Archive for August 28, 2009

Zhang Shuai 张帅

Zhang Shuai (21 January 1989) is from Tianjin, ranked 6th in China in 2008. She’s playing Irina Buryachok (07/05/1986) of Ukraine on court 17 at 2009 US Open, Qualifying Round on Wednesday August 26, 2009. She had bit trouble closing out the first set .. but nevertheless won in two sets.

She looks like a very promising player, has right physique; very easy on the eye.
a sweet girlChinese girls are definitely making an inroad in tennis.
Any one still remembers Hu Na 胡娜 who requested political asylum in the USA in 1983 now settled in Taipei? Taiwan? I’m skeptical of people from China end up in Taiwan – most likely they can’t make it in the open world.

Zhang and Buryachok’s match was very enjoyable, both are sleek and pretty, and don’t grunt. We spotted Irina miles away. Her outfit is striking, she wore them well. They traded many long rallies, corner to corner. Many seemingly impossible shots only followed by stunning returns. Up close and personal, those girls hit so hard and accurate. Pumpkin loves Zhang’s backhand.
All baseline.
Bit boring.
I MISS Boris Becker, Patrick Rafter, Pete Sampras ..

Wondering if Zhang Shuai has changed her name?
Huang Shuai (the school girl who rebelled against her teacher during the Cultural Revolution) was the name she was born with ..
What about Peng Shuai (born in 1986)?
A quick serve game from Zhang below..

I went with Pumpkin plus few more friends and kids. Ran into countless buddies. Sandy told me ..

“I figure it out, your daughter looks like Mu Lan.

The couple who sat next to me,

“She’s your daughter?” the wife pointed to Zhang Shuai.

kids .. .. Then few moments later, Pumpkin reappeared across the court, sat down with other kids.

“That must be your daughter.” The wife said triumphantly.

ha ha ha ..

This couple’s daughter who’s working now played tennis in high school, and had reached the national level.
“Did she get scholarship?” I asked, thinking of the Lady Red last weekend.
“No.” The Ivies do not dole out athletic scholarships.
“Where did she go?”
The wife added that it required 3 hours of practice daily. “No money no play.”
She told her daughter .. the mothers 🙂

The weather was nice. The SheaCitiField commuter parking lot, that was free during the qualifying round in the past is now charging $18. The commuter rate now is $4 (used to be $3 for many many years) and has to be in before 9am. Used to be 10am on a game day. The parking lot E is still free. There is a miniature golf attracting many spectators who got bored with tennis overdoes.

smack .. eyes on the ball ..

After the game’s over, Zhang is patient with autography seekers as well as photo requests. One man in his 30 or possible 40s asked,
“你府上是那里?” Where are you from.
She paused, because the usage is kind of old, deferential to a senior.
“From Tianjin.”
Irene’s thinking: man, get hold of yourself.

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An incestuous affair

2007 2008 2008 2009

The current and last two years’ of t-shirts sporting by Mr. Gorgeous .. 2007’s very striking; 2008’s theme was Roland Garros because they went to the French Open that May.

~ . ~

Day 2 at Tatang’s Memorial Cup 2009 by Metro Tennis Club of New York, Inc. at Cunningham Park.

It rained again, so we started late, at around 10:30am. As Ernie promised, there were 8 mixed doubles teams on the horizon. Our first match on Sunday (Aug 23) was the quarter final, having played the first match yesterday.

girls ruleOur opponents were 16 years old girl with her uncle, an older gent. We won 8:1. I double faulted once, due to my own amusement. Sorry, it wasn’t a close match, so my mind was wondering around. The girl was very athletic, retrieved a good lob from me down to her left corner and amazingly lobbed back cross-court. I had sort of given up that point, and running toward right. Simon was upset and yelled at me.

When I went to hang out with the girls after the match, few of them were talking … about me.

“Irene, you should never let your partner treat you like that.”

“??” Irene frown.

“I won’t.” Another added.

“Don’t let him call you stupid.”

“No he didn’t.” I protested. Stupid isn’t in Simon’s dictionary nor features in his vocabulary.

“Yes he did. We all heard.”

Either I’m used to the abuse or deaf to the unflattering compliment.

