Re: New blog post (104#) (8/2/11) - "Notes from the Kremlin" - by Amir Weintraub
A New Blog Post - A week that really happened to me
Wow. Did this week really happen to me?
First appearance on Davis Cup. First win in Davis Cup. First time I've played 5 matches (something I didn't think was possible to do). Live broadcast on TV, lots of positive feedback from both mainstream and internet media. Hundreds of SMS.
If you only knew how it looked like for me before the match.
Thursday. The day before the match against Poland. The preliminary signs aren't good at all. I feel I'm collapsing under the pressure, I don't want to mess up, I don't want to disappoint. I don't want my first time to also be my last. Head's working too much. I go up to a closing practice against Dudi. A practice which we played under match-like conditions to see where we are after a week of practice. I play like shit, Dudi dismembers me 6-1 in a little over 15 minutes. I shatter the racquet to little pieces, and I don't usually do that.
If I was stressed out before that moment, now I feel like hell. I tell myself. "Amir, a day before the match, you are absolutely worthless"
Due to the fatigue of the entire week and the pressure, I've slept like a baby that night of all nights. But bad fortune continued, I got a wake up call from the hotel on 4 AM. All of my investigations didn't amount to anything, but 4 AM was the last time I closed my eyes that day.
Day of the match – we followed a protocol which lasted hours. It's entire purpose was, as far as I'm concerned, to make the time pass already. Me and Dudi go up for warmup and for a change I feel good. I'm a bit calmer after I got demolished the day before. We get back to the hotel room and each of us gets exactly what he wanted for 'match day food'. Dudi asks for Pasta, I opt for rice.
Back to the stadium again, Dudi goes up first. I'm on court cheering for him, every now and then I go to the locker-room to get ready. To talk to myself, to God. Every time I go to the locker-room someone from the team is there, to pass the time with me, to calm me down.
It's my time up. I'm shaking and excited. My stomach rolling. How am I supposed to hit the ball when I'm this nervous? I hold it all in, get the claps, hundreds of people calling my name, I've waited my entire life for that moment and it is a lot more thrilling than I could possibly dream.
There are a few things you notice for the first time when you play in front of the home crowd. The power of the crowd when they all look and you and want you to succeed. Hundreds of eyes looking at you, adding to the natural pressure of the match and the occasion. Before the match Amir Hadad (Retired Israel tennis player) tell me "Don't look at the crowd. If you look at them, it would make you more nervous."
He was right. I looked at the bench, at my team-mates, at my captain Eyal Ran. I didn't even look at my parents in the audience, I buried my head in the ground as much as possible.
I lost the first set, but I feel I'm not any worse than this giant Pole. Slowly the bad feelings go away. Strokes word better, hand is more relaxed, and everything is coming together as the match continues. I take the next two sets. In the fourth set, when I'm beginning to smell the victory, the head start working again. I lead 5-4 and serving for the match. And I shake,shake shake. Like I've never shook before. And then of course I make the mistake many players make before they win. Take the foot off the gas and wait for the match to be won for me. The Pole takes the game and drags me to a tie-breaker, in which he demolishes me. We're going to a fifth set.
In the fifth set I played with an ankle injury I sustained during the forth set TB. I got the mental cheering up I needed from Eyal Ran and a winning tip: Due to the state of your leg, he tells me, shorten the points and be aggressive.
Fifth set. Match point. I'm ecstatic. For a brief moment I hear the entire crowd singing to me, and feel until now the shivers in my entire body. In those seconds before the last serve, I have enough time to sneak a thought 'Look how far you've come, how many people you are making happy, look what you are doing for your country. Just get that serve in now."
The serve goes in. Game. Set. Match. I'm on cloud nine. Screaming, runnig like crazy. Don't know what I'm doing. Hugging everyone on my bench. They all did a brilliant job. Eyal was a genius Captain on the bench and kept me calm and pushed me forward and made me feel confident the entire match. After I was down mentally, after losing the forth set, I think the crowd and the bench won the match, not me. This is the power of the Davis.
From anonymity, I become somebody everyone know. I'm not ashamed to admit, it feels good. It fills you up. Those moments in the last week game me strength. I know we'll go back to obscure places and losing in the first round, but the power which is given by the crowd and playing DC at home cannot be explained.
I think only now I understood how important it is for our guys to play DC, two times per year which charges them later on and keep them afloat in all the dark places tennis often drags them too.
This moment on the court, this match point that I've had, when I stopped to hear the entire crowd rise to his feet and call out. "Israel Ole Israel Ole" is something I'll carry with me till my dying day.
I write this line with tears of joy in my eyes. Only today I know I've done something in my life, and all this hard work was not in vain.
2-0 for Israel. I only pray Andy and Yoni will take the doubles (which they eventually do), so I wouldn't have to go through this hell on Sunday again.
Saturday after the match we go party everyone together. Someone on the team said he sees Paparazzi taking our photo. When in my life did I ever believe I'd have Paparzzi taking my photo?
Monday, I' m in physiotherapy, working on my leg. Andyoni heading to the USO, Dudi hearing to San Jose, each moving on with his life like nothing ever happened. Back to the grind, till next September.
Last edited by Or Levy; 03-17-2011 at 12:00 AM.