Thursday, June 5, 2014

The ITF Nottingham experience: Day 1

The grass season is finally to kick in. I have been waiting for this moment ever since I moved to London in September. Why? Because it means five weeks of tennis and tennis only for me.
Furthermore, it is my first time watching grass tennis live and there absolutely is something magical about.
The venue in one, rare, rain-free moment

Reaching Nottingham was not bad, or better, once I managed to travel across London it was very fine, but before that I had to face what Londoners call the “morning commute”, or as I call it, the first nightmare of the day.

For the ones who are not familiar with it, at around 7.30am everyone in the city goes out of his homes and starts his trip to whichever place they have to go. 
The natural results are crazy traffic jam and extremely packed trains and tube.

In all these months, I came to accept it, but I think there will be no way I will ever stop hating Vauxhall station in these moments.

But in the end, after the morning tradition of having my name massively badly spelled on my Starbucks’s coffee, I got on my train to Nottingham and the journey finally became pleasant.

Sadly the dark clouds travelling with me were not promising anything good for the day outdoor and even more miserably they kept their promise and it stopped raining for good only about now, 10pm.

My “debut” on grass will be postponed to tomorrow, but my day did not go wasted, because the tournament officials decided to play as many doubles’ matches indoors as possible.
Very pleased by how Sanchez plays

The funniest and most intense match of the day was surely the continuation of Coco Vandeweghe-Olivia Rogowska against Sharon Fichman-Maria Sanchez. The second team was leading one set to none when the match was resumed, but it was clear that the American-Australian duo was not to give up easily.

On 5-4 the New Yorker faced a match point behind her serve, but she was gutsy in saving it with a tricky second serve, that found Sanchez off the balance.

The shadow of the wasted chance bothered the Californian, who was broken for the first time in the set to give Rogowska the chance to serve it out.

The Australian did it with personality and the match went to a deciding super-tie, where Fichman fired up, showing great personality and charisma. The Canadian led her mate into a comeback, which resulted in the final 13-11 for them.

The winning team later on played again, but this time their win over Saisai Zheng and Magda Linette was easier: 6-4 6-4.

From the ATP Challenger, I had the chance to watch the practice and later the doubles’ match of one of the most intriguing American promises: Ryan Harrison.

After the very first few minutes of his training, one can see why he has received so much attention: all the talent is there, but what really impressed me was a much calmer attitude and a great dedication to his training.
Harrison showing courage, also for the clothes wearing in practice

His volleying was by far the part with the biggest need of work, but overall he looked very focused and centred. Unsurprisingly a few hours later I’ve seen him and his partner Kevin King upsetting the third seeds.

I was not the only one watching him, as sitting next to me there was Christina McHale, who was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to an injury occurred while training in Nottingham on Sunday.

She told me that she slipped on the grass doing sprints and fell badly on her wrist. She said the x-rays showed no fracture and she is healing fast, but up to date she has not hold the racked yet.

She told me she is confident she will be ready for Birmingham anyway and she might even do a hitting session tomorrow.

The funniest moment of the day award goes definitely to Fichman, who in the middle of her match against Zheng-Linette was forced to hit four consecutive volleys, but the last one never left her racket as the ball got stuck in the V.
Fichamn looked very determined in both her doubles

She looked around for a second and then commented very loudly “seriously?!”, which provoked a general laugh.

The loudest of the day award goes to Naomi Broady, who in the last 10 minutes of her doubles’ loss to Anne Smith and Jocelyn Rae completely lost her cool and start to shout at the umpire after every single dubious call.

My day ended with a great interview with Fichman and then a massive pizza, which in all honesty was not that great, but I was hungry.

The interview will be up as soon as possible. Good night and good tennis for tomorrow, with the hope that sun will shine and finally I will see some grass tennis!

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