A Farewell From The Tennis Nerds!

It is a bittersweet moment for The Tennis Nerds! After over three years of being engulfed in tennis coverage, the time has come for the next step in my career.

For those that may not know, this site as well as all social media accounts were founded by myself, Joey Hanf. As a recent graduate from Ithaca College, I have spent much of this year applying, interviewing and weighing work options. I am very excited to announce that I have accepted an offer and will be starting very soon with Cliff Drysdale Management in the Marketing department. Many of you will know Cliff Drysdale, who is a former elite pro and now tennis analyst and commentator on ESPN. I am very excited about the opportunities ahead, and am very thankful to be working inside the tennis industry; something I’m truly passionate about.

The Tennis Nerds began as a simple blog with little direction, but soon began to take off and give me some of the best experiences of my life. In the podcast embedded above, I talk about how everything began, what I learned and finally look back on my favorite moments. I also give an important thanks to many who have helped me get to where I am now.

Thanks to everyone who has followed and read my content over the last few years, whether it be on this website, twitter or elsewhere. Your engagement and shared passion for tennis is what made this outlet so meaningful. As always, if you want to get in contact with me, follow me on twitter (@TheTennisNerds) or shoot me an email: joey.hanf@gmail.com.

Update: TTN is Back!

Hello fellow tennis nerds!

You’ve probably noticed by now the extreme lack of posts in recent months. I just finished my Junior year in college, and this semester was probably the busiest school year in my life. Along with a lot of upper level classes, I was working with Cornell Tennis and had very little free time on my hands. I’m really loving college tennis these days, and to experience that atmosphere first hand was a very rewarding experience.

BUT. I have still been watching an incredible amount of pro tennis, and if you follow me on twitter(you should) you’ll know that I’ve been very active on that platform.

That being said, I’m very excited to announce that I will be back to posting (excellent) content on a regular basis this summer. I’m not sure how many tournaments I’ll be able to get to, but I can tell you that I will be at the US Open for an extended period of time, and would like to cover at least one other North American hard court event.

So get excited, because TTN is back! I’m really looking forward to the action at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the summer hard court series. These next 3-4 months are truly the best time to be a tennis fan, and I’m happy to be back writing and discussing the greatest sport in the world with you guys.

What are you guys, the readers, looking forward to the most during this summer tennis season?

Wild Cards–Coveted and Appealing, but are they Beneficial?

Wild Cards. Those exciting, compelling tournament entries that everybody who hasn’t gotten direct acceptance wants. But as we look deeper into wild cards, you begin to notice very obvious trends on who receives them and how those players fare. We all want our favorite players to get wild cards, because that gives them an opportunity to play in upper level tournaments where they can play the best players and improve their ranking rapidly. However, research proves that often times accepting too many wild cards hurt a players development. Let’s take a look into who get’s wildcards, why they get them, and how they play in those matches. We will focus on a few players throughout.

Who Get’s ‘Em?

There are 61 ATP World Tour stand alone tournaments, 4 Grand Slams and in 2013 there were 149 Challenger tour events. At every level wild cards are given out. Slams give out 8 WC’s, Masters 1000’s 4 0r 5, and 500+250 events award 3. A number of things is taken into consideration when a tournament decides who to give a WC to, but predominately they are awarded to players from that tournaments country. Along with that, tournaments like to give WC’s to young players who have shown promise, players who can draw in fans, or older players who have a strong reputation but couldn’t get direct acceptance.

The real problem: not every country is equal, and this equates to a very uneven distribution of wild cards. For all the problems and discussion about the state of American tennis, guess who receives the most WC’s? Yepp, Americans, and it’s not even close. The USA is the only country to have  more than one Masters 1000, we have *three*(Indian Wells, Miami, and Cincinnati). We also have a Grand Slam(US Open), one 500, and 6 250’s. That is BY FAR the most tournaments for any country. And, not so coincidentally, our players receive the largest chunk of WC’s. Research by Jeff Sackmann in 2012 stated that the top 200 players of that time had received 748 WC’s before the age of 25. 139 of those, or 18.6%, went to just 7 American players–Mardy Fish, Donald Young, Ryan Harrison, Jesse Levine, John Isner, Sam Querrey and James Blake.

Now, you would think that said WC’s would help those players. But in most cases it does not. Let’s go case by case on three players: Donald Young, Jack Sock, and Ryan Harrison.

