May 29, 2014
Florida State’s Cristian Gonzalez Mendez is a men’s tennis player from Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Throughout the summer as he transitions from a junior to a senior, Cristian will provide fans with an in depth look into the world of tennis both at Florida State and internationally in Spain.
Summer break is a time to rest after a long and exhausting season. Also, it is an opportunity to keep working on your game and improving to come back stronger for the next year. During the summer, practice is no longer enforced and it is up to us whether we decide to keep practicing or not, and if we do, when we want to do it. I personally like to take a week or two off once the season is over, before start practicing again. It helps my body recover from the 40 matches I played in the course of last year. It also allows my mind to relax from the mental stress that comes with every match that I play.
Some of the guys, like me, stay in Tallahassee taking summer classes for a couple more months before heading home or traveling around the world playing tournaments. Because the coaches are also here, we have the chance to schedule voluntary practices with them and other players in order to get the best practices we can. We are also allowed to meet with Dave Plettl, our strength and conditioning coach, for three times a week to work on developing our physical strength and athletic ability. One of my main goals every summer is to come back stronger and faster for the new season. I believe my physical conditioning plays a key role in my game, therefore I like to keep up with it.
As I already mentioned, we are allowed to schedule practices with the coaches. During those practices, we usually work on very specific aspects of our game that we think we need to improve. Since everybody has different schedules and we all are very busy with school work, the little time that we get to be on court with the coaches has to be very productive. That means short breaks and little rest in between drills. We are also encouraged to play sets with our teammates outside of practice time. In tennis, like in many other sports, competition is very different from practice, thus it is necessary for us to play practice matches to stay ready for competition.
Moreover, staying active and competing as much as we can permits us to put in play the things that we worked on during practice, as well as to build confidence and character for the upcoming season. It is essential to come up with a summer plan where you outline what tournaments you will play and when you will playing them. For example, I will be playing tournaments in Spain for five straight weeks before heading back to Tallahassee for the fall semester. On the other hand, my teammate Benjamin Lock is already traveling the world playing Future tournaments. He is currently in South Africa, where he is going to play three Futures before heading to England and Ireland to play more Futures. Likewise, my colleague João Gauer will travel all the way across the nation to play a USTA series of tournament in the state of Washington.
Ultimately, everyone may have a different summer plan with different personal goals. However, everyone’s main objective is to keep pushing hard and come back for the next season ready to play.
Check back next week when I get to interview one of my own teammates.