Remember Karen Helf? In August she contributed to Women’s Tennis Blog with detailed updates straight from the courts of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Now she’s at the $125,000 Carlsbad Classic and in this post she will share with us her experience from the first day of qualifying, while she’ll tune back in on Thursday and post daily updates all the way to the final on Sunday. Enjoy!
In a word the Carlsbad Classic is an intimate experience. The location provides a blast of sun and a dose of tranquility near the ocean. There are two modestly sized show courts with great views for all guests.
Today was about qualifying despite WTA veteran, Vania King headlining the order of play with opponent Gabriela Dabrowski.
This match was a pleasure to watch. Both players are strong hitters placing ground-strokes deep and into the corners. Both players drove volleys, hit overhead lobs and used soft hands at net. Like I said, this match was a pleasure. Vania pulled out a third set win over her Canadian opponent.
The win was anything but easy. Vania dropped the first set 3-6. The second and third sets were ripe with drama.
The final set appeared bleak for King on serve down 1-3. Responding to the urgency of the moment, Vania picked up her pace putting her body into every shot and stepping up her footwork. As the finish line approached, nerves also appeared for Gabriela. She made errors not seen earlier in the match. Experience showed as Vania fought off deuce point to 4-5 with Gabriela hitting a lob long.
At 4-5 Gabriela was on serve but Vania held her “A” game.
In this game, the ladies traded deuce and ad points. Vania was moving very well and attacked the serve hitting a baseline winner to capture 5-5. As the tension mounted, Gabriela netted a backhand audibly scolding herself “How do you miss that?” Closing in, Vania was on serve at 40-15. She came in to net with a winner to take the game and build momentum, 6-5 King.
In the final game, the pressure was on Gabriela to hold serve. Game points went quickly to Vania and an ill-timed double-fault from Gabriela brought the score to 15-40. While Dabrowski played solid tennis for most of the match, King finished well playing a gritty set and making smart shot selections. Final score 3-6 6-2 7-5 King. Vania advances to play 18-year-old Canadian, Francoise Abanda who had a decisive two-set win today, 6-2, 6-1 over Zlata Bobyr.
A standout today was Canadian, Sharon Fichman. Sharon won in straight sets over American Jacqueline Cako despite a scary tumble in the second set. The fall resulted in a lengthy on-court medical evaluation. Sharon was able to resume play and stuck to her hard-hitting game-plan.
Despite a crowd bias for her opponent Cako, Sharon triumphed, 7-6(5), 7-5. Sharon dictated points playing aggressive tennis throughout the match. American players nearly had a clean sweep today as Cako stepped up her game in set two. But, Fichman has too much fight in her blood.
While not on court today, American Cici Bellis was seen around the grounds posing for photos including a moment with event volunteer and WTA fan Wei Chung. As silence fell on the show courts, the party tent was heating up in preparation for the Players’ Gala.
American Idol finalist, Kimberly Caldwell was on hand to entertain players and guests. The San Diego forecast is favorable with temperatures ranging 60-70 degrees for the rest of the week. So come on out, this party is just getting started and top seed Yanina Wickmayer has yet to take the court.