“I’ve been called worse.” I joked, but the ladies didn’t find that aaamusing.

What’s wrong with me?!

Errrhhhh … whatever.

I know I like a talking partner (even I write I in doubles game a lot b/c all my partners are great .. ), who tells me what to do since I don’t really know what I am doing, on court. Running like wild rabbit. Playing singles? ha ha ha .. that’s funny.

the sister actWe lost our next match 8:6, the semi final against two youngsters, she’s on St. Johns’ team (about 3.5 .. kind of low, don’t you think?) and her boy friend is a solid 5.0 – lethal, powerful, fast, clean and precise. Ya, I heard you, hit to the girl but he’s too speedy who covered the entire court. Few times she was at net and didn’t even know where the ball was, when he would hit around her. Amazing.

Out of courtesy, he never once hit to me with a deadly force when I was at net but served up plenty aces. He toyed with us from the get go then dropped his façade when we led 5:3. I held serve, wasn’t a bit nervous and didn’t double fault – I should try to play like that all the time! But he was just too good for us.

The two seemed enjoying each other very much. They giggled and talked; fist-pumped and finger-pumped. Their affection would fill the five courts there. Young love.

the woman in redThe story about The Woman in Red:

The two young ladies are sisters from a small Ohio town. Lady Red is attending St. Johns (and the other Rutgers) who discovered this university from the Internet. She said there wasn’t any schools near home she liked.

They changed outfits few times during the day. The pic above (men in black) was when they were playing for the 3.5 semi final against two girls on the USTA Manhattan team. The 3.5 Ladies Manhattan (captained by Harris) also is going to Tucson this October, having won 5:0 at Syracuse early this month. The two pairs played very well but when the match gone into tiebreak, both side became nervous, mooning and nursing the ball and messing up the scores. So a linesman/referee (to the right in pic) was dispatched.

Cool sneakers
When the girls again got into an argument the audience asked the referee what he’s doing there. He shouted back,

“They didn’t tell me that I should call the lines.”

All the people there (quite a few were just watching) were knowledgeable tennis fanatics and they’re fair and friendly, they wanted a fine game.

“Are you on St. Johns team?” Having seen the St. Johns’ boys played yesterday, the difference is too dramatic. The sisters are on the same level, about 3.5.

“Yes I am. .. I practice few hours a day.” Lady Red replied.


in action ... look at the cheering squad “Are you on a scholarship?” I asked.

Explaination: the question was just as it is, because long time ago, Pumpkin’s first coach had said tennis scholarship in Division III’s easy to come by. I know Division III, but I don’t know if St. Johns’ Div I or II or III. I knew it has good basketball team.

Lady Red paused a few second, then replied,

“Yes, I’m on scholarship BUT for academic. I’m science major.”

IF she didn’t pause, I would not have thought otherwise, nor feel compiled to explain myself here.

Both girls are very likable, reminds me of the Venus and Serena Williams. Lady Red actaully looks like Serena. No? Oh well ..

Lady Chablis
Lady Red entered singles and both of them into the mixed too on Sunday. They came with their boy friends for the second day. Funny, when I saw them on Saturday, my first thought was, ..

“Are they hustlers?”

Anyway, let’s talk about fashion. Lady Red’s single opponent was in an identical outfit who instantly reminded me of Lady Chablis in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Just an impression.

Lady Red won.

Good tactics.
trophy presentationThe trophy presentation: they don’t have ceremony after the conclusion of the final match but present the winner and runner up cups prior to the match: both teams seem happy and hopeful, all smiles. IF the cups were present after the match, the loser(s) are likely to be sour faced.

After our loss, we chatted briefly before they left the court first. Lady Red volunteered the info that she ranked 3.0 and he ranked 3.5 by USTA.

Hmmmmm .. that’s bit 不打自招 make a confession without duress, or 做贼心虚 have a guilty conscience. 真是 此地无银三百两 No 300 taels of silver buried here (the sign put up by the man in the folk tale over the place where he had hidden some money) – protest one’s innocence too much.

Then Simon and I lingered little, talked about our match. As we were talking, next match came up: an older Filipino couple vs Lady Red’s sis and her b/f. The couple came to us directly and said,

sitting pretty .. who's prettier .. the girl or the flowers?“I’ve complained to Ernie. You should too. He doesn’t belong here.”

