Citi Open Qualifiers

Went to watch the second and final round of qualifying for the Citi Open Sunday, bringing an umbrella because I expected rain, only to use it against the sun and still get horribly sunburnt.  At least it mean the tennis was uninterrupted, although there was a very light brief drizzle around 11.  There were six men’s matches and four women’s matches played that day(there was also a doubles match scheduled, but it ended up being a walkover), in the main stadium and two grandstand courts, and the tennis lasted about seven hours.

One highlight was seeing both Illya Marchenko and Robby Ginepri make the main draw, a year after I watched them both go down in the first round.  My first picture of the day was even intended to be of Marchenko right after the coin flip, though I got confused and photographed his opponent Marius Copil instead:

Never even heard of this guy before.

Never even heard of this guy before.

Copil was actually the better player at the beginning of the match(though he didn’t keep it up), where Marchenko was lucky to make it to the tiebreak without getting broken, and in the end lost the set to a double fault.  I actually left the court at that point to have lunch and watch some other tennis, including Stephanie Dubois in Grandstand 2 making winning the first set of her match against Hiroko Kuwata much harder than it had to be, before going to the main stadium where Ginepri was underway.  He was more steady in outplaying top qualifying seed Samuel Groth, though Groth didn’t make it easy.  But between the heat(and I couldn’t use the umbrella because there were a group of people right behind me), and the news that Marchenko had taken the second set tiebreak and was up a break in the third, I eventually returned to Grandstand 1, just as Copil(I think it was him) called for the physio.  So I ended up watching Ginepri win from the top corner of the bleachers, from where I could see the court.  I was a little sad for Groth, though; I was glad when he got in anyway as a lucky loser.

 

Marchenko was triumphant shortly after.

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Then I went back to Grandstand 2, where Dubois & Kuwata too had gone three.  Poor Dubois would serve for the match only to be broken.  She just kept missing shots on crucial points, and in the end she lost it in the tiebreak.  Meanwhile, two young African-American women who had taken over the other two courts, which I then bounced between. Taylor Townsend was playing Czech Tereza Smitkova in the stadium, and Tornado Alicia Black was playing British girl Emily Webley-Smith in Grandstand 1, in what was actually a battle of the wild cards; they’d both needed them to get even into qualifying.

These two up and coming Americans are quite different when it comes to playing style.  Townsend, who I went to see first is a power player, and she put it to good use; I don’t think Smitkova, who was the top ladies seed, played that badly, but she simply wasn’t able to match Townsend when the latter was doing things right.  Black I think relies more on skill and good shotmaking.  In fact, I think Webley-Smith actually hit harder, but she was just continually missing her shots.  There was one amusing moment in the second set where Webley-Smith just missed hitting a line, resulting in break point, and briefly argued with the umpire about it, then hit an ace that was pretty much in the same spot, except it did hit the line, causing Black to promptly start arguing with the umpire and even try to indicate the mark with her racquet.  However, then Black converted another break point, and from that point on it turned into a rout(it was about then I returned to the main stadium to watch Townsend finish).

Unfortunately the last match of the day still going on after Townsend won, Olivia Rogowska versus Gabriela Dabrowski on Grandstand 2, at least in the second half of the third set was deeply unimpressive.  Both players were continually making mistakes, and they handed each other multiple breaks before playing a messy tiebreak, which Rogowska won.

Now, two days later, Marchenko, Groth, and Black have gone out in their first-round matches; the moment of glory of making the tournament is often short lived for qualifier.  But on the other hand, Ginepri, Townsend, and Kuwata all won their first-round matches against higher-ranked opponents, and I type this Rogowska is also up a set in her first round match.  Who knows if any of them can make it to ESPN coverage, but one supposes there’s always a chance.

 

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