Well after the first day of competition in Kelowna I am relieved to have made it through to the semifinals and hopeful that some of my more blunderous predictions will not completely erode my future credibility. In my defense I wasn't familiar with the courts we were playing on when I made those predictions, so let me do a bit of review and explain as I go. The top 8 seeds all made it though to the quarters, so here are the breakdowns of the quarterfinal matches today...
(1) Kris vs. (8) Kurtis
Kurtis came out as I alluded to in my post, guns a blazing! He was not only putting his serves in hard, but the lines were extremely tight and he was mixing angles unbelievably well. Kris simply didn't have an answer for the serving clinic that Kurtis was putting on. Near the end of the game though, you could feel the momentum begin to change. Kurtis still closed out the game but Odie was getting serves back in play and scoring points of his own. Kurtis was no longer untouchable, and in the second game, Kris took full advantage. Catching some fire with drive serves of his own, Kris was able to put runs of points together for himself and while Kurtis battled at points, his serve was letting him down where it had been giving him free points before. With Kurtis discouraged and somewhat out of sorts, Kris was able to run away with game 2 and simply produce more of the same in the tiebreaker. It's a shame Kurtis couldn't find his serve after losing it in the first, as this could have been a real battle. Instead Odie weathered the storm that was the first game and put on an impressive showing of his own to take the next two with ease and move onto the semifinals.
(4) Eric vs. (5) Lee
I should probably have mentioned in the beginning of this post that the courts here are extremely fast, and that it was clear very early on that drive serves would be a huge factor in the outcome of this tournament. This was most convincingly evidenced by Lee and Eric's quarterfinal match. The first game started well, with both players trying different serves, having limited success, and each scoring points one at a time. By all accounts it appeared to be a barnburner in the making. This all changed at 7-7 when Eric caught fire with his drive serve. Mixing blistering wraps with laser beam drives into the left corner, he simply overwhelmed Lee, running out the first game 15-7. Unfortunately for Lee, Eric didn't lose his rhythm between games and quickly opened up a large lead in the second. For a match that started so tight, it seemed to end in the blink of an eye, leaving Lee disappointed and Eric with his first berth in a selection event semifinal.
(3) Nathaniel vs. (6) Pedro
I was unfortunately warming up and on court for my own match during most of this contest, so I can't offer a lot of insight. Through talking to Nate's coach, Loren Prentice, after the match, it seemed as though Nate simply overwhelmed Pedro with excellent drive serving (seeing the trend???) and clean, hard shooting. Pedro just didn't have an answer for anything Nate threw at him, allowing Nate to dominate and take the match in two easy games.
(2) Tim vs. (7) Coby
In what was easily the most exciting match of the evening, Coby took Tim to the limit, and where shooting ability seemed to let him down, mental fortitude won out for Landeryou. Coby played a great first game, hitting hard drive serves and pouncing on all the weak returns Tim coughed up. Landeryou would get serve opportunities but was unable to capitalize on Iwasaa's defensive returns and when one side is scoring points and the other isn't, it becomes fairly easy to see who will come out on top. Coby would methodically take the first game. In the second, Landeryou came out hitting a high drive Z to the left, which seemed to give Iwasaa some trouble and opened up a sizeable lead. Not to let the game slip away, Coby shifted back into more defensive play, forcing Landeryou to create offensive opportunities. This definitely worked to Coby's advantage and before long he had not only closed the gap, but opened up a lead of his own. He rode this momentum swing to a 13-9 and then 14-11 lead. His first match point ended with a fairly routine forehand pinch into the floor and Landeryou knew this was his opportunity. He scored a quick 2 points before a marathon rally concluded with a desperate flail from Coby causing the ball to gently fall into the front court for a winner. Another missed forehand from Iwasaa gave Landeryou the serve back though and knowing he wouldn't get another opportunity he bore down, eventually taking the game 17-15. Losing the second game seemed to both shake Coby's confidence and build Landeryou's. Tim quickly opened up a lead in the tiebreaker and never looked back. It's unfortunate for the fans that Coby couldn't recover from losing that tough second game, but it worked out well for Landeryou, who takes the last semifinal spot.
Look for a post on the semifinal predictions later tonight and tweets (@TLanderyou) of more current tournament info the rest of the weekend. Hope everyone is enjoying reading about the selection event so far and if you can believe it, the semis should be even better than the quarters!