Colorado Tennis head coach Nicole Kenneally will share her thoughts with Buffs fans on her team's progress throughout the 2009 spring season. This week she tells about the Buffaloes memorable weekend in the Bay Area.
The Story of the Never Say Die Fighting Buffaloes.....
This weekend was the qualifying rounds to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Due to our end of year national ranking last year I chose for us to play at Stanford University. Grab a cup of coffee or tea for this one because it was definitely exciting!! (and make sure you have a few minutes...)
We played the #5 Stanford Cardinal on Friday afternoon. I must say that we definitely were in the area on the right weekend.....no clouds (all weekend), a slight breeze occasionally and perfect temperatures around the mid 60’s. Sounds like a great winters’ day in Brisbane!! We started out strong in the doubles with winning the first games at #1 and #2 however they took over after that. We did have our opportunities in several games though but were not able to capitalize. At #3 doubles we were in it a little bit longer but they got the best of us. In singles we played hard and were definitely in with some opportunities but were not able to capitalize on those opportunities as much as we would have liked. This was a great match for us at this time of year and we continue to learn and grow from each match that we play. Stanford is a really solid team and we wish them the best of luck at the ITA National Team Indoors (they defeated Illinois in Saturday’s match to advance to the final site of 16 teams).
On Saturday our consolation match was against # 38-UNLV. This was the first meeting between UNLV and CU in my 10 years. The match began at 10 a.m. After the first game of play we moved the #3 doubles to another court due to one court being slightly wet behind the baseline. At #2 doubles we jumped out with a lead and at #1 we allowed them to jump out with a lead. Unfortunately the luck and momentum was not with us. We ended up losing at #2 doubles after letting a lead slip and also lost at #1 but had regained some of the momentum back and just ran out of time. At the time that the doubles point was won by UNLV we suspended #3 doubles when they were on serve at 5-6. After a good huddle discussion after dubs and before singles we were ready to play!! So we start the singles.....
We start out strong in all the singles except we do get a little overwhelmed in the first sets a #1 and #5. We settle down though in the 2nd sets and put ourselves in the game. After we lose the two first sets we are about even in the remaining matches. We really kicked it into the next gear though as the next 15 minutes of the match were big.
Michala Hedelund Jensen
At this point we were holding commanding leads on Abbie’s court and Franizi’s court in the second sets. Around this time, although we mounted great efforts, we lost at #1 and #5, so yes you have it right, we were down 3-0 in the match score. By this stage we had forged ahead at #4 with Abbie and she stuck to her guns and finished the second set strongly on a service game – so it was 3-1. Within minutes Franzi also closed out her opponent with great composure and we were drawing closer and now it was 3-2. At this point Michala was up 5-3 in the 2nd set and had a little hiccup and then proceeded to scratch and claw and just hang in there on her service game and closed out her match in fine fashion so now we had drawn ourselves even within about a 15 minute span -- 3-3. At this time Cami had leapt ahead to 5-2 up in the 2nd set and then proceeded to close it out 6-2. So it was down to one set, the best environment for a college match, where the magic happens and the excitement is brewing.
Ok, get ready for this one....
Cami goes down a quick break and is behind 2-0. They are playing long, consistent and strategic points. Returning the favor Cami pulls back even with her own hold of serve and break to get to 2-2. At this time the crowd is starting to get a little larger as the Stanford/Illinois match was due to begin at 2 p.m.
She gets up 40-15 and after a couple of long points is not able to hold and falls down 3-2. Her opponent does a good job of capitalizing and runs the table on the next two games reasonably quickly and takes a 5-2 lead.
At this point Cami is still looking refreshed, like she can go forever, and I was sitting there feeling that she was not going to lose this match. Cami is a wall out there. She gets back one game 5-3.
Cami plays a solid service game to go up 6-5 and her opponent returns the favor on her service game as well and we are at 6-6. It only seemed fitting for as long as we had been playing and for the all the twists and turns this match had taken. Cami is a warrior and continues to show her never say die attitude as she proceeds to go down 3-0 in the tiebreak!
We scratch our way back to 3-2 down and then play another long point but lose it to go down 4-2 and switch ends. Her opponent is serving, we stay strong and our opponent hands us a ‘not so often seen’ unforced error. We take it and capitalize. It is 4-3 with Cami serving two points. Cami does a great job of continuing to make her opponent work and to do what ever it takes. She nabs her two points and gains the lead 5-4! Finally we are up and are full steam ahead.
At 5-4 and returning Cami plays an aggressive but measured point where she is dictating play and looking to force the issue. Her opponent makes a forced error long and we are sitting at our first match point. We won the next point and won the match.
I do feel empathy for UNLV opponent on how the match was lost. No one wants to see a player hurt like that and I hope she realizes that she was a part of a fantastic collegiate match which was played and competed in a very fair and competitive way.
I am very proud of Cami and all the ladies for how they responded after doubles. We really got to the meat and potatoes and they responded. This was a very solid and telling day for the Buffaloes and allows us to move on to our next matches vs. New Mexico and Oregon next weekend. We will travel west again to compete against these two solid programs.
On Sunday we enjoyed a great day in San Francisco after a morning practice and went over the Golden Gate Bridge, went to Fisherman’s Wharf to see the seals and finished up with a quick trip down Lombard “Crooked” Street! Oh yeah, and don’t forget California’s favorites – In & Out Burger!!
Our next home match is on Valentines Day so stop by with your “sweetie” because it just may be a love match!!
Enjoy and GO BUFFS!!