Local favorite Blalock drops opener
Palm Desert junior more relaxed in match
The Desert Sun
March 8, 2005
INDIAN WELLS - With the crippling nervousness from last year absent, Palm Desert High School junior Brittany Blalock put together a better fight this year as the 16-year-old took on the pros at the Pacific Life Open.
Blalock lost 6-3, 6-0 to Anastasia Yakimova in the first round of qualifying Monday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Last year, Blalock was overcome by nerves and lost 6-0, 6-1 in the first round of qualifying.
This year, Blalock got off to a much better start.
"I was definitely not as nervous," Blalock said. "The crowd was great and I just took it to here."
Andy Scorteanu, Blalock's coach, said the difference between last year and this year was huge.
"She came out more relaxed, more confident. She worked hard and expected to play well," said Scorteanu, a teaching pro at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. "Last year, she was nervous and didn't know what to expect. She was definitely well prepared mentally and physically and was ready to compete."
However, by the second set, Yakimova began to get on a roll.
"She was definitely more solid," Blalock said. "I was a little more tired, but she stayed tough. I stayed tough, but she overcame at the end. She was a little tougher, a little smarter."
Although Blalock has played in the Pacific Life Open before, she said it was still a thrill to compete in one of the largest tennis tournaments in the world.
She went to two classes earlier Monday, and several friends wished her luck.
However, when she arrived to the tournament, she had a long wait because she played the last match on Stadium 2 and several matches before her went three sets.
"You had to deal with it, so I was in the player's lounge waiting," Blalock said. "I listened to music, talked to my coach, read whatever magazine they had there."
Blalock also got a chance to see several players milling around between practicing
"I saw a lot of people and it was really cool," Blalock said. "I saw Kim Clijsters. It was kind of funny, because I passed her and it was, 'Oh my gosh.'"
When Blalock stepped on the court, there were a few hundred friends and family in the stands, and two or three on the court.
Five years ago, Blalock was a ball kid for the tournament, and she saw some of her fellow ball kids working her match.
Although Blalock lost, she accomplished what her coach wanted her to accomplish.
"We wanted her to just go out and get some experience, and test her game out and see where she stands. We also wanted her to have some fun," Scorteanu said. "I was very happy with the way she played tonight. She did a lot of things well and she had a great first set."
Following the match that ended a little after 7 p.m., Blalock said she had some homework she needed to finish.
Before tending to her homework Monday night, Blalock was going to dinner to celebrate with her supporters. "I think my teachers will understand if I don't get all my homework done," Blalock said.