I recently returned from a three-event tour of South America (Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil). I was quite happily into the main draw of all three without having to qualify, and in fact was set to play two qualifiers in Argentina and Brazil, respectively. This represented a good opportunity to win some matches and tack on precious ranking points.
In Argentina I ended up drawing qualifier Robertino Pezzota "out of the hat". He is a former Pan-Am Games medalist and still the best player in the country despite not playing the tour. He beat me quite convincingly in three games, although the sting of the loss was tempered when he went on to reach the semi-finals (and final of Paraguay the following week).
I reached the quarters at the second event in Paraguay and lost a very tight 3-1 to another Argentine, Hernan D'Arcangelo. I felt like I played to a reasonable level, but made too many errors and poor choices at the end of the decisive fourth game. I again made the quarters of the final event in Brazil, where I played Brazilian #1 and local hero Rafael Alarcon. The conditions in Brazil were bizarre, to say the least; a fully transparent glass court in the middle of the a shopping mall with more misaligned parts and funny bounces than I've ever seen. None of the players felt comfortable all week. I played a strong first game against Alarcon, but still lost 11-9. This took a lot out of my sails, mentally and physically, and my efforts in the last two games were very poor.
The tour was neither a great success nor a failure. I won the matches I was "supposed" to and lost the ones I was "supposed" to. I found it very difficult to maintain my fitness and movement after not doing any proper training for over three weeks. The playing conditions were far-from-ideal, and many other variables I could not control distracted my mind from the task at hand. This is just another set of lessons about accepting and adapting the setting you are playing in. Thankfully, my results will improve my points average and my ranking will likely move up a few more spots next month to somewhere in the 120-124 range.
Back in Toronto now and this week marks the beginning of summer training. I plan on making some major physical gains over the summer so I can consistently challenge players in the top 80 come next season. Stay tuned for a post detailing exactly what sort of training I am doing to get there!