Lam-Tsodikova shut down in doubles match vs. pros
The ball hung in the air for a split-second before Michelle Lam brought her racket down, smashing it right down the middle for a winner.
Lana Tsodikova extended her arms for backhand volley and pumped her fist as the ball sailed out of the reach of her opponents and tucked just inside the baseline.
These were two of several magical moments at the San Francisco Tennis Classic on Monday for Lam and Tsodikova, two Lowell High School tennis players who earned their way into the USTA-sanctioned event by winning a recent doubles qualifying tournament.
And even after losing 4-0, 4-0 in a short-set qualifying match to professionals Biffy Kaufman and Kim-Anh Nguyen at the Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club, both smiled with the satisfaction of knowing that, at least for an afternoon, they had played with the best.
“I had a dream last night that I was on center court here with a bunch of people cheering,” Lam said. “And when I hit that shot, it felt like we won the match.”
Lam and Tsodikova won three matches against other top prep players from around The City in a preliminary qualifier that concluded Sept. 30 to earn a wild-card bid into the Classic. Both play singles for Lowell (though they were not representing the Cardinals in this event) and are actually more accustomed to playing against one another in practice and various junior events than side-by-side.
But the pair quickly came together to seize the unique opportunity.
“This was one of the best experiences of my life,” Tsodikova said. “Our goal was to come out here and win a few points and show them we had some game. And I think we did it.”
They came their closest to winning a game down 3-0 in the second set. With Tsodikova serving and Lam playing well at the net, the pair actually was up 40-30 with a chance to extend play — until three straight points from Kaufman and Nguyen ended the match at an even half-hour.
“I was impressed with their power and aggressiveness,” Lam said. “Their games were all put together. It was a class higher.”
The Classic will continue through this Sunday, with all singles and doubles matches played at Golden Gateway. Lam and Tsodikova will go back to their regular schedule of Academic Athletic Association opponents for undefeated Lowell (6-0), with that dream of becoming a professional just a little easier to imagine.
“I’d do it again in a second, without even thinking about it,” Tsodikova said of this experience. “And now if we keep working hard, who knows? Maybe we can put ourselves in this position again.”