I just got back from the tournament site a couple of hours ago. The people running the tournament are extremely nice but the town, as a whole, sucks. Ashland is about 20 minutes outside of West Virginia, quite possibly the scariest state ever. I'm about 90% sure there's a KKK branch in the area...
Maret Ani d. Audra Cohen 6-2 7-5.
This match had a crowd about 150, almost all of whom were local middle school kids watching the tennis for the day. The Kolkata tournament should take some notes
Audra was attrocious in the first set, mindlessly bashing the ball with no thought and it almost never went in. She began to play more conservatively in the second set, looping her forehand and slicing her backhand. Her forehand is a thing of beauty when she flattens it out and goes in, but all too often that was the shot that sprayed most. Maret was OK and didn't do anything special. She's got to work on her attitude though. There were a couple of times in the second when she started crying (one of those times she was actually leading...). Both of them had pretty bad tempers actually.
The funniest part of the match though was the kids who were watching. They obviously had no idea what was going on, so Audra's camp would applaud when she hit a winner, there'd be a 5 second pause, and then all the kids would start applauding. One of the girls in Audra's camp then applauded once after Ani double faulted and then all the kids followed suit
Ani shot that chick a look of death.
Varvara Lepchenko d. Surina De Beer 6-0 6-3
Poor Surina tried her best, but was just out of her league here. She kept slicing her returns of serve and they either went into the net or landed short enough so that Varvara would tee off for a winner. Apart from Varvara's serve, which has about three different hitches, her game looked extremely impressive and she's got to be one of the favorites to win this event. She looks like she's returned to her old top 100 form.
Leanne Baker d. Salome Devidze 3-6 7-6 6-2
Leanne has an unbelievable volley and it was probably the most impressive shot I saw all day. The only problem is that she doesn't have a dependable route up to the net. Salome has a nice ground game and is way better than her ranking suggests, but she's a bit of a mental midget. She served for the match and got broken at love and pretty much checked out once she lost the tiebreak. Leanne was relieved to win, but not happy at all with how she played. She was talking with Svetlana Krivencheva after the match about how her tactics were "stupid."
Rossana De Los Rios d. Christina Wheeler 7-6 4-6 6-0
This was the match of the day, despite the disappointing third set. It was an almost three hour match and I can honestly say that it was a WTA level match. Rossana was belting the crap out of her forehand and showed some great counterpunching skills at times. Christina doesn't have a weapon, but that girl fought her ass off out there. She was behind in almost every single game and had control of very few rallies in the match, but she would keep grinding it out until she could draw an error from Rossana. The third set simply came down to conditioning. Wheeler isn't in bad shape, but she had covered so much ground in the first two sets that she was simply spent by the end of it. Rossana, on the other hand, looked like she could've played a 3 out of 5 set match without an issue. Her daughter was watching the match with some woman and looked bored out of her skull.
Sandra Kloesel d. Vilmarie Castellvi 6-4 (didn't see the second set)
I only saw the first set of this, but would seriously be surprised if Sandra got by Jelena Pandzic tomorrow. Sandra probably hit about two winners the whole set and I didn't see a single one come off Vilmarie's racket.
On a side note, I don't know how this tournament does player housing, but they managed to get some seriously loaded people to volunteer. Stephanie Dubois rolled out in a Jaguar today...
Interview synposis of Kim Couts and Leanne Baker to come...