Recently I caught a few days of the first two women’s United States Tennis Association Pro Circuit tournaments of the 2018 season, the DME Sports Women’s Tennis Championship at Daytona Beach, and the National Campus Pro Tennis Classic at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, both $25,000 events played on Har Tru (green clay).
Haven’t been feeling well lately but spending a few days following the women pros as they begin their season is always fun. After all of the years, seeing so many of the players each trip, it just about feels like an annual visit with family. Seeing the grind of life on the Pro Circuit and the struggles of the players up close, you want them all to succeed and it’s impossible to take sides. I guess that’s why I really enjoy the tennis at the ITF level as much and probably a whole lot more than when I’ve gone to the bigger WTA tournaments. There’re just so many amazing and poignant personal stories that can be told, all heroic, all unique.
Maybe the best part is chatting with fellow fans. They’ll engage about anything, anyone, any player, any match, any tournament, any point… You give, and you get in this fashion, and the days at the court can pass in a flash.
In 2018’s editions of the Daytona and Orlado events, held the weeks of January 8 and January 15, respectively, I was able to track down a couple players I hadn’t had a chance to see previously (Ayla Aksu, Reka-Luca Jani) as well as many old faves, including cancer survivor Alisa Kleybanova. That was a real treat.
It hardly seems fair that another year of tennis in central Florida is gone already. I guess I’ll be hoping 2019 comes around soon!