It’s been a while since I’ve written about tennis. After the US Open, it’s always been hard for me as a fan to get truly psyched as a spectator. As a player, growing up and living in colder regions of the world until we moved to Hawaii, this time of year was always a last gasp to play outdoors and a bit sad: the clay and grass courts I played on were not maintained with the frequency given them in the spring and summer. The hard courts always looked a little dusty and forlorn in late autumn.

The men’s and women’s professional tours have changed a great deal since I was young. The top-tier tournaments are played in Asia which now feels pretty close to where I’m living! They are wonderful events, organized and managed in great detail by dedicated professionals and volunteers. For the players, these tournaments as well as those on the ITF (International Tennis Federation) circuit are a great opportunity for players to gain ranking points for the new calendar year. It’s easy to forget that for many journeymen and women, it’s also how they make their living, especially on the ITF level.

But there is still the grand finale: the year-end championships for the very best (and small group of) men and women. Often, when a player’s career highlights are reviewed, if he or she has won a tour final, it is mentioned right up there with the majors. The finales offer some drama for us fans at this time of year, but for me, it feels natural that a packed tennis year is winding down.