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Discussion Starter #1
Having lived on Amelia Island for almost a decade, I love the Bausch and Lomb tournament. I was recently asked to perform a wedding ceremony on April 8 at the Amelia Island Plantation. I said yes and then checked the calendar to find that it would be Bausch and Lomb week. I'm flying down Thursday to catch some matches on Friday and Saturday. Just had to share my good fortune.
 

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Yes, have fun pf. Any match reports would be appreciated. I hope there are lots of dramatic battles under those beautiful trees this year.
 

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preacherfan said:
Having lived on Amelia Island for almost a decade, I love the Bausch and Lomb tournament. I was recently asked to perform a wedding ceremony on April 8 at the Amelia Island Plantation. I said yes and then checked the calendar to find that it would be Bausch and Lomb week. I'm flying down Thursday to catch some matches on Friday and Saturday. Just had to share my good fortune.
Amelia Island is such a beautiful and cozy little place. Those magnificent live oaks with the spanish moss hanging (and full of chiggers) is quite an experience. When I was in the Navy back in 1985(?) I got to see Billie Jean King/Rosie Casals lose to Chris Evert/Carling Bassett in doubles there, and then got to see Hana Mandlikova come out, scuff her feet on the surface (it was drizzling mist all day, but the doubles vets played right through it), and scowl and turn around and go back to the locker room. Needless to say, that's my Hana story from Amelia Island, and I'm sticking to it!:lol:

Have a great time- it's a very special place.
 

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Fantastic, Preacherfan. Hope you have a great time. Amelia Island is a beautiful place, and it's one fantastic tennis tournament!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have to admit my enthusiasm is dampened quite a bit with this year's draw. Davenport and Pierce both withdrew, leaving Petrova, Schnyder, Schiavone, Vaidisova and Kuznetsova as the top five seeds. A few years back when I attended, 16 of the top 20 players in the world were in the draw. I'm sure I'll enjoy it though none of my favorites are there. At least, Kuznetsova is charging back to the top of the game again. Winning on hard courts and coming to Amelia Island on clay is a tough challenge though.
 

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preacherfan said:
I have to admit my enthusiasm is dampened quite a bit with this year's draw. Davenport and Pierce both withdrew, leaving Petrova, Schnyder, Schiavone, Vaidisova and Kuznetsova as the top five seeds. A few years back when I attended, 16 of the top 20 players in the world were in the draw. I'm sure I'll enjoy it though none of my favorites are there. At least, Kuznetsova is charging back to the top of the game again. Winning on hard courts and coming to Amelia Island on clay is a tough challenge though.
Keep the faith, preacherfan. I also was shocked when I saw how awful the Amelia Island draw is. Usually, MANY more big guns show up. Still, my partner and I went to the Ohio tournament last year- and I think you'll find that it can be much fun to see "the others" and then root them on. New favorites for us from viewing them play included Peer, Mirza (although I am growing to hate her because of those CONSTANT damned commercials for her sneakers- and now there are HRBATY sneaker commercials, sheesh), Moragami (who after playing great to make the Ohio final has been on and off injured ever since- too bad, she has much game), and Mattek- who of all people smacked a 120 mph serve- who knew?!?!

Enjoy, and post match impressions, please.
 

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preacherfan said:
I have to admit my enthusiasm is dampened quite a bit with this year's draw. Davenport and Pierce both withdrew, leaving Petrova, Schnyder, Schiavone, Vaidisova and Kuznetsova as the top five seeds. A few years back when I attended, 16 of the top 20 players in the world were in the draw. I'm sure I'll enjoy it though none of my favorites are there. At least, Kuznetsova is charging back to the top of the game again. Winning on hard courts and coming to Amelia Island on clay is a tough challenge though.
Even if there aren't so many big names, I'm sure a visit to the site where Chrissie double bagelled Martina is a goose-bump-inducing experience for Chrissie fans ;-). Enjoy preacherfan - and if Sveta maintains the form she showed in downing Hingis, Mauresmo and Sharapova last week, you may be in for a real treat because that girl's got serious game when she's on.
 

