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Tennis

Tennis player’s year is long.

We have matches every week and tournaments every week all over the world. Less ranked you are- more tournaments you play.

To catch up with ranking, to try to gain more money and all that.

People like me who play singles and doubles, play two matches a day. If the tournament is successful, you play Monday to Sunday,

then travel overnight and start next one on Monday again, or if you are lucky Tuesday morning.

Higher ranked players have luxury of competing 20-24 weeks per year, lower ranked do 32-35 to be able to gain some money and continue to try to gain ranking.

Honestly professional tennis system is not created really fair, it is very hard to get to the top. The ones who get there rarely get out of there, cause the point difference on small tournaments

compared to big ones is sensational. Also the difference in prize money and coasts is significant.

On bigger tournaments in WTA and ATP tour, your hotel room is paid, mostly breakfast and lunch is covered for you and your coach too, you are

always picked up from the airport or train station, it becomes luxury sport, you start to enjoy what you do and feel professional. Nobody there is traveling without a team or at least a coach.

Different story is lower tournaments and ITF circuit, street tennis as I call it.

Players rarely travel with coaches as it is too expensive, nothing is covered and often the official hotel of the tournament is so expensive that even if you win it, you still can not

pay for it. So players are used to find cheaper places to stay and AIRBNB is very useful. Cheaper places to eat. And even this is obstacle, as more and more tournaments are not allowing athletes to practice on site anymore if they don’t stay in officially provided hotel, that coasts more then usual to rip off players who don’t gain money 🙂

Our sport is beautiful, but there are many invisible subjects which are not talked about. Like: Most of the players outside of top 200 travel with only 100 dollars in their pockets, play club matches in 3 different countries which is additional 15-18 matches in a month added to professional tournaments, travel separately to all this on prize money tournaments, which

also adds up to traveling hours and matches and physical fatigue. All the humiliation you are facing, as sometimes it feels ridiculous to carry 3 suitcases on the subway stairs in the middle of

Paris when you are actually 200 ranked player, in the world! of the one of the most elite sports on the planet, you work physically over 5 hours a day 7 days a week, without day off or vacation and still can not afford an uber. 🙂

Harsh reality… Many quit, cause it is too hard and sometimes it feels useless trying.

Also nobody speaks about players, who skip a meal a day to have enough money till the end of the week, who don’t restring the rackets(which is by the way very important for a tennis player), players who are gold for German and French league matches, ex USSR players, who are non Europeans and play matches almost for free to gain some extra bucks and club presidents who are not willing to pay on time…

There are many things not talked about, sometimes it is very disturbing. The fights I went through in past 12 years are absurd, sometimes when I think of all this, half of them don’t

even sound true to me anymore, sometimes I can not process how people can come up with things and arguments that come out of their mouth.

Also nobody speaks out loud about tournament organizers, who use young, poor, vulnerable tennis players and their material situation to try to seduce them for a free accommodation. Nobody says it all out loud, no one likes to talk about it, but this things happen. So this sport is not as beautiful as it seems from a first sight. In fact is way more cruel then you can imagine.

Somehow it is also like a drug, once you bought into it and started playing, once you realized you are not that bad, something always moves you forwards and does not let go. No matter how hard it gets. You get up motivated for practice, you find twenty thousand ways to travel cheaper to afford to play, you still watch millions of videos and matches to learn something new, something better. You go through social medias and web sites of big stars to see how they practice, what they do, hoping that you can find something useful. You read many books about mechanics, sports, psychology.

There is always something that moves you forward.

Also it is very ungrateful sport, because it is pretty much the only sport where you are mostly loser. And it is true. Chances that you will win even half of 35 weeks in the year are almost 0, so basically you move from losing to losing, with your head held high, practicing the day after losing. Sometimes it is really hard, and sometimes the opposite. Because you love what you do.

Once you start to play tennis, you are in long term relationship with it. This sport becomes your passion, your life, your job, your hobby, your family. You truly love it and you can not imagine your life without it, you are ready to sacrifice almost everything you have for it, and you do the most crazy things for it. It is very obsessive, very dominant feeling. Like in every difficult long term relationships you always have this down moments, this break up moments, you think that you will quit, find a decent job, where you will finally get paid for what you do, but then one good match happens, one good day and you are back on track.

It is very cruel and difficult sport, but also it has very many beautiful features.

Winning, the beauty of the world you see while you travel, the good people you meet, fulfillment of a good practice, different cousins, beautiful sunsets, incredible sport facilities, satisfaction of hard work, first win, emotions, first big tournament, first tour event, first grand slam, first titles… many beautiful features, but I will talk about them later… Today I just wanted to share just a brief introduction, to not such a beautiful part of my lovely sport, as the beauty of it is too easy to see.

Have a nice week

Isolation series

Good afternoon to everyone who reads my tiny blog, which I haven’t updated, it’s been a while.

I had a weird couple of months, as everyone had, I’d think, they were tough, funny, stressful,
full of talking, trying to build something new, sports, family, ideas…So I decided to write a couple of posts about last six months of my life.

As I mentioned somewhere before, Tim and I, we were stuck in Georgia, stuck because – well, the borders closed when we arrived and they did not open until August the 1st.
It is my home country, so of course it is not a bad place to be stuck in, we have incredible nature, great food, great wine (by the way, did you know that Georgia is the cradle of wine?)
I spent time with my family, I never have enough time to be there, as I always travel.

So since it was very unusual experience and very special, I thought I could write it down to have it at least as a memory.

