First day of the Master’s U and we started off with a resounding bang by defeating a very strong Belgium squad by a 7-0 score. Tomorrow morning we square off against the # 3 seeded team of Russia who just won a Russian Barnburner 4-3 against Great Britain. We are playing at the Country Club in Aix en Provence which has very temperamental weather moods. A few days ago the weather was sunny and in the high 50s and today there was a light snow fall and freezing temps. We play indoors in an unheated, so it feels like we are playing in an igloo. Neverless, the tennis of our players in the Red, white and blue heated up the facility and our spirits. Our victory over Belgium was sweet for they are very talented, and to be able to compete and win against a tough opponent in the first round of this 8 nation tournament has toughened us up and given great confidence.
All the team matches begin with the two women singles. #1 Lauren Embree (Un Florida) kicked it off with a display of consistency from the base line against the Belgium player (who had a top 200 WTA ranking). She cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory.
#2 women’s singles player Zoe Scandalis (USC) must have felt like she had been hit by a snow storm and avalanche in the beginning of her match for she fell behind 1-4. In the first three games the Belgium hit explosive winners on every point, and Zoe was only won two points out of the first 14 points played. Her remarkable composure and mature adjustments in her tactics brought her back to win 5 straight games to win the first set 6-4, and then she switched gears even up in the 2nd set to breeze to a 6-3 second set win and the match.
This is all that we needed for our men to step up with poise and determination. They never looked back as #2 singles Ray Sarmiento (USC) won 6-3, 6-4 with his flashy and breath taking skills (half volley winners, and the scrambling of a hungry cheetah chasing down his tasty prey.)
The athleticism of #1 Jarmere Jenkins (Virginia) was awe inspiring as he defeated a gritty Belgium 6-1, 7-6 (6). After clinching the match, America’s pride dominated in the doubles.
Women doubles of Jacquline Cako (USC) and Lauren Embree (Florida) won 6-1, 3-6, 10-4
Men’s doubles of Evan King (Michigan) and Ray Sarmiento (USC) dominated 6-2, 6-2
Mixed doubles was the whip cream on the sundae when Jacqui Cako –Evan King won 8-3.
Semis tomorrow at 10am against the Russians who brought an impressive squad to France.
The following observations are from our women (Lauren Embree, Jacqui Cako, and Zoe Scandalis)
Coach Patton and Coach Augustus
Team USA here from France! This is Lauren Embree
writing you all after our first victory over Belgium today in the quarter finals. We had a wake up call at 7:15 this morning, ate some breakfast and headed outside to see ice on the windshield of our van. (Being from Florida, I was not to happy to see that). We started our matches at 10 am today against Belgium. We got off to a great start with 2 women’s singles wins, followed by 5 more wins throughout the day. We could not have played as well and had as much fun out there without help of our crazy team cheering everyone on.
It is currently 9 pm here in France, and after a long day of matches, cheering on our team in the freezing cold, and a nice team dinner, we are playing the card game “ President” in the hotel lobby. Most of us have been lucky and have gotten our homework done which is good since we’re all pretty tired after our matches. It’s Jacqueline Cako
here now and just want to say I got the best hand ever in the game and just dominated! It’s all in good fun though. This trip has been pretty amazing so far that it’s tough to find the words to describe it. We’re all in high spirits, bubbling with excitement for the coming days and the chance to play for the title again. We did some team bonding last night which brought us closer, and got us feeling like a “family.” Being so far away from home and not having phones or internet most of the day forces us to rely on each other which is sometimes the biggest blessing. With such a variety of people there isn’t ever a dull moment. We’ve got Zoe who is the queen of random, unintentional death glares, and Lauren who is always smiling and is a rock on the court. Then there’s Evan who is always dancing a little shuffle, Raymond who just has a ton of swag and Jarmere who is definitely one of a kind.
Hey everyone! This is Zoe Scandalis
writing from our hotel in the beautiful (but freezing!) city Marseilles. This was the very first day I got the chance to compete with Team USA and it was so awesome. Getting to spend time with Lauren, Jacqueline, Jarmere, Ray, Evan, the coaches Greg and Amanda, and Greg’s beyond sweet daughter Chelsea has been so wonderful. With all the time we have spent together in the last few days I am starting to find out what genuinely awesome people they all are and today going out to battle against Belgium as a team, with USA written on our backs and wearing Red White and Blue, was a feeling that felt so good! I can’t wait to get back on the court with these guys tomorrow. The cheering, yelling, dancing, continuous sarcasm, and jumping around will only continue with the team and I am so looking forward to taking on another country with them. Like Coach Patton said from the start “we are a family” and now I am really starting to feel the love. Anyone we face will be in trouble because we have something great going. Let’s go USA!!!