Myke Bodisch won a well deserved gold ball in taking the 45 singles final in Houston Friday. She started in the round of 64 and won 6 straight matches, 4 of which were 3-setters.
After beating Margaret Kitchen, the 9th seed, in the round of 32 76 in the third, then Tiina Smith, the 7th seed, in the round of 16 63 in the third, she played me (the 4th seed) in the quarters. I won the first set 6-4, since she made some uncharacteristic errors and double faults, but she won the 2nd 6-3 behind 1 break of serve. The third set was close, but she won the critical points in a couple of games and won the match on her 4th match point, 6-4. Her backhand was amazing all week, a beautiful and lethal stroke that she can slice, drive or loop (or rip down the line). And she played better with each match it seemed.
One would think she’d be tired after 3 or 4 hour matches 3 days in a row, but she hit pretty much nothing but winners in beating Susan Boyer, the 6th seed (her 4th win in a row over a seed if anyone’s counting) in the semis 63 61. Boyer had upset the top seed, Susan Wright, 63 64 in the quarters.
On the other side of the draw, Susan Love, also unseeded, and who took out Shelly Stillman Scott in the round of 32 upset the 2nd seed, Fran Chandler in a tough 3 set match in the quarters 64 46 64. She followed that up with a 3 set win over the 5th seed, Gerda Preissing, 46 63 60. By the third set, this tall lefty serve and volleyer was pounding overheads at will (she’d missed quite a few in the first set) and wore down Preissing with her aggressive play.
Preissing had upset Kathy Vick, the 3rd seed, in the quarters 75 in the third, in a very physical match.
If anyone was counting, that meant the 1, 2, 3 and 4 seeds lost in the quarters, all in closely contested matches. One observer commented that the tournament could be held with the same field the next week and have different semifinalists, there was so much depth to this draw.
Bodisch though might have to disagree. Playing in her first Category I singles final, she did drop the first set, but that was due to Love’s aggressive and accurate serve and volley play. But in the final sets it was all Bodisch…she hit winner after winner, off her forehand and backhand, but it was the beautiful backhand that really did the main damage. Love even was heard to comment more than once that she "loved that backhand". Myke won the final sets 61 60 to win her first singles gold ball. (She won a doubles gold ball at Pensacola a few years back.) She said she was just in a calmer place mentally and that accounted for her improved and more consistent play. (That and working hard on the physical side of the game…biking, running, practicing).
The backdraw had of course the top 4 seeds, plus the 7, 8 and 9 seeds plus some other tough players such as Mary Mottola.
The match of the backdraw was between Shelly Stillman Scott and Tiina Smith in the quarterfinal qualifying match. They played for 4 hours Friday morning (all for the priviledge of playing Kathy Vick who had no match Friday morning). Smith led by a set and 41, but Shelly rallied to win that set and won the third set 76. Onlookers said Shelly held off several match points, but she said though she knew she’d had some against her she had no idea how many. Last time these 2 played it was indoors and 5.5 hours, so they are actually getting more efficient.
Vick then beat Shelly 61 64 90 minutes later.
I play Kathy in the consolation final Sunday…she had a default in the consolation semis and I beat Susan Wright in 3 sets.
Susan though won the doubles, combining with Gerda Preissing to beat Sue Whiting and Lyn McWilliams in 3 sets on Thursday. Susan Boyer and Fran Chandler beat Vick/Stillman Scott in 3 sets to win the bronze ball.
St. Clair/Thyssen beat Morgan/Bushman to place 5th in doubles.