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Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 Freeman Day 1

Well, here I am again.

Thought I arrived late but the matches actually started around 2pm(hence no singles 2nd rd matches today). Duke twitter prompt as usual(said 1pm start though, the court wasn't fully dried by then I guess).

Had time to spare so briefly birded(that's mere 15 minutes) Sunset Park first, to spot ducks. Lots of them, especially Redheads and Ring-necked Ducks. Not sure I saw a Greater Scaup. Lesser Scaup for sure. Also 2 Snow Geese, 1 Canada Goose, 1 Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorants(another birder reported Neotropic at ebird, should I visit there again), Ring-billed Gulls, Domestic Geese, Grackles and Blackbirds.. oh on the way, spotted Cici's Pizza Buffet or something, on Eastern Ave. south(surely not related to the tennis player).

Carter, Kuhlman, Woolcock, Lahey and Daavettila(K and D are here though, D for sure) aren't playing(C only doubles).

Usually coach Thornqvist comes but this time coach Balogh came. Both coaches for Duke and UNC were present. Methinks only coach Young came for OSU.

Wolak seemed as tall as Lord? I thought Lord was tall.

As usual lamented the short 6 game doubles format, hence definitely had to pick and choose. And overall, many interesting matches were played far away, so didn't bother to go there and peek this time, was too tired to bother(very difficult to watch, those courts 9-12).

The year has just started; so it may not mean much(vide Stanford, getting humiliated all season long only to triumph in May lol, it's becoming a pattern!), but still, the most prestigious individual tournament bar slams(better than Oracle?) in Div. I women tennis.

First watched UNC vs OSU crt 1 match a bit like 3 games, then went to watch OSU vs UF and UNC vs UCLA.

(Naturally will focus on the 'guests', OSU, UNC, Duke..UF is visiting So. Cal next month)


UNC vs OSU match actually was one of the last matches to finish(took like 50 minutes? First match to finish was STAN vs UNLV methinks, maybe less than 40 minutes). Probably the most HQ one, too bad couldn't watch much. Points were long, because those young Cowgirls defended very well at net. Nice touch, and Blanco even moved really well for her size.

Did UNLV defeat UCLA? Thought the Bruins were at first leading at court 2. Those Rebels also defended real well, hence the Bruins had to repeatedly attack finally to win those long points. Quite an impressive performance by those 2, Yang and freshman Huang today. Zhu, Artiga and Bogoslavets aren't playing singles(the Rebels also visit Pepperdine for the NTI Regional later this month). Should be good again this year.

Cowgirls actually was leading 3-0 when I arrived, was surprised, since Adamovic and Lushkova aren't the usual pair. But didn't play very well from then on(watched till the end), making errors, for example L dumping tons. A's good touch and L's power should mesh well in theory, though. Anyhow OSU was one of the best doubles teams last season, and since newcomers Bolsova/Blanco are also very good, expect them to excel this year again.
Neel's serve was at times unstable, and didn't quite dominate the net as her wont, but was good enough I guess. Danilina also has excellent variety, so this team could be formidable. With the addition of Neel, needless to say, UF is the frontrunner, again, to win the titles(they're playing NTI this year).

Was most interested in UNC's new combo Graham/Jones, so watched them battle fellow Freshmen Bruins(I've praised Jones/Pothoff almost upsetting Black/Neel two years ago). Overall J didn't play well, making many errors, but still they were competitive. J once returned Ena's huge drive with a deft volley, resulting in a winner. G seemed to serve and poach well. With the addition of Jones UNC is probably the deepest team now; they have too many good players.

Would've liked to watch another marquee match UF vs Duke, but it was played far away, so no dice. Duke won methinks, no upset imo.

Just arrived to watch Ahmed make a fantastic drop volley winner at mp to beat the Duke team(Chi/Smith) at crt7(crt 7 is right behind crt 1, most watchable).

Needless to say UF vs UCLA will be one of the marquee matches tomorrow. Neel and Shibahara meets earlier? than expected lol.  Naturally will concentrate on this match.