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Sorry boys, but the Bausch & Lomb runs on girl power

By JASON SCHNEIDER, The Times-Union


It doesn't take long to realize that there is something different about the Bausch & Lomb Championships.



Most sporting events don't feature pink sweat shirts with the slogan, "Hit like a girl" and "Girl Power." And good luck finding a jewelry store outside Alltel Stadium during Florida-Georgia weekend. Though it wouldn't be a bad thing, it's doubtful that a breast cancer awareness information booth would see much action at the Daytona 500.

But all three could be found at the Amelia Island Plantation during the annual tennis tournament. One thing that isn't common: testosterone.

The crowd at most any sporting event is dominated by men. Not at the Bausch & Lomb Championships. A quick glance around the crowd at the Stadium Court, where the featured matches are played, reveals there are nearly two girls for every guy.

"Women want to root for other women," said spectator Dee Glass. "We want to watch other women be successful, especially at something that involves sports."

Glass was part of a group that drove up from Palm Coast on Thursday. She watched tennis and walked around the plantation grounds with friends, Karen Eaton and Leslie Fischer. They all said they weren't necessarily sports fans, but came to Amelia Island because they enjoy playing and watching tennis and the atmosphere among the oak trees lends itself to a quiet "girls day out."

"It's a big weekend for a lot of women," Eaton said. "There are groups that have came down from Charleston and Tallahassee. It's nice to just be out and enjoy the tennis and surroundings."

As the afternoon matches were wrapping up, Natasha Eliz was sitting under an umbrella with her sister Rose and their mother Connie at the Courtside Cafe. A match was under way nearby and the three couldn't see it because of the grandstands, but Natasha said the tennis wasn't the main draw for them.

"My husband got us the tickets because I just had a baby and my mom has been helping me take care of the baby and it's just a nice way for all of us to spend a day together," Natasha said. "It's just another way to have girls' day. It's not as loud and crazy as a football game. You can relax and just enjoy being outside."

But it's not just women that can enjoy a peaceful day around the courts.

Greg Seabaugh and Terry Force spent Thursday doing much the same. Both characterized themselves as serious sports fans, and Seabaugh dressed the part wearing a Georgia Bulldogs T-shirt and Masters hat.

"I just wanted to come up here and relax," Seabaugh said. "It's quiet and shady. It's a lot different from sporting events and it doesn't hurt that there are a lot of women around."

Of course not everyone enjoyed the female-dominated crowd. "I'd like to see more men," Fischer said. "I want something to look at."
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I slipped into the stadium during the final match Thursday night (they stop taking tickets at a certain point). Sania Mirza and Liezel Huber were playing Bryanne Stewart and Nicole Pratt. Pratt and Stewart (Sam Stosur’s old doubles partner) had upset the #4 seeds Stubbs and Morariu 76 76 in the 1st round. The second set went to a 22-20 tiebreaker – a WTA record. The crowd was good and most were probably intrigued with Mirza. However, Pratt has been a long time favorite of mine. I saw her about 10 years ago in the qualies here. I loved her backhand slice, but I remember thinking “she’ll never make it much higher on tour.” She lived her first several years in the 100’s before making a run into the top 50 late in her 20’s. Mirza and Huber won fairly easily score-wise, but like many doubles matches a point here or there could’ve really turned this around. Huber was very solid and clearly the strongest net presence. Mirza is a baseliner and she blasted several shots for winners, though I wasn’t impressed with her doubles skills. Pratt was the crafty player that she has been for several years. I loved the way she mixed up the pace to keep Mirza from swinging away. The backhand is beautiful. Stewart was the weakest link. Huber/Mirza clearly attacked her and often drove the ball at her while she was at net. The SA/Indian duo only gave up five games, though most games went to deuce and beyond in the second set.

