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London Classic Recap

Originally sent as an email to my list on April 9th, 2024. You can sign up to receive these directly here.


Last week I was in London for the London Classic- a PSA Gold event which took place at the Coolhurst club and Alexandra Palace ("Ally Pally").


This tournament was held as a Best of 3 format- a major detail I neglected when signing up.

I've competed in a handful of Best of 3 tournaments before, such as the Netsuite Open, Grasshopper Cup, and Nantes, and have struggled more often than not with this format.


Best of 3 is shorter, but consequently it is more intense and nerve wracking.


My Match vs Lucy Turmel (England)


On the PSA tour, you can go through periods of drawing the same opponent several times in a season. Drawing Lucy was a refreshing change, as we have never competed against each other. Not only that, we haven't actually trained together at all.


I'd seen her play a bit, so knew what to expect from a tactical perspective. However, once you step on the court with someone, spin the racquet, and it's 0-0, all of that is merely background info. Problem solving at high speed- especially in the pressure cooker that is the Best of 3 format- requires a focused but adapted mindset.


I was competitive for the first half of the games, but after some edgy points (involving decisions), Lucy pulled away in the mid-stage of both games. This is common when a higher ranked player plays a lower ranked player, and I am disappointed that I wasn't able to hang in and make it tougher in that mid to late stage.


The pressure of Best of 3 got to me, as I felt that every point was worth at least 3, and this made me a lot edgier in my execution. It didn't really help that she had loads of England home support- but hey, that's sport. Plus, that support from the home crowd can backfire if you let it get to you. If you recall, that happened to me a bit in Vancouver last month.

Overall, I was able to take away some lessons from the loss, which I have listed below.


Lessons:

  1. I needed to be more proactive and clearer with my game plan. I was too reactive and therefore just responding to whatever Lucy threw at me. I needed something to stick to.

  2. I should have been more prepared for her blocking and for it to feel uncomfortable. This was especially evident on the backhand side, where she would really get in my space and sometimes not let me hit my shot, let alone let me through to retrieve her drops and kills. She would also run straight into my back rather than go to the ball, which she was often punished for with No Lets.

  3. I should have done Best of 3 practice matches prior to the tournament. I was so preoccupied with getting my body right after the Canadian tour that I didn't prepare as specifically as I should have for the Best of 3 format.

  4. Upon reflection, I was too focused on the outcome. I really wanted to win the match- for confidence, ranking points, and prize money. This drew too much attention away from what I was going to actually DO on court. Still, it was better than some of my performances from last fall where I really gained nothing from the losses as they were too quick and edgy.


Up next:

There's still a handful of tournaments left to play this season, but with the exception of Canadian Nationals, they are all big Platinum events. In some ways, this can put the pressure on because you naturally want to rack up as many matches as possible. The only way you do that is by winning- seeing as all the events are single knockout.


So for me, it's back to focusing on the process. Focusing on improvement in some area every day- whether that's fitness, strength, pain management, mentally, or tactically. It doesn't need to "click" today or even tomorrow. At some point, it will come together, and you can't predict when that day will come. But if you keep disciplined with the things you can control (sleep, nutrition, discipline and attention to detail with training), you will make progress. And that's what it's all about!


OK- stepping off my soapbox now, and off to go train. I can't lie, today has been a bit of a stressful day, and it's grey and miserable outside. I would really love to go sit on my couch and watch Sex & the City, but this won't move the needle forwards.


On days like this, I find it helpful to readjust expectations. Whittle down the necessary to-do's on the list, and accomplish smaller, easier tasks that require less brain power. This way you keep momentum, and give yourself a little boost.


PS. this mindset totally applies to training too!

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