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Queen City Notebook 08/09/2010 - 8:20 AM

Va-yw 
  

by Bobby Chintapalli, Contributing Writer

I’m in Cincinnati this week for the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open, where main draw matches start today. (As you’ve probably heard, this will be a combined WTA and ATP event starting next year.) I’ll be writing a few "notebook" posts in addition to researching other pieces. This first one fills you in on some of the goings-on around the practice courts this weekend.

Ana Ivanovic is, well, you know...

Adjectives don’t win tennis matches, even when they’re pretty and gorgeous. Maybe even especially when they’re pretty and gorgeous. And certainly not for a Grand Slam winner and former No. 1, who other players likely hear described that way early and often.

By early I mean five minutes, which is how long I was at the tournament before I heard those words used to describe the winsome Ana Ivanovic, who’s still struggling to win some matches. (She’s currently No. 60.) At the first practice court I stopped at on my way to the snazzy, new media center, Ivanovic was hitting with Dinara Safina. As Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova sat on the side of the court watching them, a lady next to me asked me their names. I told her, she looked over then asked, pointing to Ivanovic, “Which one is this?” As Ivanovic rallied on, with Azarenka and her coach still watching closely and discussing (Azarenka and Ivanovic play each other in the first round tonight), the words spilled out of the lady, effortlessly as a Serena Williams ace. Ivanovic’s looks don’t go unnoticed by fans and sponsors, and you have to wonder if, indirectly at least, that just makes her a bigger target on court.

Sabine Lisicki’s back, and she’s having fun.

Lisicki

After being out with an injury since March, Sabine Lisicki is making her comeback at this tournament, and the proof is in the cup of beer. But we’ll get to that. On Saturday, sharing a practice court with Elena Vesnina, she moved well enough and was pounding that serve and forehand. Too much so in the case of one wayward shot that found its way to a plastic beer cup a fan placed in a tray by the fence. The shot hit the cup, and the cup exploded, spraying beer all over its owner before falling into the court. Lisicki and Vesnina looked over and laughed along with the guy who lost half his beer.

Perhaps grateful to be playing again, Lisicki had a good time out there. Vesnina, who always seems to find a way to enjoy herself (especially when she’s not playing an actual match), joined in the merriment. After a bit of hitting and a few minutes of chitchatting, the two prepared to start practice games.

Vesnina asked, “I start?”

Lisicki playfully retorted, “Oh, you don’t want me to start, huh?”

Vesnina replied, “No.”

At one point the man with Lisicki, likely her father/coach, walked over to the beer guy and said jovially, in reference to the beer incident, “You’re watching the wrong court.” But it was exactly the right court if you wanted to see professional tennis look like what it is for millions of recreational players—fun.

Victoria Azarenka and Yanina Wickmayer don’t play around.

Azarenka

I finally got the matchup I’d been waiting to see for more than a year now. No. 12 Victoria Azarenka and No. 16 Yanina Wickmayer, who I’m convinced are too good—and too fiery—not to win majors someday, finally played each other. For points. So what if it was on the practice courts? They faced off on inconspicuous Court 10—where a half dozen John Deere tractors are visible and you can hear men emptying dumpsters—and it was fierce. Hardly a dozen fans occupied the bleachers, since Maria Sharapova was in the middle of a hitting session on the next court. Set against a chorus of whoopees, whoos and Sharapova grunts, their practice games were “practice” games.

Before receiving serve, Azarenka sometimes turned her back, practiced her strokes and held up her hand when she wasn’t ready for Wickmayer’s serve. And, yes, she grunted as loud as ever.

Wickmayer was quieter but perhaps more…intense. One game ended with a shot Azarenka called wide. Wickmayer looked over at her, and Azarenka gestured that the ball was, in fact, wide. The game ended. Azarenka walked to the other side, taking a longer look at the mark as she passed it. Wickmayer walked to the other side too, hitting her racquet on the ground along the way.