After the match, I saw some friends in a box next to the court. One works at an optometrist office. She immediately offered, “The doctors often don’t use all their tickets during the day. Come by the office tomorrow and I’ll have a couple for you.” (It helps to have optical friends during the Bausch and Lomb.

So the next morning I picked up two tickets and a box seat parking pass (avoids the 5 mile park and shuttle) and headed to the Plantation. By the time I arrived, Francesca Schiavone had taken the first set from Anna-Lena Groenefeld. Painful match to watch. Schiavone was patient and kept the ball deep with her spins. Groenefeld either hit a winner or an unforced error. Rarely two in a row of the same. Had she shown some consistency the match was hers. Several games were long and agonizing. Francesca did what she needed to do and waited out the barrage for a straight set win. I hadn’t seen Groenefeld play singles before. If she gains consistency, she’ll continue to rise in the rankings.

Next was the match I looked forward to the most. Patty Schnyder vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova on ESPN2. Rarely is the #2 seed the underdog in the quarters, but with Kuznetsova’s run through Miami the week before, she was a real favorite. I had seen Schnyder play several years before at Amelia Island. She had tanked a match against Kournikova and then claimed she hated Anna and couldn’t play against her. Anna had no idea what was going on. This was right before Schnyder got involved with the coach who had her drink a gallon of orange juice a day and her ranking slipped in the 30’s. Patty looked fitter than I remember. She obviously has worked her way back into the top ten. Kuznetsova is solid muscle. She can blast the ball from the baseline or come in and volley. Great all-court game. I was sitting right next to the court and kept wondering why Sveta walked liked she was injured (fast-forward to Saturday when she defaulted with a hip adductor strain). But Kuznetsova showed no sign of injure in her play or movement. The first several games were close. Schnyder showed why she is the female Santoro. She hit shots with some of the most creative angles I’ve seen. She made some brilliant plays with no effort. However, the best way to beat Patty is to overpower her and Kuznetsova did that about mid-way first set. She started hitting winner after winner from the baseline and Patty gave several looks to her entourage like “there’s nothing I can do when someone is playing like that.” After dropping serve early in set 2, Schnyder resigned herself to a quick loss and faded fast. I’m sure Cliff and Mary Joe up in the booth were dying with a headline match of Kuznetsova/Schnyder that was a bomb.

I watched the first 5 games of Virginia Ruano-Pascual and Nadia Petrova. They were on serve. I was happy for Vivi to be in a big quarterfinal at this point in her career. She eventually got steamrolled by Nadia. I had first seen her several years ago in this tournament and was sure that she’d never have much of a career. Who’d have guessed that she and Suarez would’ve won all those Slams?!

I haven’t been to many tennis venues in my life, but sitting courtside at the Bausch and Lomb under the magnificent oaks is tennis heaven. The weather was beautiful. I sat beside the scoreboard (at the far left end if you watched on ESPN2). The fuzzy things (don’t know what they’re called) were falling so heavily out of the trees that the players looked up like it was snowing a few times. One of the things that makes this tournament special is the commitment of the crowd. Attendance was wonderful. That’s amazing with a draw that saw Davenport and Pierce withdraw and no big stars among the top seeds. Bausch and Lomb is the longest continuous sponsor of a WTA event and the players seem to enjoy coming. I know I do. Maybe I’ll find my way back again.
 

