John Rydberg in action in Guadalajara.
By Jon Rydberg, special to USTA.com
John Rydberg, 34, of St. Paul, Minn., peaked at No. 11 in the world in 2007 and competed in the 2004 and 2008 Paralympics. He also captured the singles gold medal at the 2007 Parapan Am Games and the doubles silver medal that year with Lee Hinson. Rydberg has represented the U.S. at the World Team Cup and competed in three US Open wheelchair competitions.
He is blogging for USTA.com from Guadalajara, Mexico, during the 2011 ParaPanAm Games.
If your Spanish is not up to par like mine, you learn to say "como se dice." Translation is, "How do you say," then you simply point or say whatever you want to know. Seems easy, right? Well, right now I'm struggling to find the answer to "como se dice... huge match?" Note to self, get teammates to learn Spanish in order to use them as translators.
Before going too far, let's reflect for a minute. 2007 Rio ParaPanAm Games, I was playing a lot of tennis and was seeded No. 1. I ended up backing that seed up and won gold. Now hit your fast forward button... good work people. It's now 2011, and I change more diapers in a day for my 6-month-old son than hit serves in a month. What does this mean? Well, it means I don't play many tournaments nowadays. Como se dice... unseeded player?
Being unseeded means you could be put anywhere in the draw. I so happened to be put in the No. 1-seeded player's quarter. I'm getting ahead of myself here... slow down. Hit your rewind button... good. It's now the start of the tournament, which is also known as Sunday. Being unseeded meant I was the only American to have to play that day. No big deal. I need the practice, anyway.
On stadium court, I beat a player from Peru, 6-0, 6-2. A nice comfortable win in front of a crowd of about 10,000.......minus 9,500. That crowd provided a wonderful atmosphere even before the match started. While being worked on by our trainer in the underbelly of the stadium just before the start of the match, you could hear the music, the people and the general enthusiasm of the stadium. Como se dice... this is one of the coolest things ever, so don't get nervous and shank balls all over the court and embarrass yourself? It doesn't matter how you say it in Spanish. It was cool, and I did not shanks balls all over the place.
Fast forward again. Nice, you are getting good at this. It's Monday now. I played the No. 5 seed from Brazil up on Court No. 1. He is young and will be a very good player someday and probably one of the fastest on tour right now. But, this is not "someday." It's today, and I polished the match off with a 6-2, 6-2 win. Another note to self, retire just before he gets really good and gets his redemption. Como se dice... good timing?
Well, if you have been paying attention, it's now Tuesday. That means it's the quarterfinals, and I play the No. 1 seed. He may be young, talented and seeded No. 1, but I have been here before. Even though I change a lot of diapers while he is training, that does not mean I cannot win this match. This gray in my Movember facial hair counts for something after all. Como se dice... diaper changing helps the forehand?