The Grind: The Adventures of Ben: Part 3, 21 Nov 2016
I'm gearing up now for my last pro tournament of the year here in Columbus, Ohio. I am very excited to come home after a long year, however I have to stay focused for one more week as most of the other guys are excited to go home too.
The past few months have been very exciting for me as I have worked my way into playing a full schedule of Challenger tournaments. This week will be my tenth Challenger event since mid-September with only one rest week in the middle. I'm definitely looking forward to some time off. I have played with a handful of different partners during these few months but have played mostly with my regular doubles partner, Jarryd Chaplin (Australia). Highlights from these past few months have been playing the Challenger tournament in Las Vegas (lucky there was a week off after this one) and playing a tournament in Monterrey, Mexico.
Jarryd and I made the final of Monterrey which was very exciting since this tournament was a 100K+H challenger, which meant a lot of ranking points up for grabs. We were disappointed with the loss in the final as we felt like it was our match to win. We ended up losing in a third set super-tiebreak, however it was a good experience as it was the largest crowd I've played in front of so far in my career (between 500-600). Monterrey was my second challenger final appearance this year after coming up short again in a super-tiebreak playing with Mackenzie McDonald (USA) in August. I'm hoping that this week in Columbus will be my first challenger title - it be a nice way to end the year.
My ranking is now inside 200 which is exciting as I will be able to start next year playing a full Challenger schedule. My ranking at the the beginning of this year was somewhere just outside of 400 so I'm happy with the way things are going. I'm also very excited with the way I'm playing and how much my game has improved in the past six months. I've learned a lot more about the ins and outs of the doubles game and have improved areas of my own game too.
A lot of the improvement in my game has come from the help of my big bro, Riki. He's had a huge impact on my game this year, especially since I have started playing Challengers. He is able to watch all of my matches now as they are streamed live on the ATP website, and he calls me after each match to let me know what I did well and what I need to improve. It has made a huge difference to have his input and he's a great coach so I hope the youngsters at QTC are listening to him.
I will be home in a weeks time and I'll be able to take a couple of days off but then I'll be right back on court getting ready for the NZ champs up in Auckland. I'll be teaming up with Finn Tearney there and we'll be gunning for the title to try and earn a spot in the ASB classic in January.
Hope everyone is doing well and I'm looking forward to seeing you all down at the club.
Thanks for reading!
The Grind: The Adventures of Ben: Part 2
I’m currently in Japan playing a series of four or five 10k Futures tournaments in Tokyo.
I am in the final of doubles this week, playing the final on Sunday with my Taiwanese doubles partner against a strong Japanese combination.
So far this year I have been playing in Azerbaijan (I know…. pretty random), Israel and now Japan. This week is my sixth tournament of the year and so far I have made two semi-finals, I’ve won two tournaments and am hoping to capture another title on Sunday. I played the previous five tournaments in Azerbaijan and Israel with a Latvian guy that I knew from college in the states.
It has been a good start to the year as I am hoping to make big jumps in my doubles ranking this year. I am not too far away from entering some higher level Challenger tournaments, which is ultimately what I want to be playing in the second half of the year. My current doubles ranking is 327 and I’m hoping to be in the top 150 by the end of this year.
I am having a great time in Japan now although it is really cold and we have had some snow the last couple of days. On Monday, fellow Kiwi Finn Tearney will be joining me as we will be traveling together for 3-5 weeks. We will be playing doubles together and hopefully we will be able to capture a few of titles together. After Japan my plans are to come back to Queenstown for a few weeks to rest and train with Lan and Riki. I have only had one week rest since I left for Azerbaijan so it will be good for me to get some time at home. It is important to give your body some time to rest and recover as the week to week grind of playing and traveling between tournaments can be tiresome. When I am back I will plan a new schedule with my Dad and Lan, depending on my ranking and what tournaments I can get into.
Just a wee update on what I have been up to. Thanks to everyone at the Queenstown Tennis Club for their support and I look forward to coming home and training in the Gardens as always.
The Grind: The Adventures of Ben: Part 1
I am writing from Osaka, as I am currently taking a week off after a long five week tour, consisting of one tournament in Guam and four in Japan. During these five weeks, I was lucky enough to travel with my brother/coach/band member, Riki McLachlan. Having Riki with me on this last tour has been a lot of fun and it has been very beneficial to my tennis, as it has been my first time traveling with a coach since starting my pro career. Riki and I also had the chance to play in two doubles tournaments together, however we came up short losing to the top seeds in the quarterfinals of both tournaments (in third-set super tie breaks). These wins would have been Riki's first ATP points..... Thanks to a couple of timely double-faults from Ben, that dream was over. Sorry Riki.
I have however had some success on the doubles court in the recent tournaments, as I won two tournaments with different partners during the tour. This means that I have won three doubles titles within six tournaments that I have played in, including a title in Orange Park, Florida in May.
My current doubles ranking is now 475, while my singles ranking is 730.
It has been about 13 months now since I started my pro career and for the most part it has been amazing. It has truly been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. I have been travelling to different parts of the world and experiencing many different cultures. I have stayed at a resort on the Mediterranean Sea in Antalya, Turkey. I have taken an elephant ride in Sri Lanka. I have stayed in a lovely house with a very nice family in Florida. I have gone snorkelling in Guam. I have walked across the U.S./Mexico border into Tijuana in the middle of the night, with all of my bags. I have made it to the finals of singles in a tournament in Florida and I have won four doubles titles.
Most of the low times have come after early round losses after lost opportunities (knowing that I would have a whole week until the next tournament would start, whilst fighting for practice courts and practice balls that actually bounce). There have also been the delayed flights, bad umpires, clay courts without straight lines, practice courts without lines, a stray dog on my court during a match, food poisoning in Mexico, having to play against one of the top Mexican players (while his cartel boss father and bodyguards carrying Glocks, cheered him on).
Overall it has been a great year on the circuit. I have improved as a tennis player, my rankings have improved and I have learned a lot through my travel. I have even started to play guitar because of the amount of downtime on the tour. I travel around now with a guitalele, which is a mix between a guitar and a ukulele. This beautiful little instrument fits in my tennis bag and keeps me sane in the hotel rooms during all of the down-time of a touring tennis player. I have also becoming accustomed to this thing called reading books and I now consider myself a bit of a sudoku master. I also travel around with a portable racquet stringer (made by New Zealand's very own, Ruben Statham), which has been a serious money saver and time waster.
I have also made a lot of friends on the tour from all sorts of different places. I have shared hotel rooms with many different players and now have contacts around the world that I can stay with or play doubles with. When you travel without a coach you learn to find practice partners, doubles partners, roommates, and just people that you can hang out with to make the whole process more enjoyable.
I am back to California in a few days, where I train in Berkeley and stay with my girlfriend. I'm not sure yet where is next for me. Possibly tournaments in Canada or California. You never really know until a few weeks before, however I'm looking forward to the next challenge.
Hope this hasn't been too long or boring for the people who are reading.
Thanks for all the support from the Queenstown Tennis Club (still most beautiful courts I have seen in the world).
Posted 13 March 2016