Match Report from Seoul: Amber Liu vs E.Schmidt
I went to the Seoul challenger this morning to check out the action. I could only stay a couple of hours (I had to get to work), but it was still fun. Anyways, here's my report:
I went to the stadium court first where two Korean players began play (Kim vs Jin, I think). I watched a few games, and they both played pretty well (one of them had a nice one-handed backhand that surprised me), but I decided to check out the outside courts.
There were a ton of players practicing, hanging around, chatting with each other, etc., all over the grounds. For the most part, they looked well-tanned and in really great shape (no evidence of Krajicek and Pat Cash's stupid-ass comments). I finally settled on Amber Liu's match against E.Schmidt (I didn't catch her first name, and I had never heard of her). I chose the match, because 1) I thought I remembered Amber's from southern California like me and 2) Amber looked pretty cute (I'm gay, but go figure).
Anyways, it was clear pretty early that Amber was going to dictate the outcome of the match. She's SO skinny and small, but she generates pretty good power and plays aggresively (she even grunts aggresively a la Seles). Schmidt hit the ball pretty solid, but she seemed to be waiting for Amber to make mistakes, which Amber sometimes did. It was fun watching Amber, because she was pretty emotional and high-strung. After an error, she loudly said, "Oh, my God, that was so pathetic!" in a perfect Valley Girl voice. She was kind of an Asian Alicia Silverstone. She reminded me a lot of some girls I went to high school with, and that was cool. After another error, she let out a high-pitched squeal that would've impressed even Mariah Carey. The match was pretty close, but Amber pulled it together after being behind in the second set and she closed it out 6-4,7-6. After the match, she graciously had her picture taken with several fans. She was accompanied by an African-American guy with dreadlocks who I guess was her coach/hitting partner/boyfriend or any combination of the above.
After that, I went back to the stadium court, where a player was practicing. She looked to be Indonesian. What was interesting was besides the guy who was hitting with her, there was also a little girl on the court who couldn't have been more than seven years old. The player (who hit two-handed off both sides) was hitting out hard, both to her hitting partner AND to the little girl. The amazing part was that the little girl would volley those shots back without flinching. The girl was way too small and young to handled overheads (they all went to the net), but her volleys were already WAY better than mine (not that that says a whole lot, but STILL). I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up on the Tour someday... Anyways, the three of them seemed to be having a great time together, and I got the feeling they were all a family (father, mother, daughter)... Oh, and I noticed that one of the Korean players from the first match was sitting in a seat not too far from mine. She had obviously lost, as she was in tears and being consoled by another Korean player who told her, "What are you crying for? It's okay." The first player didn't answer and just kept crying silently. It was really sad and made you feel for all the players on the tour who have to experience that kind of disappointment practically every week.
I really really wanted to stay and see at least a part of the Hsieh vs Collin match, but I didn't want to be late to work, so I had to go. I barely made it on time as it was, so it was probably wise... And I'll be back on Thursday and for the weekend, so I'll have more chances.
If you ever have a chance to go to even a Challenger tournament, I highly recommend you go. They might not be big names, but the players' games are still really impressive, and they fight so hard. It's like tennis stripped to the core, all about the game and not about the glamour and the hoopla (not that I'm against either). All I'm trying to say is, it was a lot of fun.
I'll give another report after my next visit. GO AMBER!!!