An insight into life on the challenger tour [Archive] -

An insight into life on the challenger tour

11-06-2007, 08:43 PM
Ross Hutchins (world no 88 in doubles) is doing a daily blog for the website
from his last 3 tournaments of the year - Bratislava, Dnepropetrovsk and Kuala Lumpur

The 1st two instalments are already up, makes a good read :)

Thought you might find it can post any questions you have for Ross via the blog feature on the site homepage

Ross is one of the upcoming doubles players of the tour....cracked top 100 this year, made his first ATP final in Nottingham, taking out Erlich/Ram along the way and has also made 2 big challenger finals since then

11-10-2007, 11:55 AM
I find the website impossible to navigate :shrug: Can't find the blog at all.

11-10-2007, 12:02 PM
I find the website impossible to navigate :shrug: Can't find the blog at all.

It's right on the main page CooCooCachoo :)

11-10-2007, 12:34 PM
It's right on the main page CooCooCachoo :)


For whatever reason, that doesn't load in Firefox for me :confused: But it works in IE now.

Thanks :)

11-15-2007, 06:58 PM
Read this from the start.. interesting stuff :yeah:

12-09-2007, 01:58 AM
Can you cut and post it or post a link? I can't find it on that site.

12-09-2007, 03:01 AM
As requested by Binkygirl, here's the boy's blog:

Blog 1 : Pre-match (Round 1)

Ross Hutchins & James Auckland are playing doubles in Bratislava this week and Ross has agreed to blog for us...hope fully Aucks will do something also.

Here is his pre-match blog from yesterday evening....

"Sitting here in the Lobby of the Bratislava Challenger hotel preparing to try finish the year on a big high! I know that the higher my ranking is the easier it will be to get into Australia so I'm going to give it my all and more to try conquer the next 3 weeks. Out here with my doubles partner James Auckland 'Aucks' feeling good and confident about this week and the run in to the end of season. Having arrived this morning in Vienna I took an hour taxi ride to see that I had 10 minutes till we practiced. Was good to do as once we realised that we were playing tommorow I needed to get used to the courts and 1 1/2 hrs later I felt much better. Another 45 minutes later would be perfect so that is what we did. A good hot shower and a stretch and I was content with my preparation for tommorows match. Having not been to Bratislava before I didn't know much about the city but Aucks and I suddenly had an urge for some sushi..sushi it was! Fortunately just round the corner was a great sushi bar which we filled up on as we missed lunch due to practice times. Loved it! Anyway going to try get an early night ready for tommorrows match against Slovakian wild card players who hopefully we'll be too strong for! I'll let you know.."

BREAKING NEWS : Ross & James won 6-4 7-6(4)

Report and todays blog to follow.

12-09-2007, 03:02 AM
Ross and James Auckland won their rd1 match 6-4, 7-6 yesterday, here's Ross' post-match blog:

"Hi guys, sitting back down in the same spot as 24hrs ago with a much better feeling to today as we were successful in winning our 1st round! Always a nice feeling as personally the 1st match of the tournament is always the toughest to come through as there are so many factors to getting used to each tournament !

I had one of the best nights sleep last night so when i woke up at 9 this morning I felt so good which is rare when I first wake up as my past room mates know! Coming down to breakfast my doubles partner 'aucks' was sitting patiently waiting for me to join him. After a long relaxing breakfast where we stocked up on goods for the day we headed to the club with match gear raring to go get stuck into the tournament. At Midday on court 2 we hit for 40 mins trying to best prepare for our match on centre court later on that day..we were scheduled for 3rd match from 12.30. A shower and a bit of lunch and we were about as ready as we could have been. With Aucks looking like Rambo but with a blue headband, he was fired up and we started off all guns blazing returning very well which ended up in breaking their serve early in the match and taking the 1st set 6-4. We were playing on the court where the Davis Cup was played 2 or 3 years ago but the atmosphere was different to say the least. In a huge stadium there were maybe only 50 -100 people watching and since we were playing a couple Slovak players we had no support whatsoever. 2nd set we lost some focus and went 0-4 down but came back strong to win it 7-6. Good day at the office but not perfect so we went straight onto the practice court to work on a few things that could be improved. Half an hr later all was good so we took the 18.15 bus back.