Later, seeing a tennis ball roll near Wickmayer as she prepared to serve, Azarenka put her hand up and said, “Yanina, watch out for the ball...sorry.” Without a nod, turn or further delay, Wickmayer pushed the ball away and proceeded to serve. This isn’t to say Wickmayer doesn’t stop to enjoy herself. In fact, I saw her smile, twice in two sessions. (Yes, I counted games too, but a lady never tells—especially not in the Queen City.)

If Vesnina practiced like it’s fun and Safina practiced like it’s work, Azarenka and Wickmayer practiced like it counted.


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Posted by first 08/09/2010 at 08:26 AM

first

Posted by Jamaica Karen (FOTHB - Roger and Venus) 08/09/2010 at 08:35 AM

Yaay Bobbi, thanks for this and good morning to you in Cincinatti. I always have problems spelling it and it always looks like it has too many n's and not enough t's. A bit like Missippi. See, red line comes up again so that means it must be an error. Arggh.

Radio Tennis will be broadcasting live today and tomorrow so hopefully we will be able to hear the matches being played. Really looking forward to Ivanovic/Azarenka. Ivanovic beat Azarenka earlier this season (clay) and many people thought Ivanovic looked good then and seemed to be on the road back. That has not happened as she seems to have regressed somewhat.

Hmm, beauty and charm? Could it be the reason for Ivanovic's downward spiral? Are you thinking that maybe players are going after her because of her beauty? Doubt it. I think players are going at her because 1) they want to beat her, 2) they want to win matches and 3) even more importantly, she is a former No.1, a Grand Slam champion and no matter what her position is right now, she will always have that title.

I hope Ivanovic gets her game together but the more losses she gets, the more the confidence goes, the more the confidence goes, the more the game goes and so it continues.

Radio Tennis schedule here:
http://www.radiotennis.com/schedules.php

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 08/09/2010 at 08:49 AM

Thanks Bobby. I know top atp players practice against each other, but I was under the impression top wta players chose not to (for whatever reason). Must make for a worthwhile practice session. Looking forward to reading more.....if you catch Dinara's match, let us know if she's lightened up a bit!:)

Posted by Samantha Elin 08/09/2010 at 08:57 AM

This is great Bobby, havent seen Sabine in a while. Karen, I left you a message in the previous blog, just please confirm that you got it and again thanks for your help.

Posted by Samantha Elin 08/09/2010 at 09:07 AM

Just saw your reply, Karen, thanks for the help. My pick for Cinn, this is hard, but I'm going with Kim.

Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 09:11 AM

Cincinnati Preview:

The top 4 seeds are Jelena Jankovic who lost in her match in San Diego against Alisa Kleybanova, Caroline Wozniacki, who won her home country tournament in Copenhagen, Elena Dementieva, who is still trying to get in a rhythm playing matches, and Kim Clijsters, who started her comeback last year. Jelena is a question mark to play this week as she is dealing with a left ankle injury. Caroline is finally starting her USO campaign and will she be affected by jet lag. Venus Williams is not playing due to a left knee strain and Samantha Stosur will be missing Cincinnati and Montreal due to arm issues. MRI did not show anything wrong but the doctors advised her to rest.

(a) Agnieszka Radwanska – She has had an excellent two week stretch at Stanford where she made the semifinals and San Diego where she made the finals. Now, will she be able to stay consistent this week as she may start to feel the fatigue of playing a lot of matches and the heat and humidity will not make it better.

(b) Victoria Azarenka – She won at Stanford two weeks ago and elected to rest instead of playing San Diego. Last year, she lost a tight match to Kim and at that point, I felt she needs to find a way to defeat elite players. She may be able to start answering those questions this week

© Vera Zvonareva – Will she be able to rebound after an unexpected loss to Coco Vandeweghe at San Diego? I think she should be able to get some matches this week as she has the talent to navigate her section of the quarter until a potential matchup with Kim in the quarterfinals.

(d) Sabine Lisicki – She is returning back to the tour from her injuries. Her game is a big one which I call risk and reward. If her game is on, it is Top 10 caliber but she has struggled with injuries and consistency. After the Williams Sisters, I will say her serve is one of the biggest on the tour.


Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 09:18 AM

Bobby,
Thank you for your write up on Cincinnati especially on Sabine being able to swing again. Like the beer incident that happened.