Donald Young

DY is the most infamous WC failure case of all time, and it wasn’t really his fault. Young reached the number 1 ranking in Juniors as a 15 year old, something unheard of at the time. He won the Australian Open and Wimbledon Junior championships, garnering major attention from the USTA and tennis fans everywhere. With that hype came a lot of opportunities. Young has received 27(!!) main draw wildcards in his career, as well as 7 other tour level qualifying WC’s. His record in those tournaments is abysmal. He’s 14-34 overall, and he lost in the first round an astounding 25 times. And the real problem was that, as a 15 year old, he was getting main draw WC’s into Masters 1000 events, where he just was not physically or mentally mature enough to compete at that level. Through his first 10 WC’s, Young never reached the age of  18. He went 2-10, and lost in the first round 9 times.

Jack Sock

This is the guy that really sparked me to write this blog. I’ve followed him pretty closely over the last 3-4 years, and he seems to get more WC’s than anybody on tour. And it’s somewhat understandable. Sock was dominant as a US Junior. He won the USTA Junior National’s in Kalamazoo two years in a row, and wan’t even challenged too much in those tournaments. He was a man among boys. Jack’s serve and forehand are no doubt top 30 strokes. Combine all of that and what do you get? Wild cards, lots and lots of wild cards. Not counting this week’s tournament in Delray Beach, where Sock has a WC, he’s received 18 tour level wild cards. His record is 12-18, with 9 first round losses.

Something I came across that was fascinating to me, was an article from The Changeover, comparing Jack Sock and Denis Kudla. Sock beat Kudla in the 2010 US Open Juniors final, and both have been touted as American hopefuls. From May 2012 to May of 2013, their tennis lives were completely different. Sock received 9 WC’s, Kudla 1. Jack Sock’s wild cards guaranteed him over three times as much money as the lone wild card Denis Kudla received. The exact figure for the difference in guaranteed money was $48,610. That money can be crucial for youngsters trying to make it on tour. But the most fascinating thing is this: at the end of those 12 months, Kudla was the higher ranked player, at #115, while Sock was at #118. Denis qualified into a few tour events, and kept his head down and worked hard at the challenger level.

Ryan Harrison

As I researched Ryan I thought that he would have received less than the previous two, but he’s right there in between Sock and Young. Harrison also garnered a lot of attention(noticing a trend?) when he qualified and won a main draw match in Houston as a 15 year, the second younger player in the history of the ATP to do so. So Harrison started getting chances to play in big events at a very young age. He’s received 24 main draw wild cards, and although his record is a little better than the other two(18-24), he lost in the first round 12 times.

The Problem For All Three

Young, Sock, and Harrison all have different stories, but they share the same problem. Young was gifted everything as he transitioned from the Juniors to the Pro circuit. He had a couple nice results, but loss after loss in the first round does terrible things to a player. Eventually, in 2010-2011, Donald stopped getting WC’s, and dropped down to the challenger circuit. He started playing more matches, winning more matches, and that gave him confidence, after reaching the round of 16 at the 2011 US Open, Young got his ranking all the way up to 39, doing it the “hard” way. Of course he has since fallen off the grid, losing something like 17 straight first round matches, but has once again worked hard in the minors to inch his way back into the top 100, even playing in Davis Cup a couple weeks ago. However, those WC’s did terrible things to DY. His attitude is not good, and that is probably because of a multitude of things, but being handed everything certainly contributed to that attitude and persona.

For Sock, the problem is similar, but slightly different. Because he’s getting around 8 WC’s a year, he can play a lot of tour events. But one of Jack’s biggest issues has been his fitness, and when you’re losing first round every other week, that really hurts. His motivation to improve is just not good enough. His talent is off the charts, but he’s unwilling to sure up his backhand, and work hard to get on the same playing field physically as his peers.

Harrison had some nice results and cracked the top 50, and for about 8-9 months was playing exclusive at the tour level. But now that he’s dropped back down in the rankings, he is struggling to get back to where he was. There is no doubt in my mind that Ryan wants to be great, you can see it in his eyes every time he plays–except when he’s playing a challenger. When he’s playing at the lower level it appears he thinks he’s above his opposition. Last year, he had just come off a good result in Atlanta, making the Semis. He then travelled to Aptos to play a challenger. He played James Mcgee in the first round, and you could tell by his attitude and remarks that he thought he was 5 levels above James. Mcgee won the match because of it. Harrison has it engrained in his mind that he should be playing at the tour level, when really he needs to earn it, and prove he belongs there.

All three of these guys should take a page out of the next few players books.