Every night aucks and I have a discussion on what we are feeling for dinner and since last night it was my preference i had to give him tonights..he went for Italian which I was ok with.

The Bratislava town centre is suprisingly nice, lovely buildings, very good choice of restaurants, many narrow streets, I guess it could be called a worse version of Venice as the way I'm describing it but without the water! No ice cream on the way home although it was very tempting as the place is right next door, and the variety is some of the best i've come across!
A few phone calls back home to family and girlfriend and that brings me to now..

Its now 11pm and I have an early start tommorow practicing so I'm off to hit the zzzz's.

Catch you tommorow ! "

12-09-2007, 03:02 AM
Ross Hutchins Blogs - Part 3 "The Late Night"

Hello everyone! Despite knowing i had an early start in the morning, i stayed up late last night. It was a descion i really regretted this morning when my alarm went off at 7.30! Needless to say, i was extremely grumpy when i met auks for breakfast, but some eggs and croissants put a massive smile on my face! I practised today at 9.00 am for an hour with Auks, Chris haggard, a former top 20 doubles player and his coach scotty. It was a very good session where we worked on very basic serve, volley and returning drills. It was very productive. I felt really stiff today, so i had a long strech to try and make me feel better. Normally I would be able to pop into the physiotherapy room at the national tennis centre in roehampton to get either some treatment or a full massage, which does wonders for my body, but unfourtunatly i do not have the same luxury out here!
The tiredness hit me around midday, so i had a some well deserved relaxation time and a bit if a sleep. I was not impressed with my lunch today...a really rubbish sandwich! Not really what i was looking for knowing i had a long day of practice!

After lunch i practiced for another hour, again with aucks and also with Lovro Zovko, the player who Tim and Jamie took down in the recent Davis Cup tie against Croatia. At tournaments it is always very important to practice against as many different types of players, as it can only improve my tennis! Practice was again followed by another long stretch and a long hot shower!
At about 3 o'clock, once practice was over for the day, we got a courtesy car back to the hotel. The journey was intresting to say the least...a fellow driver decided to do a 3 point turn in middle of busy street..not the smartest of ideas! It was raining hard, which made it hard for our driver to try avoid crashing into the other car ! There was a fair amonut of skidding and sliding done in the process. Understanably, quite a few loud and abusive slovak words exchanged!!

After our car ride home, aucks and I decided to go to the local mall to check it out. Still hungry from my awful lunch, we managed to find a scottish pub, and i had some soup which was lovely. I've been wanting to watch superbad at the movies, but have not had the chance, so when i found out the local cinema was showing it, i was there in a second! I'm so glad i finally saw was so funny! Highly reccommended!

Dinner was calling so off we went back to the same restaurant as last night. A good meal was a neccessity, so a mexican pasta and salami pizza was eaten! It was very tasty!

12-09-2007, 03:03 AM
Ross Hutchins Blog Part 4 - "The Defeat"

Hi All, i have been reading the comments made, it seems like it has gone down
well! Very pleasing! hope everyone continues to enjoy them! Here is todays..

