Sunday was the final day of the 2021 Clay Courts in Houston, which was the 50th anniversary of this tournament. It’s always a great event but this year’s edition seemed better than every. Many thanks to everyone who made the tournament great, especially Sue Bramlette and the very supportive Bob Bramlette. It was fun and see you next year!
Kaysey Smashey beat Alina Mihailescu in three sets to win the 35 clay singles.
Jennifer Toney/Tammy Morris won the 45 doubles over unseeded Corrine Loeffler/Kristin Warren 76 60. Brandi Bratek, the third seed won the bronze.
And that’s a wrap on the 2021 Clay Courts in Houston…coming up, the 40-80 Clay in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida!
Brenda Carter mounted an impressive comeback in the second set to win the 75 singles gold ball in Houston today. She won 62 76(8), rallying from 2-5 in the second set against Carolann Castell. Castell did a good job during the second set of hitting deep and finishing at net to forge a 5-2 lead, but Carter became more aggressive according to Castell and closed out the match in straight sets.
In the 55s, Jenny Klitch beat Laurie Capra 61 61 and Renee Saheim beat Gayle Prejean 62 63 to advance to the final. Klitch and Capra played in the shadows on the third court down but Klitch played a near perfect match, and ran off what was left of Capra’s legs (she had a marathon match yesterday with Kathy Vick). Saheim and Prejean played in front of the clubhouse and it was an interesting match; they hadn’t played before and you could see the players adjust their strategies; Saheim, a lefty, alternated drops, approaches to the net, and hard hit backhands in her win. In the backdraw, Vicki Buholz went down 4/0 against Shelly Works, then won the next 12 games…Jacqueline McWilliams edged kathy Vick in a 5 hour 15 minute match to reach the 5/6 playoff match against Buholz…I heard there were a lot of high (moon) balls in that match.
Saheim/L Gonzalez, unseeded, took out the # 2 seeds in 55 doubles yesterday and today beat the #3 seeds, both in straight sets. They face Buholz/Prejean who won in straight sets to reach the final.
Tina Karwasky just loves the matchup with Sherri Bronson…it’s great for Tina and bad for Sherri, matchups are like that sometimes. Tina won 60 60 and Sherri said Tina played flawlessly. I played Bunny Jackson and won 60 61 in a good match, closer than the score. Bunny is a tall lefty and tricky, it was a good win and am looking forward to tomorrow. In the backdraw Andrea Barnes beat Kathy Foulk 61 61 and Lisa Musgrave ended Ginny Beneke’s singles tournament 61 61 by coming to net on most points.
In 65 doubles, Bunny Jackson/Betsy Savitt edged Andrea Barnes/Leslie Murveit in the first set of the final 76, rallying from 1-4 and 4-5 down, then took the second 62 to win the gold. Karwasky/Jan Cochran won the bronze over Kandy Chain/Lisa Musgrave 62 62.
Castell/Sue Kimball won the 75 doubles 60 76 over Cathie Anderson/Brenda Winstead. Till the second set Castell/Kimball hadn’t lost a game all tournament. Elizabeth Barnhill/Sherri Floor took the bronze.
The 85 doubles title was won by Dori DeVries/Carol Wood in a tight match over Sheila Palmer/Burnett Herrick 75 76. Palmer thought her team had some set points along the way.
The 45s is underway and Leslie Wargo upset 3rd seeded Teresa Merklin to reach the semis as the other seeds advanced. Thus far there are no upsets in 45 doubles.
The 55, 65 & 85 singles final and 55 doubles final are tomorrow.
Yesterday, after I went to the club (via the tram) I went to El Cortez Ingles, a huge department store about a 10 minute walk from my hotel. It’s 4 or 5 stories…two of which are below street level. I went to the large grocery store in the basement. The Spanish love tinned and fresh fish, along with Iberico ham, sweets and fruits and vegetables. The milk aisle (unrefrigerated) and yogurt (refrigerated) were also large. I got some cooked mussels (delicious with lemon and a salad) and a couple of tins of shellfish…and of course a chocolate bar and apples.
I played my first match in Barcelona at 6pm on Monday night, which is the earliest any matches are scheduled here. I got to the club around 4pm and it took me about 20 minutes to get practice balls and find my court. The kids camps were still going strong with hundreds of kids playing tennis, running through sprinklers on the soccer fields and generally seeming to have a good time.
My practice court was court 38 which is a few hundred meters from court 37. I walked past courts and two field hockey (not soccer) fields to find it. There’s one hard court at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona and I could hear the sound of the players on that court…the sound of very good players hitting. When I got closer, I saw that one of them was Carla Suarez Navarro of the beautiful one-handed backhand club.
I finally found my court and a pro with a bunch of students came on the court within minutes…but also moved to another court, maybe she was lost too. I hit some serves and bounced some balls and did a bit of running…that was my warm up yesterday. At 4:45, there were. still lots of people running around the tournament check-in site, setting up food trucks, the check-in area, etc, but by 6pm everything was fairly sorted out. There was a long line to pay entry fees. Everyone was given a nice shirt (v-necks for women, polos for men, lime green), and a mask from the sponsor. No one asked for the ITF form that everyone was supposed to fill out and show the tournament before playing. The only ask was for proof of payment of the entry fee (80 euros plus a 5 euro IPIN fee). When I left around 7:45, there was music going, champagne being handed out and the food trucks were operational, though things don’t really get going there till well after 8pm.
I played Mireia de Gispert Talavera. I played her here 3 years ago and won 60 60 this time. We played on a court that went east/west, but fortunately it was cloudy or the sun would have been a problem. I was going to watch my future opponents play but ran into one of them…she said her opponent couldn’t play Monday so asked if she could play Tuesday…so I know I don’t play singles today. However, the order of play for today came out as I was writing this (at 10:22am) and I play doubles not before….10 pm!
It was another sunny warm day in Mallorca. I trained earlier today, 10am…when I arrived at 9:30 all the courts were busy with the 8:30-10 training blocks and others were doing off court training (sprints and so on) in the mostly empty parking lot. (After which they then played for 90 minutes, plus an additional afternoon session. They have a lot of energy!). There’s a 10 year old Italian boy here who is very good (and very small)…complete with a nice slice backhand, good serve and groundstrokes and very good court sense. The Italian pipeline is deep.
In the afternoon I decided to drive to Alcudia, near the water and to the port of Pollenca. Alcudia is a walled town, and much of the walls have been or are in the process of being restored. There’s a big church (which was closed when I was there), and narrow quaint streets in the Arab quarter. There are many, many restaurants. There are also ruins and an amphitheater which I missed. The town has a really nice vibe and you can feel the sea which is only a few miles away…it feels cooler and less dusty than the interior of Mallorca.
After I wandered around there I went to the Port of Pollenca, mostly to see if I could find the start point for the bus trip to the Cap de Fomenter, but instead I found it packed with cars and tourists. I drove around and then back to Sa Pobla.