The quarter finals of the 2017 national championships had some hard-fought battles but for the most part the top seeds all advanced.
On the women's side, top seed Frederique Lambert advanced over junior national champion Alexis Iwaasa in what was an entertaining and athletic match for fans, even though the scoreline didn't reflect it. Second seed Jennifer Saunders had a closer battle with #10 seed Erin Geeraert, trailing 11-8 in the first game before running away with it 15-11 and taking the second 15-8. Geeraert's inexperience on the national stage was evident, but her potential was also showcased. She will be a player to watch both at this event and national tournaments in the future. The last two quarter finals were by far the most contentious and entertaining. Richardson struggled with execution and shot selection early in her match to give Fallu a huge lead and ultimately a hole from which she couldn't dig herself out of. The second game was the opposite, with Richardson taking a sizeable lead into the latter portion of the game and Fallu making a late run that was too little too late. Fallu carried this momentum into the tiebreaker though, building up a seemingly insurmountable lead and serving for the match at 10-5. Richardson chipped away at the lead gradually though, and after the third missed match point opportunity for Fallu, the momentum had clearly swung in Richardson's favour. She kept up this run and finished the comeback, taking the tiebreaker 12-10 and the match. On the top half, fifth seeded Michele Morissette took advantage of a clearly nervous Danielle Drury to storm out to an early lead and run off with the first game 15-2. Drury calmed her nerves in the second and led near the latter part of the game, but Morissette was not to be denied, chipping away at the lead and eventually taking the game 16-14.
On the men's side, the top two seeds also won in straightforward fashion. Green toppling Husulak 15-10, 15-7 and Murray ousting Bousquet 15-5, 15-10. Both lower seeds in these matches held their own in the early stages of both games, but saw their respective intensities wane as time went on, highlighting the conditioning factor necessary for success within this competition as well as an indication of the grueling schedule of doubles play early in the week. A similar story line followed in my match, where Pedro Castro came out of the gate playing quickly and aggressively, marching out to an early lead and never looking back to take a quick first game 15-7. I made a concerted effort to lengthen the rallies early in the second and it paid off, allowing me to open up a large lead. Pedro chipped away in the latter stages, but I held on to win 15-10 and force a tiebreaker. In the deciding game, I elected to be more aggressive on serve and it paid off with a few aces early and forced weak returns on the rest. By this time Castro was clearly tired and emotionally deflated after watching his solid effort in game one negated, and never recovered in the tiebreaker, as I took the deciding game 11-2. By far the most tumultuous match of the evening was Landeryou/Connell, whose back and forth battle lasted over 90 minutes and contained the full spectrum of shots, calls, and drama that can occur in this great sport. It was Connell who came charging out of the gates, like some sort of crazed animal with a penchant for rollouts. Landeryou managed to slow him down a bit in the latter stages but dropped the opener 15-9. The second game was very even through the midway point, where Landeryou opened up a slight lead on the back of some precise and powerful drive serves and held on to take the second 15-10. Landeryou elected to start the tiebreaker with the drive serve also, and retained the success he had in game two, opening up an early lead. Both players seemed to lose a bit of their mobility and precision in the decider, not hitting as low or cleanly as they had in the previous two games, but remained evenly matched. They traded points back and forth for most of the game, but Landeryou held onto his early lead, and capitalized on a few late-game errors from Connell to take the tiebreaker 11-6.
Predictions made early still hold, but there should be some extremely entertaining matches on deck for tonight. Be sure to tune in if you are able, with women's semis at 4:00 & 5:00 pm and the men's semis at 6:00 & 7:00 pm EST airing here: https://www.twitch.tv/racquetball_sani