and ask which was one of the few annoying things at Cincy. Overall, Stan is a great guy to watch as the fans are always cheering him on hard and his game is quite powerful and fun to experience up close.

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Andreea Mitu- I only got to see her for one day but it turned out to be quite fun for me. It’s always fun to see a new fave for the first time in person just to see how they play, their personality, and what makes them unique. I originally wasn’t going to go the first day on Saturday but after I saw she was on the qualifying list I decided to go just in case she lost her first match that day. That’s what ended up happening so it turned out to be a great choice because I enjoyed getting to see her. I brought a picture of her to sign and she did, there weren’t many people watching her practice as expected, and I got a selfie, she’s a sweet girl too. I showed her the pic and she said “French Open” Then I said “good memories right?” And she smiled. One thing I kind of regret with her was that I actually thought of bringing a little stuffed minion thing to give her because I know she really likes them and she just posted a video about trying to get one. I think she would’ve liked it, but I’m always hesitant to try those things but maybe next time

About her match, she played ok. She made a lot of errors, blew some leads and bps that hurt but it is what it is and I’m glad I got to see it. On center was kind of cool although I figured I’d get to be more up close with her. It was funny whenever she hit a big winner only me and her team clapped since she was facing American Lauren Davis.  Also bonus fact for anyone that didn’t know, she used one of my camera pics on her IG post the day after her match which was the first time a player used one of my photos so I thought that was really cool.

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Roger Federer- It was nice to see the king again after he skipped Miami to rest and spend time with family which was a bummer but understandable. No surprise every practice was as packed as possible and it was impossible to get in anywhere close, but I somehow did once as you’ll find out soon. He usually always practiced on 15 which is a bad practice court to get close because they don’t let you stand on the fence, at least until after the practice is over, and there’s only a little patio area where some can sit but it’s always full. The rest have to all cram together on the sides or watch from on top of grandstand which is kind of cool to see. His practices are fun but hard to take good pics because of how squished you get. The first time I got anywhere close on that court, he signed but I still wasn’t close enough and I got crunched badly that time. I couldn’t move for like five minutes after he left, and during his signing people were pushing and shoving as expected it was so wild. The second time I got close I was actually very close to the fence but he decided not to sign. I probably would’ve gotten something but oh well. I missed a few of his practices due to bad timing and the fact I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere near him, but the ones I saw were fun. The coolest thing I saw was when after one of his matches he went to the ESPN booth and talked, I was still standing up in the stadium and could see the monstrous mob that watched and waited for him to sign. A sight to behold for sure.

I saw two of his matches (would’ve been three but Simo was playing during oneJ) and seeing his matches never gets old. The guy is a wizard on court and at his age I’m always in awe of how he does it. He pulls off all of the shots, moves majestically around the court, and can serve out some games in a minute or less it’s incredible. He just seems so calm and collected when he’s playing and this is someone you really should see at least once before he retires. I wished I could’ve been there for the SFs and Finals because he played two great opponents and won like it was no big deal. He’s now won all five of his matches when I’ve been there live so I feel lucky as you’ll see with another fave soon.

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Simona Halep- The only fave I got to see twice this year and I couldn’t be happier. It’s funny how both events I was worried she wouldn’t attend because of making both finals in the previous event. However it was awesome to see her play so well and then decide to come along and also play well at the events I went to. She’s got some serious toughness and mental strength when it comes to hard courts this year. I happened to be at the players entrance when she walked through for the first time on Monday and I was so happy and relieved because at that point I still didn’t know if she was coming or not. A lot of this info you probably heard me tweet about but not all of it, and it’s here just in case you missed it the first time. I was literally just about to leave because my Wi-Fi was bad there and nothing happened in like 15 minutes so I figured it was probably time for a break. But then she showed up and it was awesome, she looked a little tired but happy too.

Then she practiced for the first time on Tuesday and it was another court that I don’t like because again you can’t get that close and there’s a giant fence in the way, but I always find ways to get it done. It was weird because she practiced in a turquoise outfit for about five minutes before leaving the court to change into a white one and nobody knows why but it was pretty funny. Every practice Simo is working so hard in it’s really nice to see. It was hard for me to tell that she had been really struggling only a couple days before this. She is very fit and works up a good sweat in every practice but also has a lot of fun in them too, especially with Darren.  Darren will usually yell something across the court to one of her other hitting partners and fitness guy and Simo will crack up about it. I have to think she’s one of the best players to watch practice. Now the chaotic part started while trying to get an autograph and a selfie. Remember I got three autographs and two selfies with her in Miami and it wasn’t that hard at all. This time it was very tough. One of the biggest differences was that she was way more popular in Cincy than Miami. Maybe it’s because the crowds were bigger but that’s not all of it. The first practice I got to the front and I showed you those very close-up pics but behind me it was crazy, there was very limited room and bottom-line is I’m just glad I was in the front.

For those that didn’t hear the selfie fail, it was a big bummer when it first happened, but every time I think back on it now I realize how hilarious it was. Being in the front was nice because I got the autograph right away and asked for the selfie, and she said yes but she was basically trying to sign other people and take the selfie at the same time. I had it all set up but for some reason couldn’t get us both in the same picture, and after many struggles, she kind of had a look at me like “did you take it yet or what?” then I think she thought I took it and stopped trying but nope, never got it. Oh well at least I got the pic I want signed. It was the only autograph I got from Simo that week but it completed my amazing pic of her and Petra in the same pic both signed it. That’ll be one of the coolest things I have. The only other chances I had at selfies or autographs was a practice which she didn’t sign. The rest of them were on stadium and grandstand which you’re not gonna get those usually.

One more quick thing about that crowded area where she signed and I got the autograph; there was a bit of a sad moment at the end because a little girl about four or five I’d say had a picture of Simo to be signed and I think she was Romanian. In the midst of all the chaos Simo couldn’t sign for everyone and missed her, and she was crying. Lots of people felt for her but it was impossible for Simo to see her I feel like since she was so small and everyone was pushing and shoving towards the front.

