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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2017 IW 3/6 recap

Well, I exited the venue early, so have some time to write recaps before heading to the hotel spa before closing time(actually will have to write after it too). But not going to write in the morning, now that precious time is exclusively devoted to birding. Will always take precedence lol. You don't bird these parts around every day, so can't waste the opportunity.

Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center was a dud yesterday. Because there's no water any more, all drained. So the poor Red-winged Blackbirds(all female) were hanging out at the Center lawn along with House Finches. It's now only good for rehabilitated raptors; Western-screech Owl, Barn Owl(which was calling incessantly, wonder why), Great Horned Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper's Hawk(didn't see it anywhere though, only a plaque), Peregrin Falcon, Prarie Falcon, American Kestrel, you name it. A perfect place to study those birds.

Today finally birded Thousand Palms, meh. Was hoping for a vagrant at McCallum, but no dice. Other birders didn't find it either, so wonder if it's worth a second/third visit. Maybe should visit at dawn(today arrived there late, about 7am).

Now onto various gossips? and brief recaps.

Like birding, there's a hotspot to spot those players lol. Lawn area of course, and the space just in front of the gift shop is good, too. Yesterday 'encountered' 'San Diego resident' there, and today Gibbs was seen signing an autograph for a ballgirl.

Southwest Church parking lot is a good place to spot a brilliant male Vermilian Flycatcher(found it last year, to my absolute delight). So yesterday took a camera, but only spotted the ubiquitous Yellow-rumped Warbler lol. That aside, the usual Grackles, Mourning Dove, and a not-so-usual Great Egret! It flew from the east and landed right in front of the building.

At the center lawn upon entering the venue, Great-tailed Grackles, Brown Cowbird and Brewer's Blackbird greeted me. Keep those eyes peeled open for a Greater Roadrunner! Maybe it's now wary of so many peoples, but it invaded PC9 and exited into the parking lot during EB last year.

Was that really Savchuk? Why can't I remember her face lol(I'm now consulting my notes, as usual). This is from 10am yesterday.

Konta / Wawrinka at PC 1 and 2! Those practice courts are usually reserved for the very best! Konta 'has finally arrived'. Another success from USA ITFs(what was it, RSF?). Has come far.

Couldn't recognize Halep at first, probably because she was wearing a visor lol, not accustomed to that look.

Olaru's volley wasn't too good(I remember her many~ ball bouncing before serving! Was that 2010, my first IW).

Schiavone jogged right behind me.

'San Diego resident' walked by in front of the gift shop.

Stadium 1 restroom. Crap, the location. Men's was WAY far from the PCs, definitely a 'degrade'. Sam also complained about it, naturally.
An improvement though was a metal shelf at the stall, good to put anything(bags, water bottle, etc.).

There was no '2' sign at the stadium, unlike stadium 1.

Loeb was a Beat girl, wearing it upon entering.

Recognized Safarova's form from afar(binos are so useful, it's like birding lol).

Loeb is small. Smaller than Erakovic. Fila girl. Same mannerism before serve. 'Terminator look' as usual(sunglass).

11:04 a Raven flew by.

'Reformed? brat' a PC2. In fact saw her not infrequently.

Loeb was aggressive. Nice form as well. So the basic rally shots were good enough. Hence way more competitive than Scandalis. Guess it's the difference between 3-time slam winner(Loeb only attended UNC for 2 years) and one-time slam semifinalist(IMO Scandalis regressed during USC. A player who had a 25-shot rally against McHale at her debut WTA Carlsbad, 2 years later was absolutely humiliated against Erakovic. That was frankly a waste of WC).
Made winners from both wings. Then left after watching the first 3 games(didn't come back, just checked the scores from my Amazon FireHD8).

Was that KK's parents??? Think so.

Tormo's bh was strong. Didn't lob, just returned strongly against the opponent's attacks. Min's net plays were suspect.

VU vs Peng, an absolute delight. VU's form wasn't bad at all.

Marija Cicak, (hair) gray as ever! Should I dub her 'Gray Eminence(eminence grise)' lol, is it that too sinister. Was with the supervisor, what was his name, the asian guy.

Peng; 2-handers have to be aggressive, most of them I remember are, for example among college players; Alison Ramos, Cat Harrison, Alaina Miller..

VU's condition seemed good, excellent drop shot & lob combo as usual. And hits SO flat! Love it. Maybe her height helps in that regard(more room to hit).  Interestingly she moved into the court receiving serve, probably to pressure Peng, but Peng served well. And some of her bh angled passing shots were insane.

Shot of the day came later by VU; Peng made a perfect volley return, and VU ran all the way from the backcourt and deftly touched the ball; what balance.

An umpire(not officiating then) was 'scolded' by a fan to be quiet haha.

VU's deep drives painting the baseline + drop shot combo. Nice rhythm.
Her serve return was a bit suspect though. Or that Peng just served well. And in turn, VU's serve was a bit unstable; probably didn't win the serve and serve return battle against Peng, and that might've been decisive. DFed some. But what a fabulous match, both just hit so well.

Vikhlyantseva vs Cako, watched from the 3rd set, after checking the score. Natalia was not good. Not just about the play, but the negative attitude. Her movement was exploited by Cako as well, C was at times even dictating play. Shocking upset probably, but V only has herself to blame. Attacks weren't good enough(although of course she was the bigger hitter), and after rallies made errors.

Pliskova racquet toss as usual haha, during practice match!

Hradecka's bullet drives; enormous pace. Again, can not understand how Xepoleas was stuck at #6 for USC. Absolute mystery and travesty to me.

Ryngler spotted! Was watching Hradecka vs Sramkova methinks. Sramkova and Tomova both drop shotted(everybody can drop shot nicely though, sometimes I think only Hardebeck can't do it lol). Tomova reached MDM's drop shot and punished it.

Svitolina's perfect half volley. And that 'revealing' dress haha(hence, fashionista of the day. Today Vekic wore the same attire).

Martincova's serve seemed good(I as usual will concentrate on unfamiliar players, and 'young-guns'). Broady's one hand bh serve return winner.

Minella is now wearing sunglass(did she wear it last year).

Some of them threw their racquets but just seems awkward; Pliskovas' are so..natural lol.

I don't think Schmiedlova was that bad(she's one of my favorite players so watched as much as possible, especially later on). Lepchenko was too good, too powerful(and she proved it again today by routing Hradecka, although I didn't see that one today).

Was it today or yesterday, wished good luck to Stefan during practice! Hope he plays at outer courts, I'm going to root for him hard lol, I need to pay back a 'debt'. It's too bad stadium 1 matches tomorrow are all good ones; Gibbs, Bellis vs Flipper, Collins, Pliskova..I think now one can't go in to stadium 1 at all with ground pass? I don't go there during the day anyway, so(the view from the top is just too...small lol)..glad I could watch Collins play a practice match against Watson today, at least.

Rinaldi spotted, Crawford vs Sasnovich match. I also like S's play so watched the 3rd set, her condition didn't seem too good though.

Never seen Liu push before; now blatantly did it all match long, Kontaveit too powerful. Refreshing convincing performance after watching Witthoeft, Barthel and Vikhlyansteva's poor plays.

Watched the later 2nd set but Witthoeft was really bad. 'Pushed back' against Thunder's 'pushing', couldn't quite punish those defensive shots. I mean Thunder was overpowered by Kratzer(same age? as Bellis) at IW PQ, so that was a shocking upset. W was quite impressive last year so was disappointed.

That's it, onto today's recaps..(only 9:46pm now).

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