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I'm glad you had fun, preacherfan. I was there Tuesday-Sunday, I had a great time. I thought most of the singles matches were dull. I was very disappointed in Sania Mirza, I thought she was very weak, though she had a wrap on her right arm. Serve, return, were all pretty weak, she doesn't hit with much power, but there's not a lot of finesse either. She doesn't really hit lines or anything, or go for it much. Maybe she was having a dull week, but top 20 seems eons away imo. I saw Vesnina's demolition of Pennetta. I thought Vesnina showed the most promise, a game a lot like Lena D (minus the serve problem), just went for the lines all the time, hit them left, right, left right, she really dogged Pennetta, never messed up at the net. I was sitting about 10 feet from her on Grandstand at the service line, she was nervous as hell when Pennetta won the toss and chose to receive. Very heavy deep breaths and a lot of swallowing, but she was fine. I guess she's real inconsistent match to match, I didn't see the loss to Virginia RP, though Virginia's singles game, particularly her serve, have improved a lot since I saw her play singles last (4-5 years).
I saw all of Dinara/Groenefeld, again about 10 feet or so from the service line. For those interested, her face has cleared up a lot, nothing like those scary photos from Antwerp and Paris. Sort of a slow Lindsay with little strategy. She curses a lot in Russian and in English. Her coach and Vesnina were sitting about 3 rows behind me and it was pretty empty. She seems like one pissed off girl. I was more for Groenefeld, but didn't overtly cheer or anything. Dinara got broken once, looked over (hopefully at the coach and not me!) and says, "Shut your fucking face up." All this, but she has a smiley face attachment at the bottom of her racquet head--what a contradiction. Groenefeld made a lot less errors in the match than in other ones, had some good shots.
I saw most of Stosur/Meghann on the same court. Stosur's entourage was behind me, a rough looking dark haired guy covered in tattoos and earrings with a very strong Australian accent, taking notes and yelling encouragements to her after.every.point. He was with a lady with an Australian flag hat who videotaped the whole thing. I don't remember a lot about the match, except Stosur, while built, seems very, very short.
I saw a funny incident. We were walking around the outside courts Tuesday, and Dulko is like going bananas in Spanish to her coach while stretching next to a court. Mirza was practicing on the court, and I got the impression she was staying on too long and Dulko was mad, but wouldn't do anything. Pennetta shows up and they start talking in Spanish real agitated and Pennetta gives Dulko like this "you moron" look and just walks onto the court and starts unpacking her bags while Mirza is practicing. Mirza leaves like 10 minutes later with a huge entourage, one of the guys looked like a bodyguard. Some Chinese guy got in her face and took a picture and she seemed very put off. She was playing on a Blackberry as she was leaving. Patty was jogging around the venue, I finally just said hello to her as she was passing and she actually said hello back and was nice. I watched Stubbs and Corina practice, Stubbs has an amazing upper body. They stopped and were sitting down chatting like a couple of school girls, but I couldn't hear much, I was just a little too far away.
Karolina/Craybas--Karolina was in control of the match in the first set, so I left after the tiebreak, don't know what happened after that. She serves consistently 115-118 MPH, but it's always to the same part of the box and despite the speed, Craybas returned most of them. Craybas was moonballing most of the match, I guess it got to Karolina, she doesn't have any real patience it seems--she wants to her her big shots and nothing else. Two strange looking guys were with her, a short ethnic guy and a dorky guy, I assume the Bikic brothers? I watched Vera Z's first match, no melt down at all, on her best behavior. After being bored to tears with Granville/Arviddson, it was nice to see Vera taking a lot of chances and going for a lot in points when she didn't need to. Very sweet and gave me an autograph after the match. Diaz Olivia flipped out on Lynn Welch over a call, calmed down, went back to serve, then stopped, walked back to Welch and started bitching all over again. Welch doesn't seem to take any guff from any players, finally just stared her down from the chair with, "we're going to play this match."
I hope you guys enjoy the report!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Monday-Wednesday are my favorite days at the B and L. You've got several courts to choose from and players are practicing on other courts. By Friday only one court is used and there is less action on the grounds. The early round doubles are great to watch. I volunteered at the tournament a couple of times and loved the close-up access to the players.

When I lived on the Island (as we called it), as a minister I was given a complimentary membership to the Plantation. I used to regularly work out at the Fitness Center. One favorite memory is running on the treadmill beside Arantxa for 30 minutes. She was obviously running much faster and had a headset on, but nevertheless in my mind, I was working out with a famous player.
 
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