And of course, you knew it was gonna happen but it’s impossible to go to an event with Simo where she isn’t sneaky and hard to find. Miami was very brutal in terms of that, but there was only once here where she didn’t show up to the court she was supposed to and we looked around everywhere with no sight of her. She finally showed up on center of all places where they usually don’t let you in before the night session so they can clean up, so barely anyone could see it. Simo being Simo. I still got about 10 mins to enjoy and take pics before they kicked me out because it’s what I do.

As far as her matches go, the previous three I saw live before this event I never had the chance to be that close. However, her first two this time I was right there pretty much on the court and it was so amazing. I said it before, but she hits the ball so clean, is super-fast, and is so damn cute up close in matches. The whole time I couldn’t believe how close I was to super Simo. The fist pumps were intense, whenever she complained in Romanian was great, and her movement was fun to watch. I was so glad to have the chance to be where I was and I’m glad a lot of you saw me on TV for one of her matches; I loved that spot J Also, I thought it was stressful to watch them on TV, but being there is another story. You want to see her win so bad, every emotion comes out and it was amazing to watch sometimes, and other times I couldn’t look. The craziest thing I saw while watching her matches was when she really slammed her racquet down after losing the 2nd set to Kiki, I never thought I’d see it like that damn.

You can really tell with every Simo watch you watch how badly she wants to win and how much a perfectionist she is so it’s fun to analyze her and see what she tries to do differently and how to react on certain moments. It’s also great to see how she always has a big Romanian fan base there and yelling so loud even if it isn’t that crowded. It feels like it’s packed with them and it’s a unique setting to be a part of. It’s all it’s cracked up to be on TV that’s for sure. All in all, I got to see her win three more matches while improving her record to 6-0 when I’m there. Another memorable experience with the Romanian sensation Simona Halep.

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Petra Kvitova- The part of the trip I was looking forward to the most was being able to see Petra again. I was really sad when she skipped Miami because of being fatigued and recently finding out it was partly because of a battle with mono too. She still isn’t 100 percent you can tell but it was amazing to be able to see her up close again. She only played one match in a tough three set loss to Garcia, but to me it felt like she was in Cincy forever due to all of the practices I got to enjoy. She says she can’t go full steam ahead in her practices but I saw her working very hard at the best level she could and I was happy to see it. She is also another player who seems to have a good time in practice and always practices with good friends which helps of course. The best part of Petra practicing is she always picks the best time and court to practice so it’s always very easy to get access and enjoy everything about her. It’s also nice to get to see her work with David again and them having a good time and trying hard to keep getting better. I like when David shows Petra things on his phone, it makes for some interesting pictures. The first practice was the only time she practiced on a bad court but usually she always practices on court 8 at 10 am and I noticed that from the previous years I was here too. Court 8 is easily the best practice court in my opinion because of how close you can get and Petra always entered the court by the front gate and not the back gate so I could say hi to her, which I did once and she said hi back, I think that was cool.

The first day was funny because her 2nd practice she was supposed to be on court 15, and Roger and Stan were supposed to be on 8 which was awesome. I was actually gonna miss some of Petra to watch them because I was in the front and this spot doesn’t come around that often for them. All of a sudden Petra walks on 8 and everyone was confused it was hilarious. One guy was like “Well that’s not Roger wtf.” Everyone quickly heard he was actually on 15 and filed off, poor Petra. So I decided to stay there of course and enjoy the practice and eventually got my Wimbledon pic signed which was sweet.

The 2nd day was the most memorable of them all as I not only got to see two more practices, but both ended with selfies and I was waiting to get one of those for a long time. The first one didn’t turn out too well in my opinion because the sun was so bright and I was tough to see but the 2nd one I really liked. Speaking of the 2nd one, Petra is so sweet because she always signs for everybody if she can and that particular time went to both sides of the court to sign which I don’t see too often. Also took selfies and signed for every single person and it was great.

Her last practice that I saw with Lucie was probably one of the best that I went to because we know they are great pals and it always fun to share some stories on the changeovers, and I was really close to them this time. I say that because a lot of practices Petra would go kind of further away into a corner where it was shaded so it was tougher to hear the conversations from far away. At the end of the practice like I said before, Petra had way more people surrounding her for pics and autographs compared to Lucie. That was the day she signed my photo of her and Simo and she took my sharpie and signed for everybody with it, and then when she was done gave it back to me I thought it was sweet. This was the closest I was to her for a decent period of time and I could go on and fanboy but we know that story by now. I can say what we all know in that Petra is so beautiful up close, you stare right into those eyes and bye. She doesn’t even know. It’s mostly kids she’s signing for at this point so they don’t realize the beauty either. You’re looking at a one of a kind player right there, take it all in.

Match day was a bit strange for her as she was last on three and I knew that could be big trouble with all of the rain set for that day. The rain didn’t disappoint as the total delay was probably around almost 4 hours. Petra actually came out at a reasonable time probably around 6 or 630 but just as they finished warming up it started to rain with a mix of thunder and lightning so they had to shut it down. They didn’t start the match till around 930 or so either so it was a tough wait. I really wanted to see Petra win at least once after she really struggled last year in Cincy, and even though she couldn’t, it was a pleasure getting to watch her step on the court again. Sure she made some bad errors as usual, but there were also so many winners that left me speechless. I was right up close so to see those beauties struck so hard and perfect was incredible. She had lots of troubles but whenever it got close and tense it was also nice to hear those pojds loud and clear. There were no massive barks but still she was into it and I was hoping so bad she would turn it around and have enough to finish the job. The problem was that in the third set she was really tired, heavy breathing I could hear after several points, and it was harder for her to move as well. You could quickly tell where the third set was headed even if after a good 2nd set. I know exactly what I get from Petra, I am never upset for too long of her results here. It’s so refreshing to see her live and while it’s nice to be lucky for my other faves, I wish I could transfer some of that luck to her because seeing her win would be awesome. I know however, that the wins will come again like they always do.

