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Court Coverage With Nina Pantic
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  11/17/2009

Nov. 17, 2009

Palm Springs is a very unique environment and I find that you either love it or you hate it, and the preference stays with you for life. The Duals in the Desert tournament took place in Palm Springs recently, drawing in players from the University of Texas, USC, Northwestern, and Georgia. I was joined in the draw by the team's three other representatives: Maya Johansson, Pamela Montez and Stephanie Hoffpauir. The event was held at the charming Doral Desert Princess Resort, one of just many resorts in a 20-mile radius. The hotel was right on site of the tournament, which is the biggest blessing to everyone who is involved in transportation. The resort is so sprawling that it includes an entire golf course, a pool with two hot tubs (yes two!), 10 courts, and enough lawn space to hold a wedding (which actually did go on during matches, romantic music and all).

On the three hour drive to the desert (yes three hours thanks to the lovely L.A. traffic we all enjoy being stuck in) Pam was cranking out country music nonstop. Normally I would be disgusted with such musical taste but after hearing it for a while without an escape route, I'm surprised to say that it actually grew on me. The drive back placed Maya in charge of musical entertainment, as she got shotgun seating due to seniority (a little tradition we have in the travel cars). She opted to educate the unwilling backseat listeners on international cultures and DJ'd soft French love songs (luckily the drive back was much faster since it was a Sunday). While most prefer to avoid music in foreign languages, coach Bill Zaima was pleased to work on his French since he's flying off to Paris next week on his second honeymoon (we're all jealous!).

The Duals in the Desert is unlike any other tennis tournament we usually play in because it's not a conventional draw. Instead, the matches are set up so that we can't play a teammate, and we are also guaranteed four singles matches and three doubles matches regardless if we win or lose. Such a format is great for getting in lots of matches; however it turned out to be very detrimental to our health. The sheer number of injuries in the draws this weekend was insane, and it was not just on our team but on every other participating team. Trainers were scrambling to get ice bags and medical kits out, as it appeared that almost every other girl had ice wrapped onto some part of their body. Tennis is one of the hardest sports on the body and I'm sure all of us will end up paying for it with arthritis and hip replacements at some point in the future. It's a sacrifice we're willing to make, as tennis has provided us with almost every opportunity we hold dear: a full scholarship, college degree, and the chance to win a national championship to name just a few.

Speaking of championships, Andrea Remynse and Yasmin Schnack were ripping through the doubles draw of the ITA National Indoors tournament over at Yale University. They reached the semifinals before falling in a heartbreaking three setter, 5-7, 7-6(2), 7-5 to a Stanford duo. They've definitely cemented themselves as a top doubles team and will remain candidates for a national title for the rest of the year. Yasmin also participated in the singles draw, even knocking off third-seeded Chelsey Gullickson from Georgia in straight sets.

So now all that's left of our fall season is two weeks of training. It's a final push to the finish line before we're free to concentrate solely on school work. Before we know it we will all scatter across the country for winter break and hopefully maintain our training discipline. We are looking forward to starting the "real deal" with dual-matches starting on January 19th.


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