It all started in Brazil when whole tennis tour got cancelled in a blink of an eye.
Tim and I, we tried to find the best way to travel either to his home country (Germany) or to mine. Well, at first we decided that I would go see my family for a little bit and he would go home. Also because in the 21st century it is still a luxury to stay in different countries as you wish and the regulation of 90 days in Europe is always in my way (funny isn’t it? Humanity achieved so much, but a person can not live wherever he wants with his own income, by the way, while paying all the taxes, because it is illegal to spend 92 days somewhere instead of 90). We booked out flights and were ready to go, but the plans changed in 3 minutes, after Tim’s flight to Germany got cancelled, so he had to buy a very last minute flight to Georgia and fly with me -that did not upset me at all 🙂
The adventures of the travel started right in the airport, when Turkish Airlines did not want to let Tim board on the plane, they claimed Turkey closed its borders for the German citizens and since he has German passport, he can not transit via Turkey. Obviously it got us stressed, as all the flights to Europe were cancelled and now he could not even board a plane to come to Georgia with me, but thanks God I am a Gold member of “star alliance” and -well, their service and help is something that I admire always, while traveling with them. So they were kind enough to listen to me, while I said whole trip that Tim
and I did since January, telling them that he was not even in Germany for two months, and he could clearly transit as he was not residing in a risk country for a good deal of time. Luckily they boarded him, our 10 hour flight to Istanbul airport was perfect, we got a bit calmer, we had to have a 2 hours layover and then home, but our next flight got cancelled so we had to sit in the airport of Istanbul for another 12 hours.
Next morning we flew to Georgia and I thought we are finally home, but not so easy…
Tim was almost deported back to Turkey, again for his German passport (thing that I thought never could happen, German in trouble for his passport), anyway it took around an hour to explain to everyone that he was with me for the last two months, that we haven’t been to Europe or any risk country at that moment, that we were willing to even go to quarantine if they wanted us to..In the end a very kind policeman, who accidentally knew that I was a tennis player and was kind enough to listen to the whole story about the travel and everything let us in and so our isolation in Georgia started.
First two week we had to stay in self Isolation, we did not want to put my parents at risk and we stayed in my sister’s apartment, which is nice, but small, with no balcony so just sitting home for 14 days is not the thing. We had 11 active Covid19 cases in Georgia, when country decided to lock down and act like we are all gonna die for sure, so we entered and that was it. Honestly we thought that all this would go on for maximum a month and then we would be able to travel to Germany. While we were in the lockdown for 14 days, we worked out 3 hours a day to kill time, we registered on courses and certifications, I created a petition for tennis players, we cooked and actually it was not that bad, after 14 days we moved to my parents as I haven’t seen them for a while and my mom recently had a heart surgery, so we wanted to be around. We were happy to go out from self isolation as we thought we could at least go for a run or for a walk now, but of course that did not happen 🙂 Georgia went to house arrest once we finished our self isolation time, we could go out for groceries, were not allowed to walk around as we pleased, could not leave the house for any reason after 8pm and our couple house arrest slid down to family house arrest. Well as a person who is outdoors most of the day, for last 20 years, does sport 6-8 hours a day, travels every week and is always active, house arrest is not an easy thing to do and I went to many phases of it, I will try to describe all of them in my later posts and I would be happy to hear what you experienced; also I understand that conditions were different in every country, so I will try to describe how our country managed the stress and how it did go.
Hopefully we will pass this test very soon and I hope our world will go back to normal, as for now we should learn how to live in the new world order.
Now I am back in Germany with Tim, and also getting here was a good adventure, but I will write about that travel in the other blog post of my Covid19 blog post series.
Stay in touch and lets share what we experience together.
Have a great day and a productive week.
Yours,
S.S.

Tournaments

There are many tournaments that are not organized great, flaws are okay, it is also okay not to have everything on 25k. But one tournament I remember specially “good”.
Last year me and my doubles partner Emily Webley Smith arrived to Spain on 25k tournament. We needed some points and at the end of may our choice fell on this small tournament, somewhere close to
* .
We asked for transportation , a pick up from the airport, as it was not that far, but obviously we got “no”as an answer, so we took a train and got promised that we will be picked up at the train station.
Obviously when we arrived there, there was no car, we tried to find a taxi and there was no taxi in that city. Thanks god Emily has a British sim card which works everywhere in Europe so she could
call tournament director. Very rudely he answered that we have to walk to the hotel, as it is not that far, fairly it was not that far only 1.8 kilometres, but a suitcase, a tennis bag, and additional
bag are not that comfortable to walk with. I have to also mention that there were a lot of uphills , finally we arrived to hotel, it was 4 pm in the afternoon and there were no available rooms,
even though we had a reservation 🙂 after 30 more minutes of arguing we got a room. Room price was 80 euros without breakfast. We went to the room to find absolutely old rooms, with leaking ceiling,
not the room you want to have for 80 euros on 25k. But we had no choice as this was the only available room in the one and only hotel of the city. Needless to say, we could not get lunch in hotel
or in the city at that time as it was too late for it.
In the morning we took a breakfast for 5 euros each, which contained of one croissant and one espresso. (thanks god the espresso was good).
First day in the club was quite chilled with no big problems, except the fact that the schedule of matches for next day came out at 10.20 pm, when matches started at 10 am next morning.
But that is okay 🙂 After that they put up the schedule for transportation, the first transport from hotel to site was at 9 in the morning, it was ridiculous as I had to warm up before my match and also needed some time to change, so having transport at 9 was impossible for me, I tried to talk to the tournament director, he was very rude and said that it is the best they can do as the drivers are volunteers and it is the first available time, then I talked to supervisor of the tournament and asked maybe to have a shuttle at 8-30 in the morning, but he said that this is up to tournament director, so there were no changes made. I was playing first match at 10 next morning, it was already really late, so I went back to the hotel and tried to recover for my match and stopped to argue . Next morning after our lovely nutrient breakfast me and Emily went out to wait for the shuttle, not surprisingly it was late, at 9-05 I started to call them as in the city the taxis don’t exist as I mentioned before, so shuttle was the only chance to get to the club, but nobody picked up, in the end the shuttle showed up at 9-23 exactly. I was in the tennis club at 9-45, so I rushed into the supervisors room and told him
everything, asked him for 15 additional minutes to warm up for the match, he said that he would love to give me that time , but I have to wait and ask to tournament director. Well guess what? He
said that it is not his problem that I did not have a rental car, and shuttle can be late so I have to go on court on time. I didn’t play great that match, not at all. Needless to say I lost that
match. I was very mad after it too. But I decided for myself to concentrate on doubles that week and forget all about that day. It worked out well, we won a tournament, I will not go into details
how bad was the lunch, and how much was the price. How they kicked out players out of the club house, if they just watched French Open on TV and did not order food or drinks.(also when the clubhouse
was completely empty) . That tournament had many flaws, but one last one was the prize money. After we finished our finals match, we went to get our prize money, and received a check, so we obviously
asked where we can cash it out, they said in any bank on Monday, as it was Friday evening by the time we finished our doubles match. Obviously we could not do it as we were flying out on Saturday,
on what a great tournament director answered us that it is also not his problem that we bought a flight on Saturday and did not decide to stay there till Monday. So it was not his problem that we had
another tournament on Monday, we had to wait for banks to cash out the check. Then he said we can cash it out in the airport, which was a lie, since we called the airport and asked if we could do it
and they said no. The check said “valid only in Spain” on the side of it, so we could not use it in any other country too. So again we got zero help from the tournament, supervisor or tournament
director. Tournament director went so low that he even insulted players with offensive words. And when I told him that he should not be creating the tournament if he has no wish to do so, he answered
me with direct insult. He even told me that in my age I should have a man that will pay my expenses. And he asked why do we even need that prize money it is only 700 euros, so it is not much and
should not be that big of a deal. He told my doubles partner that it is not nice to fight for the money and he does not believe that she needs it. We left to the hotel very upset.
The next morning we had to walk same 1.8 km in uphill to get to the train station and then get to the airport. And never see that place again. It was one of the most unpleasant tournaments I played last year. Unfortunately not the only one, but one of….
I’ll start to post more tennis stories on my blog from now on , if you have any questions. let me know 🙂

