My apologies for not getting a preview post for the semis out, although it's good I didn't as even with the drive serve friendly court I don't think I would have picked Eric to beat Kris... In any case here's a quick breakdown of the semis and final...
(1) Kris vs. (4) Eric
Eric opened the match with great drive serves, catching Odie off guard. This allowed him to open up a lead that Odie closed in on throughout the game, but never fully recovered from. Eric would take the first 15-11. Eric's lines loosened on his drives in the second, allowing Kris into many more rallies and providing him a slight edge in this game. With some great drive serves of his own, Kris closed out a tight second game 15-12. The tiebreaker saw Eric open up another lead on the back of some great serving. Kris made adjustments though and was able to close the gap, but missed shots at key points that allowed Eric to close out a tight tiebreaker 11-8 and take the first spot in the final.
(2) Tim vs. (3) Nathaniel
This match was yet another example of drive serving making the difference in the outcome. In the first game Nate was on fire. Multiple aces to both sides, straight lines mixed with great angles and Z serves created a serving formula that was extremely difficult to deal with. He would take the first 15-9. Tim made a few adjustments in the second game and these, coupled with Nate serving slightly less perfectly, turned the tide to his favour and allowe him to take the second 15-9. Unfortunately for Nate it was more of the same in the tiebreaker. Without a deadly drive serve to fall back on, he had trouble scoring consistently and Tim was able to capitalize and take the tiebreaker 11-5.
(2) Tim vs. (4) Eric
In a somewhat unlikely final matchup, it was former junior national teammates and rivals playing off for selection event gold. Eric started the match in typical fashion for the tournament: with impeccable drive serving. He opened up a lead that he held most of the first game, but Tim chipped away late and found a serving strategy that paid off, allowing him to steal the first 15-13. Landeryou's serving let him down in the second game, and Eric tightened up his own, opening up a sizable lead that Tim would narrow, but never close to take the second 15-11. Really though, what kind of final would it have been without a tiebreaker? The deciding game saw Eric open up another lead, albeit a smaller one than in the previous two games. Tim recovered and closed the gap. Several rally exchanges followed with neither player scoring, before Landeryou managed to string a few points together to go up 8-5. Another set of exchanges without scoring frustrated Landeryou and gave Eric the momentum to close to 7-8. Landeryou would regain his composure though and after 3 hard fought rallies take the match 11-7.
It was quite a roller coaster tournament for me. I'm not a drive server, nor have I ever been especially good at returning them, so to come to a venue where they were so heavily favoured was fairly intimidating. In all my matches, especially against Coby in the quarter finals, I felt as if I was always working uphill to win, as if the points I won were always harder for me to score than for my opponents. I felt extremely good about my focus and mental fortitude this tournament and am extremely happy to have pulled off such a difficult and hard fought win. I'd like to thank everyone that supported me and everyone that took some time to check out this blog. I love writing about racquetball, whether I'm playing or not, and I hope to continue on in a more consistent fashion. Thanks everyone and see you at the next tournament :)