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So that’s my post, tons of what I did here was what I just told you so hope you liked it. It went way too fast as expected and hopefully next year can be like this one because it was unforgettable. I said it before but this was better than Miami because seeing every fave at once is truly special. Thanks to everyone that read and commented on my tweets once again. It was a fun ride, and now we wait until 2016…

The Curious Case of Two Slumping Stars: Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep. What’s next in 2015?

Three grand slams are in the books, and for fans of Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep including myself of course, there are many reasons to feel unsatisfied at this point. Both have ran into a rough stretch during the past couple of months, with no indication of what lies ahead for either of them. So I ask these questions which I cannot help but wonder… Which of these two faces the tougher road ahead of them in 2015 and how can they fix their problems?

Petra Kvitova- I’ll start with Petra who as we all know started the year on a high note with a SF appearance in Shenzhen and then followed that up with a win in Sydney. However, ever since then it has been a huge downhill slide for her for pretty much the whole season, other than when she came out of nowhere in Madrid to Stun Serena for her first loss of 2015 and then go on to win the title. That was her first clay title since she won that same tournament during her historic 2011 season. In the middle of all of that she took two months off while skipping two huge events in IW and Miami which already was a cause of concern because of the reason, ‘fatigue’ only a couple of months into the year.

However, all of this being said, we knew like last year that no matter how inconsistent she was, that this whole season could be turned around at her favorite event of the year… Wimbledon. She hadn’t failed to make a QF there since 2009, the only slam she’s really had a ton of success at. Through the first two rounds of this year’s Wimbledon she picked up right where she left off from last year and demolished her first two opponents, the first one being the fastest WTA match of 2015 in only 36 minutes. It was very hard for Team Petra or anyone else to think she wasn’t going to be Serena’s biggest challenge in her quest for the calendar slam.

That is, until she squared off against Jelena Jankovic in the 3rd round, someone who can be dangerous but definitely does not prefer the grass nearly as much as Petra. Petra was even up a set and a break and things were looking like the first two rounds all over again, and that’s where it all fell apart. Jankovic played more aggressive, Petra was more passive maybe thinking she had this in the bag, and before we knew it Jankovic stole the 2nd set. She looked like the more confident player in the 3rd as well and was able to finish the job and shock Petra in one of the biggest upsets of the year you could argue.

Crushed. Speechless. Unimaginable. Horrific. Devastating. Some of the many words to describe this one in a result none of us could have ever seen coming this early here. In what we’ve seen from her over and over again at grand slams, her nerves got to her and when it mattered most made some silly mistakes (don’t even get me started on that critical challenge towards the end) that even her beloved grass wouldn’t let her get away with this time. Everyone knows what they get with Petra. You take the highs with the lows and there isn’t a lot of questioning. That is, until she finally flopped at Wimbledon; something we had never seen before. To see it end so quickly like this at her home was really tough to watch and begs to go back to the original question… what is next and is she in trouble for the rest of 2015? If so, how much?

I’m just putting my two cents in here so feel free to disagree or make your own points, it’s all good. The first thing we have to look at of course is her schedule for the remainder of the year, and then the points defending in each of them. It would seem to be that she’ll again play Rogers Cup, Cincy, New Haven, and then the USO to conclude the USO series. Last year she committed to Stanford before pulling out a week before because she didn’t want to play so many events before the USO. Is there a chance she thinks about playing it again this year after this early exit? I don’t know if it’s too late to enter as a WC but I’d still highly doubt it anyway based on her disappointment, lack of confidence, and in no hurry to arrive in the states. It’s also really hard to encourage it since she’s already playing so much. Then again, she needs matches now more than ever to get any kind of confidence. Yes, three tournaments is plenty but she is definitely not a player you can guarantee to go deep in any of these events so maybe one extra one won’t hurt. Or worst case skip Toronto or Cincy, but that wouldn’t seem very smart to miss a big event like that to play a smaller one like Stanford. The real one she should skip is New Haven even though it won’t happen. There is no reason to play an event like that the week before a slam for any top player, at least one that has already played two big ones the previous weeks. I get she loves it and feels comfortable there but if it means less preparation for USO and a bigger chance of fatigue then what’s the point? If she wins who cares, she won’t gain much from it. However, I do realize that because of the fact that she never really goes deep in Canada and Cincy, this one is always there to get one last good run of preparation in. Still, just once I’d like to see her play Rogers Cup/Cincy and then USO to give her a nice week stretch (or even longer if Cincy doesn’t go too well) to get ready for USO. This would give her plenty of time to get used to everything in NYC, a place she has so much trouble adjusting to.

She doesn’t have to defend much points at all besides New Haven in the summer in so that’s one of the positives going forward. It’s impossible to know where her head will be at come her next event; hopefully she is ready and motivated to bounce back because she’s still Petra after all. No matter how bad things may seem, with her talent there is always the potential for a huge run at an event and if she’s feeling good, (big if) there can be success in North America. That being said, if success doesn’t happen there, it might only get worse and that’s the main concern. She had a huge run in Asia last year winning Wuhan and then making the final of Beijing so lots of points to defend there. I’m not saying she can’t defend those points, but there’s so much more pressure to do it if North America doesn’t go well.

The bottom line for me regarding Petra is that my level of concern right now is high. I hate to say it but I don’t trust her a lot in North America until she proves us otherwise. Plus I have no idea how much motivation she has for the rest of the year after blowing her biggest chance of success. I pray she is feeling good and ready, otherwise the future looks dark. Sorry for sounding so pessimistic so I want to go back to my normal self now. Petra has a whole month off to clear her head. She could forget about tennis again a little if she has to because it helped her come back strong and win Madrid. She could think about how little pressure is on her in North America because of how much she struggles there. If she plays smart, loose, and confident, who knows maybe she’ll gives us a nice gift! I’m concerned but I, and all of Team Petra will never give up on our Czech Lioness!! POJD Petra!