On distance

Hello everyone,

In this pandemic times, it is really hard for me to find things I want to talk about,

because somehow it does not feel really right. Or does not fit in.

It has been very weird 8 weeks. Seven and half to be exact.

What changed for me in these almost eight weeks?

Well first things first, tennis world stopped. I did not swing the racket , watch tennis

coach or do anything on court.

I had many injuries in my life, but somehow every time I was injured I was still around tennis courts. Right now I don’t even see them. This is very depressing for me. But also it is interesting from psychological point of view. You do learn things, you want it or no , you observe more and you inhale more. I don’t know about you, but my curiosity level skyrocketed. I read and listen more then I could ever imagine, I found out stuff that is really interesting and found plenty of new things I am interested in. I do a lot of home work outs, I do Yoga (I am not the most flexible individual ), but I try, to calm down mostly.

I started multiple online courses, also to kill time. I want to learn German, I have more time now to try to properly learn it, psychology and some other basic certificates that I wanted to have for a while now. I do work on one project on side which is very interesting and I do take part in some discussions about my sport daily.

It should be very positive to have so many things to do, but I do still feel down mentally. Some days more, some days less. I am just very sad, probably because everyone is sad. I started to run twenty days ago,twenty five days ago to be exact. Running always boosts my mood , even now, and I am glad I run. But I can not run 24 hours a day, I wish I could. I also work out at home. I am very productive in general I would say. I am busy all day long and I am always doing something. I don’t really understand people ,who say that they have nothing to do. I do have very much things on my hands. I also have many things in my mind I still can do. I also believe you can always learn or do something new. But still my mood is not of my liking, it is not bad, but not great either. Maybe my mood will boost with the end of pandemic. Or maybe it will improve in a while, it does get better daily, little by little.

I learned new things about myself. Things that I could not observe while I was traveling and playing.

So what changed in 8 weeks? In my life.

First thing that is huge to me is that I can not stand coffee. No, not correct, I love the smell and taste of coffee, I had period in my life when I used to drink 12 cups of coffee a day, then I reduced it on 10, 8 , 5….But for people who know me really well , it is also a very strange change, that now I don’t drink coffee.

Last year I had two cups of coffee for breakfast and one more during a day, so that made my average three cups of coffee a day, sometimes maybe four. I was very fine with it, and maybe the active lifestyle required it, but since I’m home I had two cups a day only. Couple of weeks ago I felt weird sensations in my body, over and over every day, I felt very shaky and anxious, in general I am anxious person, I am emotional, this is my mentality too and lately some things just boosted my anxiety, but still, it was not really familiar feeling what I had, not my basic feelings, so I tried to understand what makes me feel so weird, I didn’t need to wait long, three days of observations showed me, that I felt that way exactly 10 minutes after my second cup of coffee, so I figured that was my body telling me to quit, so I reduced my two cups of coffee and I started to drink one, only

one tasty cup of coffee, when you wake up and the smell kicks in,and that first sip…..But my body apparently had other pans and in couple of days I felt exactly the same after my one cup. So since then, it has been full two weeks I completely stopped to drink my favorite beverage. I even wanted to still feel weird,anxious and shaky after it, as it would be my excuse to have coffee again, but no. So during my not so active lifestyle, my body forbid me literally!!! To drink coffee! Now my beverage is mint leaves, lemon and cinnamon with hot water.

How did my body proceed with it?

Except the fact that like a true addict I really miss the taste and the smell of coffee, I can say that my sleep is way calmer.(which I always thought that I am special and coffee has no effect on my sleep) But I do sleep more calm, I never had trouble falling asleep, but I had trouble to stay asleep at night, that did not happen once in last two weeks. My skin got very bad in first couple of days, I got pimples and rushes everywhere, including neck and shoulders… but after a week now it became more soft and gets cleaner daily. And weirdly, I say weirdly because some people say that coffee helps them with digestion, well opposite here, my digestion is way better these last two weeks. I know that two weeks is not a long time to update on progress, but it was surprising for me, how the absence of my favorite

beverage, changed my body only in two weeks, I am very looking forward to see what is next.

I will post something about it later probably.

Next one is alcohol.

I am a big wine lover. I love wine, nice red wine, in the evening.

My home country Georgia, if you don’t know it, is the cradle of wine. We have fantastic red wine.

Usually when I come home, a glass a day is a must. Not that I don’t enjoy it in France or Italy, but well my Georgian wine is still my favorite. So what can I say, my body decided for me this too.

It was same as with coffee, first I felt very tipsy after a sip. Then I poured a glass of wine and could not drink it, till I got to the point where I didn’t pour it in my glass anymore. Also sad, cause glass of red wine,with a nice book, or in front of the fireplace, or in a good company is really nice, but oh well.

