Dropped by the Home Depot Center to catch first day of men's qualifying for the Carson Challenger. Fun event for serious tennis fans. Great facilities, short drive from L.A., free parking, and you can sit closer to the action than I've seen anywhere else--literally courtside. Lots of very young players with varying degrees of ability. Other, more familiar names, were Cecil Mamiit and Wayne Odesnik. I believe Cecil retired, one game from defeat. Wayne was quite impressive and clearly skilled. Great penetration off the forehand side. Appeared to be confident about his game. I was struck by a few things. First, that consistency is a priority at this level and that a dependable weapon and savvy point construction sets a player apart from the pack. Stronger players simply made fewer unforced errors, and were also able to not only put away shots, but they got themselves into situations to hit winners. Many of the less-seasoned players seemed to rally without a plan or had poor shot selection. And they could be overpowered/frustrated/intimidated by agressive play. Stuff they will likely overcome with experience. Secondly, I noticed that groundstrokes in the average rally weren't hit with the force one might expect. I've attended my share of matches, men's and women's, of top players and that is a very different level of tennis. What I witnessed was more along the lines of good Division I college tennis. Which makes sense, as many of these athletes were or are university recruits. In my weekly play, I often see balls struck on nearby courts with more heat, spin, etc. But, of course, without nearly the consistency of these players. Thirdly, I was surprised to see that while everyone was fit, there were no physical specimens present. Quite average heights and builds among these guys. Many were under six feet and had unremarkable physiques. Again, perhaps because the non-pro qualifier is still quite young. Great to see this strata of the tennis world up close. Thinking of swinging by again as the main draw progresses.