Simona Halep- Heading into her favorite surface in April, there was no way you’d think she’d be mentioned in an article like this. She had already won three tournaments including Dubai and the biggest one of her career in IW. She followed it up with a SF in Miami where she nearly beat Serena in one of the biggest battles of the season. Nothing was ever the same after that and it’s hard to figure out exactly why. She had a decent run in Stuttgart, flopped poorly in Madrid, and another decent run in Rome before collapsing against CSN in a match many argue she should’ve won and maybe that’s where it all started.

Then the two biggest surprises and disappointments of her season came about to cement her in this conversation. Like Petra at Wimbledon, Simona fell very early at her favorite tournament of the year in Paris. She was blown off the court in the 2nd round by the same person who replicated that performance against her in New York last year, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Her first grass event in Birmingham didn’t go great after another rough loss to Kiki Mladenovic. Simo came into Wimbledon with a new approach. “No expectations” Maybe taking pressure off of herself would help her advance deeper in this event. However, that was far from the case as during her first round match it only got worse. She could never quite find her footing and was eliminated in three sets to Jana Cepelova, ranked outside of the top 100.

It’s widely known what the issues are with Simo. It’s the pressure factor, and that’s where we’ll start. She is asked this question every tournament it seems a million times if the pressure gets to her, or if she feels it before every match in big events like slams. She can’t avoid it but she doesn’t reject the topic either, she admits to it. Simo knows she’s got a target on her back every time she goes out there, and it’s gotten to her and there lies the problem. Her case is different from all other top players though, as it feels as if the whole country of Romania is on her shoulders every time she plays, and when she struggles the criticism is loud and clear. There is nothing she can do but try to stay focused and play the game she loves and is so talented at, but it’s hard not to hear about tabloids all over her home country having something mean or false to say when it’s not going well. Of course she has tons and tons of fans who also support her positively in the worst of times and we can’t forget them, but when it’s going bad the critics speak up a little louder.

So it’s time to look at what’s ahead for Simo this summer and if the future looks good or not. Her first tournament of the summer will be Cincy again and not Rogers cup which I don’t understand, especially with her hard court success earlier this year. She should try to get as many matches in as possible before the US Open at the end of August. She has New Haven on her schedule again which also is a bit questionable to me and like I said with Petra, if it were up to me I’d like to see Toronto and Cincy for sure and New Haven only if absolutely necessary if the first two don’t go well. Otherwise a full week to prepare for New York is plenty because she may also need time to adjust to the bright lights of New York City.

There is pretty much zero points to defend the rest of the season and that’s something huge she’s got going for her. She made the QF in Cincy but that was it until the WTA finals so her ranking shouldn’t be an issue. However, that was never the concern, at least to me. The main thing is she has to find a way to go back to the way she played in the first quarter of the season where she was relaxed and confident. That clearly hasn’t been there the last few months and it doesn’t matter how well she plays if she has no belief when the going gets tough. I’m not saying she has no belief, but if she was confident and prepared I doubt she’d have left Paris and London in such a quick manner.

Maybe the hard courts are exactly what she needs as that’s all she’ll have the rest of the way. All it takes is one great tournament early on and she can feel like she’s back on track. I am about 50-50 on my level of concern. On one hand I believe she has all the talent to turn this season around and can easily do it on the hard courts especially. On the other hand, all it takes is another early loss and we’re back to square one. Everyone has seen she’s more vulnerable than she used to be in the beginning of the year, and the questions of pressure won’t stop. All I care about though is if she feels good heading into New York for the US Open because I still believe at least out of these two players, she has the potential to win it.

Last but not least I want to wrap it all up and give you my honest prediction of who I think has the better chance to turn it around in these last couple of months. My answer is Simo. Of course I’m not saying Petra’s season is lost, I just believe in Simona’s chances of succeeding more. She loves the hard courts more than Petra, the climate isn’t an issue like Petra in North America, no points to defend, and the main concern I have for Petra is her motivation the rest of the year after this Wimbledon loss especially after she said “This will take me a while to get over” How long is that? Nobody knows. No guarantees it’ll be before the USO series starts.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I hope I can hear your opinion on which player you think has a better chance to turn it around if you had to pick. Sure, not everyone that reads this may be a fan of either of these two or only one, but those people’s opinions are ones that are very important as well. It’s not an article I wish I had to write but I wanted to let some things out. We all know how talented these two girls are and I love them both to death and always want the best for them. Even in the struggles I know these two wonderful fanbases will always be there for their girl. So I leave you by saying Pojd Petra and Hai Simona! Let’s hope for some more success in 2015, and maybe they’ll finally play each other again at some point this year!

Reviewing My Five Day Journey at the 2015 Miami Open

Hello guys, I am very excited to write about and share with you my experience at this year’s Miami Open, a tournament I attended for the first time. As far as other tournaments go, I have only been to the Western and Southern Open located in Cincinnati in the past, 2013 and 2014 and those were amazing experiences. Now, towards the end of 2014 I strongly started to consider going to the Miami Open because I always like to try new things and I knew it would be another great experience if I could go because tennis is amazing in person. This wasn’t the first year I considered it either because this event is at a perfect time every year and the location is very good for me. It’s always during my birthday at some point, and I always figured it’d be fun to spend a birthday at a huge sporting event, particularly my favorite sport. I also have relatives in Florida that don’t live very far away from it, and lo and behold this was the year I finally made it happen.

I want to try to write some pros and cons about this event and perhaps compare some of them to Cincy because some there were a few things that stood out.

