CiCi Bellis blog: An excuse-free environment

February 15, 2017 12:22 PM

CiCi Bellis turned pro last September after reaching the third round of the 2016 US Open. The 17-year-old California native first gained national attention in 2014, when, at the age of 14, she upset No. 12 seed and reigning Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the US Open for her first Grand Slam win. Since then, the 2014 ITF Junior World Champion won her first WTA title at the $125,000 Hawaii Open in Honolulu in November 2016 and has claimed six singles and two doubles titles on the ITF Circuit. Bellis, who is currently ranked No. 73 in the WTA rankings, wrote a popular blog on during last year's tournament and picks up her blogging on now. In this entry, she talks about traveling to Doha to compete at the Qatar Open. Check back every Wednesday to read more from the rising young star!

By CiCi Bellis

I arrived in Doha last Tuesday evening, and Anibal and I headed straight to the tournament site in order to get in a good practice before dinner. I was only able to sleep one hour of the 14-hour flight, but Anibal got in 13 hours. Sleeping on Bellis-blog-Qatar-Openplanes has never been my thing.

Doha is stunning. I had no idea what to expect, aside from some research I did prior to my trip. After a few days, I decided that it is a cross between three of my favorite places. Doha has the palm trees and beaches of Miami, a unique skyline and the urban sophistication of New York, and the proper tea and customs of London. I love it.

On the first full day of practice on Wednesday, the tournament arranged a great hitting partner for drilling in the morning, and then I played sets in the afternoon. On Thursday morning, Tom Gutteridge arrived from Philly. He and the tournament hitting partner practiced with me for an hour, and I played points the second hour. That afternoon, I played more sets.

The day before a tournament starts, I don't like to hit with other players, so Tom and Anibal practiced with me in the morning, and then Tom and I played points in the afternoon. Anibal and I finished up by working on some particulars for my match the next day.

The qualifying tournament began, and I had a great first match and an even better second match. I won the first and lost the second. As you can infer from the above, I did everything I could to bring out my best tennis in Doha. My opponent in the second round was simply better on that day. I shook her hand, wished her luck, and Anibal and I went straight out to practice.

This is the same routine I follow after every match, win or lose. No excuses were given by me or offered up by my team. I would not have gone to the tournament unless I was healthy and fully prepared. I was actually starting to play some of the best tennis of my life in the days leading up to Doha.

I'm about to take off for Dubai and will have three good days to get ready for the qualifying event there. Can't wait!