So in eight weeks my body forbid me to drink coffee and wine. And I say forbid not because it was my choice, or I decided so, I literally felt very bad within ten minutes, so it was just a no choice.

I don’t know how my body decided that, or why it did this do me :))) but well new lifestyle required changes I guess. I guess I have a strong character body too, which just demands changes from me , it demands change as soon as it decides so, so I have to surrender directly :)))

One other thing that I found out about myself is that I am not that anti-social. I always think of myself as a person, who does not communicate much with people. Cause honestly I am not the one who will text first, or call first. I always know that people are busy, also I am mostly tired and by the evening not in a very chatty mood, so probably long phone calls and texting is not something you would like to do with me, also my best friends are well aware of that and they stopped to judge me for that very long ago. But man I did not realize how much I used to communicate on daily basis with people.

And maaaaan I miss it. This little chats in coffee shops, in tennis clubs, two three sentence dialogues. Dinners out , good nice brunch. Damn, I am social. I just don’t like socializing with gadgets, but I realized that I had way more socializing on daily basis than most people did. Also I realized that I actually like it. So that was a big surprise for me.

One other very nice thing I found out is that more people actually really want to know how I feel, than I thought. And it is very positive emotion.

So yeah, apart from the fact that I miss my actual life, I found out couple of new things about myself. Or I just got older and it was a coincidence :)))

Since I am in Tbilisi , Georgia now, I also communicated with people I haven’t talked to in ages. I am never home, and when I do come home, I am here only for three days and never have time, so it is definitely a change.

Also I started a petition to try to help tennis players, I launched it 8 weeks ago and it progressed in a way I would not expect. And I learned many good lessons for myself and for the future. I will talk about it in my next post. People can surprise you in many different ways. You never know what to expect.

As for now I am gonna go, let me know if you can, what changed with your distancing? Did you find any new hobby? Or did you finally have time to finish that book you wanted to read? Did your diet change? Any new recipes?

And just tell me all about it 🙂

Xo.Xo. S.S.

Thoughts out loud…

…….

I remember very first time I saw “Vatican” from far.

It took my breath away, since childhood it was all I ever wanted to see in the world. That was the only place I wanted to travel to.

Ever since I could read anything about Roman empire, ever since I could read and look up something about Italy. This was the destination I wanted to visit someday.

I wanted to see “COLOSSEO” the mighty arena and “Vatican”, visit the museum and see Saint Peter’s square.

Till today it stays my favorite, no matter how many countries I travel to and how many beautiful things I see. I always find my peace there, even though it is usually very crowded. I love the smell of this place, the mightiness of this place, the history of this place and the power of this place.

It is so sad to see the Pope standing alone in Saint Peter’s square, in completely empty and haunted Saint Peter’s square, where people traveled and gathered from all over the world to pray and ask for forgiveness, to come and cry and spill their problems, to find answers to their questions.

The place of incredible hope and relief… now so empty.

This photo is very sad and disturbing.

Faith saved the world so many times and for so many centuries, faith and hope brought people through wars and diseases, dragged them through thick and thin and it just doesn’t get to my brain, that now this holy place is so empty…

Maybe it is for good and it is right, maybe not, unfortunately we stepped in the time where we don’t know what happens next…

All I know is, now that I witnessed times, when the Pope is standing alone and preaching in an empty square, I am scared, not of the disease, not of any other every day news topic, I am just scared what might be next, what happens after..As I haven’t seen anything so unnatural (for me personally) in my life. Nothing felt more weird than seeing this scene… And I am truly scared of what is coming next…

Have a great day everyone, never lose faith and hope. As this is what stays till the very end and it makes miracles.

unheard…

Hello again to whoever reads this.

I am very happy that you spare couple of minutes and read through my thoughts out loud… This is what is happening in my head in last couple of days.

So two days ago I started a petition to help tennis players to be heard by ITF, after I talked to many of the people I know and about what are their plans for next three month, I realized that some people won’t even be able to have food. It is very weird to listen that professional tennis players struggle with food, but that is reality. Half of the people I know work on side, coach or play club matches, and since the world is on shut down that is impossible to do,

While tennis is very highly paid sport on high level, it is very low income thing on a middle and lower level, you have to be inside of top 100 to make benefit, and top 100 is very high level.

Anything lower then that struggles with living.

I honestly don’t know problems of everyone, honestly did not expect of how many of tennis players struggle, but well now was the time to talk. I have enough time to think and to write so I decided to try to do something.

I will not say that I am in the worst position on the planet, honestly I am healthy, I will have food on the table and my family is doing good, but I know people who feel far worse than me.

So I started a petition, because ITF is our organization, we pay licenses, we pay fines, we pay entry fees and finally no organization will live without their employees. Top players are great to have for the crowds on center courts, but if the majority quits from lower ranked players, sport still won’t exist.

There are players who just started playing, who had injuries, who just try.

There are many lower ranked tournaments like 15k , 25k and etc. without players they won’t exist also.

My goal with this petition is not to gain money for players to sit down and do nothing, neither is my goal to raise sponsorship for every single player, nor did I demand anything sensational. I just wrote down simply that some players need support to EAT!

The amount of shit storm I got was incredible and very unexpected to me. People think I am asking THEM to do something or to pay my bills. Honestly I even thought I asked for LAMBORGHINI at some point.

I just don’t understand how is it okay for any other employees to ask for their salary from the companies while they are on shut down, why is it okay for everyone to demand something from government or their bosses, but we can not ask our organization to take care of us?

Just because we are young and we are athletes, we have to shut up?we have to suffer, we have to be hungry with grace? What is this stereotype? Tennis players are not football players, we don’t gain a million per year. Most of us don’t and don’t watch top 10 and top 20 players in the world. 90% gain totally other amounts of money. And it is also not football and basketball, where middle class player gets probably something around million or half a million per year.

Middle class tennis players gain just enough to eat! Maybe!

So none of them can afford three month of living. It is essential to read this sentence, not play tennis, three month to live and eat, not play tennis. Just to live.

One person commented that he is sure I have money to be good….. how are you so sure?

Anyway…. Moving on…

as I said what makes it so ridiculous for tennis players to ask for support? Why human laws and rules don’t work with us? What are we? supernatural?