PROS:

  • Grounds: One of the first things you realize as you start to get familiar with the grounds is how controlled and open it really is. What I mean is no matter how crowded it got, it seemed there was never any trouble getting around or getting too hectic at any point; it wasn’t really hard to find anything either. I was also especially surprised how there were never any huge lines for food stands or bathrooms, ever! Like in Cincy it seemed to me you were always standing in huge lines for like 15-20 mins, and here I could just walk right up to anything even during the crowded days.
  • Stadium/Match Atmosphere: For those who have gone to a live event, you know it’s important to have good crowds to enhance the matches. I was only there for the first week so the crowds were a little sparser than normal but still it seemed the crowds were always pretty good. The stadium is really nice even if I was up top but I got to sit lower than my assigned seats every day because there wasn’t a whole lot of people there and I loved my seats. At nighttime too it’s hard to beat it, especially during that Sharapova match was probably the best match I saw with the crowd into it. It was also nice to be able to walk into any court on the grounds and watch any match I wanted and get really close, obviously closer than you get in the stadium. I prefer seeing outer court matches because of that reason but stadium can get you some great ones too which I saw. My favorite match I went to was Simo’s match which I got into a little more detail later. Aside from her I would say Sharapova’s match, Stan’s match and Delpo’s match were ones I really enjoyed.
  • Player experience: The whole fun of going to tennis events is seeing how close you can get to the players and in Cincy it was very easy to be able to see them up close during practice. Here was the same thing as you could sit right on the practice courts and get really close which is always nice to enjoy.

There was something else about that though that I thought was even cooler. It literally seemed like you could not go very long without spotting a player walking around on the grounds where all of the fans were, and a lot of times they went unnoticed by many, even some of the bigger ones. I’m talking they would just stroll through the food court area because it was set up where they had to go through there to get to some of the practice courts and it was fun to just see them blend in with the others. I would catch myself being able to walk casually right behind a top player and it was just cool to me. Now I’m not one of those people who feel the need to approach them all of the time for autographs because a lot of times you see them walking to practice and that’s not the best time. You just have to be able to pick the right time, like after, and most of them are very friendly. I feel in Cincy I didn’t really bump into as many players, and even if I did, it was so crowded at times you couldn’t really get that close. Maybe it’s just me.

  • Fan Events: There were two big events I wondered how easy it would be to access and they were the draw ceremonies and media day. Both passed my expectations with flying colors. The draw ceremonies were Monday and because there weren’t many people there for the first day of only qualifying, it was easy to get right up there and watch them do both draws and get close to the players helping too. The ATP one did get a bit jammed at one point, probably because nobody knew it as the WTA one got leaked the day before, but nothing I couldn’t handle since I was in the front anyway. I never saw a draw made live before so that was neat to get to share some of it first with you all.
  • Fan Events cont: The next day they had media day with all of the top players and this was really cool to experience as well. I came into this expecting there to be a mob scene filled with fans because a lot of the top players were going to be there. Surprisingly, that didn’t come to fruition as I was able to stand pretty much anywhere I wanted at least where we were allowed, and take pics of all the big names. I don’t even think most knew where this was as it was kind of hidden in the far back away from everything. It was especially fun as you all know by now how close how I could get to Simo and from what I saw throughout the day, as usual she drew the least amount of attention from the fans which was ok with me 😉 And I’m sure everyone saw me appear in the background of a lot of photos Simo was in so you kind of knew what it was like for me to stand that close. I mean it’s kind of hard to explain what it’s like when you’re inches away from a fave, especially for a decent amount of time. I just stared and admired Simo and enjoyed her in all of her cuteness glory. She also doesn’t seem as short as you might think in person, to me at least. She’s just so friendly too like there was just mainly kids there besides me because it was kids day, and when she signed for all of them she was asking them questions like “do you guys play tennis? What are some of your favorite players?” This one I liked too: “Did you guys watch me at Indian Wells? Did you like?” Too funny.
  • Concessions: Now I’m not one of those people that go to events like these to taste all of the food they have because I just like to get whatever I’m feeling, so I didn’t really try a ton of different things. However, I must say everything I had was great, so if you were curious about that, don’t worry because it was good. The Pinto burger and crepes were some of the foods that stood out to me, and the Michelob Ultra bar was a fun time. Nothing out of control there though 😉 Like I said before, the lines were always short, and there was always places to sit too which was nice.
  • Friendly People: I was happy to see how many friendly and generous people there were here in Miami, and I really emphasize the latter in a moment. For me it was fun because there were a lot of casual fans there as you would expect and I was asked many times who a certain player was that walked by and practiced and I was always happy to answer. Everybody would say how they were glad to have me around because I knew virtually everyone and that made me feel kind of important for at least this week 🙂 It was fun having chats with everyone about their different autograph and pic stories with their fave players and I just never had any problems with the other fans around me.

Two fan stories I want to share with you; one you most likely already knew but a little more in depth, and another you didn’t. Suspense….

So both happened on the last day of the trip and the first one was at the beginning and it’s about my experience watching Simo’s 2nd round match on stadium court. Well you already know by now how fun it was for me to watch her play because she doesn’t disappoint, but the crowd made it that much better for me. I discovered a couple of fans with a Romanian flag actually a few seats next to me so I approached them and asked if I could take a pic with them because I always wanted to meet Romanians in real life because of how passionate they are about Simo. They then let me hold the flag and pose for a pic with it and that was pretty neat to me because I obviously never held that flag before and I felt a tiny bit Romanian lol. We had a little conversation and they noticed my shirt and knew I was a big fan too and there was a really funny thing they asked me I just loved. First they asked, “Are you from Romania?” I said no, from here in the United States” and they go, “Wow and you still love Simona that much?” I just laughed because it’s funny how it might not seem Simo can have diehard fans from the U.S. but yeah it’s true.

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They didn’t mind me sitting with them after that and boy did that turn into a blast, because much more Romanians than just those two showed up and I swear whenever she hit a good shot or needed some extra encouragement, the SI-MO-NA chants were in full swing and I loved doing them too. I tweeted I was able to cross that off of my bucket list and I just really enjoyed it because it was different. You know in team sports when you’re at an event you have thousands of other fans on the same side as you. Well tennis it’s obviously not like that where people don’t have jerseys and don’t cheer hardcore for only one player but for Romanian fans that’s exactly how it is. I always wanted to have another hardcore group to cheer with because it’s more fun when I’m not alone and this gave me that and I just embraced every moment.

