Dizdar diary: Day three at ITA National Indoors
University of Texas junior Petra Dizdar (Split, Croatia) delivers part three of her diary from the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Madison, Wis. In her third installment, Petra tells the story of Texas’ hard-fought 4-3 semifinal win over Duke and gives us her thoughts on playing Stanford in another national championship match.
Another great day for Texas Tennis!
This was truly a special day for us. When we woke up Saturday morning and looked through our windows, everything was beautifully white and covered in snow. Now, to some people that might not sound like the most amazing thing to see, but for our sophomore Courtney, it was a very special sight. This was her first snow!
Yeah, she is our true Texan. (San Antonian, to be more precise) Don't get me wrong, the rest of the team was pretty entertained with the view as well…so entertained that I got an early morning snow ball showed in my face by my darling doubles partner, Sparky! She said she did it to wake me up.
Later in the day it was time for tennis. Talk about playing under pressure! We beat Duke 4-3 in an extremely close semifinal match. Once again, the last match was the deciding one, but today we had a different star clincher. It was RiRi!
We started by losing the doubles point! It was not the perfect start, but we have been in that situation many times, so we were not going to let it bother us. We were ready to redeem ourselves by winning at least four singles matches that would place us in the second consecutive national championship match (2005 NCAA Championships).
While Kenderoni and I were struggling in our first sets, Mimi, Cozi, and Kelly knocked their opponents out in a flash of light. And, as soon as they were done, they ran up in the stands and cheered us on like crazy. We needed one more win.
After Kendra lost, it was on Ristine or myself to take it home. It was so hard to play and not know what her score was and how she was doing. But, I focused on my match and tried to turn it around after dropping the first set. Unfortunately, after a lot of fighting and running for every ball, I lost in a tie-breaker. I was devastated that I couldn't place the team in the finals, but I knew Ristine would do it.
Texas does NOT crack under pressure! Ristine proved that with her game today. She stayed super-aggressive even after losing the second set in an intense, nerve racking tiebreaker. Duke’s Kristin Cargill was up 6-3 when Ristine stormed back, took a 7-6 lead, and served for a victory. Somehow, Cargill got her way out of it and took the set.
On the other hand, Ristine stayed calm and patient. She played the entire third set like it was a routine practice match and placed her shots in all the right places. She clinched the match and gave us an opportunity to avenge our loss to Stanford in the 2005 NCAA Championship match.
Last spring, the NCAA finals were a bittersweet story for us. We lost to Stanford and failed to bring the national title to Texas. On Sunday, we want to stop their streak of 61 consecutive wins and take the trophy home. Many might say that we have an extremely tough mission to accomplish (and we won't disagree), but we BELIEVE we can do it.
We have a great team, the most positive coaching staff and fabulous support from the stands. They all help us go through these pressure-filled situations. And, we all know that great things happen when we believe in them!
So keep your fingers crossed, and I will let you know how the final day goes. One thing is for sure, we will give our all at the tennis courts!