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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Indoor Tennis in Boise; Inside Junior Tennis

Boise ID--

I haven't had the best of luck with weather on this trip. Despite forecasts to the contrary, it was not sunny and warm on Saturday for the second round of the round robin dual competition hosted by Boise State. The temperature barely reached 40 degrees and there were stray snowflakes in the air (the skiing here, as you can see with the snowcapped peaks in the distance, is said to be better now than it has been all season), making it impossible to play outdoors at the Appleton Tennis Center.

I did get to take a tour of the facility, and although it is only six courts, it has one of the best locations I've ever seen for a college tennis facility--right in the heart of the campus. The basketball arena, the dorms, the student center are all within a couple of lobs of the tennis center and it is easy to imagine how, in better weather, it could become the focal point of students on a warm spring day. The courts are designed to to allow viewing access from one central location above, a definite improvement over the Boas Indoor facility, which features two bubbles covering three courts, demanding a choice from spectators once singles competition begins.

Today's match between Boise State and Penn I will cover in more detail for The Tennis Recruiting Network next week, but the Broncos, who have been on the road since the January 20th regionals, are enjoying having people cheering for them now, and took a 6-1 victory.

I watched most of the No. 1 singles match between Boise State's Luke Shields, currently ranked 7th in the country, and Jason Pinsky of Penn, while also keeping an eye on the far court, which featured Bronco Piotr Dilaj and Austin Fox of Penn. Pinsky, who had an unfinished match with Shields at the Team Indoor in Chicago last month when Boise defeated Penn 4-1, played flawless tennis to capture a 7-5, 6-3 decision. Coming in often, Pinsky volleyed exceptionally well and even the occasional miraculous winner by Shields and the vocal support of the crowd, including the Boise State men's basketball team, couldn't derail him.

That made the score 2-1 for Boise, as Blake Boswell at No. 4 had already won and Eric Roberson at No. 5 soon made it 3-1 for the home team. With Dilaj up a set at No. 3, the attention turned to him and despite squandering an opportunity to serve it out at 5-3, the junior from Poland eventually clinched the team's victory with a 6-3, 7-5 win.

I'm leaving Sunday morning, so my chance to see outdoor tennis is over, but the round robin continues with Penn playing Oregon and Utah before heading to Tulsa to complete their spring break trip against Oklahoma State and Tulsa.

It was a quick trip, but it was long enough to see how important tennis is to the city and the university.

Also, the current (and short) Inside Junior Tennis Podcast is available here. Kevin McClure has a new look for his website too!