Robbie Bellamy, 17, is one of the nation’s top USTA juniors. Bellamy, who recently committed to USC, is from Pacific Palisades, Calif., and won the Southern California Junior Sectionals in June. He blogs about his experiences this weekend in the Audi Napa Valley Classic.
ST. HELENA, Calif. – Now that the stress of having selected my college of choice is behind me, I’m ready to just go out there and have some fun. I committed to play at USC at the start of this month and feel great about my decision to join Peter Smith and the four-time NCAA champion Trojans next year.
Having fun has been what this weekend has been all about for me, playing in the Audi Napa Classic. I’m able to just relax on court and play my own game, and it’s showed in my results -- until Saturday, that is. I won my match against Cal on Wednesday, beating Riki McLachlan 7-5 in the third. I also opened with a win against a strong Harvard player Shaun Chaudhuri in my first match at Meadowood on Friday.
I survived three match points in the second set. I was down 4-5, 15-40 on my serve, and then he had another match point on an ad point. He broke my serve three times in the third set, but I was able to get them all back, taking the match 6-4 in the third set. He was just super consistent and didn’t give me anything to work with. I thought I had the match in my hands the whole time. He didn’t give me any free points, and if I lost a point, it was me beating myself. His second serve was kind of weak, so I was standing up there to take away time. He played behind the baseline and kind of just defended against me.
I got off to a really slow start in my match on Saturday against a tough player from Georgia, Ben Wagland, and lost 6-2, 6-4. I really didn’t start playing well until I was down 4-2 in the second, and by then it was too late. I just wasn’t there physically today. My arm started hurting, and my stomach was tightening. But that’s tennis. No excuses. You just have to deal with it.
After winning six of the eight matches in an exhibition against Cal on Wednesday, we were feeling pretty good about things on Thursday night during the opening Welcome Reception. But I think some of the guys came out flat on Friday, and we were only able to get two wins in eight matches, with Joseph DiGuilio taking the other match. We really were surprised at how well we played on Wednesday.
I haven’t had a ton of experience playing college guys, but I kind of treat it the same as if I was playing a junior match. It was even fun playing doubles later in the day on Friday, as Henry Craig and I lost a close 9-8 (7-3) match against Kandath and Morrissey from Stanford.
I pulled a stomach muscle on my way to winning the Southern Cal Sectionals in June and then reinjured it about a week after that. I won two main-draw matches at the 18s Nationals but had to pull out of the back draw.
I’m just super excited to be here and playing these top college guys. It’s kind of a one-time opportunity, so I wanted to take advantage of it.