July 23, 2004
Thursday marked Day 5 at the National Clay Court Championships as we moved to the second half of the week-long event. All singles and doubles matches were now held at the tournament home base, Woodmont Country Club. Everyone in one place meant easier viewing of targeted prospects and the elimination of much of the daily scurrying. What a pleasant surprise as traffic was brutal in these parts and resulted in longer trips to alternate sites in the morning commute hours. A few coaches from the "bigger" schools made their midweek appearance and their presence pushed the recruiting race into a higher gear. I continued to cover as much ground moving from match to match while the newly-arrived crew caught up on their daily schedule. Ten to 12-hour days seemed to be the norm as matches were played one after another. A few lengthy time delays threw off some of the standard meal breaks, but in the end, staying hydrated seemed to be more important in the hot and humid conditions. Threats of afternoon thunderstorms were usually forecasted, but not until today's downpour was there nothing more than comfortable sunny skies. The focus remained on players from several states, including Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New York, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and of course, California. These potential Broncos had been in contact with us throughout the year and it was nice to see the improvements they had made with their games. One impressive addition to this year's tournament was the inclusion of chair umpires for every scheduled match. This had to have been a costly expense, however, it added to the professionalism and quality of the event. Line disputes, player confrontations and other issues were barely existent. It was a pleasant site to see as it made for very enjoyable and competitive matches. Another noteworthy item was a get-together hosted by a local family last night. Parents of players and a few college coaches enjoyed a couple of hours of socializing away from the tournament scene. It was a great opportunity for both parties to get to know one another in a relaxed setting and share conversations about something other than tennis. Well, I can't exactly say that tennis was left out of any discussions. As the tournament headed into the weekend, the competition was certainly heating up. If the players weren't at Woodmont, they were probably on the highway or in the air preparing for their next opportunity to get back on the courts. The "show" rolled on and these future collegiate tennis stars continued their grind through the summer competition tour.