Ok so this next story I never told you guys because it was actually quite frightening. It’s not life or death don’t worry but it certainly wasn’t good. First try to think of the worst thing that can happen at an event like this that doesn’t involve physical harm or anything dangerous like that? If you guessed losing something valuable, then good for you. Yep that’s what happened to me, at some point I realized I dropped my wallet which had literally everything you could think of in there and a little too much cash to go along with it (thousands….) well it’s a big sporting event you tend to carry around a little more than usual. This being on the last day of the trip near the end of the day it wasn’t easy to stay calm because it’s kind of hard to fly home without an id. Anyway, saving all of the dramatics, someone returned it with everything still in it. Trust me they don’t have to return anything if no one knows, or they could’ve taken it all and then returned it. I said earlier I really emphasized the generous part of the people there and I’m just thankful the trip didn’t end on that sour note.

CONS:

It’s hard to pick out cons at a great event like this, but there were a couple of things that really stood out that were a bit annoying. Now I’m just comparing these to Cincy, so maybe this could be similar to other tournaments too I don’t know.

  • Practice Schedules: Most who have been to a live event know how critical knowing the practice schedules is because it’s another chance to see the players up close. Now I’m saying this because in Cincy it was nice because every morning I could wake up and check online and the whole schedule was up there and I can plan every single thing I want to do that day. Well here in Miami, that wasn’t the case at all. Maybe it’s not as a big of a deal as I’m making it but it’s just annoying that you have to guess what time to leave that day and who is gonna practice early in the morning and hope you don’t miss someone you want to see, in case you don’t arrive right when the gates open (which happened most days for me because the traffic wasn’t too good, more on that soon) Because chances are they won’t practice again that day. 

So another thing, it really wasn’t that long after they opened the gates that they released the practice schedule, it’s just for the first couple of practices you had to walk all around the grounds to see who was out there. So if you decide to stay on a court and watch a practice, you risk missing someone else you might really want to see that’s practicing at the same time without having any idea. Once they got it out however, they would post it at a guest services stand and there was only one copy, you couldn’t take a paper copy or get it on your phone until later; and the guest services was pretty far away from the practice courts so you had to take pics of the schedule which was kind of annoying too. That explains the problem I had with one of Simo’s practices and how I almost missed it because of the weird system they have.

  • Simo’s Sneakiness: Ok so if you don’t care about Simo, or already heard this story, then skip this part. I thought since I just brought it up again I’d either refresh your memory in case you wanted to hear it again, and here I can explain it in more detail, or tell people who hadn’t heard it yet. It’s not really a con, it’s just that I had to work harder than I expected to and it was a bit of a hassle lol but at least it was worth it.

I arrived to the grounds close to 10 as usual because that’s when they open the gates. Another thing that wasn’t surprising, no practice schedule available yet. So I do what I normally do and walk to some of the practice courts, and these are the ones that are farthest away from where they post the schedule, keep that in mind for later. I spot Sabine practicing on one and thought that was a good place to start because lots of people enjoying seeing pics of her and I like to watch her practice too. So as I’m watching and taking pics of her, quick funny thing happened I tweeted where Vika said “excuse me” to me from behind because she needed to open the gate to get into another practice court. I was taken aback a bit lol because she was right there without warning and I’m just like ok yeah of course. Anyway, so I’m watching Sabine and Vika for about the whole hour since that’s how long the practices usually are, and I get a text at about 10:55 of a photo of the practice schedule that just came out.

I look at it and see Simo on the schedule at 10 and insert all of the obscenities here because it’s frustrating that the player I want to see most is practicing and I don’t have a clue. So at this point I’m pretty bummed out because I know this is the last day I’ll have a chance to see her practice since the practice would probably be too early to see on match day. I couldn’t see which court she was supposed to be on because it was like cutoff from the pic or something so that added even more chaos. The person that texted me it wasn’t near the guest services stand anymore so I literally ran all the way over there, it’s far I tell you. I’m just hoping I can at least catch her walking out and get an auto or pic or something to salvage it. I make it to the schedule, turns out Simo was practicing on the court right behind where I was sobbb! So if I had just walked around quick while I was watching Sabine/Vika I would’ve saved all of that running, but obviously there was no way I could’ve known she was there and no time to check. Plus, there are courts kind of close to the GS stand as well so I thought she could be there too.

So now that I know she is on the court behind the one I was just at, I run all the way back to it, and she’s not there of course; probably because it’s past 11. At this point I really don’t know what to do because she could’ve left and that’s it I missed it, can’t do much about it. I start to walk back to other practice courts again and lo and behold I see a tiny girl with a bun hairstyle, in a pink shirt with a big bag come around the corner and I had to do like a double take to make sure it was her and it was! I didn’t quite know where she was going though because she wasn’t walking to a court that top players practice on, I followed her and turns out she was just starting a practice. So not only did she practice at a different time, she also practiced on a court that wasn’t listed on the practice schedule! So sneaky! I was very lucky to catch her and thanks to my detective work, you guys saw extra pictures, and I got another selfie and she signed my shirt which I always wanted. Plus she liked it too so everything worked out amazingly!

