Gugu Olmos: From Alternate to Tournament Champion
Recently, we were able to catch up with inPhorm athlete and recent Italian Open Champion, Gugu Olmos! Gugu spoke to us about all things tennis after her recent domination on the doubles court, and we were even able to get a look inside what she does in her free time (not that there’s much of it)! Keep an eye out for Gugu at the French Open next week – we can’t wait to cheer her on!
Q: From starting as alternates to tournament champions – how did you work to step up your game in each match to ultimately end up with that trophy in your hands?
In every match besides one we lost the first set, so every time we were able to make adjustments between the first and second sets. We were playing well, we just needed to work on executing and sticking with the game plan. Also, at times, we needed to remind ourselves that we were good enough to be competing with those top teams and good enough to come away with the title.
We didn’t feel like alternates going into the tournament, so when we were playing we focused on competing and having fun, which helped us turn it around in each match and ultimately win in the finals.
Q: If you had to describe the moment you won the tournament in three words, what would they be?
“Couldn’t believe it!”
To be on the same statistics page as the other champions from the Italian Open – including Nadal – is a surreal experience and I kind of still don’t believe it!
Q: This is now your sixth tournament with Fichman as your partner. How have the two of you worked to improve your strategy throughout your time as doubles partners?
We’ve already played three tournaments together at the beginning of this year and we did really well at the Australian Open, so I wasn’t really nervous when we met up again in Germany since we had good momentum. Our games work really well together and complement each other, so even though we haven’t played a ton of matches it feels like we have. The more we continue to play together, the better we get and the more confidence we have as a team.
One of the biggest factors is we really do trust and have confidence in each other. I noticed that in the Australian Open, I would call all the plays when I was serving and she didn’t doubt me for a second. In Rome, I trusted her to call the plays based on what she was seeing – so it works both ways. She’s really positive, which helps my game, and even if I make an unforced error, she won’t be upset and encourages me to go for the shot next time since she knows I’ll make it more often than not.
Q: After making it to the Quarterfinals in your Australian Open debut, the Semifinals at the Miami Open, and now coming off a win at the Italian Open, what is your strategy headed into the French Open and Wimbledon this summer?
My strategy is to have no strategy! We’re playing really well, and I don’t want to overthink it. There are a lot of people that are excited for us, and I’m excited as well, but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself.
The Slams are a great opportunity and I definitely want to do well, which I think we can do especially coming from a win, but for me, the most important thing is to have fun on the court and take it one match at a time. Especially at a Slam, every match is very difficult and it’s going to be tough no matter who you play since all of the best players are competing. As long as I take it one match at a time and let myself enjoy the atmosphere and competing, I believe I’ll play well.
Q: I did learn that Acapulco was your favorite tournament – has the Italian Open taken its spot or is it still behind your home country’s tournament?
They’re both so different! The atmosphere in Acapulco is unreal. Playing at home in Mexico, we always have so many fans and everyone is cheering me on, which is amazing. We were on the beach and, overall, I was so happy to be there. It was impossible to play bad tennis after feeling so good!
The Italian Open is also one of my favorite tournaments because of the city – and the food. The pizza, the gelato, everything is too good to be true. Plus, after playing at USC during college and being a Trojan, I feel like I have a bit of a historical connection to the city when I’m there.
Q: So far, what has been the greatest takeaway of your tennis career?
To really enjoy the life I live. It was always a dream of mine to be on tour, and I sometimes have to remind myself that the average person doesn’t get to do this as their job. It makes me appreciate that I can travel and do what I love for a living.
Also, I’ve learned that hard work always pays off in one way or another – sometimes we don’t get rewarded as soon as we like or as often as we like, but when we do get those wins it makes it that much more special.
Q: It’s easy to get caught up in having the next tournament around the corner, leaving you little time to reflect on all you’ve accomplished. That being said, how will you celebrate this win and use it as a building block for your career?
The celebration was tough since I only had about an hour to celebrate after I left the courts, so I went to my favorite gelato place and got a cannoli, some gelato, and a cup filled with Nutella! I was leaving for the airport a few hours later to fly home, so I still haven’t really found time for a big celebration.
For now, the most important thing for me is to enjoy being home, relax, and keep myself happy going into a Grand Slam. I want to be as fresh as possible and I’ll be ready to go into the French!
Q: I’ve been reading that tennis has helped shape your relationships with your family – especially with your two twin sisters. In this past year, has tennis been an outlet that the three of you can connect on when you haven’t always been able to physically get together?
Tennis has definitely brought us closer as we’ve gotten older. My sisters have also gotten better themselves, so we find time to go to the court when I’m home and practice together. They’ve also started traveling with me, so it’s nice to have someone – family or otherwise – on the road with me for support. We really do get along well and, while tennis has strengthened that bond, I think we are pretty close-knit regardless.
Q: Also, throughout the pandemic how has your perspective on professional tennis and the tour changed? Are there certain aspects that you’re looking forward to now that you weren’t necessarily before?
I’ve learned how lucky we really are to play tennis. Up until June, I didn’t have any access to a court – the closest I could get to playing tennis for months was hitting in a parking lot. In the summer, the first tournament I played in was one in Santa Monica, where I was able to practice my game and compete again.
At times, it almost felt wrong that I was able to do what I loved while the world was in chaos. Wherever you looked, something was going wrong – but I was still able to play my sport and make money. When I went back on tour, I know it was hard for players to live in the bubble, but what kept me going was knowing how lucky we were to travel and play again. For me, I want to be as kind and respectful to the citizens of the countries we play in and be grateful for the opportunities we have.
Q: Between figuring out travel logistics, planning a wedding, finding time to practice, spending time in quarantine and more, what have been the best techniques for managing your stress this past year?
I started running a lot. Last year, I had signed up for a half marathon in March and, while that didn’t happen, I kept up my training throughout quarantine and only left my house to go on my runs. It was an hour I had to myself to think about life, tennis, or anything else that was going on at that time to really keep me sane. Running also helped me stay in shape – when I did start playing again my conditioning was already pretty strong from that training.
I still try to run a few days a week to stay mentally fresh, which is really important to me. In some tournaments, we get an hour or two outside per day, so when we do have those opportunities I use them to get those runs in.
Q: You’ve been with inPhorm for a while now. How have you seen yourself grow as a person from when you first joined the inPhorm team until now?
I feel like when I started with inPhorm I was a baby, not even a year out of college! As a whole, I love that we can work so closely with the company to give them feedback on the pieces we love and any adjustments we’d like to see. It really is like a family – they’ll always ask us which styles we like and tailor our looks to those preferences to ensure we’re comfortable in what we wear. Because when you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing, you play better!
I am definitely more experienced now as a player, but throughout my career, I’ve loved seeing the company grow. Those of us who are inPhorm athletes always talk about the new pieces and get super excited whenever we get something new – I’m very happy that I’ve been able to stay with inPhorm this entire time!
Q: Besides winning a Grand Slam, what are some of your long term goals that your fans might not know about?
I would love to play at the Olympics! Overall, I think playing tennis for as long as I can and for as long as I still enjoy it is the goal. And, as long as I can still wear new inPhorm outfits I’ll be here!