Posted by wilson75 08/09/2010 at 09:25 AM

The good thing about Ana Ivanovic is at least she's won titles including a GS, so nobody can say she's Anna Kournikova 2.0. I like her and I hope she and Dinara can get back to playing good tennis. Ana just has to cut back on the fist-pumping which is annoying and distracting.

Posted by Samantha Elin 08/09/2010 at 09:35 AM

Wilson 75, I love Ana to and believe that she can get it together, but there were quotes from "tennis expert" who tried the Kournikova comparsion which is ridiculous when you think about it. Ana even made a statement which basically said she wasn't Kournikova. Sometimes it takes player in a slump, a longer time than other, in time, she can make a comeback.

Posted by JB (FOOPs unite!) 08/09/2010 at 09:36 AM

Bobby - great write up - sounds like you're having a lot of fun, even before things 'start'!

I've always wanted to be there for the very start of a tourney, but just don't have the time (off work), boo. ah well, at least we have people like you who are willing to share. :)

Posted by Samantha Elin 08/09/2010 at 09:39 AM

Also, I don't see how anyone could dislike her when she's so genuinely sweet. Sofia Arvidsson said that when she was injured, Ana was the only player who contacted her and asked if she could help, compare that to JJ stealing her massage because as a "star" she was entitled to go first.And the fist pumping, she does to pump herself up, not to hurt others.

Posted by Nic 08/09/2010 at 09:58 AM

Really, we're still bring up the massage incident? Come now, JJ's done many more naughty things since, it's only fair to give those equal attention.

Posted by Samantha Elin 08/09/2010 at 10:00 AM

LOL Nic, JJ is great for the WTA, big personality whether you like her or not, she keep its interesting.

Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 10:00 AM

Monday Order of Play:

ATP: Toronto at 11 AM - Gasquet, Falla, Robredo, Benneteau, Lopez, Gulbis vs Bellucci and Almagro scheduled
WTA: Cincinnati at 11 AM - King, Lisicki, Rezai, Date Krumm, Safina, Cibulkova, Bartoli, Peer, Kleybanova and Shvedova scheduled
ATP: Toronto at Noon - L Mayer and Petzschner scheduled
ATP: Toronto at 1 PM - Simon vs Youzhny to be followed by Russell vs Querrey
WTA: Cincinnati at 7:20 PM - Azarenka vs Ivanovic
ATP: Toronto at 7:30 PM - Melzer vs Polansky to be followed by doubles debut of Nadal and Djokovic

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 08/09/2010 at 10:20 AM

Good morning everyone !

Very interesting write up, Bobby, as per usual.

I'm very happy the ATP/WTA will be combined next year.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!/We gonna see, no?) 08/09/2010 at 11:08 AM

Bobby - Really enjoyed this! (And you have your cheering "orders" for today's Vika/Ana match, right?)

Interesting re: Vika b/c I also saw her playing a practice set at Stanford (against Peer). Then, too, the wail was nearly at match volume. The ferocity of her practice session is actually what made me like her even more.

*wonders aloud* Is there a statute of limitations for references to stolen massages?

Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 11:09 AM

Sblily,
I would have to say no on status of limitations as of now :)

Posted by Sherlock 08/09/2010 at 11:15 AM

I wonder what would happen if there was a rumor of Oudin stealing a massage? Oh, my. :)

Posted by Sherlock 08/09/2010 at 11:17 AM

Are we here or on the "Bus" thread?

Sure is cool to see Lisicki's name on the scoreboard again.

Posted by Samantha Elin 08/09/2010 at 11:25 AM

How great would it be if Ana could take out Vika, that would show real progress, but I think it's wishful thinking.

Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 11:25 AM

Sherlock,
Good question about Queen City or Bus

Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 11:26 AM

Samantha Elin,
You know that Ana defeated Victoria in Rome earlier this year.

Posted by Sherlock 08/09/2010 at 11:29 AM

Yikes, Kimiko is getting hammered. Maybe it just takes a while to get the old bones moving this early. :)

Posted by Samantha Elin 08/09/2010 at 11:29 AM

No, I didn't know that, but that is great to hear. She had period when she is like her old self. I think at one tourney she had two wins against top ten players, so there are some positive signs.

