I didn’t ask to take a picture with Robby Ginepri today. I was in a different mindset this time and had different ideas about the whole situation as I hit with the legendary grinder this morning. It was a last minute thing this morning as I got a call requesting to see if I could hit with Robby before his final round match against Japanese #99 Go Soeda of the $50,000 Honolulu Challenger. As usual, I sprung at the opportunity and jetted over the H3 freeway through the mountains over into quiet Kailua.
When I arrived, Travis Rettenmaier and Amer Delic were warming up on a court getting ready for their doubles final and Robby was happy to see that I came and could warm him up. I was nervous and warmed up as best I could doing my shoulder band exercises and getting my legs ready. My strokes or timing aren’t clean in the wind, it’s something I need to be exposed to more (I played 4 years of college tennis basically indoors the entire time). Granted I am from Hawaii but with the balls traveling faster and deeper it’s something that takes getting used to.
Robby and I hit through the middle of the court at first, I tried to hit Soeda’s flatter and low-trajectory ball while maintaining consistency to give him a good hit. Then we switched to cross courts then some volleys where I moved him side to side, giving him some realistic balls on the run. He joked around a little bit with Travis and had a few words with me and it was a really cool experience, I felt like we were just hanging out as normal tennis dudes hitting some balls, he doesn’t have a huge ego and it was cordial. At one point during our hit, I did lose my concentration off the ball and realize, this guy hitting backhands to me right now is a guy I was watching on TV, and he’s hitting really well on top of being a really cool dude. Of course I had to block these kinds of thoughts out and just tried to follow through on my backhand! Haha
What I admire the most about Robby is his workman like attitude. When his Under Armour hat goes on his head, it is his work hat. He gets his pail his racket his hat, and he goes to work. He’s one of the most solid grinders ever in my opinion and if you remember his US Open semifinal run, how many 5 set matches did he have to go through to get there?! This whole week he was mentally fit to work through his points and not get agitated or supremely fired up. No codes, no huge come on’s, just workman-like in his approach to the game.
Rettenmaier and Delic won the doubles title over Jack Sock and Nick Monroe. It was very windy throughout and it was tough for either team to develop a solid rhythm on return games. There were some exciting volley to volley exchanges that usually ended with Delic or Rettenmaier smashing away a ball.
Unfortunately Ginepri wasn’t able to win his final match against Soeda. Soeda was able to play a bit more solidly and hit through his shots more cleanly. So I guess you can blame the warm up (I know I know) but it was amazing to see Soeda’s footwork and movement again. There were many points at 30all and ad points where Soeda just came up with the goods. Most of the match commentary for Soeda would’ve been: “That’s too good” – “He’s on fire right now” – Late in the second set: “Oh wow he finally made an unforced error”. So that was the kind of player Robby had to deal with today and while he came back from being breaks down and take the 2nd set to a tiebreak, Soeda was able to hang tough and close the match out with a controversial passing shot winner that appeared to be out by the ball mark but the line judge missed the call. Game Set Match Go (Soeda).
It was interesting being a part of Team Ginepri for the past few days and it’s something I will hold onto. I didn’t ask for a picture because maybe this is something that can continue later in the future when I go out on tour and see them again. At least that’s my personal thought or hope right now – Usually I give you guys a photo of me hitting with current or former pros. I believe I can learn alot from the Ginepri game and attitude, something that will benefit my own game. We parted ways and he called me later in the day to ask which beach would be appropriate for a chill-out session. I told him about a few of my personal favorite secluded spots and sent him, his fiance, and Travis on their way with good luck and safe travels.
Time to get back to full-time training tomorrow as I have hits lined up at UH and physical workouts at Punahou School. Aloha from the 2012 Honolulu Challenger!