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Writer of Stuff
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. I just returned from 4 days at the MPS Group Championships in Ponte Vedra Beach. I have around 13GB of photos and videos to share, so stay tuned to this channel for updates.

Right now I am catastrophically depressed over Tamira losing after MP, so I may not get to the reporting for awhile, but I'm working on uploading photos now.

Here's a teaser--a nice pic of Elena Vesnina, the week's pleasant surprise, signing autographs on Thursday after her win over Patricia Mayr.

 

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Stanning for Andi
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Aww! Vesnina is adorable! :hearts:
 

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Writer of Stuff
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Discussion Starter #6
Just to let you all know, I have posted pics of the following from PVB at my Flickr photothread:

Wozniak
Craybas
Paszek
Czink
Vesnina
Peng
Amanmuradova
Razzano
Bartoli
Mattek-Sands
Alona and Katya Bondarenko
Hantuchova
Washington
Mayr
Cibulkova
Rodionova
Mirza
Chuang
Osterloh
Petrova
Keys
Wozniacki
Lisicki
Gullickson
Chan
and the Goodwill Peanut
 

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Link please
 

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Writer of Stuff
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Discussion Starter #10
Here goes with the daily reports.

Tuesday April 7

Arrived at the tourney site from home at 9:25 after a 3 hour drive. The conditions were C-O-L-D. And windy. It was not a good day for playing tennis. Mid 50's F with a 35-40 mph wind blowing hard from the due north. The courts are all aligned in a N-S direction so the theme of the day was adjustment. Wozniak and Craybas were first on the stadium court at 10AM, and I stayed only for a few pictures, but long enough to see a few breaks of serve back and forth.

At 11, I went to court 1, one of the two alternate courts during the week. I actually preferred watching matches on these courts as the viewing was better and you felt like you were part of the action, and a participant, rather than an observer from on high.

Paszek v Czink. We were all shivering, sitting on the bleachers, but Tamira and Melinda both showed up in skirts and short sleeve tops. Mimi grabbed an ice cold drink out of the cooler first thing and later complained that they weren't cold enough--lol!

Czink opened stronger, with two breaks, though both players struggled with the wind. I don't recall just how many DFs Czink had from the south end, serving into the wind, but it was a ton. Eventually, Tamira figured out the conditions and reigned in her game some while Czink continued to overhit from both ends. I could be mistaken, but I believe Czink only held serve once all match when serving into the wind.

Tamira fought back from way down in set 1 to level at 5 all and eventually force a TB, but faded a bit to give it to Melinda. Even so, she seemed upbeat and I got the impression she would turn it around. That took awhile, as she was down 6-7, 0-3 before turning it on, but at that point, she began hitting winners more freely, using her trademark BH crosscourt on almost all the big points. When she took that set 6-4, she exclaimed "C'MOOOONNN!" and pointed to Jimenez. The players traded games early in set 3 before Tamira pulled away to win it 6-4. A long match, played in bad conditions, and very ugly to watch, though for me it was a nail-biter. I'd like to think I had a hand in pulling her through it, as everyone else there was pulling for Czink or just watching passively. Afterwards, when she walked off, I shouted "great job!" and Mimi waved and said "thank you." When I said "Now beat Patty!" she rolled her eyes and laughed.

After that it was Vesnina and Peng, who played a really see saw match. Peng opened winning the first set comprehensively, 6-1, and I thought it would be over pretty quickly. I went to get something to eat and when I returned, they were in a third set. Vesnina got up 5-1 in the third, then faltered a bit before closing it out. She was serving pretty well, given the conditions, but making a number of UEs that were just barely out. She exclaimed "Davai!" and "Vishna!" (I think) several times to pump herself up, and eventually Peng folded up and Elena prevailed.

I then watched the first set of Amanmuradova and Razzano, for Elisa, and got some nice photos there. Razzano was more consistent and moving better on the clay, but I think Akgul may have gotten a couple bad line calls against her. She got a little upset and I think her focus went off a bit.

I also watched a bit of Petrova/Govortsova, but it looked like Nadia was having her way in that one so I focused on the court 1 and 2 matches on Tuesday. Bartoli/Mattek-Sands was moved to Court 2 because of the backup on stadium, so I went to watch that one as the sun was starting to set. Marion was flawless for about 6 games, breaking to 4-0 and 5-1 leads, before Mattek slowly began finding her rhythm. She also had almost everybody but me on her side, and the court 2 stands were packed. Behind massive crowd support, she stormed back to 5-5 before Marion was able to close it out.

Interestingly, Marion is like a shadow boxer between points, constantly in motion, bouncing up and down, brandishing her raquet....I don't think she stopped moving other than when her Dad came down for some coaching.

In set 2, again Marion got a big early lead, and it looked like a simple 2 set win for her until the errors crept in and Beth started drop shotting a lot more. She drew Marion in and got some nice passes and that slowly but surely gained her confidence and crowd support, and before I knew it, they were in a tie breaker. Beth held on to force a third and pretty well ran away with it in set 3. I think she just broke Marion's spirit after set 2.

It was freezing cold, twilight, and I was starting to get a sore throat, so I called it a night at that point and by-passed the night session.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I should mention, I fully intended to get shots of Schnyder, but figured she would be playing Tamira in R2 so I didn't go see her match with Lepchenko. Little did I know what would happen in that one....
 

