Sixteens On The Scene

Day Six - August 5, 2002

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The sixth day of Super Nats 2002 kicked off with an interesting wake-up call. Following a night of heavy thunder and lightening, I woke up to the barking of Otis, the Briney beagle. He had spent the entire night under Bruce and Cheryl's bed when the storm ventured into the Portage neighborhood. Once the sun rose in the morning, however, he was very much alive as he barked at everything that caught his eye. I guess you could call it a poor man's rooster calling, but in any event, Otis provided a good alternative from the usual alarm clock sounds.

Today marked the first full day of tennis from the 18s and 16s division. The 16s group featured a very talented group of players. Some were targeted as potential Broncos as they would graduate in 2003, while others had just finished their first or second year in high school. Though most of the 16s division didn't necessarily have college on their minds, it was still very important to put names with faces and also make sure that they knew we were watching them. After all, most of these young players were going to be on prospect lists down the road so it was advantageous to get a head start on the group.

With 16s competing at the same time as the 18s, time management was critical. My traveling schedule included a trip to Stowe Stadium, followed by Western Michigan University, then Stowe, then Western, and last but not least, Stowe. Matches were pushed back an hour or so due to the overnight storm that made a few puddles on the courts. The action caught up rather quickly at Stowe as some of the early 16s singles matches were pretty much blowouts, while the matches at Western featured a fair share of three-set grinds. Another tricky affair, evaluation day six would require some fancy footwork.

A solid contingent from California highlighted the morning segment, with a pair of players looking to graduate next year. As the hours ticked by past midday, I had caught eight matches and it was now time to hit Western for a four-pack of 18s. A 1 hour time period was spent at Western before it was time to return to Stowe for more 18s matches and the beginning of 16s doubles.

The stadium was packed to near capacity as five of the top-seeded players in the 18s were all playing on the front courts. A couple quick trips to the Stowe barbecue pit took care of hunger pains, while I focused on tackling lengthy afternoon and evening segment of matches. After the seeded players dismissed their opponents and a few 16s doubles were played, it was time to head over to Western for a half dozen more matches.

At Western, I found myself racing between the lower and upper courts as the six matches were split evenly at both locations. Targeted future Broncos from California, Illinois, Indiana and Florida were battling their opponents while I was darting from court to court. Thankfully, the weather had cooled down to more of a Bay Area climate providing a very refreshing change from the humidity.

The day moved toward the six o'clock hour and it was time to make the final trip to Stowe to watch the final two matches. There was a special barbecue social being hosted by the tournament committee that began at 6:30, so I was hoping for to avoid a pair of three setters. Well, I was 1-for-2 on my wish list as the last match of the day featuring a pair of Californians finished at 9 p.m. Both of the players looked awfully tired and ready for bed. I was ready to speed over to the barbecue for some food and drink.

I arrived to the event by 10 p.m., just in time to enjoy a cold beverage and trail mix. The catering company had unfortunately taken the food away, but that wasn't too big of a deal since I was ready to call it a day.

In the next edition: Zee Ya Later Zoo