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Zach McCourt - 2008 Jr. State Closed Player Blog

Player Name: Zach McCourt (Boys 16s - Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Blogging From: Jr. State Closed, Florida Tennis Center, Daytona Beach.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My State Closed concluded today on a high note, I won both rounds I played and got a default for the finals! I followed the usual routine and played my friend Gonzales Austin, in a very close and competitive match, which I ended up winning 7-5, 7-6. After having 3 match points in the second set at 5-4, I blew them all and went to a tiebreaker before finally closing out the match. The tournament desk told me I was to play again at 4, so I ate a sub from Subway and went back to the site.

I played Ridley Seguso in my 2nd round of the day, and I had another close match. I won the first set soundly 6-3. In the second, I got up to a 2-1 lead before dropping 3 games in a row and going down 4-2. I came back and won the set and match 7-5. I think I played very well in both rounds today, and I was supposed to play the final round of the back draw tomorrow against Michael Alford, but he had an emergency and needed to leave, so I won with a walkover. 

After I took a few pictures with Bobby Curtis and Andy Gladstone with my 5th place plaque, I left the Florida Tennis Center to head home. It was another great experience playing the Florida State Championship and I can't wait until next year! Thanks to everyone who made the tournament possible!

Once I get home, I will probably rest for a day and start practicing for the Florida Open which is in Ft. Myers next week. Hopefully I will have another good tournament, but next week take home the winner's trophy!

I'm going to make sure I focus good in practice the next week...the pictures of me playing on my blog look like my technique is breaking down a little and I better fix it! Haha just kidding...well kind of (if you think about it there's a little bit of truth behind every just kidding, just for the record...).

Thanks for following my week in Daytona Beach and see you all next year!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Today was a long day. I woke up early, at around 8 am, and ate some breakfast and hit the practice courts for about a half hour. I went back inside and stayed in my room until about 12, when I went out to the courts in the back of my hotel and practiced by serve for about 20 minutes. As soon as I came back to my room, it started pouring down rain! I knew that this would push the match times back by at least a couple of hours, so I ate a sub from Subway and stayed in my room and watched TV again until 4 pm. It was starting to clear up, and the on and off rain finally subsided, so I went back to the courts and served more so that I felt loose and ready to play. 

At 4:30, I went to the Florida Tennis Center and waited until the tournament desk called me to play. Because of the dampness outside, there were bugs everywhere and it was really muggy. I watched my friend Zach Hunter come back from 4-1 in the third to win 6-4. That was a great comeback! 
It was now 5:30 and I was finally being called to go on court. I played on one of the back courts and quickly got down 6-1 4-0 against Spencer Newman. I wasn't playing well at all until I told myself if I could get the ball over the net I could win because all my errors were from hitting balls into the net. I fought back to win the set 7-5. 

We took our mandatory 10 minute break and went back on the court. By now we had a crowd of at least 25 people watching! I lost the first game of the 3rd et and went on to win the next two. I think there were some gamesmanship tactics that helped me lose my concentration, but I won't go into them.

At 2-2 he really hit the zone and started ripping winners everywhere. I made a few bad errors that caused me to end up losing the match 6-3 in the third set. I really thought I was going to win that match so I'm very disappointed, but you can't win every match. I'll get him next time!

I arrived back to the hotel around 9 pm and ate dinner and went to sleep (which wasn't very easy because I couldn't stop thinking about the match). I play tomorrow at 11 am against Gonzales Austin, should be another interesting match!


Monday, June 09, 2008

Into the Quarterfinals! This morning I grabbed a bite from my hotel and went out for an early practice at 9. I hit with my friend, Kosuke Hasegawa, for about 45 minutes and then I left and went back to my hotel room and rested. Since he played sooner than I did, he took a break and hit a little longer with some other kids. He played and won both of his rounds yesterday, so I was happy for him. In the mean time...I was being lazy and staying in my hotel room to rest. I watched TV and I went on the internet for a little while, and around 11 I warmed-up for my match at 1:30 with another friend who played at the same time, Sebastian Salzmann. We hit for about 30 or 40 minutes, then went back inside where there's A/C to rest. It's so hot this time of year in Daytona! I made sure to drink a lot and at 1 we left to go to the site. 