Some people think I am some kind of spoiled brat and I am whining, in fact if you knew how I grew up or where I came from you would never talk.

My childhood was full of problems, my parents barely found ways to feed us, and 90s in Georgia was horrifying times. We had nothing and it was way worse then any shut down and any corona virus. The amount of times I was sick when I was a kid, I don’t think I can count. Did I die? No! And never my parents did whine or not try to do something for us. People from my country are raised differently, we are trained to survive any situation. So if something, I know that I will come out from any hard position possible. I lived through way to many hardships all my life and always managed to find a way. So I am sure I will find a way over one shut down too. If anyone, I am confident in myself in any situation on the planet. That is just how I am, so if anyone thinks that it is my problem, and I am trying to make something for myself out of this, that is just wrong!

My problem is that my sport will die as it is, it will die, because players who are ranked lower then 150 in the world will not be able to play.

Players lower ranked then 250 will not be able to buy food in two-three weeks time. So when you tell me that tennis is not important, I am not talking only about tennis, I am talking about the ability to survive.

So I don’t understand why is it annoying to the people that we ask our employer to help us get through this time?

Every employee of the company has insurance, health insurance, some sort of stable salary, and they also ask for support now. (not every person on the planet, but basic middle class companies)

We don’t have health insurance, we don’t have pension guaranteed, we don’t have salary and we pay wayyyy more then we gain, so how does that come out as a surprise that we have a lot of trouble now?

Health is very important and all of us agree on that and we will sit home (by the way I am in quarantine now), but there are also other issues that kill people except the virus.

Anyway as I am typing this , I almost know it makes no sense to explain anything, most of the people see what they wanna see and hear what they wanna hear.

I know that I always stood by what I thought was right, I always talked when I thought I should. And I always fought for fairness.

This is the situation which proved me and many of my colleagues one more time how wrong is our system and we stand in front of the huge problems. (not that we did not know it before)

And I will always stand for what I think is right, for me and for the people I care about. And if it is annoying to couple of people, I am okay with that.

This is probably the shortest possible preview of the things happening in my head in last couple of days.

And while tennis world is standing in front of one crisis, the world is facing another one.

So I wish each and everyone of you to STAY HEALTHY, be careful, follow the rules of hygiene, try to avoid crowded places and stay safe!

As for me I am going to start my morning routine and have my coffee, followed by my yoga.

Have a great and productive day planet!!!

xo.xo.

Pandemic…

It is weird to watch what is going on in our world right now…

Things are looking like a movie scene, with presidents ending their speeches to citizens by the sentence “May god be with us”, well at least that was the speech of Brazilian president I listened to while I was still there.

As we entered new year and global pandemic,there has not been much going on on tennis tour, it was number of canceled tournaments and players were trying to bounce back and try to go to places which were least likely to be canceled, well at least players like me, who are not that much in a panic for a new virus.

Honestly I felt better playing, even with the risk of getting sick, then by sitting home,

not because I am volunteering to get ill, or I want to, but just simply because the negativity that is going through people is far worse then any pandemic. Panic, negativity, some people even make up lies to sound more dramatic, all this is drastically dragging everyone down.

And I honestly prefer the risk of catching a virus, then depression caused by other people.

Self isolation can be good, sometimes it is even necessary, it is really not that bad, you can read a lot, self educate, meditate, listen to music, paint, dance, cook, have finally meaningful conversations with your loved ones, it can be good really, if people make it good.

Sitting day and night on social media and spreading negative information is not the type of self isolation people should strive to, at least I think so. But somehow that is what majority do…

Even more so, I experience massive shit storm every time I try to joke or be positive, and even point out that nobody canceled other problems of the world and we should also talk and think about it too.

Media coverage of corona virus in numbers is beating every single topic, even before it was pandemic and it was hardly out of China, the number of mentions of it in TV was almost a billion. And part of this global panic is this… When was the last time you hear about people dead in Syria, or children hungry in Africa, or global warming? Do you think numbers of death is lower there, just because nobody talks about it now? anyway…

I want you to understand me right, I am not saying virus is not bad, it is in fact bad and very bad, but it is way more dangerous what media can do to people. And now is the bright example of it. Unfortunate truth is,not many of us start our morning with reading, or listening to music anymore, or running, most of the people start their morning by checking social media, and social media was happy to spread negativity as usual. News never cover that much of the good stories, we always hear everything bad, then most of the people share negative status updates and so on, and so on.

So yes virus is bad, but what followed by is way more scary then virus. For me personally.

Yesterday I was going through numbers on various web sites, and went through many news and researches, then I scrolled through social media for hours, one thing that never left my mind is, everyone shares how many people are infected and how many died, nobody, I did not find any single update (yesterday anyway) that says how many people recovered, you don’t even need to dig into it or be a genius to find that out. “WHO” has the track on the web site, 42% of people who faced the virus already recovered, whilst 93% of the cases are mild, and yes 7% is critical and 7500 deaths is horrible as well, but how great is the number of recovered people already. That means this virus also passes by as quickly as it spreads. But I don’t really think that information is of anyone’s interest actually.

I made my tiny experiment with my tiny social media platform. I posted negative news, on not such a great time for popularity on social, it was middle of the night. I was on the way home and I heard very irresponsible dialogue, so I shared a status update. People were glad to like it over 200 times, share it over 20, and me talking bad about some guy I don’t know, was posted in 5 Georgian web news papers. Without even having my permission, they just posted my status update. So much for sharing one quite negative status update.

Yesterday, at exactly same time of the night I shared a positive status update of the good numbers of Corona virus, of how many people recovered and how fast they recovered, I had 6 likes hardly on the post and 0 shares, 3 likes out of that 6 were my family members. This is how negative information works against positive on social media. Not only now, it is like this every single time.

While I am typing this, I already know that after posting it I will receive negative comments, and listen to how irresponsible I am, and instead of trying to make people aware that they should not panic and probably most likely they will be fine, and we gotta prepare but stay happy, I should post the number of how many people die and maybe run to the closest store to get some toilet paper, for whatever reason….Cause well, that is something I should do, for majority of people. That is somehow right thing to do now…

Well I do not want to.