Hello everybody! Day 4 of my attempt to conquer Bratislava has almost come to an
end and unfortunately it was not a successful day. Aucks and I lost our 2nd
round match 6-3 5-7 10-4 to a couple of Slovak players called Polasek/Zelaney.
It was dissappointing as the standard of tennis in th 1st 2 sets was of very
high quality, but then we got off to a slow start in the tie-break and couldn't
catch up. It was one of those matches that got very intense. Before the match
even began, I think all 4 players realised that it was going to be a very close
fought match with a couple of points that would make a huge difference and thats
exactly what happened. The conditions went against us, we were put on court 1
which is a very fast court which suited our opponents down to the ground. They
both serve enormously and it took away our ability to return very well as we
normally do. There was only one break of serve each set, they broke us mid-way
through the 1st set with a clean lob winner on sudden death deuce. 2nd set we
broke serve at 5-6 to win the set 7-5 and we took momentum into the final set.
Unfortunately we couldn't capitalise and keep on rolling and lost the tie break
10-4. This is the new format of doubles at all ATP tournaments, a sudden death
point with the reciever having the choice of which side and then a a 3rd set 10
point tie-break if it is one set all. It was a shame but we are experienced
enough to deal with wins and losses as they come. I have come to realise that
tennis players cant dwell on results too long as the sooner you can get over a
result the sooner you can prepare for the next match or tournament. As a tennis
player we can never tell when we are going to have a great week. It could be
next week or next month, but the key is to prepare as best you can for each and
every match and give it your absolute all. As long as that happens then I
believe success will come sooner rather than later.
Preparation for todays match worked out well. We woke up around 9am and had a
very relaxed breakfast which consisted of my trusty favourite, eggs and
croissants! I was happy at this point as this starts my day off well! We headed
to the club to warm up for practice, which was booked for 12.30 pm. We managed
to hit on the same court as our match was scheduled to be on. We were 3rd match
on from 1pm. After a half an hour hit and a good stretch, it was time to take a
hot shower and grab a light lunch, enough to fill me up but not to feel heavy by
the time we went on court. I'm afraid to say it was one of those dreadful
sandwiches again but that was all I needed. An hour of waiting for the matches
before us to finish and we were ready to start warming up for our big match!
This takes about 20 minutes, consisting of running, skipping, stretching and
doing various band shoulder rotation excercises. This is very important,
especially with the new doubles rule, you have to be 100% ready from the 1st
point of the match! We walked on feeling good and confident but as I said things
didn't go as planned and we came out 2nd best. After half an hour of reflecting
on the match I was ok and generally happy with my performance. My thoughts were
now with my plans for the rest of this week and on to next week!
We headed back to the hotel to shower and plan flights for the next of now I have a flight to Ukraine on sunday.
This evening we decided to go for a change of scenery, the champions league
football was on and while we were walking around town we saw a nice Irish pub
called 'The Dubliner'. This was the perfect atmosphere to have a traditional
British meal while supporting our British clubs conquer European football! A
very tasty Irish stew went down a treat and watching Arsenal get the draw they
needed was a good couple of hours spent.
During my time out here I've heard a rumour that the local Slovak people don't
think too highly of us Brits..apparently we are too noisy for them. This is
because the majority of British people that they come across are men or women
having a good time before they tie the knot of marriage. From what I've heard,
it all starts out ok but by the end of the night the fountain in the town centre
is being used as a mass shower rather than a beautiful monument..I guess they
just wanted to have a very good time!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed todays events, I'm feeling very tired so going to get
a good nights sleep!

12-09-2007, 03:03 AM
Ross Hutchins Blog - 'Onto Ukraine'

Hi everyone, thank you for your kind responses to my blog's, great to see that you are all enjoying getting a close insight of the real life on tour. Most weeks away playing tournaments are very similar, especilly while we are still competing as the priority every week has to be to win mathes, hopefully enough to win the tournament. As you have read in my previous blog's, we wake up and everything for the day leading up to a match is all in preparation to perform well and this is the same theme each week. Once each player is finished with that tournament, different players do different things. Right now I'm in Paris playing a club Match for my French Club, Grenoble.
Yesterday was a very relaxing day, I took a flight directly from Vienna to Paris in order to spend a day on one of my favourite places i the world.. The Champ d'Elysee. I love spending time here, it has absolutely everything, classy shops, lovely outdoor cafes, cinemas, car showrooms, The Arc de Triomphe one end and a huge ferrace wheel the opposite end. I really do enjoy, spending a day watching the world go by while I 'zone out' on this wonderful street!
Aucks however had a different sort of day, he too was playing the match in Paris with me but his journey was slight different. With his ticket he needed to fly through Munich and that caused a big problem His day went, Bratislava to Munich, Munich to Vienna, Vienna to Paris and ten a nice lenghthy train journey to top it off! What a day, I found it very amusing and amazingly he found the funny side of it! I can tell you for sure that I most definately would not have been laughing after 3 fights and a train journey!! We were staying in a small hotel on the Champ d'Elysee and trying to make his day a bit brighter I told Aucks to get his dinner kit on as I'm taking him out for a nice meal. We went to a nice restaurant and sat outside in the busiest part of the street, the heaters kept us very warm. A couple of oysters which I wasn't too keen on didn't start the meal off too well but then some rare, juicy steaks were put in front of us and all was good. The day of nightmare that Aucks had just encountered had almost been forgotten.
We shall be heading to Ukraine on sunday to play the next tournament, its a $125+H, therefore a good chance to do well and move up the rankings. With 2 tournmanets to go, my spirits are very high and energy levels even higher as I really want to do well to finish the year on a high! I will be playing with Aucks for the next 2 weeks leading up to Christmas time.
As you all know, we have a tough next Davis Cup tie away in Argentina. Tough as it will be in a Country where it is difficult to play, on a surface that is not our strongest against some good players. I think John Lloyd and the British team have done fantstically well and its a great achievement to get into the world group and now we are here, we most definately want to stay and progress further into the draw. I have never been part of the Davis Cup and give anything to become part of the team.I would love to play in the doubles tie but that is not my decision. I have to impress John and make him feel like I'm the right person to try win the 3rd rubber. There are a few options that the captain has but my job till then is just to try put myself in the frame for being selected for this match. I feel with Andy on a huge high having done unbelievably well to finish the year ranked 11, having been injured for 4 months is a phenomenal achievement! Jamie is also doing great and there is a great opportunity for someone else to shine and I really hope we all can step up and produce something great for this tie!
Anyway I really have to dash as I got a couple of matches to try win for my French team!

