Rising sophomore and All-American Irina Falconi has agreed to blog for RamblinWreck.com this summer. She will keep Yellow Jacket fans up-to-date on her training as she prepares for her second season on the Flats.
July 15, 2009
Welcome back fans!!! Please forgive me for not blogging earlier, but getting back to Atlanta has been hectic–people to see and places to go! I arrived in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon and was brought to the Sugar Creek Tennis Center by a wonderful volunteer of the tournament, Lynn Mixon!! I had never been to this tennis center before, but when I got there I absolutely loved it!!! There were so many courts, and the golf course was right next to the building which was a wonderful view! The tournament directors and supervisors were great in making me feel welcome and all my friends from past tournaments were all excited to see me and play in the tournament! I hadn’t seen my teammates Christy Striplin and Viet Ha Ngo, so it was great to see them again and to see that they were playing in the tournament as well! When I got situated, I met with the players and staff from the USTA Collegiate Team, and was able to set up housing with a close friend of mine, and fellow collegiate player, Hilary Barte. After staying a couple of hours at the courts and seeing everybody, we headed to Chili’s for dinner with two other girls, Yasmin Schnack from UCLA and Maria Sanchez of USC. I was surrounded by California girls and it was awesome!!
What better way to start the week than by warming up your roommate? Since I was able to sneak into the Main Draw and not play in the ridiculously large qualifying draw, I didn’t have to play till Tuesday or Wednesday which gave me time to adjust to the time change, courts, and heat all over again! So after my warm up, I decided to take out my handy dandy netbook and check a few things on the internet outside in the balcony. All of a sudden, I feel someone tap my shoulder and when I turn around, I see it’s my old friend, Gail Brodsky! We get to talking and then she mentions that she is helping the tournament director with the draw inside and asks whether or not I would be interested in helping. Of course I oblige, and we go inside and determine the match ups for the tournament! As we are pulling out the chips, the tournament directors looks up and says to us, “Oh my god, you two are playing each other!” Coincidence much? We laughed about it, but I secretly knew that she was going to be a tough opponent to play. I had played her only last year, and she beat me pretty easily. I didn’t want her to see I was nervous, so I just blew it off and went to my netbook to seek refuge.
In the afternoon, I had agreed to hit with my doubles partner, Julia Moriarty. After we hit, it was finally time to go home and relax! I found out I wasn’t going to be playing the next day, so that meant I had an extra day to adjust. After a nice outing at the Hibachi Japanese Steakhouse we headed back to our rooms at the Hilton!
So this is the day that the main draw matches begin and the last round of qualifying matches are played! A couple of the girls from the team were able to make it, while some fell in a couple of tough matches. Tuesday started off with me warming up Maria Sanchez from USC, who was going to play an old teammate of hers, Lindsey Nelson. After warming her up, I hung around for the rest of the day because I was going to play doubles with Julia in the afternoon. Funny thing about that is that we had to play Maria and Caitlin Whoriskey, two college players that are part of the USTA team. At around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, we are finally able to get on court—at the heat of the day mind you. Now, take note that Julia and I had never played doubles before. So we get on court, start warming up, and I know we are going to have a tough match. We start the match off with me serving, and me failing to hold.
Once we got down 3-0, I knew that we had to either A. Change something, or B. Change something. So we drop the first set 6-2, but we figured out how to play them, which gave us confidence to get it done in the second set. Starting the second set, there is an obvious change of momentum that we manage to steal. We win the set 6-3, which means that we are going to have to decide the match in a third set 10 point tiebreaker. We start the breaker off strong, and continue to have momentum throughout. We go up 6-4, in mind thinking that this is the point now where we are going to have to step up and be even more aggressive. We fail to make the transition, and lose a string of points, which ends the match at 10-8. After a long chat with Coach Bryan Shelton and Julia, I head towards the car where Amanda Augustus, the head coach of Cal Berkeley, and one of the USTA Coaches, is waiting for me and the rest of the girls to go back to the hotel. We decide to go to Olive Garden where I eat my sorrows away with a delicious Chicken Scampi and some fresh salad!
Match day. Big day. Gail Brodsky day. So the day started off great with some breakfast at the hotel, and a generous warm up from my roomie, Hilary. After, I warm up, I am heading towards the court when I see Coach Bryan. When I get closer, I see Ben, and Emma, AND Lisa. I guess he WAS serious when he said he was going to bring the kids!!! I told him I was nervous and he knew about my prior loss, but he didn’t seem to mind me saying any of those things because he felt that I would get the job done. So after we warm up, she starts serving. After a tough first game, she pulls it out. Now it’s my turn to serve, and it doesn’t go that well for me. I’m able to get on the scoreboard by breaking her in the third game, but I already know that it’s going to be a battle. After a few breaks and a few holds, the score is set at four all. Gail decides to hit some big serves to hold the game and get the score to 5-4. She now knows I have pressure on my serve, and she decides to attack with full force. I get broken to end the set 6-4. So, as you may have noticed, losing the first set for me really doesn’t mean much to me anymore. I come back with a few come-ons, and a lot more aggression to take the second set 6-3. Unfortunately and fortunately, the heat rule was not in effect which was bad because we didn’t get a break between the second and third set, but that also meant that the temperature had gone down and it was going to be bearable. In the third set, I get down 2-0 quick, but I know that I am going to pull through. After a couple of breaks, the score is 4-5 her serving. I know for a fact that she has a lot pressure on her serve because if she loses it, the set is mine. So I go into the game with a very aggressive mentality. It gets to duece and that’s when the nerves start kicking in. She gets a couple of chances to stay in the match, but I stay in it and break her to end the set 6-4. Nerve wrecking? Yes. Tiring? Just a little 🙂 Till tomorrow!!
Follow Falconi at the Norman Wilkerson Tennis Experience by clicking here.