Posted by Colette 08/09/2010 at 11:44 AM

Thanks, Bobby, for the write-up and the insight on "practice partners." Interesting match ups and analysis of their "styles." Watching Vesnina play doubles at W (granted it was doubles), she seemed to play with such joy - and at times was the best on the court. Couldn't help chuckle when I read Ana and Dinara.

Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 11:47 AM

Sabine won the first 3 games of the match but Monica(BKA - WTA version of Fabrice Santoro) has won the last 5 games.

Posted by Sherlock 08/09/2010 at 11:53 AM

Come on, Sabine!!!

Posted by manuelsantanafan 08/09/2010 at 11:55 AM

Radio.tennis.com interviewing sam stosur, who is out of Cincinnati and Montreal.

Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 11:57 AM

Manuelsanatana Fan,
What question(s) is Ken Thomas asking her and does Samantha mention about maybe missing USO due to arm issues?

Posted by manuelsantanafan 08/09/2010 at 11:58 AM

Radio.tennis.com interviewing sam stosur, who is out of Cincinnati and Montreal.

Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 12:08 PM

Sherlock,
8 games and counting for Monica against Sabine while Kimiko won only 3 games today.

Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 12:50 PM

Guess TWibe is hanging out at Are You on the Bus? until another thread come up.

Posted by AB 08/09/2010 at 01:27 PM

BoJovi wins in 3 against Rezai.

Congratulations Serbia's angel's smile #3 and World #98.

Posted by tina (back in the States) 08/09/2010 at 01:54 PM

Wow, Bojana got past Arevane? Great news, I think Rezai is over-rated.

Sorry to see that Gasquet is gone. I wonder if the thrill is, too.

Posted by Samantha Elin 08/09/2010 at 02:05 PM

I want to urge everyone to read Sandra's post from the Are you on the Bus. An excellent post on Vee and Ree.

Posted by Master Ace 08/09/2010 at 02:05 PM

Tina,
I guess Aravane stretch of playing well from Madrid to Bastad has slowed on the hardcourts.

Posted by Ruth 08/09/2010 at 02:47 PM

Bobby: Enjoyed your post. I agree with Karen about why the players target Ana although I admit that there may be some who resent her because they wonder (or don't like) how she's making more money off-court than they are when their on-court achievements are better than hers. ;-)

Samantha: Got your message via Karen and quickly checked yesterday's comments. Don't have too much time to answer as more guests are now being picked up by my friend/hostess to spend the rest of the day/evening with me.
To put it simply: You were right and Sherlock was wrong -- dead wrong. :)

(Bobby -- my apologies for the brief hijacking of your thread to answer SamE's urgent question. :))

See you all later -- or when I return home tomorrow.

Posted by C Note 08/09/2010 at 02:54 PM

Hey Bobby -- It's C Note. Not sure we've ever met. Can you do me a favor and tell Sam I miss her already? I mean, don't make it awkward. But, you know, she should know, is all I'm saying. I don't want her to think this is an out of sight/out of mind thing. I wouldn't be able to sleep if she thought this was just a harmless two week fling.

Thanks.

Posted by Maja12 08/09/2010 at 02:56 PM

Thank you so much for the entry! I loved it! Let's hope Ana does well... :( I miss her firing tennis...

Posted by Colette 08/09/2010 at 03:18 PM

Looking at the draw, if Lu gets by his first round Canadian WC, it will be Rendy/Randy Redux

Is the guy playing dubs against Rafa/Nole really named Pospisil! (C'mon Popcicle's too easy)

Posted by Codge 08/09/2010 at 03:19 PM

Bobby, you're in your element! An entire week? Envious!

Thrilled this tourney will be combined next year. If I ever make it Ohio, this would be the reason.

R1 matches are incredible if I'm reading correctly. Maria/Sveta and Ana/Aza. Game on!
Hear and read that Sveta had her fans on pins and needles yesterday. So glad she came away with the win.
That said, Aggie's one of my fave players also. Love her spunk.