I do not plan to.

Especially now that I am sitting home.

It has been a while I am part of 6 am club, I love how productive day gets when you wake up early. How many things are done when you are up, while it is still very quiet. So even in self isolation my new-old rule is not gonna break, I am up at 6 am daily, doing my daily yoga, get the household boring things done, read my mandatory number of pages, wright down some stuff.

I actually figured out couple of things I always wanted to do, but never had time to do them, apart from the fact that I am very worried about my income, and what will be after the world will come out of shut down, I really feel positive about this lock, I read and wrote more things in three days then I did in a month. If you even risk to turn off your social media for couple of hours, you get a distant view of other people. That is also one great thing. I have planned working out every day, cause well I do have to be in some sort of shape, but apart from that I am glad to have extra hours, where I can increase my minutes of meditation, yoga, reading, and just reflecting.

So I am in complete state of stillness, which is very weird for me, I am always moving very fast and many things happen in my life and I usually overdo and I am very high on energy, and I do and plan and worry and move and all of this, so this still, quiet, reflecting, aware lifestyle is very strange for me, very interesting at the same time. I do enjoy it a good bit.

And as long as we have to go through this, we will be isolating for a while, I will say no – to sharing negatives and fall to fear of this cursed pandemic, and I will always encourage people to stop being scared and live a little, cause we actually live a little and time spent on negativity and fear is not good, no matter what.

So… to make this short and stop being boring to you…

The virus is not great, majority struggles, and not from sickness, but mostly because majority of the people live from pay check to pay check including me and everyone is super stressed about it. But, we still have each other, we can go through everything, god created us strong, lock down can be good if you wish to self explore, educate and say no to negativity, so wash your hands, stay on distance, please don’t cough at someone if you are feeling sick (not that you should do it without pandemic too).

Read a lot, sing, dance, paint, cook, work out, watch a movie, spend some quality time with your family, do whatever you want to do and never had time to do it, stay healthy and please stay positive. Everything works out eventually, we will get through this, one step is good enough.

Peace peoples! ❤

Part 2

French Open 2014

Its very scary to start a career that demands a lot of sacrifices.

In my case it was sacrificing my time with my family, all I had money vise, and calmness.

In some cases health.

As I said my sister helped me a lot in a way she could when I started playing tennis, as I also said her resources were not great as well.

As I started 2008 year’s season, I planned couple of tournaments which were closer to Georgia.

Turkey, Russia, Armenia.. Cheaper countries like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan.

Only couple of European trips. Also that time our visas were even more difficult then they are now, we needed separate visa for Germany, Italy, France and etc.

My travel calendar was not rich and every time I went to the tournament I was actually obliged to make some sort of result, cause if I did not, I would not pay for that trip.

Honestly right now, I can not do so anymore. When I was 19, I did everything way better under the pressure.

First year was the easiest year of my career, I was still very confident (less you know, more confident you are). My sister usually gave me 100-150 dollars and rest I had to make myself.

Also there was a lady who worked in tour agency that wanted to help me out, she bought me tickets, actually she just took me tickets and I paid her back slowly. Sounds pathetic, honestly again, looking back at it, I would not do it again. But I really wanted to play. You do what you gotta do right?

So I traveled on number of tournaments, played singles and doubles, tried my best to learn how to spend less money. It was tough to save some, cause I never traveled before so I did not know how to manage money good. Did not know how to save on tickets, food. How to find cheaper hotels.

I did everything as in fact sheet of the tournament and honestly the information on tournament fact sheet is least convenient and most expensive. I did not know that first year, I though that paper for players exists to help them, turned out as I learned later, It is never about the player. Well unless you are not a player representing huge management company or whatever….

That year I learned about existence of club league matches in France and Germany.

Matches you play for clubs that play against each other on the weekends and get paid…well if you are not European it is 1100 to 1500 Euros, depends on how lucky you are.

Then one Georgian tennis player told me about French prize money tournaments, tournament which you play for money but of course don’t gain any professional points. So I started to do all of that.

I played crazy amount of matches. I played in professional tournament singles and doubles, when I lost I traveled same day on prize money tournaments, next morning I played two singles matches to gain some money and then same evening I traveled to next professional tournament. Then in may I played for clubs in Germany and France, that means I traveled after the match Friday overnight to Germany, play Saturday morning singles and doubles, then travel overnight to France and play Sunday morning singles and doubles there, then travel overnight to wherever my tournament was and play match on Monday, If lucky and supervisor is in great mood, he will put you to play on Tuesday, at least one match, if no then you play Monday, if not lucky singles and doubles.

That’s a grind. Really. And almost everyone does it. Cause again, tennis only looks posh, only top players live posh, everyone else does this street life!

It does not take a lot to guess that by the end of that year I was injured right? : )))))

But later about that…

I did some very good results in 2008, motivation and ambition can get you far enough, if you really try, I started the year near 600 th position and made it to 230 WTA. Was really nice, were good results, I beat couple of top 100 players, played my first ever WTA main draw match, won it. Played abnormal amount of matches and obviously burned out……

I took every possible cheap flight, even if it meant I had to travel 40 hours.

If the flight was out of my reach, I would take bus and I made 20 hour trips by bus.

I somehow remember very badly one trip in specific.

I had to play 50k tournament in Rome, I played tournament in Russia the previous week, then I played club match in Germany on Sunday and then get to Rome. Fortunately or unfortunately I made semis in Russia, I lost on Friday, then flew to Stuttgart for club match and then had to make it to Rome on tournament. I could not find any flight to Rome Sunday evening so I had to fly to Turin, then I took an overnight bus from Turin to Rome, it was going for ten hours, but I made it Monday. Also the supervisor put me to play singles and doubles on Monday. I was so pumped that we won both matches, but needless to say I was dead on Tuesday…

You see, It is good you can make it somehow still to play, but the price you pay for making it is very high!

I am not writing this because I am so special, I know many people who did it, people who still do it.

It is just the level of commitment. How much you gave for what you have.

That is why I do not agree that there is only one way to become tennis pro.

Or there is a measurement of the result. And what is considered as a good result.

