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TheBoiledEgg
Mar 8th, 2005, 01:04 PM
Monday http://www.thedesertsun.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050308/EVENTS10/503080331/1002/sports (http://www.thedesertsun.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050308/EVENTS10/503080331/1002/sports)


Local favorite Blalock drops opener
Palm Desert junior more relaxed in match

Leighton Ginn (http://www.thedesertsun.com/apps/pbcs.dll/personalia?ID=1166)
The Desert Sun
March 8, 2005

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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.

TheBoiledEgg
Mar 9th, 2005, 06:36 PM
http://www.thedesertsun.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050309/EVENTS10/503090324/1002/sports

Less talk, more tennis
Karatantcheva hoping her game speaks for itself this year

Leighton Ginn (http://www.thedesertsun.com/apps/pbcs.dll/personalia?ID=1166)
The Desert Sun
March 9, 2005 </FONT>
INDIAN WELLS - Sesil Karatantcheva said her return to the Pacific Life Open will be more about her tennis and less about her mouth. However, it doesn't seem like she has lost any of her precociousness.



Walking into an interview room, the 15-year-old was sporting a tank top that said, "Miss Purrfect."

"You like it? It's a gift from my mommy. I'm Miss Purrfect," Karatantcheva said to Dinara Safina. "I like this T-shirt. It has a kitty on it."

Karatantcheva made more than just a fashion statement last year. As a 14-year-old wildcard, she reached the third round, and showed a lot of bravado before she played Maria Sharapova, saying she was going to "kick her (behind) off."

"It's not anything any kid didn't say or do at some point in their life. It was my lesson," Karatantcheva said. "The attention was cool, but I prefer getting all this attention with my game (rather) than with my mouth."

Karatantcheva created a buzz around the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. During a press conference, Andy Roddick said he wanted to watch the "popcorn match."

Karatantcheva backed up her talk by playing the eventual Wimbledon champion tough before falling in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

"I definitely got a lot of attention from here. I don't know if it was good or bad," Karatantcheva said. "I'm not sorry for what I did or what I said. I was young. I learned a couple of things and I think it was a good experience in any kind of way."

It won't be easy for Karatantcheva this year. She opens the tournament Thursday against Germany's Marlene Weingartner. If Karatantcheva can get past Weingartner, she will have to face world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport.

"I take it as a (challenge)," Karatantcheva said. "Obviously, it's a very tough draw, playing one of the best players in the world right now. I'm just looking forward to my match right now and I'm going to be ready for the first round and then we'll see where it goes from there."

And don't expect Karatantcheva to say she's going to kick anyone's behind off this time.

"Basically, we're concentrating on playing tennis. That's all. Playing good tennis," Karatantcheva said.

Karatantcheva has been on a rapid rise through the rankings, getting to No. 89 last month - a long way from her ranking of 282 last year entering Indian Wells.

"My ranking flew off very fast. It was kind of challenging after I reached the third round at 14," Karatantcheva said. "Indian Wells is going to be the first point I began from. I'm always going to remember that. It was one of the most exciting tournaments I ever played. It's going to be like the sweetest thing of all. "I'm always going to remember this from here on, no matter what happens, if I go up or go down. This is the tournament I started off."