Short Report From Qualies
Attended the qualies today and yesterday in San Diego. Actually, they played some main draw first round singles and doubles matches today. Saw MANY players in matches, practicing, watching matches, on the grounds, etc. - way too many to mention. Seems like I saw EVERY player in the qualies and main draws except for the few that were still playing in Los Angeles. Took lots of pics which I hope to put up later this week.
Want to comment on two matches, both involving Lilia Osterloh. The first was the finals of the doubles qualies, which took place Saturday night in the stadium under the lights. Osterloh was paired with Riza Zalameda - a top junior in Southern, CA. They played together in L.A. too. Spoke briefly with Riza's parents, who are very nice people. Lilia and Riza played against the Barna sisters - Anca and Adriana. It was a good matchup because you had an experienced player and younger player on each team. The psychology of the whole thing was interesting, but I won't get into that. In spite of some rookie errors from Riza, she and Lilia won the first set and were serving for the match (5-4) in the second. Riza was serving and got the score to 40-15, i.e. double match point. But they failed to convert! They may have had a few more match points in that game (I lost track). Eventually the second set went to a tie-breaker. Lilia and Riza got up something like 6-2, but again couldn't convert! The Barna sisters won the tie-breaker, which sort of broke the spirit of Lilia and Riza as a team. The Barnas went on to take the 3rd set easily. Spoke briefly to Adriana today and asked her how many match points they saved. She said 9! Lilia and Anca both impressed me with very solid play in pressure situations. Adriana made some brilliant volleys at crucial times. Riza is an amateur who will be attending UCLA this fall, so she was not elligible to accept prize $$$. Riza has a wicked forehand and probably the best overhead I've seen for a woman her size (she's short).
Lilia made up for that loss with a brilliant win over Linetskaya in the singles qualies today. It was great match - very, very hard fought from both players on a very hot day. They were both hustling their butts off, making great gets. The points were long, almost brutal in the exertion required. It was amazing that both of these women could and would run that hard for that long. I've seen Eugenia play 3 matches in the last week and let me tell you - she comes to play. She puts 100% into every point. She's going to beat anyone who doesn't do the same. You can't help but like this girl. The bleachers filled up half way through the first set and stayed that way till the end of the match. People were cheering very loudly for both players. We couldn't help but appreciate the level of effort and play we were seeing. You could see that Lilia was very pumped up by the win, and Eugenia was very disappointed to lose. Eugenia collected her stuff quickly and got off that court but not before getting a standing ovation from the crowd.