my best friend is visiting NYC from Boston this weekend. originally we wanted to go to the USO on Saturday but when we saw the weather forecast, we decided to change our plans and go on Friday instead. got to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at 9:30 AM. waited on line and forked over $48 each for grounds passes
. well we did not want to fork over extra money for the Fed steamroll over Henman
as soon as we entered the grounds, we made a beeline for Court 7 to see Zi Yan / Jie Zheng (2) against Benesova / Strycova. The Chinese both wore the white Nike clone outfit. The Czechs started off well, breaking and leading 2-0. But then the Chinese started finding their rhythm and playing better. Sun Jin Fang and Coach Jiang were in the stands. They were joined by Caucasian guy, who turned out to be the coach of Na Li. We left pretty early in the 1s but glad that they pulled out the 3s tiebreak
We left the court at the same time as Na Li's coach. I talked to him. He told me he coaches Na and also the Chinese junior team and he is from Australia.
then we went to Court 10 where Fernando Gonzalez (10) was putting on a clinic against Hajek. This court was packed for the match. There was a sizable contingent from Chile, wearing Chile soccer jerseys and a group of fans with white shirts w/ green lettering saying Fena Gonzalez. This group of fans led a cheer during the changeover which was something like "give me a G, give me a O, give me a Z, give me a O". Fernando's forehand is amazing to see in person. He would float in a couple of slice backhands but then BOOM, the forehand that Hajek seldomly ran down.
we then saw the end of match between Vaidisova (9) and Jankovic (19) on Court 11. There was a huge crowd at this match. My friend (who had never seen Nicole before) decided that she was better looking than Jelena upon first look. But Jelena was leading 5-0 at this point already and we knew that the match would go to her. She was very happy after the win, as she should be.
we then walked around the grounds and luckily, we saw Na Li, Peng Shuai, Maria Sanchez Lorenzo and Lourdes Dominguez Lino practicing on a practice court
. I guess practice courts are scarce at the USO so the 4 shared a court. Na and Shuai were hitting down the line at each other, then worked on their volleys (as they were playing doubles later). Na Li's coach (Australian guy) was standing on her side of the court, feeding and picking up balls. Shuai's coach (Karol Fromel) was on Shuai's side, observing. Basically both coaches did not speak the whole entire hour and Na and Shuai spoke to each other in Chinese
. So I don't know what these coaches are paid for
. At the end, Lourdes / Maria left early so Shuai / Na played out some points. When Na and her coach left the court, I jumped at the chance to talk to her. She told me she is not severely injured
. I told her that it would rain tomorrow and her match may not be until Sunday. I then asked her whether she was familiar w/ Mary's
game and she said she had seen Mary many times in TV and that she will be ready for Mary's hard hitting
. My friend then took a picture of Na and I
. Pretty soon, Shuai left the court and we talked to her too. She told me that she splits her training between USA and China. My friend (who lived in Delray Beach for awhile) then talked w/ her about training at the International Tennis Acadamy in Delray. It seems that they lived in the same building there. She told me she has 2 coaches - Karol Fromel and Coach Ma. In 2006, she is traveling w/ Fromel.
PART II COMING