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Friday, March 3, 2017

2017 IW PQ Semifinals / Birding

I failed to arrive at Mission Creek Preserve this morning because I misjudged the distance -_- Didn't know I had to drive the bumpy dirt road for 2 miles(actually felt it like more than 2 miles when I finally went there later)! So only birded a bit into the junction with Hwy 62 and the only bird I could find was a Loggerhead Shrike. I mean it's a good find but I recently saw it again at Santa Fe Dam Recreational area anyway, so..

Then headed to Big Morongo and this time birded the West Canyon Trail. Aside from seeing 2 Mule Deers up close and personal, and a covey of White Crowned Sparrows, virtually none. Did spot more birds this time at other parts of the Preserve; California Quail at Yucca Ridge Trail, Western Bluebirds and Dark-eyed Junko at the trailhead, White-winged Dove at the feeder station, but no Black-throated Sparrow. Was hoping that a couple of birds I took pic at the top of YR Trail would be those, but it turned out to be House Finches. A Red-tailed Hawk flew by there.

Just arrived in time for the matches, but quit after Liu won the 1st because I was frankly disappointed with the level, it was also just damn too hot, and I really thought I could use the time for more birding. So headed to Mission Creek Preserve again, and did bird there this time. It was surprisingly pleasant, even breezy at times, considering the time(early afternoon). Not much bird activity; Phainopeplas, WCSPs, Rock Wren, Red-tailed Hawk, Ravens, Lincoln Sparrow which was a pleasant surprise, hummers..I really do need to spot that Black-throated Sparrow, otherwise why did I even come here in the first place lol. Will again bird there tomorrow, just to find that bird..

Was that Broady? Watched matches inside the tunnel(right next to PC1)

And glimpsed a player just beyond PC1(PC5 or 6); her face suspiciously looked like Gibbs but the upper body seemed too powerful for her; realized it could be Sakkari.

Was hoping for an early match finish because it was already too damn hot then. Just wanted to get the hell out from that hellhole lol, and glad I did, considering that the Mission Creek Preserve was so pleasant.

I really don't understand why the works are still in progress at this stage; I mean, shouldn't it be all finished BEFORE PQ? Workers were still testing the baseline bleacher seats DURING the match! What if there's an accident?  Do they start so late in the first place, or what.

The need to 'educate' the fans; some came in to sit on the bleacher seat(baseline) MID-MATCH. Maybe they should supply brochures for all incoming fans for BASIC etiquettes. So many try to go inside the stadium mid-match..

Passivity is not rewarded in pros, nor should it, either(it'll be instantly punished). Unlike college.

Liu def. Kratzer

K was clearly the bigger hitter. Even serve was powerful enough(as in her match yesterday against MLDB). But self-destructed after leading 3-0.

Why persist in trying variety when you're clearly the bigger hitter. When it's not even that good. Got away with it against Mossmer, but against Liu, absolutely backfired. Sank, or got passed.

From then on, also committed gazillion of drive errors, even sinking drives when she had a clear look for a winner. Whined as usual. Liu definitely was the more composed one, and punished K's variety with hers. And began to target K's relatively weaker bh side to good effect.

So basically it was mostly K's errors how Liu won points(I said mostly; L did make some winners or forced FEs with her aggression). She was also the better mover, the more mentally composed, and probably had a more balanced arsenal(bh was quite sharp, on par with her fh). So left after the 1st set.

Is K ready for pro? Weapon-wise? Probably. As I said, one of the biggest hitters of the tournament, after Hradecka. Mentally? Nope.

[Lauren Davis was mentally ready; for example she was ready from the get-go against Gibbs at the National final, and bageled Hardebeck in the 2nd after losing a tight 1st set at ITF(RSF?). That's why I nicknamed her the 'Little Giant' ]

Isn't Ashley older than Claire(at least class-wise).
Variety? Not good.
So, will college help? Who knows(Dunno if she already turned pro. If she did, it's already 3 from the class of 2017, even without the 'usual suspects'. Clearly they don't think college will help their game).

Sanchez def. Sanford

Like the above match, Maria couldn't quite finish the first set, lost 2 games after leading 5-0.  One thing I noticed she attacked Allie(so Alexandra is shortened as Allie, not Alex? Like Kiick? Weird lol)'s serve with good effect, even making some outright winners with her fh. Methinks it wasn't Allie's best day today, condition didn't seem too good. A bit rushed, sinking a lot.

Not that the overall match level was that high;  Maria certainly was more composed, but not sure she was that good either. She's probably becoming a doubles specialist at this stage, not powerful enough or aggressive enough(struggles against strong drives, returning weak).
As I said left then(Maria just aced at 5-2, when Liu won the 1st).

So I REALLY need to spot that Black-throated Sparrow lol. Dawn birding at Mission Creek Preserve tomorrow! Maybe I should forego watching the final altogether, but it starts late anyway at noon, so maybe I'll come by and have a peek(by then I'll have birded for about 4 hours anyway, including Big Morongo Marsh Trail birding after Mission Creek).

Who's getting Q WCs? MDWCs were announced already(nice to see Dani Collins on the list; college greats should be rewarded. As I said she's 3-time slam winner, one more than Gibbs. They both spent 3 years in college because I don't count Dani wasting her freshman year at Florida lol. Maybe UVA is good for aggressive hitters? Julia Elbaba also blossomed there, reaching WAATC final in her first slam then later winning NIIC).

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