Cajun Classic and Pensacola Open 2012

During the last two weeks of March, I played a total of 16 matches in seven days. It was a lot, but I gained a lot of experience traveling to two top tournaments in the states.

My first stop was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Even though I lost in the first round in the Women’s Open division, I got to play the number 12 in the world, and former number 1 junior, Jordanne Whiley from Great Britain. I pushed hard throughout the match, and it paid off. With a score of 2-6, 1-6, I was complimented by being described as “ridiculously fast”. For my first round of consolation, I played a fellow American junior, Kate Stuteville, and won 6-2, 6-1.The second round of consolation was against another British player, Louise Hunt, and also a top 25 player. I started off slow, and lost the first set 2-6, but made some adjustments to finish with a final score of 2-6, 4-6.

Jordanne Whiley (GBR)

I also played in the Women’s Open division for doubles with my partner KG Montjane from South Africa. She was steady and played well, but I was a little off that day and had a really slow start. We played two Koreans who never missed, and  soon lost the first set at love. I had to make some adjustments and just started hitting loopy balls over the net. We won a few games with some great rallies, but couldn’t penetrate our opponent’s tough game. Our final score was 0-6, 3-6.

As for the junior division, I had a strong start by dropping only one game in three matches against my opponents. But as the pressure kicked in, I lost momentum on the last day and lost to Chris Herman from Florida: 4-6, 0-6. I had to quickly bounce back to play doubles against him and his partner Alex Sapporito. Luckily my partner, Kate was supportive and helped me to calm down. As it was my fourth match of the day, we ended finishing at 8:30 at night. But we were victorious with a final score of 6-2, 6-1.

I had time to reflect what happened the previous week in a five hour drive to Pensacola, Florida. I took a day to recoup, but was immediately back on the courts, practicing, the night we arrived.

The second tournament I had to play a qualifying match to make it into the main draw. I played Willemien Smits from the Netherlands, and won 6-4, 6-4. I was nervous as I started the new tournament, but quickly adjusted to the new conditions as I entered the main draw against Jordanne Whiley again. I knew she was tough, but was able to make some adjustments. I played well, but she also made a few improvements. I lost 2-6, 2-6, one more game than the previous week.

Of course, as luck would have it, Jordanne was not the first player I would play twice in the two tournaments. My first round of consolation was against Willemien Smits. I was no longer nervous, and knew exactly how to play my opponent. My final score was 6-0, 6-2. For the doubles, I was partnered with an American, Kaitlyn Verfuerth, against the same Korean pair

I played the week before. I was prepared to do better the second time, and played an extremely steady game. We were really close in the first set and won the tie breaker 7-2. But as night fell, and my partner and I got tired, the Koreans hardly altered and we lost a two and a half hour match 7-6 (2), 3-6, 2-6.

Willemein Smits (NED)

My second round of consolation was against Henriett Koosz from Hungary, number 26 in the world. I was playing OK that day, but she also hit a lot of winners off of me. I learned a lot from playing her, and was reminded of my previous week’s match against Chris, the number 1 junior.

When I played my junior matches the second match, my focus was to not crumble the way I did in Louisiana. When I played him the last day, again, I had a really close first set and lost in tie-breaker, 5-7. I knew I was not far off, and started playing my game; I hit away at the ball, not thinking about the previous set score. My hard work paid off, and I quickly took the second set 6-3. The third set tie-breaker was going to decide the winner of the match. I was a little frazzled and lost my concentration for a bit and was immediately down 3-6in the twelve-point tie-breaker. However, I played like how I did the second set and saved 5 match points by not being a score-chaser. My final score was 6-7 (5), 6-3, 10-8. I was proud of myself, and how I was able to continually improve my performance even though I had played many of the same players.

Even though I lost the majority of my matches, I learned new things from playing some top players, and my scores reflect that I can at least keep up at the moment. In the next few months, I plan to train hard and incorporate some techniques I saw into my own game. Right now, I’m happy to be back in Hawaii, and I’ll continue training until May where I’ll be off to South Korea to compete in the 2012 BNP Paribas World Team Cup. Until then!