Work in Sports
Never a dull moment
Currently ranked No. 34 in the world, 22-year-old Kristina Brandi is coming off her best season on the WTA Tour. Brandi captured her first WTA title in 1999, winning the $180,000 Heineken Trophy in the Netherlands. A resident of Tampa, Florida, Brandi is coached by her father, Joe, who played on the ATP Tour. Check out Brandi's diary every other week on CNNSI.com.
August 28, 2000
I certainly have put in my share of air miles since my last diary. I flew from L.A. to Tampa and after a two-day visit at home, I took off for Montreal. Tournament transport met me at the airport and I was driven directly to the hotel. When my car pulled up, I spotted singer/actor L.L. Cool J. at the entrance and I knew it would be a great week.
I must have been a little punchy from the long flight because I just shouted out, "Hey, I know you! I just saw your movie, Deep Blue Sea, on HBO last night!" He was very cool and even complimented me on my tennis. We took a photo to celebrate!
Montreal is a really interesting city and a wonderful venue for the DuMaurier Tennis event. I want to thank the officials, sponsors, and volunteers who made it possible.
All players participated in a 2000 celebration ceremony on the center court where we were individually introduced to a packed crowd. I'd like to compliment Martina Hingis on the nice speech she delivered on behalf of all the players. Despite the fact that I had a case of the flu, it was a good week. Tout le monde s'est bien amuse!
After Montreal, we flew on to New Haven for the Pilot Pen Tournament. I was two out of the main draw (very strong event) but was fortunate enough to receive the silver exempt wildcard.
I worked my way into the second round and had the opportunity to play Monica Seles on the center court in New Haven. Special thanks go to Pilot Pen for sponsoring a great event, Anne Worchester for directing the tournament, and to all the other sponsors and volunteers.
It was fun for me to sponsor Pilot Pen Kid's Day and I think I made a lot of young fans. My favorite question was from the little boy who asked, "Do you get extra points if you get really sweaty?" I told him if that were so, I would surely have a lot of points! I'll definitely look forward to Kid's Day again next year.
Now I have made my way into the city and am practicing at the USTA site. The U.S. Open generates a special Grand Slam excitement. And...hey, it's New York! There is action all around and it's never a dull moment. Last night my friend took a photo of me which he has titled, "K hits NYC!" Yep, I'm here!
Today was Arthur Ashe Kid's Day on the center Stadium. Of course, I couldn't resist joining in on the fun and it was great to see thousands of enthusiastic kids. Everyone was entertained by Jessica Simpson and the live concert from 98 Degrees. Kids were everywhere. I think it is great to expose young kids to tennis. It can open so many doors for their futures.
Now for a few questions:
Megan Fenn from Guaynabo, P.R. asks, "Hi. I am a junior player in Puerto Rico. My question is how do you keep mentally tough while playing?"
This is a good question, Megan, and one I always wanted to know when I was a junior. I think that mental toughness comes with experience. I try to learn from my mistakes and not make them over and over again. Analyze your matches and ask yourself where you did or did not concentrate well? Ask yourself where you had mental lapses and then make a conscious effort to stay better focused at these times. I try to think of every point as "match point" and that helps me remember that every point is a "big point!" Sometimes mental toughness just comes from hard preparation and lots of match play.
Larry Hall from Mt. View, Calif. asks about the factor of consistency. "People talk about consistency as a big key to winning at any level. What are the components of play you stress to make sure you achieve that consistency?"
Again, the best component of consistency is preparation. If you have prepared in practice, you should be able to maintain the consistency you desire in a match. I recommend playing a simple game called "21." Put a ball into play and then all shots must bounce only between the service line and the baseline. If your ball falls short of the service line, it's one point for your opponent. Begin with another ball and continue until the winner reaches 21 points. This game is the best for consistency and it also trains you to keep the ball deep in the court. Depth is another key factor in consistency. If I had one dollar for every time I played this game, I would be very rich!
Finally, Frank Pajerski from Fair Oaks, Calif. asks, "What kind of cheering/encouragement is helpful to a player without breaking their focus?"
Here's a great question for the U.S. Open. Cheering is always welcome, especially when a player is in need of a little morale boost. I doubt there is a player out here who does not appreciate positive cheering in their favor. Cheering can get ugly, however, when people show poor sportsmanship. No player loves hearing people clap and cheer when they make an error. When this happens, a player needs to be strong and filter out the negative.
I hope that a lot of you will be coming out this week to cheer and root for your favorite players. I wonder who the final "survivor" will be.