Dominic Thiem

Thiem just had a great week in Rotterdam, taking Andy Murray to three sets. Similar to the three above players, Thiem was a highly touted junior. He reached the French Open final and won the Orange Bowl. However, he’s only received 7 main draw wildcards, and he’s 6-7 in those tournaments. Other than that, Thiem has done it the hard way, playing challengers and qualifying into tour events. In 2014, he’s qualified into Doha, Melbourne, and Rotterdam. This gives him match experience and toughness. (Speaking of toughness, have you read this article on Thiem fitness coach?) He’s gotten his ranking up inside the top 100 because of it.

Jiri Vesely

This one is even more extreme. Vesely has only been awarded *ONE* main draw wild card into tour events, and only 7 into challenger events(imagine if I counted American challenger WC’s?). He played 2013 almost exclusive at the challenger level, amassing a lot of points by going deep into almost every tournament he played. He’s now up to #81 in the world and has the chance to prove himself on the main tour.

Bradley Klahn

Now an American comparison. BK went a different route than Young, Sock, and Harrison, and decided to play college tennis before turning professional. He’s received a grand total of *THREE* wildcards, two of those to San Jose when he was playing across the bay at Stanford. Klahn has not been handed anything since graduating college, except for a WC into last years US Open. Instead he’s been grinding, working, and doing everything he can to improve. He’s now up to #67 in the world, and in great position to break the top 50. Think BK has a problem playing challengers? Does he feel entitled? Nope.

Conclusion and Solution

What I’m trying to say is that Young, Sock, Harrison, and all other American players who get numerous WC’s, are being halted in their progression. International players, who don’t have the same opportunities, are doing things the old fashioned way, and earning their place in tournaments. Obviously the blame can’t be put solely on the shoulder of young American players, because who wouldn’t take a WC into a tour event? But something has to change.

I think there needs to be a more merit-based system for awarding WC’s. There’s some of that now, such as the Australian Open Wildcard playoff, which forces players to win 3 matches to get a wildcard into the Aussie. Wimbledon has a great system. The winner of the Nottingham challenger(a grass court challenger a couple weeks before London) gets a WC into the main draw of Wimby. We need more WC’s to be given out like this.

My final idea might be an unpopular one. I think there should be a limit to the number of wild cards a player can receive per year. I think 4 is more than enough, but even that would force players to earn their way up the rankings. Either limit a players WC entries, or reduce the amount of WC’s each tournament gives out.

Keep in my mind that both Tomas Berdych and Janko Tipsarevic never received a main draw WC before they were 25. Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer were awarded a grand total of *2*.

Why All Of You (The Readers) Are Awesome

thanks

 

Sometimes, in fact all the time, it’s good to just say thanks. I think as I write and focus on tennis so much, I forget sometimes to remember how important each one of you really are. Why should you care what I have to say, or what I write? But you do, and that means everything to me. I’m a journalism student in college who has a dream of becoming a tennis writer, and you guys are helping me believe that I can reach that goal.

By no means is this blog a huge hit on the internet. But here’s how I look at it: @TheTennisNerds has 618 followers on twitter, along with another 90 facebook fans. So put 700 people in a big auditorium, and imagine having to present something to those people. That’s how I try to treat everything I write, tweet, or share. At times it can seem like I’m just a tiny fish in a huge lake, but then I remember that if I have an affect even on one person with what I write, then that is more than enough.

To be honest, after the French Open, I wasn’t sure I could keep the motivation to write. But slowly our readership and views began to grow, and then I started interacting with some of you guys, and never again have I had that problem. So today, as we finish up our Q&A series, and start into the Asian swing, I thought it was the right time to just say thanks. You might not feel important as you read one of our posts, but just remember that you’re the only reason that The Tennis Nerds exist.

Sure, I want this site/blog to grow into a household name, but I feel like I’ve already connected with so many people. I truly do love tennis, and there is nothing in the world I would rather play, watch, write, or talk about.

So yeah. Thanks to all of you. You guys are awesome! Feel like talking tennis? Leave a comment, tweet at us, or email me! And remember, share us with your friends!

Question and Answer: Bjorn Fratangelo

bjorn

 

Today is a little sad for us at The Tennis Nerds, because for the time being this will be the final portion of our hugely successful Question and Answer series. However, we are also very excited, because this may be our best one yet. Bjorn Fratangelo is a young American who is making strides in his game, and up the rankings. He was a very successful junior, and is now looking to translate that success onto the pro tour. His best results have come this year, and we are all behind him to make it to the top. His answers were awesome; they were articulate and thoughtful, and we would like to thank Bjorn again for doing this with us. Not only do we have great respect for him, we also are huge fans.