Wickmayer's my fave Belgian these days, so rooting for her to as deep as poss.

Karen, I wish I'd known about Radio tennis. I'll check it out the balance of the afternoon.
Also, your assessment of Ana with respect to player's motivation is dead on.

Looking fwd to the coverage Bobby.:)

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 08/09/2010 at 03:21 PM

Thank you so much Ruth, you have a great memory.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 08/09/2010 at 03:40 PM

Ruth, have a great vacation, and I deeply appreciate you taking the time to come in and confirming what I said. Sherlock, please read Ruth's reply above to the questions I left for her in the Deuce blog. You said I was making "revisionist history." Ruth, just confirmed I was telling the truth, and you were "dead wrong". Again Ruth, thanks so much and your memory is like wow.

Posted by tina 08/09/2010 at 03:44 PM

Maybe New Haven will be lucky for Ana? I just checked the Pilot Pen site and decided I'll definitely go this year - Ancic is playing and heaven knows how many chances I'll have to see him in the future.

Posted by Sherlock 08/09/2010 at 04:40 PM

Samantha, yeah, I read it. So what? I disagree. Shall we argue on and annoy the entire crowd here at TW? Feel free to argue by yourself.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 08/09/2010 at 04:48 PM

LOL Sherlock, I have no intention of arguing a point that has already been proven by a neutral third party. You have a great day and good luck to Rafa as I know he is your favorite.

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 08/09/2010 at 04:54 PM

Sherlock- I don't see why you shouldn't be free to annoy the crowd at TW...lord know everyone else, (inlcuding me, does so. ) Although I admit, ones 'partner in annoyance' can tip the scales.

Very skeeered...Sox have a shakey 2 run lead over the Yankees in the 8th. Lester/Bard just struck out 3 in a row to get out of a bases loaded jam last inning. And as I type that Bard gives up a homerun. Don't think I can look anymore. If the Sox could just get a split out of this series and have a decent road trip, they still have a one legged punchers chance...

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 08/09/2010 at 04:55 PM

Sherlock - ps...Jacoby finally got a hit and also stole 3 bases. So THAT's good anyway. **shuts eyes again.***

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 08/09/2010 at 04:59 PM

Caroline Wozniaki, can she be a GS champion? she is close, not quite there. She needs a better serve and more power, but as Karen said, she is becoming more aggressive and should be now called an all court player. NOT Pushiask.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 08/09/2010 at 05:00 PM

Should read Pushiaski which is what people call her.

Posted by Sherlock 08/09/2010 at 05:04 PM

CL, he he. That hit was a loooooong time coming for Jacoby. I hope that gets him going a bit now. A shame he isn't batting leadoff today though.

I so hope Bard doesn't blow this. An absolutely must have game for the Sox. Tampa seems to be wanting to let us have a chance. :)

Posted by Sherlock 08/09/2010 at 05:06 PM

Is it still raining in Toronto?

Posted by Grant 08/09/2010 at 05:10 PM

it is where i am, sherlock

Posted by Sherlock 08/09/2010 at 05:15 PM

Thanks, Grant. Bummer. :(

Are you planning to go to any matches this week? Though as you said before, I guess you don't have to plan a whole lot. :)

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 08/09/2010 at 05:15 PM

Yes, the Toronto site on the weather radar is a messy collage of green and yellow, indicating some pretty serious rain. Rest of the week is supposed to be pretty nice though...until the weekend when the showers return.

Grant- I didn't know it ever rained at Comedy Central?

Posted by Sherlock 08/09/2010 at 05:26 PM

CL, Jacoby with a walk and steal #4. :)

Posted by Jamaica Karen (FOTHB - Roger and Venus) 08/09/2010 at 06:08 PM

Good evening All. Wow, what a day. Everything good? Nice

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 08/09/2010 at 06:28 PM

Off to swim, Karen go into the previous blog and read what Sandra wrote about Vee, Ree. She addressed it to you. Karen, again thanks so much for the E-mail to Ruth. It was very helpful.

