Jamie & The Lost Luggage
Published July 22, 2013 12:01
This week, wtatennis.com will revisit some of the fairytales from the spring, where players overcame big obstacles and followed their dreams to achieve them... today: Jamie & The Lost Luggage.
After a string of early exits on the European clay, Hampton arrived in the Belgian capital desperate for some time on court ahead of the year's second major, the French Open. But plans for a few days of intense practice on the dirt were dealt a hammer blow when her luggage (racquets and all) went astray somewhere between Rome and Brussels.
"I had lost a few qualifying matches in a row in Madrid and Rome, so I wasn't feeling too good about my clay court game," Hampton said. "Then I went to Brussels, and they lost my bags. I didn't have any racquets or strings or shoes or anything. I couldn't even practice for the first three days there.
"In Rome they told me there was a strike at the airport and there was a possibility of me not being able to get my stuff. So I asked them if I could take my racquets on the plane and they said no. I tried to fight them for it, but it didn't go too well!"
While the 23-year-old did eventually manage to get her hands on a couple of racquets, her run of bad luck had not quite run its course.
"I didn't have a great attitude about the whole situation," she said. "But I spoke to my coach and the guys at Wilson and we managed to get two racquets before the tournament started. Then on the eve of the tournament I developed an eye infection.
"I was ready to go home and not play at all. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself."
Against her better judgment, Hampton decided to hang around. It was a decision she would not regret, coming through a tricky draw - and a 6-1 reversal in the first set of her opening match with Yanina Wickmayer - to reach the semifinals.
Her ordeal in the low countries, or more precisely how she dealt with it, marked a turning point in Hampton's season. Since then, the American has appeared the fourth round of a major for the first time, finished runner-up in Eastbourne and reached a career-high ranking of No.25.
"I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so to have everything just go off the walls was really hard for me," she added. "I just dealt with it really well, I think.
"I cried. I got it all out. I just went out and remembered why I like to play tennis, which is to go out and have fun, you know, to play with the ball.
"It helped me to just go out and compete with a clear head, and that's what I have been struggling with I think the past couple of months, you know, trying to lift the expectations off myself, because I'm pretty hard on myself. It's definitely allowed some of my better tennis to come out."