You know for someone good result is winning a slam, for someone making a slam, for someone playing 10.000 tournament.

Honestly my biggest goal was as a starter to just to play a grand slam. And every time I got close to it I chocked badly. For exactly three years.

Also the travels and gaining points and money was horribly tough.

First time I saw Paris out of a car, was 2014 when I made it first time to French Open qualifying, they had airport pick up with car, it was first time I did not take a metro to get to city or train station and I sat in car and watched Paris. Probably if they did not pick me up, I’d still go to subway.

It felt great by the way, and I don’t care if it sounds funny or ridiculous to somebody, that felt great, to be picked up at the airport and taken to Grand Slam venue. And maybe for someone getting in to Grand slam qualifying is nothing, I know what price I had to pay for it and it felt good, so honestly I don’t give a single f*** what anyone else thinks about it, or if anyone thinks I got there late or I am not good enough.

Also when I qualified for main draw that year I was super stressed, as I had money enough only to pay for hotel till the end of qualifying and prize money from Grand slam comes with bank transfer in two weeks, so I had no clue how I would pay my stay further in the tournament. Pathetic considering that I had to be thinking on how to prepare for my first Grand slam main draw match :)))

So again, not everyone has it easy, and nobody knows the story behind every single tennis player, so judgmental articles on when and how should people play, and how old should they be to get here or there is very delusional, arrogant and far from the real raw truth about life of every single tennis player who is outside of the top.

I wrapped up my blog post from last week with this one…

In next blog post I will write about one bad memory of mine from 2009, when I stayed 2nd alternate of Australian open, and how it coast me two years and nervous break down, thanks to people who should have been supporting and pushing me forward, instead completely humiliated me and my coach at time and coast us mental and physical health.

See you later.

Different!

Yesterday I read something about how clear is the tennis players path and how it is easy to see if you are good enough or no. That everyone should start playing at the age not later then 7, play national tournaments, play junior tour, make it on junior grand slams and etc. If you don’t you probably should not be doing this. Bulls***t !!!

Well I don’t think it is right, not everything is so easy. I know many players who did not play junior tour, I know couple of top ten players who did not play junior tour, I know some players who did not even try to be professionals till later in career.

So today I decided to write how I started to play tennis. Cause it was also far from perfect.

I was born in a family that had nothing to do with sport, my grandma was a doctor, grandpa lawyer, parents teachers. Nobody had nothing to do with any sport.

I wanted to be a doctor since age of 2 probably, played piano, was singing and doing everything that was not connected to sport. In fact my mom had anxiety attacks if I ran with kids and got sweaty.

I was ten years old when we came back from Russia to Georgia. Was walking with my dad and really wanted a very big ice cream. My father did not want to buy it to me, so to distract me he said he would show me how kids play tennis in a small tennis club. We entered that tiny club with three courts. It looked huge, that’s what I thought back then, but actually it is tiny club with three tennis courts, one locker room left over from soviet union and two benches for spectators, also left over from soviet union. Two years ago when I was in Georgia I went to check on that club to see how it is doing, and it is turned to a trash dump, it is broken down, and useless, I wanted to take over it and try to do something out of it, but there is zero interest to this sport in my country. ( I will write about it later, cause this topic deserves a separate post).

Anyway, there was one woman coaching in that club and she asked if I wanted to try to hit couple of balls and I said why not, took the huge racket had no idea how to swing it, but somehow made all my shots perfectly in the court and the excitement I felt while doing so can not be described by anything. Shortly, obviously I wanted to start playing tennis and my father could not resist me, so we ended up setting up my twice a week practice in the group of kids.

As we went home and told my mom this sensational news, she was very negative about it, and of course she did not want me to be involved in any kind of sports, also she thought it is time spent for nothing-which I could use more profitably on other things, but she tagged along, since she thought I would get bored and quit tennis very very soon. ( That did not happen, did it?! ) 🙂

So my tennis way was different from all the written down, classic ways.

In fact very different.

So I started playing when I was 10, twice or three times a week. In a group of children of different age and different level. We practiced with balls as old as rocks and in winter practices moved to a volleyball courts which were colored yellow, blue and red and was impossible to see the ball, It was freezing as there was no heating obviously and we had practices or at 6 in the morning or at 22 in the evening. (that was only two options) There were 9 people on the court at least and sometimes I am shocked how I even managed to learn how to put a ball over the net!

Then when I was twelve I actually wanted to try myself in summer Georgian tournament, nothing special, memorial, it was school break so I had time. I won it… That was it…by that point I was done with anything in my head except tennis. I won a tennis racket shaped pink clock, my first ever prize, it was on my wall for 18 long years, till someone, somehow threw it away! By the way I am still mad about it!!!!

So after that enormous success of my life (that’s what I thought), I insisted to my parents that I wanted to do tennis more seriously, which they of course did not really believe, but again tagged along. I changed a coach and started to practice in a group every day six times a week, we installed cable television to have Eurosport channel in TV so I could watch actual tennis players. By that time I was thirteen!

So as you see at the age of thirteen I just started to play tennis for 90 minutes a day every day, without any fitness or international tournaments or anything! I even have no clue why I thought this is okay. My parents had no clue how to raise a tennis player, or an athlete, we had no clue if this was right of wrong, we just did it.

So I practiced and played Georgian tournaments till I was 18! the only international 2 tournaments I played in my life was European Championships, as when you become number 1 or 2 in your country, they send you for free in summer to European Championships. But that was it!

No junior tour, no international tournaments. Nothing from classic tennis player pathway!

In fact my mother always insisted on not stopping my piano career, fairly I used to be very talented!

I also had to study. So till the age of 15 I did practice only once a day in a group. So obviously that already killed my chances of being next gen phenomenon! In fact I never heard anything positive about me in my home country, cause I always was considered as least talented player, who just works hard, but never plays tournaments and nobody really understood why I even try so hard every day. (Just by the age of 25 I realized I should not listen to those people)

Then at the age of 16 I was already sick and tired by doing 3 things at the same time, and I clearly wanted to play tennis! It sounds very ambitious coming from person who played one hour or ninety minutes a day in a group, but as my excuse: I did not know better at that time and I thought this is enough and I really wanted to play! So I told my parents that I quit piano and everything and I need to practice twice a day and do fitness and all of that! My mother hated that day! We had huge fight and nobody was ready to compromise, but this time I got what I wanted and actually had it my way.