Posted by Sophy 08/09/2010 at 06:52 PM

What kind of update is this? There's nothing about most of the players there, like Peer, Bartoli, or even Vania King, who recent won the Wimbledon doubles title.

Seriously, get to work. And if anyone is a target, it's Sharapova!

Posted by Jamaica Karen (FOTHB - Roger and Venus) 08/09/2010 at 07:11 PM

Thanks SamE, I did see Sandra's post and you are welcome on the Ruth thingamig. Too tired to post this evening. What a day. Man, tugged in all directions. Phew. Want to see or listen to some tennis this evening. Really looking forward to Azarenka/Ivanovic. Wish it was being televised. Oh well

Posted by gloria 08/09/2010 at 07:22 PM

Serena Williams won teen Choice Award for Female Athlete! Someone said that over 80 millions teenagers voted on the internet around the world. David Beckham won it for Male
Athlete.

Go Serena!!!

Posted by Carol (Rafa ready for HC) 08/09/2010 at 07:28 PM

Question, question, question, at 7:30 are the doubles Rafa/Nole, someone knows the stream that we can watch it??? thanks in advance!!!!

Posted by Jamaica Karen (FOTHB - Roger and Venus) 08/09/2010 at 07:31 PM

@Carol, none of the streams have the doubles match scheduled, but as of now you can catch Toronto matches here livescorehunter.com

Posted by Carol (Rafa ready for HC) 08/09/2010 at 07:40 PM

Thanks JK!!! I'm going to try it. I've heard there are delays because the rain

Posted by Jamaica Karen (FOTHB - Roger and Venus) 08/09/2010 at 07:43 PM

No worries Carol. Hopefully, you will get to see RafaOle tonight. Funny enough I get TSN on my cable here but not sure if I will be tuning in. Maybe for a minute.

On another note, is anyone else listening to this Ana/Vika match. Ana already down a double break. Vika leads 3-0.

Posted by Aube,I mean it,I hate politics! 08/09/2010 at 08:01 PM

Hey guys,poor Ana,I do not know how she is putting up a smiling face,this has got to hurt,and then to meet with Azza first round makes it more difficult!sheesh!

Posted by Carol (Rafa ready for HC) 08/09/2010 at 08:15 PM

JK, at the end this stream is the one that works better to me, maybe is working well to you too

http://www.fromsport.com/v-0/2/118/v-31845.html

Posted by Angie 08/09/2010 at 10:53 PM

ANA WON! YEAH!

Posted by Ty 08/10/2010 at 01:17 AM

JJ is a counter puncher who acts like a spoiled brat. She pulls out of half her matches claiming injury. And I know it is not her fault but man is she homley. It is clear that she just hates the attention that Anna gets. Anna seems like a nice girl.

Posted by kiki 08/10/2010 at 01:49 AM

JJ is a very good girl but she is not mentioned in the text...C'mon Jelena, we love you <3

Posted by pov 08/10/2010 at 11:12 AM

Still puzzled that some people think Ivanovic is pretty not to mention "gorgeous" To me she's cute in that sort of chubby-faced way.

It was definitely a surprise that she won against Azarenka. Yet another fan-favoring match pissed away by the lack of early round coverage. Today's waste will be Kuznetsova/Sharapova

Posted by Mark 08/10/2010 at 12:03 PM

Glad to see Ana pull out a victory over Vika. Hopefully this will give her more confidence and she can string together some wins. Ivanovic annoyed me a couple years ago with here screeching shoes on the court, when she beat Dani in the semis of the Australian, denying her the one and probably only shot of making a grand-slam singles final. However, we all love a comeback and since Ivanovic has sunk to new lows, I will really enjoy watching her make it back to the top of the game.

Posted by Jerell (Finally, a Great French Open Final Weekend!) 08/10/2010 at 07:59 PM

It's a shame that Sony Ericsson can't serve it's purpose and put the equivalent to the Masters Series 1000 even on television until Thursday, especially during the US Open Series.

Major fail.

Posted by price per head 10/17/2012 at 03:26 PM

I think that it is great that you are traveling to that kind of events. I hope that you can have a lot of writing material from that event.

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