Player: Bjorn Fratangelo(USA)

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Plays: Right-handed(2-handed backhand)

 

Q: You just reached your first ever Semifinal of a challenger in Campinas, Brazil. How has the transition been between futures and challengers and how much progress do you think you’ve made?

A: The transition to challengers from the futures has been a bit difficult for me. I played the whole US summer challenger circuit and didn’t make it out of qualifying. I felt I was playing well but I was playing huge servers and first ball strikers such as Chris Guccione and Fredrick Nielsen, so I never really was able to play real tennis. But all the matches were tight. I also played Sarasota where I was up a set and a break on Tim Smyczek. I felt like my game was right there, but I feel like I’m sustaining that higher level now. Campinas was definitely a small breakthrough for me.

Q: What part of your game has improved the most over the last year or so, and what is your biggest focus improvement-wise right now?

A: The biggest part of my game that has improved over the last year would have to be my fitness. I worked extremely hard last off season and throughout this year on getting stronger and faster. It has paid off big time. I’ve been injury free the whole year and I just feel better out on the court. My biggest focus right now is improving my serve and first ball ability. I love hitting my forehand and I want my serve to be a consistent shot that allows me to hit forehands immediately.

Q: You got a lot of press (deservedly so) after winning the French Open Juniors in 2011. Did you notice a change in the way you were handled or treated after that victory?

A: The French Open completely changed my life. It put me on the map as far as international tennis is concerned. I was always a top US junior but winning a grand slam, especially on clay, put me in a different category. Suddenly, I became a young American hope for the future. I think other players respected me a little more than before and my name became a bit more popular in the tennis world.

Q: Speaking of the French, a lot of your success has come on Clay. I often see you tweet about the US not being as bad as most say they are on that surface. Why do you like the surface so much and do you think the American men are improving on the red dirt?

A: Honestly, I like the red clay just because I think it’s cool(laughing). Ever since I was really little the French open was my favorite tournament to watch. I was obsessed with the color of the court because it looked so different and we don’t have any red clay courts in the US. I grew up playing on har-tru quite a bit and I became very comfortable on the surface. It just feels natural to play on. I think it’s more fun to play on clay. I also think other American men are really improving on the dirt. I know Kudla, Sock, And Williams all made it into the the main draw of Roland Garros this year. I watched John Isner take down Federer in the Davis cup tie on clay. Americans are making a push on clay and I think we’re only going to get better as the years go by.

Q: American Tennis has gotten a lot of negative attention the last couple years or so. You guys are basically judged solely on results. How does that affect you guys? Would positive media coverage change anything?

A: I don’t think any American player likes hearing people in the media talk about American tennis. It gets under my skin to hear some of the comments that are made and I know it makes some other Americans pretty angry too. We can’t help that pretty much four guys win every tour event out there. I know a couple months back, the media loved talking about how no American male was in the top 20 in the rankings. However, Isner was sitting at 21 that week. Tennis has become so global that other countries have been producing great athletes. In the next couple of years, you’re going to see American tennis back on top. Jack (Sock), Stevie (Johnson), and Denis (Kudla) have all cracked the top 100 this year and Rhyne (Williams) and Bradley Klahn are very close as well. Tennys Sandgren is another player in that group that is making a strong push and then following them is someone like Mitchell Krueger and myself. I think people in the media should definitely focus on the up and coming talent the US has and instead of focusing on “how bad” the state of American tennis is right now.

Q: What is something outside of tennis that most people don’t know about you?

A: Well, this was actually something I didn’t know about myself until I started living on my own.. I’m actually a decent cook. When I moved to Boca Raton last November, I was in my own in the food department. I’m Italian and I grew up with both of my parents constantly cooking. I’m not a huge fan of eating out, so when I moved into my apartment, I started cooking for myself, and I’m actually not bad at it. It’s surprisingly something I enjoy doing.

Q: What is your favorite tournament thus far in your career and what is the best restaurant at that tournament?

A: My favorite tournament obviously has to be the French Open. I have some awesome memories that’ll stay with me forever. My favorite restaurant is close to Arc De Triomphe. It’s an Italian restaurant. Sadly, I don’t remember the name of the place.

