Throughout the Cavaliers’ trip to College Station for the 2009 NCAA Championships, the members of the team will take turns writing passages in the blog. Check in throughout the week for the latest news, stories, and anecdotes from the trip.
Saturday, May 16 – Steven Eelkman Rooda
Today, we started off with the same routine warm-up for our match. At 8:30am sharp, everyone was downstairs ready to go to the courts for our first hit. Some of us give a new interpretation of the words ‘short hit’ as some literally hit for not more than 5 minutes. Others like to make it a little longer, just to get a feel for the ball. This first hit is not meant to warm-up, but it’s more that coach wants to make sure that we all wake-up a couple of hours in advance since most of us really like to sleep in. After the hit we went back to the hotel, and we barely got back in time for breakfast, but they were kind enough to extend breakfast for a little longer. After we all got a good breakfast in, it was time to go back to the room and get some rest. Then we met again back in the lobby at 10:30 am to go back to the courts. Since we arrived pretty early, we just waited on the courts for a bit until we decided to start our pre-match warm up.
Finally, at noon, it was game-time. The match we have all been preparing for since our victory over Florida State. I have to mention that our greatest (and for sure our BIGGEST) fan once again showed up in an astonishing costume. If you think he had dressed up great during our UNC match, or even when we played FSU, you are wrong. Today, he had dressed up as a girl cheerleader, and he for sure made my day. That was just too good.
We started great in doubles but the Trojans responded with some great points. As all matches were really close, Drew and Lee were unfortunately the first ones to get off the court. They fought hard but got some unlucky shots to lose the match. Then, Michael and Dom drew even with their win over the #4 team in the nation. This was a great match to watch, and there is no need to say what a great win this is for them. Then, as it was 1-1, it was all up to Sanam and Houston. When serving for it at 8-7, they got breakpoints down and then the Trojans broke back and force a tiebreaker. The Trojans played great in the breaker and took the doubles point. It was kind of disappointing, but we have been in this situation before, and a true champion needs to be able to overcome some adversity so we were all fired up and ready to battle back in singles before all matches were postponed because of lightning threats.
As the prediction was that the weather was supposed to clear up, we all went back to the locker room to make sure we were ready to go when time was there. However, after 15 minutes it started pouring and it didn’t stop for at least 45 minutes, so we found ourselves on our way back to the hotel since the tennis center looked more like a swimming pool. The decision whether or not we were going to play today was made at 5:30 pm, so after we picked up lunch (of course at the same place as we did all the other days, McAlister’s) we went back to our rooms to get some rest. At 5:30 we found out the match was going to start at 8pm again, so we needed to get ready. However, later on we heard that the match was postponed till tomorrow 9am because the weather was not going to clear up. We then ordered dinner and went back to our rooms again to relax and start preparing for tomorrow.
It’s about time to go to bed, as we will have a early wake-up call (6am) to get ready for our 9am match. We might be 0-1 down, but this match isn’t even close from being over. It’s all about how we come out tomorrow, since there are still 6 more points to get. And so far, we feel like all of them are ours. GO HOOS!
Friday, May 15 – Houston Barrick
Well it was nice to have another relaxing day after the tough match against FSU yesterday. It is really hard to play a team three times in the same year. They played really well, so we were glad to get the win.
The day started with team breakfast down in the hotel restaurant at 9 a.m. Breakfast took forever just because there are a bunch of teams staying in the hotel. After breakfast we headed to practice over at the main site. Coach wanted most of us to have a light day, just to rest our bodies. Of course we had to do the superstitious ice bath after practice. If you haven’t figured it out by now, this team has too many superstitions. The superstitions continued when we went to McAlister’s Deli for lunch. This made it the third day this week we have been there. Our afternoon was fun, because coach let us go to a movie. We went and saw Angels and Demons. I was a little disappointed, but it was still pretty good. It was nice to get out of the hotel for a few hours anyway. Since it is graduation weekend here in College Station, we ended up having dinner in the room. We switched it up this time and went with Olive Garden. We haven’t been there in a while!
After dinner I spent some time on the phone trying to get some scouting reports for the match tomorrow. I know some of the Stanford players well, so I was able to get some tips from those guys. Hopefully it comes in handy. After I got off the phone, it was time to get a massage. Man life is really hard! Coach didn’t have much to say about the match tomorrow in the team meeting. As is our routine every night, Dom and I headed for our trainer Becca’s room for an intense game of sporcle. Sporcle is an online trivia game that is really addicting. We ended up trying to name the twenty-five top ESPN sports movies. It was harder than we thought. Bend it Like Beckham was on the list! Of course Dom and I had no chance at getting that one. My favorite movie of all time is Rudy, so that was an easy one to get. Needless to say, we didn’t win the game. But, the entire day was pretty relaxing and fun. Off days can get a little boring, but going to the movie helped us stay active. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, but we are all looking forward to the match. Hopefully, it will be another great day for the HOOS! Goodnight from College Station.
Thursday, May 14 – David Nguyen
Today we had a great start to the NCAA tournament. We had a light practice in the morning at the main site and afterwards went back to eat breakfast at the hotel. Our match was at noon, so we left a little before 11 a.m. so that we could stretch and warm up for the match. Of course we did not start on time. Georgia was having a battle with Illinois and they were taking longer than expected. Before going on court for doubles, coach gave an inspiring speech about how we have worked really hard all year but still need to focus because our opponents will not just hand us a victory.
