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Day 4 - USTA Boys' & Gilrs' 12 Spring Nationals

April 12, 2007 09:36 AM

Delray Beach, FL (April 11, 2007)
Ayaka Okuno "Matata" (15) (Plano, TX) prepares tomorrow with an "it means no worries," hipster mentality. Delray's sunrays weathered through the toughest SPF block, where only the warm-blooded could survive. But for Texas' Okuno her tenacious play outshined one of the hottest stars in the draw—#5 seed, Jamie Loeb (Ossining, NY) . With a tough win like that, the little lion advanced to the quarterfinals of the mane draw. Okuno knew her match against the #5 seed was going to require an intimate late-night date with the water bottle. And it is with ferocious effort like that that makes us take great pride in awarding you "The Delray Beach Player of the Day." Roar, Okuno, roar.

Just how did Ayaka Okuno defang her opponent? "I was trying really hard to be consistent and just wait for my opponent to give me chances." Okuno fortuitously was able to use her forehand and move the ball around to her liking. When opportunities presented themselves, Okuno also preyed upon Loeb by taking advantage of the clay courts, using spin, slice, and testing her strides with crafty dropshots. "I really tried to have a high first serve percentage, and during the rallies, I was trying to make her [Loeb] hit just one more ball," said Okuno. Certainly, long rallies require serious sustenance, and for Okuno, she knows exactly what she needs to survive the Moonball Sonata. "I love steak and sushi with lots of wasabi and ginger," yakked Okuno. In addition to her protein-packed diet, Okuno keeps her body diesel by pumping iron in the gym and crunching her abs with her trainer at Highpoint Tennis Center in Texas. "I love listening to my ipod, (specifically rapper "Fitty" Cent) in the gym and on my way to a tennis match," rizzled Okuno. Here with her supportive mom, Ayaka concisely divulged her inexperience with soft courts: "There are not too many clay courts around me [in Texas], so I prefer hard courts, but I like using spin, so now, I think I like clay courts too."

Tomorrow morning, Okuno (15) will have to familiarize herself with another foreign hurdle—her opponent—whom she has never met in a match up. She is up against top seed in the draw, and ranked #2 in the country—Sachia Vickery (1) (Miramar, FL). By relocating the #5 seed [Jamie Loeb (NY)] , to the "Gold Draw," Okuno proved that seeding doesn't entirely dictate the outcome of a match. At 9 AM tomorrow, she will once again have to ignore the numerical chad on the tennis ballot and just play her game. "I am just going to go out there and hit deep topspin, return lots of balls, and just stay positive," proclaimed Okuno.  

Stop the presses! Brian Page (Wheaton, IL) may have lost his place in the first round to the "Delray Beach [Day 2] Player of the Day," but he [banana] splitted through the back draw with three consecutive wins, composing his trilogy with a sweet win today over #26 seed, Paul "Can I Buy A Vowel" Oosterbaan (Kalamazoo, MI), 6-1; 6-1. His ability to stomach a first round loss and then go on to scoop three wins under his [stretched] belt, makes him [quiet, please] the "Delray Beach Player of the Day"—talk about icing the proverbial cake! Next up on the menu, is Julian Turosienski (Sarasota, FL) a quarterfinal backdraw match. Will he pound a fourth? That, my friends, will be determined at brunch, 11:15 AM at the Delray Beach Swim and Tennis Center. Get there hungry!

Day 3 - USTA Boys' & Girls' 12 Spring Nationals
Day 2 - USTA Boys' & Girls' 12 Spring Nationals
Day 1 - USTA Boys' & Girls' 12 Spring Nationals
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