I played my friend Antonio Pena who was on my High School tennis team with me last year, and I won again in 3 sets! (I really need to stop with the 3 setters haha) In the first set, I went up 4-1 very quickly. I was playing very well. I had a little lapse and he stepped his game up and won the next two games to make it 4-3. I went on to win the next two games and the set 6-3. Second set, I was playing well again and went up 3-1 and then 4-2. He came back and after I through in a slew of bad unforced errors, he won the set 6-4. After our 10 minute break, I regained my focus and won the third set 6-1, for a final score of 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. I play in the Quarterfinals tomorrow at 1pm against another friend, Spencer Newman.

After the match I hung around the site and watched a bunch of my friends play. Sebastian (we call him Seabass), lost in a tight 3-setter to Michael Rinaldi, Tom Blackwell lost in another close 3-setter to Zack Quigley, Zach Katz beat Boris Bogomolov in a third-set tiebreaker, and Jeremy Efferding beat Gonzales Austin (AJ) in a first-set tiebreaker before AJ had to retire due to cramping. I'm not sure how the other two Round of 16s went. In the Boys 18s, Brennan Boyajian beat his opponent in straight sets, and Jeff Morris won 7-5 in the third in a match over three hours! Zach Hunter didn't have as good a result, but had a great match anyway. 

An hour into watching matches, I couldn't stand waiting outside in the heat any more so I went to Firehouse Subs and got a grilled chicken sub. Firehouse has the best subs ever! In order to hydrate, I dip the end of a toothpick in the hottest sauce they have, called "Da Bomb", and taste it. It is so hot you feel like your mouth is on fire, and the pain doesn't go away for a very long time! You are forced to drink at least 3 cups of water, so then once the pain is gone you are all hydrated for the next day. It's much easier to hydrate this way, but much more painful! haha. 

I went back to the Holiday Inn and ate my now usual tournament dinner of cesar salad, bread, salmon, baked potato, and mixed vegetables. Since the Peach State Classic in Atlanta I haven't lost a match under this new diet! Let's see if I can keep it up!

I know tomorrow is going to be another good day, so I will be back on to let you know how the day went later!


Sunday, June 08, 2008

The day started of really well, and I'm happy to say I'm through to the Round of 16! I woke up at around 9:15 and grabbed some breakfast from my hotel and watched the first set of the Federer-Nadal final at Roland Garros. I was rooting for Federer to complete a career slam, but Nadal played extremely well in one of the best matches I've ever seen him play. Federer didn't seem to have quite the firepower he usually does. 

I warmed up for about half an hour and felt good. I went to the site and watched matches and talked to some of my friends for a little bit and then they called me and I was on! About the match...I won my 2nd round (Round of 32) match in 3 sets...two 3-setters in a row! I got off to another slow start, losing the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (4). I lost the 1st game of the 2nd set and then went on to find my form and win 6 games in a row to close out the set 6-1. I finished the match by winning the 3rd set 6-3. Lets see if I can avoid a 3-set drama tomorrow and get through to the quarters in straights! I'm playing my friend Antonio Pena, so it's definitely going to be a tough one...he's going to be looking to get revenge on me from a few weeks ago when I played him in another tournament, I better be ready!

I'm going to have to keep this one a little bit short haha. It's getting late and I should be getting a good night's sleep so I can play my best tomorrow! See you tomorrow!


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Today was a pretty good day. It started off the usual for tournaments...eat a healthy breakfast and hit the warm up courts. I went over to Ormond Tennis Center to practice on clay a little more, but my friend and I got there a few minutes late and our practice was cut short about 15 minutes. I hurried over to the site and ran up to the tournament desk just as they were calling me...luckily I wasn't late and given a code violation and gotten penalized a few games (which wouldn't have mattered anyway, since I lost the first set in my match!)