12-09-2007, 03:03 AM
Ross Hutchins Blogs from Ukraine - Part 1 "..a crazy last few days."

Hi Everyone, sorry Ive been away for a few days..its been a crazy last few days with so much going on. I am now writing to you from my penthouse room in a nice hotel in Ukraine. The tournament is the Dnepovetrosk $125,000+hospitality Challenger and is a very popular tournament as the top seeds in the singles draw will show. For most players this is their last tournament, an important week as for many players as it is a big challenger with a lot of ATP points to be gained from a good week. The top seeds in the singles draw are Canas, Santoro, Benny Becker and Tursnov. 3 out of the 4 players are Wild Card entrants into the draw, as if you are top 50 in the world singles, you can only play the tournament by getting a Wild Card. It is a very good tournament with a huge amount of publicity around Ukraine, with good crowds of supporters coming in to watch the early rounds of the tournament.

In my last blog I had just arrived in Paris to play a French league match. These matches have a great team environment and are played with an enormous amount of passion and pride. There is no team prizemoney for winning, just bragging rights around France. The players that have been nominated are some of the best in the world. Due to a couple of last minute injuries, Aucks and I were brought in to play singles for the 1st time competitively in 4 or 5 months which was going to be interesting! It was very enjoyable and I loved every second of it. I was up against a former world number 5, Jiri Novak and unfortunately he was too good on that day and beat me in 2 tight sets. He was very impressive and once you face him across the net, it is very easy to realise how he was top 10 in the world and was successful against the likes of the great Andre Agassi and co. Having completed this match and then playing a dead rubber doubles match, we had a long and difficult journey ahead of was a mission to say the least!

We had booked a flight all along from Vienna to Dnepovetrosk on Sunday morning, so therefore we needed to be in Vienna at least an hour and a half before the departure time of our flight. This meant getting a flight from Paris to Vienna at 8am. We left our club match venue on Saturday night and had to take 3 train journeys to get to Charles de Gaulle airport hotel. We arrived at approximately midnight. This was our 4th different hotel in 4 nights. We felt like we were sightseeing around Europe except never stopping to see anything. We didn't mind as we knew it had to be done in order to get to the next tournament in time and this is the life of a professional sportsman. The alarm was set..5am. So having had 4 hours sleep, we had another long day of travelling ahead of us. I personally dont mind getting this little amount of sleep, as I find I never actually fall into a deep sleep, so I don't feel too bad in the morning. The problem is the fatigue hits me early afternoon, then I admit I'm a nightmare to be around.

Auck's and I are very close friends and I think this is very important when you are travelling together. We know when one of us is not in the mood to joke or mess around. We do also have a lot of fun and laughter in each ohers company. He is a very funny guy, constantly making me laugh and he has a great sense of humor. He works hard and is also very professional when it comes to hard work or time to knuckle down and prepare for matches. Unfortunately he has a couple of negatives..his dress sense is very questionable in my view and his hair,well, the less said the better. It is in the 'out of control' stage but he is convinced that if he can just tough out a couple of weeks like this, it will turn into a great look, I'm not convinced, but maybe he'll prove me wrong. All in all he is a great guy to have around.