I started practicing twice a day and doing fitness! For two years I was practicing my butt off, preparing for god knows what as I had no money to play tournaments! So from age of 16 till 18 I was constantly getting ready, still have no clue what I was preparing for that hard!

Our academy president was so sorry for me trying so hard , that they tried to put me in the University in America to at least somehow use my skills! It was all set up, I had to go in fall, to VCU university, study, play university tennis. I passed SAT, everything was ready, documents were filled out. Everything was going smooth, until one day I did not read up that I can not play professionally while I study and that’s when it all crashed down on me, it seemed to me like it was the end for my tennis professional dream and I started to have huge anxiety attacks, 2 month without sleep, horrible mental problems.

I could not sleep, I could not eat, I could not even play tennis. So my sister got very scared for me, very sorry and everything that older sister can be. She put me down and told me that if I don’t want to go to America, I should not. It is okay to have a dream and she will support me as much as she can to help me to achieve my dream! And that was true, she did. As much as she could. (more about it later, cause this deserves several posts).

So I bailed on American university, I let many people down as I bailed on them in August, before the start of the year and made many people angry! But I did not care, cause it was decision that made me who I am today and decision that I never regret, up until now!

My sister stood by her word and when I was 17 she actually gave me some money to play my first 10k event which was luckily in Baku, Azerbaijan, 6 hour drive from Tbilisi. It was very cheap to play there and easy to get, so it gave me chance to try myself out.

Bad part is that my sister gave me all the money she had, unfortunately all she had was not enough for professional tennis player 🙂 she gave me ambitious 200 usd and sent me to my first 10k.

I remember it like yesterday, there was McDonalds next to tennis club, and since I did not have enough money, two cheeseburgers three times a day was great solution for a week and a cheap one!

I was counting on getting prize money from the tournament to pay the hotel and was calm as a Buddha and as happy as one can be.

I played final of singles and I won doubles. It was insane for me, as I did not need much to go over the top in my head. I believed in myself so blindly back then, I guess if you had given me WC to main draw of a Grand slam I would probably achieve something there too.

So prize money was more then enough to pay hotel and go back home! I even had solid left over from my prize money to buy myself a new Adidas red outfit, which I wore on every match for like two years after that! I loved it, it was my earned! And nothing tasted better then that.

Then that tournament followed up by two 10k tournaments in Georgia! Where I played one semi final and one final, and reached my career high ranking of 669 after my first three tournaments played. I was happy, I thought it is great and I was confident as never that I would be a very cool tennis player very soon! Of course I had no clue how hard it is or how to get to the top, but later on that…

So… This is only the beginning of my way, and I will continue to write all of it, it is just enough for today.

All I wanted to say by writing this is that: not every person is the same, not everyone comes from same conditions, not everyone has the same amount of money, not everyone comes from sport civilized country, (my country just recovers from hungry years, nobody cares for tennis), not everyone has sports environment and you can not put the same stamp on everyone and make your conclusions on how good or bad they are! You have to know all the story! Where they come from, how they achieved what they achieved! Everyone has their own goals! Not everyone wants same things! And everyone deserves a chance, if they try hard and are willing to give it all. In sport or any other thing in life!!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Packing….

Packing…

How much does it usually take you to pack? What do you pack?

My average packing time is between 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the length of the trip I take. It is so professionalized that I sometimes don’t think what I put in the suitcase, but somehow I always have everything I need. I also hate to do it very much and hate travel days.

It is also disaster cause most air companies have 20-23 kilos of weight allowance and honestly it is almost impossible to fit everything you need on tour in that allowance, also there is tennis bag, which is light and should be on board cause rackets are fragile and you need them to be safe, and you go to this every week fight ( lady I fly every week and I guarantee that the bag fits in the overhead locker).

The mental fight between “Do I need one more dress with me or I am an athlete so I need one more practice outfit” or “Do I take high heels or one more sneakers?”

So what do I pack?

Match outfits: Dresses, Shorts, T-shirts. 10-12 outfits.

If it is cold on a match day: 3- long sleeve playing t-shirts.

Practice clothes: 15 t-shirts, 10-shorts, 5- leggings, warm up jacket, warm up pants.

Warm sports clothes: 3- pants, 3-hoodies.

25- pairs of socks,

15- underpants,

5-visors,

5-caps,

5-bandanas,

5-sweat bands.

3- pairs of going out pants(because we also go to eat)

3- sweaters,

5 going out t-shirts.

2-dresses.

1 pair of casual flat sneakers to walk.

1 pair of high heel shoes.

1 pair of running shoes.

2 pairs of tennis shoes.(maybe more)

Vitamins, protein shake, medicine and etc…

Work out bands, suspension trainers.

2-3 books (optional)

Block note.

Manual espresso maker (plus coffee)

Mini shaker

Bathroom belongings (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, hair spray, deodorant, night cream, day cream, moisturizer, scrub, masks, lip balm, q-tips)

Cosmetics (make up)

Hair comb.

Chargers,

Computer.

Speaker.

External charger.

2 hand bags (for going out)

That’s all, and it sounds like a lot. I know… but I am sometimes traveling for 2-3 month in a row and this is very little stuff and also women will understand how limited is to have 5 outfits to change, when you are eating out every evening. Not talking about any extra event that may occur.

And every time we have conversation about traveling, we tell each other weird stories of the fights we had in airports.

I do thing there should be some sort of exception for athletes in the rules of flying or traveling.

Because honestly this is the most unpleasant part of our travels. Again I am not talking about high class athletes who can afford business class all the time or private jets, I am talking about middle class tennis players, who actually are quiet good at what they do, not top, but pretty good and can not afford anything higher then economy class.

Why I touched this subject now?

Well we just moved out from the apartment and did a lot of packing and I start new season in a week, so in four days I have to pack up to travel again and honestly that’s all that is in my head right now. Pack, unpack, practice, repeat and somehow stay sane…

As for you, have a great week to whoever reads this.