So that’s my story, sorry it was so long. BUT THIS IS WHAT DIEHARD FANS DO!! I DID IT FOR YOU GUYS TOO!! Hope you enjoyed that story in a little more detail 🙂

  • Traffic/Parking: This one wasn’t a huge issue for the most part, there was just times and specifically one time, where it was a bit confusing. The first day we went, on the way there they had signs posted all over saying general parking and what not so we pulled in there. The first time there was like a police guy that said “no this isn’t it, go to Lot 5 farther back from this.” So we did and that’s like some random dead end place with a loading dock boat area it was very strange. So we’re confused, we ended up driving way further up and there was a lot 2,3,4,6,7 and there wasn’t really one where everyone was pulling into. So we basically just went into one until it was the right one which you’d think is a little absurd to have to do but whatever, we eventually found it. The rest of the days it wasn’t that hard but still it could be better set up. They also have a shuttle going to the park for some lots and that’s a bit annoying too but whatever lol this isn’t that important but I’m just telling you another con that I didn’t really like. In Cincy it was very straight forward where you parked, signs everywhere and they just put you in the grass and you walked up into the place.

Last but not least the traffic was pretty brutal in the morning in Miami like you’d expect though because it’s a big city and it’s rush hour early in the morning on weekdays. The only problem with this is that it delayed us getting there and it caused us to miss a bigger portion of practices than I wanted. All in all though, you just have to accept it and as long as we got there I didn’t complain.

So that’s it. Sorry if it seems a little long, not sure how much you guys read but I wanted to make sure you got as much of the experience as possible in case you were ever thinking of going here. The cons aren’t really a big issue, I easily found ways to live with them so don’t worry too much about them. This is a great place and I didn’t know what to expect but it definitely did not disappoint and I would recommend this to everyone. I got lucky with the weather too as besides the very last portion of my trip, it was nice and sunny all week which always make these kind of events way better. One last thing, as weird as it sounds, I didn’t really notice too much that my number 1 faves from ATP and WTA (Roger Federer and Petra Kvitova) weren’t there because of how fun the whole week was. I got dealt with some very unlucky cards in that regard but it just goes to show favorites aren’t everything in tennis. As long as you love watching the sport, you can easily learn to adjust and while I obviously wish they were both there, that’s how it goes sometimes and I’m glad it didn’t affect me at all during the week, considering I thought it might. (Now if Simo wasn’t there…. We’d have to see how calm this paragraph would be lol)

Have a great day, thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed. Also thanks again to all of you on Twitter who made this fun for me to share all of the info and photos as it was happening. I was very happy to do it, it was a unique experience for me and i’m glad you all liked what I had to say. If you have any other questions about my experience, just let me know 🙂 Jake

My Path to the Tennis World

I saw someone write about this and it got me to think about how I was introduced to tennis and how I came to know and love my favorite players today. For starters, as far as sports went in my early life, I played baseball all the way until high school and I watched football too so those were the only sports I really knew about. I sucked at basketball and didn’t like it and couldn’t skate so hockey was out of the equation. So I figured baseball and football were all I’d ever know and that’s typical for an American.

I go to Florida once in a while to visit my grandparents and they have a ton of tennis courts right next to them and in 2005 or 06 when I went there was the first time I ever played tennis. It was pretty fun and over a span of a few trips there I found out I wasn’t too bad at it and wanted to know as much about the sport as possible.

So that’s the part about how I first found out about tennis and started to get into it, but I still wondered about the professional level because I figured there had to be pros for this since I knew all of the other sports I watched of course had them. I can’t remember much about it, but I do recall the first ever professional match I watched a big chunk of was in 2007- the Australian Open final between Fernando Gonzalez and Roger Federer. That was my first glimpse at Roger and I just remember he had all these cool shots and I didn’t know how a tennis player could possibly do this. That wasn’t the moment I became a fed fan, but it was a start.

My tennis viewing was kind of sporadic back in the day so I don’t remember watching another match until the next Australian Open which turned out to be my favorite grand slam and still is, probably because I enjoyed getting to stay up late and watch tennis because it usually goes from like 6 pm to 6 am every night where I live. 2008 was the first year I remember setting alarms at 230 am to watch tennis J I only remember a few things about this tournament, and one was seeing Jo Wilfred Tsonga upset Andy Murray in the first round and I was really shocked at that because I knew very little about Tsonga. I was intrigued to see his run continue all the way to the final, even crushing Nadal in the SFs which I was so amazed by because I knew Nadal was really good. I watched the final and was rooting for him to beat Novak because I liked his Cinderella story but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

At this point I still didn’t watch much tennis I’m not sure why. In 2008, besides the AO I only remember watching the Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal and again, there was something about Roger I just liked. The one-handed backhand was new to me because I hadn’t seen many use it. I remember a lot of rain delays in this one, and how dark it was, making it seem more epic to me and this was the first mini disappointment I faced as a tennis fan when he lost.

I’m skipping to 2011 because I honestly can’t remember a whole lot of what happened during the previous span. Yes Roger did some amazing things during that span of 2009-2011 but for some reason it didn’t hook me in. In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t mentioned anything WTA related yet and that’s because it didn’t appeal to me at all. The only time I knew anything about it was when I watched a little of the slams and took a quick glance at who the champion was and that was it. However, one WTA match I remember pretty well was Petra Kvitova vs Sam Stosur at the 2011 AO. More details of that in the Petra section 😉 Anyway I remember watching Novak win another AO and I was thinking: Why are Novak and Nadal winning all of the AOs and not Roger? (Yes I know he won in 2010 but like I said, I don’t remember much of it) Maybe that’s why it took me a while to become a full time Fed fan because he wasn’t winning the AO every year.

So oddly enough, I went into another tennis hiatus in 2011 after the AO of course. I mean I knew a tiny bit about the slam winners but that was just about it. So now I want to talk about 2012 because that’s the first year I started to watch a lot of tennis outside of the Australian Open, and I officially found the first 2 of my 3 favorites. Now I’m going to make a section for each one so you see their stories individually, if you’re interested.

Roger Federer

So this was my only favorite I had seen a decent amount of before I actually really started to like them. Of course it started with the 2012 AO and I was steadily following his run and remember his match against crowd favorite and up and comer Bernard Tomic and was impressed how easily he won that match. After that, the match that sealed the deal was the SF against Nadal. I already knew these two had played many great matches before and I felt like Nadal had won so many of the recent ones. I was wondering when Roger was gonna get back on top and I surely thought this time was it. This was the first time I was actually heavily invested in a match and it was disappointing to see it end how it did after Roger won the first set.