I see that Stanford won both matches; maybe they thought they couldn't afford losing those doubles points any more haha(like last year's NCAA). Well Stanford traditionally is also very strong in doubles as well..


My target match was Vazquez vs Lushkova, since I haven't seen V in a while. Wanted to watch Arbuthnott vs Graham as well, but that match was played at crt10 or something, too far. Same for Neel vs Adamovic(crt11?).

Smith wasn't really that bad(crt 7), but Ena was just too powerful.

Bolsova vs COP, court 12, unwatchable.

Danilina vs Milovanovic was another intriguing match, so tried to watch much(crt8). M's aggression wasn't without effect, but overall felt D was a tad better, more powerful. M also committed some errors while attacking.

Thank goodness Vazquez vs Lushkova was played at crt4(watchable). V actually won the 1st set. Sure L netted tons, but V impressed me with her composure and good defense. Returned deep enough. Also methinks she served and returned serve quite well(I've mentioned her defeating Chirico at the National, after Shaffer failed to do so). But, probably not enough weapon to bother L further. Eventually, after some rallies, L gained the upper hand with her uber-aggression. MP was a typical one, long rally resulting in L's successful attack.
Anyway a very heartening day for the Tar Heels for sure. Many will be anticipating UNC vs UF NCAA final, if they're on the opposite side of the draw.

Miller vs Huang also went to 3. Quite impressed with H actually, really good form, and attacks aggressively, including serve return. Too bad couldn't watch much. Miller vs Lushkova tomorrow will be super-fun, what with both tending to blaze at will haha.

Ahmed defeated McCarthy surprisingly easily, although couldn't watch much also what with the remote location(court 9). A's usual game, ceaselessly pressing, also approaching the net.

Liang defeated Davidson at court 5, could watch some(played next to V vs L crt 4). Dunno, maybe D's form wasn't too good, but should give credit to L.  D was probably more powerful, but she also committed more errors methinks.

At the next court 6, Gulbe upset Doyle in 3. Probably similar pattern. G is a good mover, and also her aggression wasn't without effect. Like Davidson, Doyle's attacks harassed G much, but she also committed errors. Doyle actually surprised me with her much improved serve. Vastly improved, glad to report haha. Even aced once.

Why Pepperdine is ranked #3. I've praised their top 3, Stefani/Ahmed/Lahey. Which means, last season's 2-3 Gulbe and Milovanovic is playing lower positions lol. Jean R would be playing 6. Imagine that. Uber-competitive in every position, 1 to 6.

Did Yang defeat Chi? C was the bigger hitter, Y was constantly on the defensive. Yet Y herself is a good attacker, and her variety was quite good, for example drop shots. C didn't even have to hit hard, could produce pace effortlessly and moved Y around. Give credit to Y's good defense.

Did Neel beat Adamovic, couldn't watch this match, too bad, too far.
Minnesota friendship duel tomorrow lol, Neel vs Aney, should be fun. Maybe both should approach the net incessantly, 1980's style lol.

Aney defeated Fleming methinks, couldn't really watch much though. Methinks the score was rather tight. Both as usual employed variety.

Same for Austin vs Hart, too far, court 12. OSU website says Hart defeated Austin.

RJB def. Scholl at court 7.  Shocker? S's bh slice is good, but eventually it got attacked. RJB effectively approached the net to punish weak balls. S's fh drives weren't without effect, but overall RJB was more solid I guess.
Wait a minute OSU website says Scholl won, now I'm confused lol.

Tried to watch Jones vs Lord at court 8. L maybe a bit too powerful.

Blanco vs Stefani at far court, so like Austin vs Hart, didn't bother, was too tired to go there. OSU website says Stefani won 57, 63, 64. Really OSU should be quite formidable this(again) season..

Was surprised to find Kane having a tight 2nd set against Jean R.

Should bird Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve tomorrow morning. Tundra Swan is reported! Hope to spot Crissal Thrasher again.

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