Earlier in the year the opportunity came up to play with Matt in the attempt to make a run at qualifying for the 2017 world championships in Glasgow, Scotland. This meant that we would be playing tournaments together in order to get the required points and the world ranking needed. The qualification for world championships is May 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017 so a one year period. The best 10 tournaments in that time count and only 2 teams from the same country are able to qualify. Because we are a split partnership we would count as one team from Trinidad and one team from USA. The US Open would be our first tournament together and first set or ranking/qualification points.
At the time I wasn’t even thinking about qualifying or trying to qualify for singles but that would come into play later on. So that is the new partnership that was formed and that would also lead me to some more travels than I had intended for the year. Canada open passed and then a few days later I was on my flight to LA and to see Yuko again. We got to practice at the tournament hall with Dean and Dean’s partner, also with Tuck and Jenn Yee too. The tournament venue wasn’t terrible it was a darker hall and they had adjusted the lighting to make it more “professional” but that wasn’t necessarily the case. Yuko was the nurse on duty so she would be going up each day which was nice for me as it was at least an hour to an hour and a half drive each way.
Before the tournament started though it was time to celebrate 4th of July American style, aka go down to the beach and suntan. Of course everyone was out on the beach partying and drinking it up so it was definitely a great time and so relaxing as well. That evening we went out to the tournament hall to practice again and while driving back we could see the 4th of July fireworks being set off all over the place. It is about a 40 minute to 1 hour+ drive depending on traffic but with fireworks going off it was enjoyable. The next day would be the start of the tournament and I would need to get a good night’s rest for my singles match.
|Soaking up some sun|
First day of play, singles. It started off just like that and I was playing Ruban of Guatemala, I have never played him before and he is about the 2nd best Guatemalan after Kevin Cordon. This match was something else, I did not play smart and did not have my focus where it should have been. Because of this it left me shell shocked and scrambling around to try and figure out what to do. Ultimately that did not end well and it was a loss in singles for me. So my day was over, we stuck around and watched some other matches that were happening before me and Yuko did the long drive back to Manhattan Beach.
Mixed doubles was up first with me and Yoshi playing against Nyl and Britney from Canada. That was a tough match from the start but we didn’t do badly actually and it was a lot of fun. We ended up being on the streaming court as well so that was a bonus. Afterwards I had to play doubles and that would be the debut of me and Matt playing together. We had a decent first round against Dean (his former partner of many years) and a younger university student Ali. This was a good warm up match and ultimately we ended up winning, it was a little bit of a bittersweet win though because I like Dean and we are great friends off the court but I know this one hurt him a little. Every match from there on out I play for Dean because it truly is because of him and Yuko that I am having this opportunity available to me and I don’t think I can ever repay them.
This is where things would get once again interesting. We had now progressed to round of 16 at a grand prix gold tournament. The first time I could say I have been that far, even if it is just winning one round. Now we were in for a real shock, we would play a pair from Japan. The match started and I have never felt this lost before ever. No matter what we did, no matter how good a shot, no matter what everything came back with interest. I could hit a net kill straight down at the service line and somehow they would get it back with a crosscourt tight winner. It was brutal, of course they are good and it would be easy but I have never felt that lost, even when I have played top 20 singles players in the world. But the simple fact of the matter was we got absolutely destroyed on the TV/betting court. This was the beginning of a partnership though which would take us too many countries and hopefully many more wins.
For the time being my experience at the US Open was done and I would spend a few more days in LA with Yuko and her family before heading back home. The next few days involved doing some simple things, badminton and checking out Venice beach of course. We ended up going kayaking in the marina with Dean and one of his friends which was super fun to do. Having some good food and great company is always the best way to spend time. First doubles win of the year under my belt and onto the next tournaments we had planned out. Aruba with Trinidad and Tobago for CAREBACO team and individual championships in August. Brazil Grand Prix in Iguassu Falls beginning of September. Mexico International series in Cancun, and Columbia International series in Nevia both in September. I would definitely be earning my elite status this year.
|Some fun out on the water|
|Can't go to Venice Beach and not see Muscle Beach|