Sunday, August 22, 2010
NEW HAVEN -- Fairfield's James Blake has seen better days. Once ranked in the top five in the world, he now finds himself 107th, with injuries and inconsistent play being the main reason.
However, Blake is hoping the Pilot Pen again can be an all-purpose fix to his career. Not just to get his confidence back up, or move him up in the world rankings, but more importantly, to make the game fun again.
"It's a fact that I miss being on the court," said Blake. "That isn't fun (not playing), but being on the court and being able to play in front of my hometown fans is always a good time. I have so much fun playing in front of these guys."
The fun for Blake begins today as he is holding a tennis clinic and Q and A from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the Grandstand at Yale as a part of Kids Day at the Pilot Pen. Tickets are $8 for those 14 and under and $16 for adults.
His mom, Betty, is even getting in on the action. She recently wrote a book titled "Mix it Up, Make it Nice: Secrets of a tennis mom." She will be signing her book at 12:30 today in front of the pro shop at the tennis center, and James will be right by her side assisting.
Blake will be facing off against Pere Riba on Monday at a time to be announced. Blake won the Pilot Pen in 2005 and 2007.
Injuries to his knee and hamstring and poor finishes at Wimbledon, where he was eliminated in straight sets to the 151st-ranked player in the world, Robin Hasse, and recently the Legg Mason, where he was bounced out in the first round, have kept Blake down in the rankings. However, he said he does not look at the rankings. They only cross his mind on one occasion.
"The only time I think about it is when I need a wild card or what I am going do for my schedule in the fall," Blake said. "Or will tournament directors give me wild cards, you know; not all tournament directors are as nice as Anne Worcester."
However, the injuries have taken a toll on the former Pilot Pen champion's outlook for the future. Blake mentioned retirement as a possibility after Wimbledon, but Saturday said he has not seriously contemplated it. In spite of that, he is aware that the end could come at any time.
"I don't look at a definite timeline," Blake said. "Since '04 when I was sick (with the shingles), I always thought that I have a finite career. ... I've always thought there would be a life after tennis, whether it's in tennis or out, or back in school. I've always thought about that. But I haven't set a time when we're going to plan a retirement party."