I wasn’t going to complain. One it sounded like sour grape. Two what was done has been done. Take it like a man. I might not as a good player as I want to be but I view myself a very decent and fair sportsman. Three the youngsters were likeable and four, every one saw it in plain sight .. it’s organizers’ problem to make it fairer next time around.

a trophy husbandAfter we left court, many spectators padded my shoulder, saying ..

“You played well .. ..”

So Irene must looked like a total loser out there 🙂 .. like the ugliest girl always wounds up winning the Miss Friendship in a beauty pageant.

One guy even asked us ..

“Are you 8.0?”

a fanSimon lost his cool and talked to Ernie, he played his heart out. Ernie said he would only award them the trophy not the cash prize.

Hmmmm .. I don’t know about that. He might just trying to pacify us. Needn’t.

Give kids the $$ and tell them be honest next time around.

Claiming USTA ranking is laughable. There is fairness that we all value.

a king
The Manhattan team girls:
During their loss to the sisters, one of them was fanning herself throughout the match with the t-shirt like a guy. At first, I thought a bee or fly got into her t-shirt.

As soon as they came off the court after the match, one of the girls came to the group and complained about her partner.

“I have to baby sit her all the time ..

She always has some excuse, like today, she has to go to USTA after the match .. has to rush to elsewhere ..

She said she’s hot .. .. “

So that’s why she was fanning. Sounded so spoiled only she didn’t looked the part.

Team work. Team spirit. Team .. be like a man perhaps? At least acts like an adult? I’ve never heard my teenage daughter complains about hot when she has to play.

a queen
The pair played well from get go but melted when the score got close.

Later the fanning girl came and asked us if we saw her undie while she flipping her t-shirt up and down.

“Underwear .. not sure but we all saw your six pack ab ..” one of the girl replied.

The 3.5 Lady Team as whole’s smart to enter the tourney, getting ready for the National in October – playing with strangers and under the pressure. But I don’t know how they map out a partnership for doubles. Those two clearly don’t care for each other.

By the time we left, I saw the bickering pair was sitting side-by-side, eating dinner and watching the games.
the little tiger

About the title: don’t take any offense, it means very family orientated, a big happy family where every one knows your name. I hope under the sunny surface, there isn’t any internal strife.

There were many yongsters playing, like this cute 11 years old boy (he’s on the small side) entered the main draw, playing with big people while others, totally fluent in match, played among themselves.

Many of them travel together, to Montreal, Las Vegas, CA, Florida, Paris .. playing tennis with other Filipino groups. I suggested they invite Simon next time.

the tigerThey asked,

“Does he drink?”

Boy, not sure if Simon drinks!

The 16-year girl’s mom came to chat with me few hours late. She herself is a 4.5 player and had gone to National twice. She mentioned that there is lot of politics in Metro tennis, and the Long Island team is far better, just tennis. Which is the way suppose to be, leave the bickering and reprisal at home. The only scores that needed to be settled is the 40 Love.

Tattoo .. cool guy and rice cooker .. We Asians don’t like riceI leave the food to the last this time. Although they only advertise the breakfast and lunch, but the food was non-stop at the site. The family had a memorial on Saturday evening and they provided Chinese take out (we left after noon when there wasn’t any mixed doubles team in sight) to those remained. On Sunday, again, they served the whole cracking pig, and many other delicious stuff. I particularly enjoyed the sesame red bean ball. They didn’t provide drink.

Ernie said the entrance fee only covered part of the cost.

“My sister who’s doctor donates the food and my brother-in-law who’s also a doctor donates the prizes.”

It’s really a nice way to honor their Tatang, family unity and done in style.

0CIMG7899 Have you ever wondered what’s going on inside of your food ..

As we were leaving for home at dusk, Pumpkin called, asking how we did.

“Mom, did you win?”

“No .. ” Then a huge guilt surged.

The common Alzheimer’s disease affecting people, in general 65+ .. however, Irene has it since her 30s. I suddenly remembered why I shunned tourney and leagues:

I didn’t have the time.

For two days, I neglect my children and family, lounging in a park, waiting for my next match. Sure I read my Times but I felt at fault, double fault.

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