About the match, I ended up winning 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. It was a pretty shakey start to the tournament but I guess it's good I got the extra practice on the courts of the Florida Tennis Center. My opponent played very well, making few mistakes throughout the entire match. I had a good start and I got up 4-2 in the first set, only to lose the next three games. I won one more game and then lost two more to lose the set 7-5. I was making a whole lot of errors and getting very frustrated with myself. In the second set, I got off to a 3-1 deficit, but I began fighting very hard and I came back and won the next 5 games, only losing about 3 points on the way. In the 3rd set, I had another slow start and got down 2-0, but once again, I revved up the engines and won 6-4. I felt relieved to have pulled through this match, but I know I'm going to have to decrease the number of unforced errors if I want to do well in this tournament. I think one of the main reasons I was making so many mistakes is because of not practicing enough on clay, especially the unique courts of the Florida Tennis Center, prior to the start of the State Closed.

After my first round, I watched some other kids that train at my academy play and then I went to Chipotle with some friends for lunch and took another practice to groove my strokes for tomorrows match. I have another late start time of 11:30 tomorrow morning, so I'm looking forward to sleeping in and hopefully watch some of the men's final of the French Open before I play! I'd like to see Federer win and complete the Career Grand Slam because of his dominance over the last few years...he deserves it.

Anyway, there's a college recruiting seminar/meeting in a few minutes so I better go. I'll be back on tomorrow to give you the update!


Friday, June 06, 2008

Hey guys,

We're a little behind schedule as far as leaving for Daytona right now...we planned on leaving at around 1 or 2 pm but now it's 4 and I'm just finishing packing! Haha that's the usual delay we have, 2 hours. Today was another relaxed day; I played for about 2 hours this morning on clay because that's the surface the tournament's on and went to the mall to buy some last minute things I'm going to need on the trip. It takes about 4 1/2 to 5 hours to drive up there from Ft. Lauderdale so hopefully we'll be getting on the road soon! I don't know what I'm going to do with all that boring downtime in the car...I guess just sleep, for a change. 

Sometimes long car rides can make all your joints tighten up, so it's good to practice once you get in. Looks like I won't be getting in early enough tonight ot practice any up there, but luckily I have a late start time, 11:30 am instead of the usual 8! That way I can get a good, long practice before I play tomorrow to make up for the missed practice time up there. Since I won't be getting in until probably after 8 or 9 tonight, I will probably just grab something healthy to eat in the car on the way up there, like a big greasy pizza or a chesseburger and fries! Haha kidding.
Well I should probably get going so I can arrive before 10:00 pm and get a good night's sleep and play well tomorrow.

I will give you the update tomorrow!


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hey everybody, my name is Zach McCourt and I will be blogging this year from the USTA Florida State Closed at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. I am 15 and I will be playing in the Boys 16 and under event. Just a little about me, I live in Ft. Lauderdale and train at Bill Clark Tennis Academy. (Bill and a few of our coaches will be going, along with 31 other kids from our academy...we're all pretty excited about this weekend because it's one of the biggest tournaments of the year!). 

Anyway, since it's still two days before the tournament begins, I'm going to be giving you a little preview of how I get ready for this tournament and the other ones coming up all throughout the summer. I practice anywhere from 2 to 6 hours a day, but usually about 4, and go to the gym at least twice a week for about 2 hour intervals - I'm able to train more than most kids that go to school can because my school lets me get out at 12:30 everyday, and then I take 2 classes online, so I have a really flexible schedule). On the weekends, I might take a day off or play practice matches with other players that live down here, and sometimes I will play a tournament. Since tennis is a year-round sport, I don't stop training at all except for maybe one week vacation periods that happen about twice a year (if I'm lucky! haha). I work hard and I'm always in shape, so I don't really need to step up my routine for the summer; my body gradually adjusts to t he extreme heat that comes around in the summertime. Bill really makes sure we're in good shape for the summer, which is one of our keys to success; fitness.

Today, for example, I kind of took the day easy and just practiced for 2 hours because it was the last day of school and tonight we're celebrating my grandpa's 90th birthday! Nothing out of the ordinary for these last few days...haha
I gotta run for now but I will be getting back to you guys tomorrow!


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