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However, I still knew after that match I was with Roger for good this time. He was too much of a fighter and too talented for me to think he wouldn’t win at least one more slam in his career and I wanted to be a part of it when he did. Over the years I learned how classy, nice and funny he was and he seemed like a really strong guy determined to silence everyone who thought it was time for him to retire. I loved the passion he had to keep playing despite his age, because it’s harder than it looks.

Petra Kvitova-

Ok so if you read my earlier sections, I mentioned the match she played against Stosur at 2011 AO. That was not the moment I became a fan, but the first time I saw her play. My first impressions of her were that she’s kind of strange? She is making these weird barking noises, and the braces… lol sorry but I didn’t hate her, I just hadn’t seen someone like that yet. But boy could she crush the hell out of a tennis ball, and I was in awe.

However, after that match I never saw her play another match in 2011 despite that being the best year of her career, including a grand slam of course. So back we go to 2012, and again I still hadn’t been too much into WTA but it was the SFs of AO and I thought I’d catch a sneak peek. Guess who was on the screen… Yup Kvitty and she was ranked way higher than last AO and she looked different from what I last remembered. She still possessed that same power and I knew Sharapova was good, but the screaming was always annoying and again I wanted to root for the underdog (even though maybe Petra was a favorite?) This match did not convert me into a full fan either, but I knew I’d be seeing more of her soon.

I watched her again at the French Open and I was impressed with the run she was making there, and during this time is where I started to do a little more research about her and her personality. I started to learn how adorable, funny and shy she was, and her voice was just the cutest thing ever, I’m sorry I can’t help it. Her English still wasn’t the best and she tried pretty hard you could tell and it was sweet. Anyway, during this tournament a fun fact for you: Petra was the first tennis player I ever tweeted to, ATP or WTA. (Yes I checked the archives, she was really the first) Surely that’s some sort of sign right? 😉

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I was even more invested in her rematch with Maria in the FO SF and again I was left disappointed. I still didn’t watch her full-time, mainly the slams and the US tournaments because they were on TV. I remember watching another tough defeat to Serena at Wimbledon, and while all these tough GS losses were not easy to handle, it was still great she was playing like this.

Another great experience was seeing her get her first title with me as a fan, in Montreal. I only saw the title match because ESPN usually only shows SF/Final matches with these kind of tournaments, same with New Haven when she won that week too. But it was really cool to enjoy that moment, you don’t forget your first title as a fan.

2013 was my first year of full-time tennis watching. FANBOY ALERT: (And 2013 was also the year I realized Petra was a total hottie as well. She was still nice before, but I’m not sure what happened, her beauty struck me very hard what can I say. I like every other single thing about her don’t get me wrong, but this girl is smokin all of the time) Ignore me if you didn’t come for that part, I am so sorry. But really… don’t even try to argue it 🙂

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Aaaaanyway… I was hooked and I wasn’t going on any hiatuses. Of course that was the year Petra and Roger had horrible years for the most part; it got better at the very end but it wasn’t that pretty. They only won a combined 3 titles that year and only a combined two slam QFs or better out of 8 tries, but I think this was a good test for me. It showed that no matter how bad things get for my favorites, I will stick with them and getting through that year really helped me handle some of the tough losses this year as well.

Simona Halep-

Ok so this is probably the weirdest story of my favorites. Simona was one of those players who came out of nowhere and started winning all of these titles in 2013. The first time I ever saw her play was against Petra in the New Haven final that year. I had honestly never heard of her before and thought Petra would be able to win kind of easily. Boy was I wrong. Simona crushed Petra and that was really tough for me to see, I was so surprised and confused. Just one of those off days for Petra and Simona took advantage.

Simona Halep of Romania after beating Petra Kvitova in the final of the New Haven Open

This is where it gets interesting. After that win, I literally hated Simona so much… I wanted nothing to do with her. My opinion was, I’m glad I didn’t know you before and now you crushed my favorite player so stay far away from me. And as she kept improving and winning tournaments, I saw her fans keep popping up out of nowhere running their mouth like she was the best to ever play and she was about to take over the world. I couldn’t stand their cockiness, and sadly that’s a lot of the reason why I hated Simona for a while, and it wasn’t even her fault.

Even this year, 2014, when she started the year in Sydney my hate was still strong. I remember how happy I was when Madison Keys beat her in the first round, to silence her fans. The key part of this was because I hated her, I didn’t watch any of her matches, I only followed her results.

She kept advancing in the Australian Open this year and she eventually got through to a R16 matchup with Jelena Jankovic who was pretty good I thought. I decided I’d give her a chance and see what she was all about again. She ended up beating Jelena and I was impressed but not totally thrilled either. But then I won’t ever forget what first lead me on the path to #TeamHalep. Her winning reaction. It sounds a bit odd but it was really awesome and I saw how happy this girl was to make her first QFs of a slam and wondered, how can I hate this girl? She has a nice smile too 🙂  Literally that reaction put a smile on my face. The reaction and some of my tweets to prove it:

GwvOA.St.4

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It took me a little while longer after that to become a full-time Simo fan. It wasn’t really until March where I really became a fan. I barely remember her Doha title; all I know was that I was happy she won because I knew I still liked her. I found out more about her and she is just so lovely and cute and a wonderful smile like I said before. Of course she has a great game style too with a world-class backhand and her defense can be insane. My first great experience with her was of course her wonderful run at the FO and I still can’t believe how close she was to having a slam trophy in her collection right now. The first and only title I experienced as a true fan was a very small one in Bucharest, but I’ve had many other great moments as her fan, and I know she will collect many more trophies down the road.

So that’s my story. I don’t know how much you guys read but I hope you all enjoyed learning about how I first got into tennis and how my favorites became my favorites. Any thoughts or comments are appreciated! Thanks for reading and have a great day!