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US Open National Playoff Qualifying-Florida Tennis: Day 3 Blog

May 31, 2010 07:00 PM

Jan Abaza (left) and quarterfinal opponent Maria Cespedes


C.C. Sardinha (right) and quarterfinal opponent Simone Vranov

USTA Florida's Rick Vach blogs from the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla., the site of the inaugural US Open National Playoff Qualifying-Florida tournament:

There was a Nick sighting today, and a man in a woman's wig and dress walking around the site -- apparently a teaching pro or Bollettieri employee who lost a bet.

Tonight I took a jog around the academy campus, and I kid you not -- an older gentleman driving an IMG Bollettieri van full of kids flagged me down and said, "You're with the tennis right?" I said, "Pardon me?" He said, "You were playing the tennis tournament against that boy who was shouting all the obscenities, and I told people 'That old guy ain't showin' that young man any respect!' You were running him all over the place and he was going crazy! That was one for the old players there!' and we exchanged a fist bump. And the kids in the back of the van were laughing at us getting all animated. My head got about three sizes bigger on the jog back, and then I realized it was good he saw that second match, and not the third match/severe beating where I won one game.

I jogged out to the back edge of the campus, past the golf academy and the soccer academy and the baseball academy, past all the sports fields, and saw some construction equipment across the road, clearing an area the size of a handful of football fields. The gate guards told me those would be new soccer fields, and the site of the new IMG Madden Football Academy (Cha-ching for John Madden. I'm assuming it will be actual football rather than training kids how to play the video Madden Football...). The acreage of this place once the expansion is done will be incredible, they'll need an additional fleet of golf carts to get around.

Back to the tennis:

The semifinalists in the men's and women's fields were determined on Monday amidst hot and breezy conditions, where straight-set blowouts were the surprising norm in the semifinals.

Jan Abaza of Deerfield Beach, C.C. Sardinha of Bradenton, and Sherry Li of Parkland advanced into the semifinals with convincing straight-set wins on. Bradenton Bollettieri product Di Zhao also advanced into the semis after a tight first set, eventually subduing Boca Raton's Libby Muma 6-3, 6-1. Abaza, one of the tournament favorites despite her youthful 15 years of age, will next meet the 18-year-old collegiate Sardinha.

"I've never player her, but I've seen and heard a lot about her," Abaza said.

Abaza, who says she never looks forward in the draw to who she plays next, admitted to stealing some glances at the court next to her and her next possible opponent.

"I should have been focused," Abaza said, laughing, "but I kept looking over, just hearing some solid ball-hitting, so I'm just looking forward to it. Today I played pretty good, my serve was working -- with the exception of the times I was glancing over to the other court, so it was good."

Standing at a petite 4-foot-10 and 3/4 inches ("It's roughly 4-foot-11, if you want to say that," she laughs), Sardinha's game resembles that of French WTA Tour player Marion Bartoli -- two-handed off both sides, demonstrating exquisite control and consistency. In her quarterfinal win Sardinha demonstrated she can frustrate opponents with medium-paced deep balls, play defense with deep topspin and slice, or end points by flattening out the forehand and backhand. Against Abaza she will face an opponent who can consistently power through groundstrokes from the backcourt.

"I've only seen her play a little bit," said Sardinha, who played her freshman year at Syracuse, but is transferring to Oklahoma State. "I see she's a power hitter, so I guess I'll have to see what I can do against her and change things up a little bit."

In the men's quarterfinals Alex Bose of Sarasota, Christopher Klingemann of Bradenton, German Sanchez of Bradenton, and Olivier Sajous of Plantation all advanced into the semifinals in straight sets.

Sajous, who plays Davis Cup for Haiti, will next face Mexico's Sanchez, a student at the Bollettieri Academy.

"I like [the US Open National Playoffs Qualifying concept] because it gives an opportunity for everyone to play, and you can play with different styles [of players]," says Sajous, who earlier this year won a pre-qualifying tournament at the ATP event in Delray Beach. "Guys with big serves, guys you've never heard of, it's actually pretty interesting. I like the slogan, 'Dream Big,' because it's true. You have to dream big, and I like it."

Now four male and four female dreamers remain, with play to resume Tuesday morning.

Monday results:

US Open Men's National Playoffs/Sectional Qualifying (Quarterfinal Round)

Olivier Sajous Plantation, FL  def.  Brandon Muth Tampa, FL  6-0; 6-2
German Sanchez Bradenton, FL  def.  Ian Laster Waxhaw, NC  6-4; 6-2
Christopher Klingemann Bradenton, FL  def.  Mark Oljaca Bradenton, FL  6-1; 6-0
Alex Bose Sarasota, FL  def.  Peter Carpenter Bradenton, FL  6-1; 6-3

US Open Women's National Playoffs/Sectional Qualifying (Quarterfinal Round)

Jan Abaza Deerfield Beach, FL  def.  Maria Cespedes Orlando, FL  6-0; 6-2
C.C. Sardinha Bradenton, FL  def.  Simone Vranov Windermere, FL  6-0; 6-2
Sherry Li Parkland, FL  def.  Elena Dragut Dania, FL  6-0; 6-1
Di Zhao Bradenton, FL  def.  Libby Muma Boca Raton, FL  6-3; 6-1

Got comments/input as a player or observer or internet lurker? E-mail vach@florida.usta.com and we'll get your comments in the blog.





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