Court Coverage With Nina Pantic

Oct. 12, 2009

Well, the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships did not go quite as pleasantly as we all had hoped it would, as not a single Bruin player made it through to the second round of the main draw competition. I can think of no other way to wrap up the tournament other than to say...we got our butts kicked! But don't worry. We plan get revenge very soon. Although Yasmin Schnack and Andrea Remynse successfully swept the event at the Cal/Nike Invitational two weeks ago, they were not able to continue their winning streak at Riviera, falling in the first round of doubles. Yasmin lost in the main draw of singles but then went on to string together an impressive series of wins in the back draw.

Even though we're not ones to make excuses, the ITA All-American is a tricky tournament for us since we enter it with just two short weeks of regular training. This is in contrast to all of the semester schools that have had over a month to get ready. Plus the sheer number of entrants in the draw is intimidating to say the least, as it feels like thousands of players show up for the three pre-qualifying rounds which are followed by three qualifying rounds and then finally the main draw. In the pre-qualifying singles draw, freshman Stephanie Hoffpauir was able to win two rounds while playing in her first-ever college competition. Freshman Pamela Montez and I also won three rounds of doubles while teaming together for the first time. So it wasn't all doom and gloom. And although it certainly was a disappointing start to the fall season, we always look to learn from our losses and hopefully improve so we can be at our best when the regular season begins in January.

Now that the All-American Championships are over, we look to continue our rigorous fall training complete with some rather interesting new traditions. Twice a week we show up at the courts at 6:45 a.m. with our eyes barely open (something that definitely increases the likelihood of getting pegged in the head at the net). As I make the five minute trek up Kelton Avenue (in the pitch black darkness) I wonder how the coaches manage arrive so early from with their clothes on straight and coffee in hand. Also, at least three times a week, every member on the team jumps (yes jumps!) into the wonderful training room ice bath which consists of 50 degree water. This 15 minute 'bath' helps our muscles recover faster from a hard work-out. But the treatment comes at great cost to our toes, as there are never enough foot booties to go around and it's always a competitive, yet silent, battle to get in there first.

Another new tradition - I know that not all of us will remember these traditions fondly - is a game called 'Butts Up'. It's something that the players do when the coaches aren't looking. Whenever we compete against each other in practice, be it a set or a tiebreaker, the losers have to stand at the baseline and bend over so their butts are in a clear, unobstructed view. The winners then proceed to serve as hard as they can at the poor unprotected behinds. Don't worry, no one has ever actually connected with a solid blow yet, however the odds are high for much damage by year's end. I'm sure it looks quite peculiar to outsiders who stumble upon the Los Angeles Tennis Center on weekday afternoons.

I'll conclude my coverage with some very exciting news, as the Drake Stadium track has finally finished its renovation and is now open for business just in time for us to continue our fall training. We can now look forward to more creative workouts that I'm sure will involve racing 400 meters, and hauling ourselves up the endless stairs (I hope you can detect the sarcasm).

But all joking aside, the whole team is looking forward to the next few weeks of training with higher goals and even greater motivation than before. It's getting closer to crunch time and we're preparing for the next competition, the ITA Regional Championships in San Diego. Until next time...GO BRUINS!

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