Before game day, I try to stay off of my phone as much as possible just to get engaged. It starts the night before with visualizing and thinking about ‘how do I want to play tomorrow’ and studying my opponent. From the start of match day, I try to get in the zone, but I’m not thinking about it too much or I will get tight and nervous. I go between listening to music to get pumped and conversations with the team, just seeing what they think. Before matches, I listen to a lot of rap. I like to listen to Eminem – his music is pretty hard and vicious, so it really gets me in a zone.
In the zone
Getting focused during breaks in the match is the part where I am still learning and I’m still trying to improve. All you can control is what you’re doing out there and how you can play better. You can’t control what the score is. You can’t control what has already happened. A lot of times during the changeovers, I will close my eyes and put a towel around me to focus on what I’ve been doing well instead of what hasn’t been working. I take deep breaths, regroup and focus on what I’ve been doing really well.
Post-match, win or lose, we cool down. That’s number one, take care of the body, stretching and stuff like that. When it’s a win, we’re in a good mood and joking around. When I lose, obviously I’m upset, but I think I do a good job of getting over it pretty quickly. It takes me about half an hour of looking over the match to learn from it. When I’m in a match and then it’s over, I want to release everything I have inside of me and tell my team what I felt out there. They talk to me and let me know what they think. It’s always important for your team to show you both sides. The positive is always good too: what you did well in the match and what you can take with you for next time. But you also need criticism to see what you can do better.
The season is long, so this year I’m going to play differently. It will be about playing less tournaments and getting away from it for a little bit: take a week to get outside of tennis and all of the competing to rest up. For me, that’s staying with family and staying with friends – anything that gets you out of the state of mind of training and playing, which helps to re-set your mind.