Dizdar diary: Feb. 20
Greetings, tennis fans!
Our grueling road trip has ended. Over the weekend, we measured our strength against two of the nation's toughest teams, the No. 8 Miami Hurricanes and the No. 4 Florida Gators. Even though both matches went down to the wire, we fell shy of winning.
I will not try to hide the disappointment; it was not easy to go head-to-head with the top teams on their home court, have the chance for an upset and not prevail. However, we fought hard and tried to adapt to different conditions each day the best way we could.
The Miami experience was probably more frustrating for a couple of reasons. First, we were excited by the chance to play in warmer weather, but instead, we were welcomed with heavy winds and temperatures below 50 degrees. This made for a less-than-perfect day for tennis.
Doubles play promised intense match-ups. Vanja (Corovic) and Marija (Milic) continued their winning streak and destroyed their opponent at the No. 3 position. Ristine (Olson) and I struggled a bit at the beginning, which cost us in the end because we had to play catch-up for the rest of our match. The deciding point came to the San Antonio duo -- Courtney (Zauft) and Sarah (Lancaster). Things looked good for us as they took a 5-3 lead and were in a position to close out the match. However, the grinding Miami team had a couple of impressive points with some great saves and managed to turn the match around, winning 8-5.
Losing the doubles point against any team is hard, but we knew we had a good chance in singles. I had a tough one playing Audra Cohen, top singles player in the nation. I was not able to fight off her heavy top-spins and attacking shots from almost every corner of the court. My loss put Miami in a 2-0 lead and one step closer to victory. We needed four wins, while they needed only two more.
Soon, the momentum shifted with Ristine's and Vanja's victories, putting the teams in an equal position at two points apiece. Courtney's resilience brought her set points in the second set, but after many exhausting rallies, Miami's Audrey Banada closed out the match with a 7-5 score.
This set the stage for Sarah, who had entered the third set, and Stephanie (Davison), who was tied in the second after dropping her first set in a tiebreaker. The pressure was increasing with every game because, by that point, the crowd had surrounded these two courts and our girls knew that we needed both of them to win.
Finally, Stephanie, unable to take her match to the third set, lost 7-5 and the Hurricanes captured their fourth winning point. At the same time, even though she knew the match was clinched, Sarah out-toughed her opponent and lowered the score to the final 4-3 margin for Miami.
We left chilly Miami upset, knowing that we could have and should have won that match. However, we knew that there was no time for grieving, as we had an even tougher team waiting for us in Gainesville: fourth ranked Florida.
To our great surprise and the contrary of the weather predictions, Saturday morning was nice and sunny with very little wind. Again, we started off good in doubles with Vanja and Marija impressively winning at third doubles. Courtney and Sarah dropped their point at the top, and Ristine and I, after coming one game close to finishing, lost at number two.
The singles scenario was somewhat similar to the Miami match, but this time, only Vanja and Sarah were triumphant for us. Florida won the match, 5-2. We are back in Austin now and will take these next couple of days to evaluate the weekend, recharge and get ready for Saturday's dual with Nebraska. We will pray for some nicer weather conditions and lots of support in the stands!
Hope to see you there!