 

What a great end to a great series! Another thanks to all the guys for talking to us and giving us some great content! We won’t stop here though. We have big plans for the rest of this year and the start of 2014. Thanks to all of our readers, and if you don’t already, make sure you follow us on twitter so you don’t miss anything! @TheTennisNerds

Question and Answer: Chase Buchanan

Chase

In this installment of our Question and Answer series, I had the chance to ask American young gun Chase Buchanan some questions. Chase spent 3 years at THE Ohio St. University, winning the NCAA doubles title in 2011 and the 2010 and 11 Big Ten Player of the Year. In 2009, Chase won the National Junior Boys Tournament in Kalamazoo earning him a wild card to the US Open.  I watched him play Jo – Wilifried Tsonga there and while the result wasn’t what we wanted, it was a great experience for then an 18-year-old rising star. Now 22, Buchanan has matured and is ready to make an impact on tour. It was a pleasure to hear from him and hope you enjoy!

You have been playing full time on the pro tour for a little more than a year now, and recently won 2 titles in South America. What has been the biggest reason for your recent success?

The biggest reason for my recent success is a better mindset and willingness to go out of my comfort zone. I came ready to play every match regardless of the conditions.

Watching you play in Rochester over the years has been awesome. How has your game and work ethic changed over the years since you first started playing on the tour?

I’d say in the last year and a few months I’ve really learned that I want to play tennis for a long time. And therefore my passion has grown and I have really wanted to start putting all the necessary work into my tennis. It’s become more and more fun and I’m learning a lot recently.

A lot of criticism this year has been directed towards the lack of a dominant US player, or players. What do you think the state of American tennis is at the moment?

I think the state of American tennis is brighter than the average fan knows. A lot of my friends are in position to break into the top 100 and start making a name for themselves and there are more to come after them. We as Americans are working hard to get to the top.

What is the strongest part of your game right now? What is something you would like to improve on as the off-season approaches?

The strongest part of my game is probably my return. I have always loved returning serve and believe if I’m returning well it is going to be hard to beat me. In the offseason I want to improve my fitness level and serve. Along with everything else, but those are two goals for sure.

James Blake has always been my favorite player growing up. Did you have any role models growing up? And who has had the biggest influence on your game today?

My role model growing up was probably Agassi, so cool to watch the change he went through during his career. Also, the things he has done post tennis are very admirable and I wish to be able to do even a shade of what he has done. The biggest influence on my game today is probably my junior coach Al Matthews whom I worked with from when I started until I was about 17 and am still in touch with today. Other major influences have been Ohio State head coach Ty Tucker and mentor David Kass.

You were very successful in college tennis for your 3 years as a Buckeye. How has your experience at THE Ohio St. University helped you during your young pro career?

My college career really has given me a better perspective on life and how tough being a pro is. The university is such an incredible institution for developing and learning that I can’t say enough.

You have played the US Open a couple times now, how was that experience for you and what was it like not playing in it this year?

The US Open is one of the most surreal events in the world for me. I have gotten to see up close the top professionals which has helped me train and learn. Missing it this year hurt. I thought that I should have been in on my own ranking into the qualifying and I wasn’t which I was very disappointed in. It has also given me much motivation for the next year. I plan on being their next year and years to come.

You are at a career high in the rankings right now at #320, what short and long term goals have you set for yourself?

My short term goals are to put the wins I’ve had recently in the past and be humble and ready for the next events. They mean nothing now because it’s a new week. So I’m just focused on the next day. Long term I want to be playing in grand slam main draws and having opportunities on the big stage.

And here’s the one we are asking everyone. What has been your favorite tournament to play at and where is your favorite place to eat there?

Obviously the snack bar TCR is my favorite after the Mancuso’s home cooked meals. I’d have to say my favorite place to play is New York. There are some incredible restaurants in NY that I’ve gone to.

We would like to thank Chase for his interview! As for action on tour, Gilles Simon defeated Tsonga in the final of Metz. It’s good to see Jo Willy back on tour in full form. And Joey’s boy Ernie Gulbis won his fourth career title in St. Petersburg, defeating Guillermo Garcia – Lopez in 3 sets in the final. And another good bit of news, one of our recent interview players, Tenys Sandgren won the doubles title in a challenger this past weekend in Turkey, partnering up with Austin Kraijcek to take the title. We will be back this week with more interviews and action from around the world and the big challenger in Napa, California!

Question and Answer: Bradley Klahn

Bradley

In this edition of our Question and Answer series, I got a chance to ask rising American star Bradley Klahn some questions. Bradley is a graduate of Stanford University, where he won the 2010 Singles National Championship. I saw him play Sam Querrey in the first round of the US Open that same year and it was clear that there was some talent in this kid. He has a huge lefty forehand, a nice serve, and he is definitely on the rise after a solid 2013 season including a victory in the Aptos Challenger last month. I hope you enjoy our interview with him!