We took the flight to vienna and made our check-in deadline with 2 minutes remaining for our flight to Ukraine. Needless to say, I was sweating huge amounts having sprinted there with all our bags as there is only 1 flight a day from Vienna to Dnepovetrosk, so it was vital we got on this one. By this time there was snow storms in Vienna and Ukraine, so our flight was delayed by a couple of hours. We hung around and in the end we left a couple of hours later. Having landed and now walking off the plane there were a couple of lovely cars at the bottom of the aeroplanes stairs, unfortunately this was only for seeded singles players,so we just had to walk by and meet the tournament representatives inside the airport.

Then the chaos began..It was a full flight, many many people all waiting for their bags to arrive on the baggage reclaim belt, but only 10-15 bags came out. one of them were mine and none belonged to Aucks either. This had never happened to me before, but there was nothing we could do. All of our clothes and rackets were stranded in Vienna and we possibly had to play a match the following day. We gave all our details to the austrian Airways desk and hoped that they were going to arrive the following day on the same flight. The tournamet were fantastic and since there were many players who were missing bags, they made a huge effort to track down all our bags and sure enough they came the next day. We were scheduled to play on Tuesday.

The court surface is very much slower this week than Bratislava and we had quite a tricky 1st round match, Bjorn Phau/Dennis Gremelmayer. Two former top 100 players who play well on slow courts. We prepared well, got a couple of good sessions in to get used to the court speed, lights, balls, air and the new surroundings. This may sound ridiculous but all these factors make a difference and it is crucial that one gets used to them before the tournament begins. We felt good leading up to the match. We started off ok, holding serve the whole set but not being able to break their serve and it ended up in a tie-break which we lost. We reacted well to going a set down, stayed positive and really played well the 2nd and 3rd set 10 point tie-break. We won pretty comfortably after the 1st set to end up with a 6-7 6-2 10-5 win. It felt good to get into the tournament and with a day off tommorrow to practice and prepare for thursdays 2nd round match, we feel great. We finished close to 10pm, a good stretch and shower and it was time to go for dinner. As you all probably know by now I love my sushi and with 'Nobu Restaurant' round the corner that was the only place I wanted to eat.

This leads me up to now, 2am and time to get some rest. We have practice scheduled for 2 pm tommorrow so I have a lie in tommorrow.
I hope you like todays blog..Good Night!

12-09-2007, 03:04 AM
I think thats it, but I'll have another search around to see if there were anymore..

12-09-2007, 05:24 AM
lol how lame atleast make it about singles.

12-10-2007, 01:31 AM
lol how lame atleast make it about singles.

That sounds like grueling schedule. He's got to make his own arrangements, his racquets get lost on a plane trip, etc.. can't be fun with the sort of money you make in doubles. No wonder those two Brit players (Mackin and P-something) retired last year. It sounds like a grind outside of the elite top 50.

12-12-2007, 05:19 AM
That sounds like grueling schedule. He's got to make his own arrangements, his racquets get lost on a plane trip, etc.. can't be fun with the sort of money you make in doubles. No wonder those two Brit players (Mackin and P-something) retired last year. It sounds like a grind outside of the elite top 50.

lol how lame atleast make it about singles.

12-14-2007, 04:37 PM
Surely it's better to have a Challenger doubles blog than nothing at all?! Ross writes a good one too, more informative and down to earth than some of the ATP players manage, with a few honourable exceptions!

12-14-2007, 05:46 PM
I like it :)

12-22-2007, 01:28 AM
Thanks JustJames :yeah: Good stuff.

12-22-2007, 01:46 AM
lol how lame atleast make it about singles.

Typical glory hunter. Go back cheering your top 10 clown and shut the f... up. :wavey:

Thanks for the posts, JustJames.

12-22-2007, 10:30 AM
Typical glory hunter. Go back cheering your top 10 clown and shut the f... up. :wavey:

Thanks for the posts, JustJames.