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Discussion Starter #12
My day 1 practice sightings included Paszek, Lisicki, Bondarenkos, Petrova, Peng, and a few others I couldn't readily identify. Incidentally, most of the practice courts were completely fenced in so it was hard getting pics there. I was able to get a few nice shots on a couple of the practice courts (see the ones of Hantuchova) but mostly, I was shooting through fences.
 

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Hey sounds fun! Thx for the reports and pics - I know that is hard work. I really wanted to go this year but couldn't do it.
 

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She exclaimed "Davai!" and "Vishna!" (I think)
I think you mean "otlichno" -- it often sounds like "lichna" or even, as you said, "vishna". "Vishna" means cherry in Russian. :p

Great report, I'm looking forward to hear more. :hearts: I'm so jealous that you got to go to both Miami and Ponte Vedra Beach!!
 

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I like this pic of Akgul - she looks very cute, and I like the way you can see the court lines in her sunglasses.

 

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Discussion Starter #18
Wednesday, April 8

A little warmer, and a little less windy, but still chilly.

Starting with Wednesday, all of the matches were on stadium court save 1 doubles match each afternoon. So the pictures were all taken from farther away than I would have liked. I tried to get as many as I could from the court entrance.

First up was the clash of Bondarenkos, which was pretty much what you'd expect. Long rallies, lots of running, defense, and a whole lot of breaks of serve. The daily draw sheet had an article stating how Katya "felt sorry for" Alona when they played, and who knows, maybe that had something to do with Alona's win. I will say, Alona has a much bigger temper than her sister...

Vesnina and Mayr looked like a repeat of Vesnina's match with Peng. She got a terrible start, or maybe PaTREEseeyuh (that's how the emcee was saying it anyway) was just playing well, but the first set was over fast. Actually, Mayr did serve pretty well there at first, holding quite easily and really pressuring Elena on serve. Vesnina eventually got it figured out, and started hitting some winners instead of UEs in set 2, when she turned it around. Vesnina moves extremely well on the clay, and was probably the most natural looking clay court player I saw all week (remember, I missed seeing Patty).

Cibulkova was out next, against Rodionova and her sunglasses. Somewhat surprisingly, Rodionova broke out to a lead in set one with an early break before Domi was able to get into the match. Cibulkova wasn't particularly sharp all week, but she had enough defense in her to outhustle and outlast Rodionova. I have a feeling, though, that if she'd been playing someone who could hit a lot of winners she would have lost this match. When I looked at the draw sheet after this one, and saw that Vesnina was next up for Domi, I made a mental note that I thought Vesnina had a good shot to take this one.

After this match, it was announced that Vesnina was signing autographs, so after snapping off some shots of the doubles between Mirza/Chuang and Czink/Osterloh, I went to get those cute shots of Elena. She was darling. I would have gotten a pic with her if I'd been thinking clearly, but instead I asked her to sign a hat for Schorsch, thanked and congratulated her and wished her good luck. She was cute as a button, giggling, and obviously very happy that so many people were making a fuss over her in the wake of her win over Mayr.

Back to the stadium for some more photos and vids of Sania. She's developing into a very nice doubles player, and maybe this is her niche. I was very happy that she and "CJ" wound up winning the doubles event.

Curiously, doubles was about 10 times as popular with this crowd as singles. I guess that's because most of the crowd were club members, but anyway, man, they loved their doubles. During the Vesnina/Mayr match, the stadium got quite empty for a bit as Caro's doubles match on court 1 was about to start. That one got canceled--someone pulled out, and I thought maybe it was Caro because of all the tennis she was playing as a tourney favorite.

I should note some about the crowd. Sadly, I don't feel it was a particularly knowledgeable crowd about women's tennis. It was almost exclusively elderly, and I think most of them just rolled out of their beds in their big houses on the Sawgrass Country Club course, walked over and decided to catch a few matches. They didn't know players' names or countries ("hey, what's 'AUT'? Is that Australia?") and unless there was an American playing, they generally didn't cheer at all. Just polite clapping from time to time. The worst part of it was that the upper 3/4s of the box seats were EMPTY about 90% of the time, so you had a few people down in the courtside box seats, a few people in the grandstand bleachers where I was, and no one in between. I thought it was a little embarrassing, and certainly not respectful of the players, who I imagine would love to heard a few more people cheering for them. Once, in the last day session match on Thursday, the volunteers let us go down and fill some of the box seats, but only that one time.

Got some nice pics and stunning video of Dani Hantuchova practicing, as well as Mashona Washington. When I started to film Dani, she was in sweats. After I looked down to change batteries, and looked back up, she was in a flashy top. I wonder if she pulled that off to mug for the camera....lol.

Big night match was crowded for the debut of Madison Keys against top seed Petrova. I will say this about "Maddy". She has a big serve for a 14 year old. She showed plenty of nerves, too, as she served a few into the ground and into the back fence during warm ups and her first serve game, but when she settled down, she uncorked several in the 110-113 mph range. She played well to 3-2 in the first set, hitting a number of nice winners down the line with both FH and BH, but that was the high point, as Petrova was just a bit much for her on this occasion. I don't know where the future will take her, but she does have talent, and the fact that she's at the Evert academy is a plus, IMHO. I saw a few minutes of one of her practices before the Petrova match, and she was working hard on footwork drills.

That was it for me on Wednesday.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I think you mean "otlichno" -- it often sounds like "lichna" or even, as you said, "vishna". "Vishna" means cherry in Russian. :p

Great report, I'm looking forward to hear more. :hearts: I'm so jealous that you got to go to both Miami and Ponte Vedra Beach!!

Oops! Thanks. I bet that was it. :)
 
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