You have been playing pro events for a couple of years now and you continue to rise in the rankings, what has been the biggest adjustment to life on tour since you finished up at Stanford?

The biggest adjustment to life on tour is the realization that this is your livelihood and your job, and every day there is a person across the net trying to steal your lunch money.  You are constantly adapting to different surroundings each week, and must bring your greatest intensity and focus each and every point.  You can never be too high on your wins or too low on your losses, because every week there is another opportunity for a break through, which is the beauty of this sport.

How has your game and work ethic changed over the years since you first started playing on the tour?

I think my game has evolved a great deal since I first started playing on the tour.  My biggest focus when I started out last year was improving my serve and backhand, and I feel that although there is still plenty of work to be done in both areas, they have come a long way.  I really don’t feel that my work ethic has changed too much since leaving school, but there certainly has been an increase in the intensity and urgency in which I go about my practices.  After being around the top players and seeing firsthand the work it takes for them to be great, I have a better understanding of how I need to conduct myself on and off the court in order to achieve my goals.

A lot of criticism this year has been directed towards the lack of a dominant US player, or players. What do you think the state of American tennis is at the moment?

Times have certainly changed in this era of tennis, and you aren’t going to see the Americans dominating the game like they once did because of how many incredible athletes there are globally. That being said, I do think there are plenty of younger Americans who have the ability to break through in the next few years.  There is a good group of guys who are all training together and pushing each other to get better.  The only thing we can control is our work ethic and striving to get the most out of our games, wherever that leads us.

What is the strongest part of your game right now? What is something you would like to improve on as the off-season approaches?

I would say the strongest parts of my game currently are my serve and forehand.  This off-season, my biggest focus will be improving my strength and conditioning, as well as cleaning up my backhand and returns.  This off-season will be crucial for me to establish my base for the upcoming year, and I am looking forward to tackling those challenges.

Did you have any role models growing up? And who has had the biggest influence on your game today?

The three biggest role models in my life have been my parents and my long time coach, Lee Merry.  They truly have led by example, on and off the court.  Lee deserves all the credit in molding my tennis game from the time we began working together at the age of 11, but it would be narrow-minded of me to think that he has only influenced my tennis and nothing else.  I also am very grateful to the USTA for their coaching and support.

You were very successful in your college tennis career as a Cardinal. How has your experience at Stanford University helped you during your young pro career?

Attending Stanford and playing college tennis for four years was the best decision of my life and I would not trade the experiences I had there for anything.  I was not ready, physically or mentally, to play professionally when I graduated from high school at 17, and my family has always stressed that education is the number one priority.  Graduating from Stanford was one of the single best feelings I have had, and it gives me freedom knowing I have something to fall back on after tennis.  I was able to mature physically and mentally in a more controlled environment, and when I finished school, felt I was ready to immediately jump into the day-to-day lifestyle of the pro tour.

You have played the US Open a couple times now, how was that experience for you and what do you need to do to continue the kind of success you have been having there and the other pro events?

Playing the US Open the last few years has been an incredible experience for me to see the level that I hope to compete against in the future, and observe how the top players go about their business.  I think I have gained more and more confidence each year in my ability to compete at this level, and it serves as great motivation for me to keep putting in the extra work to consistently play on the World Tour.

You are currently #133 in the rankings right now, what short and long term goals have you set for yourself as the off season approaches?

Right now going into the last couple months of the season and off-season, my biggest focus is cracking the top 100 and making the main draw of Australia in January.  I try to stay away from such specific ranking goals, but it would be a great accomplishment to gain direct acceptance for my first grand slam.  In order to do that, however, I need to really focus on improving my consistency from point to point.  If I take care of the little details, the rest will take care of itself.

And here’s the one we are asking everyone. What has been your favorite tournament to play at and where is your favorite place to eat there?

My favorite tournament to play is the US Open. As an American growing up watching tennis, it was always a dream to play there, so to be able to fulfill that childhood dream and play in my home country’s grand slam is pretty special.  The energy and buzz around the grounds is incredible, and brings out the best in my game.  My favorite place to eat during the tournament is San Martin in Midtown.  I don’t really branch out in regards to new restaurants, so I usually will end up there 4 to 5 times a week!

We would like to thank Bradley for his answers and we will be back this weekend with more interviews and an update for the action of tour!