Doubles went smoothly. Dom and Shabaz were on top of their guys and dominated the match. They ended up winning 8-3. Sanam saved a huge break point with his signature backhand down the line and finished the game to win 8-6. Drew and Lee had a tough loss, but they battled back in singles.
In singles, Drew won first with a 6-4, 6-2 win. As coach would say, he wanted the ball. Sanam was next to finish with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Bowles. Sanam played very well and hit a bunch of amazing passing shots. Shabaz (who believes that he is from Ancient Mesopotamia) clinched the win, beating Sykut 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Shabaz struggled in the first set, but once he got it going his opponent didn’t stand a chance. Lee was on the verge of winning with a 3-1 lead over his opponent in the third set. Dom and Houston each had tough losses but fought hard. We were the fitter team. Because we arrived a couple days before the tournament stared, we were able to become accustomed to the hot weather. Our hard work throughout the season also helped.
After the win we stretched and took another team bonding ice bath (I just love those!). We went straight from the courts to the same Japanese Hibachi restaurant we went the first day. Once again Derek ordered scallops and once again he took some heat from the guys. Everyone was so hungry that most of us got double the rice. We then went back to the hotel and are now currently watching the Lakers and Rockets game. Lee and I are both rooting for the Rockets. We both think that the Lakers are terrible and that Kobe is overrated. Tomorrow should be a great day to get some rest, and get ready for USC. They are a great team, so we will need everything we have to beat them. Goodnight from College Station. Go Hoos!
Wednesday, May 13 – Steven Rooda
Well, another couple of days in beautiful Texas has come and gone. It feels like we have been here forever, which is kind of true, since we got here at Sunday. But tomorrow is finally the day we have been waiting for all season and we are all excited and ready to play Florida State. The last couple of days have gone by in a split second without nothing really exciting going on. We had some tough practices on Monday and Tuesday, which was a great way to get used to the heat. We’re doing a great deal in practice by simulating as if we are playing a real match, which should get us as ready as possible for the big deal. And I think we all did a great job with that, so we’re ready to go tomorrow.
Today we had an easy practice at the main site, played some doubles and singles points for about one hour and then went back to the hotel again. However, we first took a team-bonding ice bath together. This is always team-bonding since no one really likes doing ice baths because it is so COLD. But this time, the whole team was sitting in two small jacuzzis. All our legs were tied up as if we got stuck in a spider web, but we had some quality time together so we made it through. Now we just need to figure out how we are ever going to do that again, since it took some rocket-science to fit all of us in there. After the hit, we went to the same place for lunch as we did on Monday, and I am sure that some of us got the same food since we’re so superstitious. After that, we went back to the hotel and it was time to get some rest. Some of us probably took a nap, others just read some books or watched TV. At around 6:30 pm it was time to get dressed up to go to the opening banquet. Everybody was of course really excited for this, and we were all looking forward to get some great food. But some of the guys (including me) needed to get some food afterwards. Thankfully, the banquet was really short and we were all ready to go back to the hotel and get some more rest in. After we got back in the hotel, everyone got a well-earned massage, and in the meantime we had our team-meeting to go through tomorrows schedule.
Now it’s about time for me to go to bed as tomorrow should be a big day for UVA. GO HOOS!
Sunday, May 9th – Drew Courtney
The day began with a whopping 2:30 am wake-up call. I not only had to pack for the trip, but I also had to move out of dorms. So after many games of hallway golf with several teammates, I found myself preparing for this trip all night. The bus pulled in way too early for any of us. Coach was blurry eyed, and of course had some smart comments for all of us. Our flight was scheduled to take off at 7:15 from the Charlottesville airport. The bus ride there was entertaining as always. It mainly included me and Steven ragging on Lee with our immaturity. It sometimes is hard for him to take. He is sensitive, especially at that hour of the morning. Our flight was to Philadelphia and we might have had a rookie pilot because he struggled to land the propeller plane smoothly. Sanam was freaking out the whole time, because coach was scaring him to death with horror pilot stories. Since we were in Philadelphia, it was my idea to stop over at Geno’s and Pat’s for a Philly cheesesteak. This idea was quickly shot down by coach. Our flight from Philly to Houston was thankfully was a lot smoother. After catching up on some much needed sleep on the plane, it was time for us to practice after we landed. The Texas heat was already noticeable. I was already sweating bullets as soon as we got out of the van. The hit was pretty short considering the whole team was exhausted and sleep deprived, but still beneficial for our preparation. That was for you coach! After practice we headed for the hotel for a quick shower. For dinner we walked across the street to a hibachi Japanese restaurant. This ended up being a marathon of a dinner. It included rice, chicken, steak, veggies, shrimp, salad, and soup. Derek, being the infamous health freak, ordered scallops for his main meal. He undoubtedly took some heat from the guys, and even our server gave him a weird look. After dinner we headed for the grocery store, and loaded up on some Gatorades and waters. It was hard to focus on the grocery shopping, since the Celtics game was coming down to the wire. Big Baby Davis ended up hitting the game winner. Since only H, Mike and I were pulling for the Celtics, it was a great ending for us, but not for Lee. His Los Angeles Lakers took a tough loss, even with Yao Ming out of the lineup. Sorry Lee. The night ended with us all heading to our rooms for a great night sleep. Tomorrow should be a more productive day, given that we will all be rested. See you guys later. Go Hoos.