Life in Tallahassee
Jan 18, 2012
I woke up early today and cant get back to sleep. This week has gone by so fast and I have to start getting ready to leave for Monterrey, Mexico tomorrow. I’ve had some exciting things happen this week. Besides seeing Andy and the great training I’ve been getting, I’ve developed a pretty solid repoire with the FSU team and coaches. It almost feels like I’ve settled in and created a little life here in Tallahassee. It helps that I’ve basically been living Andy’s life, but the people here have been so welcoming that I have to say I’m not really looking forward to leaving. Just to mention a few of the people I’ve gotten to know the last week:
Clay, the team trainer, has the thickest Alabama accent and is always good for a laugh. He is Andy’s best friend here and when I met him he was drunk as a skunk celebrating Alabama’s crushing of LSU in the BCS national title game. Clay works hard for the team and it was nice to watch the dual matches with him last weekend. FSU hosted their first three matches of the spring season, not losing a match in any for the first time in like 30 years. I like to think it was the extra training I’ve been giving them that helped tip the balance.
Annie is one of the women from Andy’s lady’s clinic and she is a true sweetheart. She worried that I was bored and that Andy wasn’t taking care of me, so she always made it a point to bring me whoopee pies or take me out to dinner when Andy was working late and I was stuck at the courts. She didn’t quite understand that loitering around at a tennis club is half the life of a tennis bum, but it was nice having someone look after me a bit. Its fun now that I feel old enough to interact with adults on an equal plane. I’m not exactly sure when things changed, but I finally don’t feel like the awkward youngster when I spend time with people older than me. I say this because I went to dinner last night with Annie and her friend Lori, another woman from the ladies clinic, and between Annie explaining in detail what a “superman” is and Lori giving a first hand account of the ineptitude of African Lions’ sexual staying power, I realized how comfortable I’ve become with older crowds. While it may just be the southern charm, I believe I finally understand that at least some women, like wine, really may get more interesting with age. My girlfriend will for sure bust my balls for that but I say it in the most objective, reporterly fashion of course and my comments should be taken as such.
Juao is the 18-year old Brazilian recruit who just started at FSU and is brand new to the team. I wish I had taken a picture of him.
He’s 6’6’’ and is a goofy, lanky, good-natured kid, who has gotten better every time I’ve played him. He has one of the biggest forehands I’ve ever seen. I beat up on him the first day I got to Tallahassee but have since been unable to take a set in the next three tries. He’s wild and sometimes awkward on the court but seems to have a raw talent that if harnessed could definitely do great things. At this point I’m really the only one that’s hit much with Juao so I’m interested to see how he matches up with the rest of his team once they start mixing him into practice a bit more. Hopefully he’ll impress everyone the way he’s impressed me and prove I’m not crazy after getting stomped on so many times.
All in all, Andy has a good life here in Tallahassee and although he works long hours, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s tempting to find something like this for myself. Along those lines, Dwayne, the head coach, casually mentioned the possibility of a graduate scholarship if I wanted to be a manager, and I’m assuming assistant coach for the team. That is really exactly what I would be looking for if I had decided yet what grad school to pursue. In a year or two I will certainly follow such opportunities. But right now I don’t think I’m ready to commit to anything, especially in Tallahassee, which is nice but pretty far from home and the places I’d imagined myself living. Its nice to have been asked though and definitely tempting to look into. I could certainly do a whole lot worse, and it would be great to be affiliated with such a big, fun University and have my school paid for. The only thing is I would probably rather be on the west coast if I can. I’ve pretty much decided that in September I will start looking into post-tennis possibilities, so for now at least I’ll put that on hold and we’ll see what I can come up with then. Who knows though, maybe I’ll end up in Tallahassee someday afterall. Andy certainly has a good life here and it’s been nice being a guest in it.
In other news, I’ve been offered positions on two Euoropean club teams for the spring, one in Steyr, Austria and one in Fulda, Germany. Both teams recruited me to play the top spot for them, and they are providing me with free housing and around 300 euros per match. Andy Dimke, a German who I competed against in college and thankfully stayed in touch with, helped me find and set up the teams and at this point I think I will head over there in late April and stay through late June when the Austrian league ends and the German league breaks for the summer. I will probably meet up with the Austrian team in Croatia, where they go for a long weekend to train before the start of the season every year. They sound like a bunch of young guys who play for fun but are hoping to do well enough this year to move up a division, which is why they are willing to pay me to play in some of their toughest matches. I don’t know how high the level of tennis will be but either way it will be an incredible experience. I’ll be traveling back and forth between Germany and Austria, being paid to play the highlight match in weekend dual matches, with the entire week off in between to travel and play tournaments. All on real, Roland Garros, red clay. And the best part is I should be back in time to play most of the PNW summer circuit with Andy and my friends back home. Sounds like a perfect culmination to my professional career, especially after taking the next four months to give the futures circuit one last, ditch effort. The only thing that could mess up my plans is if I picked up some points soon and thought I could really make a run at the ATP rankings with a more sustained effort. Guess I’ll just have to see how things go. For now at least I have a good plan, which should make for a great next 8 months. Andy just woke up and the Querry/Tomic Australian Open match is on so I think I have to hit that up now.