Lisa's Spin: Closed Doors & Open Windows

A last-minute decision has had Lisa falling in love with the newest stop on the WTA calendar... read on!

Published May 16, 2011 12:00

In Lisa's Spin, her new regular blog on wtatour.com, Lisa Raymond brings us her thoughts on tennis, life and more. Here's the latest installment...

Beautiful Brussels...

Monday, May 16, 2011

"When life closes a door it opens a window," or at least that's what someone said a long time ago and then someone else decided to make it into a Hallmark card! Whatever the case, it's a saying that I can relate to very well this week.

The life of a professional tennis player can entail unexpected adventures, forks in the road that force a quick decision to be made. Exhibit A: one minute Liezel and I were playing in Rome, planning to go to Paris one week early, settle into our designated apartments and prepare for the French Open. The next minute, we find ourselves out of Rome in the first round and looking at the WTA 2011 calendar to see what tournaments were happening so we can try again to get in some matches before heading into the French. A significant change in plans but, in the blink of an eye, we were making all of the necessary arrangements to travel to Belgium to play this week in the Brussels Open. So far, it's a decision I am liking a bit more each day!!!

In all of my years on the tour I have never been to Brussels, and all I can say is that I am so thankful for our unexpected trip! I am truly blown away by this place. A city known for "frites", beer, waffles, and chocolate, without even seeing this place, I am already in love! I spend my mornings working and afternoons walking the streets taking in the beauty of it all. Like most cities, there are those tourist areas and destinations that every first-time visitor must see, but for me, seeing and experiencing the more charming neighborhoods Brussels has to offer is what I truly love doing. One area in particular that has become part of my daily routine is The Place de Grand Sablon. Picture this: Notting Hill in England meets the West Village of New York. Narrow cobblestone streets lined with art galleries, upscale cafes and high-end boutiques. On Sunday afternoons there is an antiques market in the center of the square outside of the Notre Dame de Sablon Church - amazing spot for those seeking one-of-a-kind items. And how could I possibly forget the chocolate shops! This area is home to a few of the more famous names in chocolate such as Neuheus and Pierre Marcolini, both of which I just HAD to sample on a few occasions! So far I am more of a Neuheus fan but it's only Monday! :-) Amazing that after all these years, my travels had never taken me to this amazing place. Why now? Not really sure but it just feels right, like it was meant to be.

Notting Hill meets the West Village-Sablon!

Mussels in Brussels!

Truffles in Brussels!

Now let's talk tennis. It's not often that the week before a Slam you see a lot of the top players competing. Usually they take this week off from an event, arrive early and prepare for what they hope is a long two weeks of tennis. Some may go play an exhibition to get a couple of matches in that really don't count but give them the ability to work out the kinks and have a less than stressful week before the slam. If that is the case, then why is the No.1 player in the world in the draw of the Brussels Open? A bit strange maybe, but Caro is a bit of an anomaly for a top player on our tour - she plays A LOT! Someone like the Woz likes to hit a lot of balls and gets confidence with the more matches she plays... I would assume she is taking this week to try to work on a few things while being in a match/pressure situation. My guess is that she wants to silence her critics and she must feel that the more tennis she plays before the French, the better prepared she will be to win the French. I guess in three weeks' time we will know if her trip to Brussels paid off. Hopefully for a certain doubles player it will have as well...!

Thanks for all of your continued questions. Now it's time to answer a couple of them...
@ForehandAce asks "When do you think someone is too old to turn pro?" That's a tough one for me because I have always been such a huge believer in the college system. Everyone is different. Some players mature earlier physically than others while some mature emotionally quicker than others. Today's game is a much more physical game, players are bigger, stronger and fitter. You need to have a more complete package when turning pro than you did maybe 8-10 years ago. The average age of the Top 50-100 player is early to mid 20s. The days of the teenage prodigy seem to be a thing of the distant past and I believe a player can turn pro at 19-20 years of age and have an amazing career on tour. I think by that age you are more physically and emotionally developed and that will serve the player better for a longer, more successful career.

@ Sharonlrussell asks "Which tournament is your favorite to return to every year?" To me, there is nothing, NOTHING like walking through the gates of the All England Club every June. Wimbledon is a tournament I look forward to all year. From the beautifully landscaped grounds, to the history of the event, to renting a flat in the village to then of course hitting the first ball on the manicured lawns... nothing compares.

@NJH1991 wants to know "What is the greatest doubles match you've ever played?" So many to choose from throughout the years. So many that are etched into my brain and memory forever. But one that really sticks out is from the 1998 Fed Cup tie I played in Madrid. Mary Joe Fernandez and I were playing the deciding match, playing under the lights at 1am with 4,000 screaming Spanish fans rooting against us. In between points MJ and I could barely hear the other speak it was that loud. We lost 11-9 in the third after serving for it at 9-8, 15-0! We were crushed afterwards yet it was one of the most, if not THE most, memorable doubles matches I have ever been a part of.

Check these out...
1: "Just A Kiss" - Lady Antebellum. Another hit from this threesome! They are SO good!
2: "Arms" and "The Lonely" - Christine Perri. This whole album is a keeper!
3: "Everything" - Lifehouse, the live version. One of my favorite songs by this group, I just discovered there was a live version out there.
4: "Turning Tables" - Adele. ADELE, ADELE, and more ADELE!!!!!!!

Check out Lisa's Twitter page at http://twitter.com/#!/lisaraymond73!

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