On her best day, Barbara Mueller has a tough time staying with Carol Baily, six years her junior. But after laboring through a three-set semifinal against Stephanie Adcock on Saturday, Mueller was no match for Baily in Sunday’s National Women’s 40 Hard Court Championship finals, falling 6-2, 6-2, at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.
It took just over 50 minutes for the top-seeded Baily of Steamboat Springs, Colo., to dispose of the second-seeded Mueller of Tempe, Ariz. “I don’t want to admit it, but yesterday’s match took its toll,” Mueller, 46, said. “Mentally, I was really into the match, but I was just a step slow.”
Although she said her nagging shoulder and knee injuries didn’t have any effect on her performance, it probably didn’t help her against the quicker Baily. Baily and Mueller have had a pretty good rivalry over the years, but it appears to in its final stages.
In their previous meeting, at the Women’s 40 Grass Court Championship semifinals in Forest Hills, N.Y., Baily defeated Mueller, 6-2, 7-6.
But Sunday, Mueller never had a chance. She was broken on her first three service games and was suddenly down, 5-1, before the match was 20 minutes old. Almost every time Mueller put pressure on Baily by coming to the net, she was easily passed.
“I came out in the warm-ups and I saw the ball real well,” she said. “I was hitting the ball dead center. It was just one of those lucky days. And Barb was really not herself from that three-setter. She was playing on her heels instead of on her toes.”
After the first set, Mueller began to get less and less aggressive. Then in the second set, she began staying back and making unforced errors. From there, it was over quickly.
“Usually our duels are at the net, but I was passing her really well,” said Baily, who was ranked 50th in the world 10 years ago. “I was just placing my shots, and she seemed to be guessing a lot.”
Baily’s national title is her third in the last five months. She won the 35’s Hard Court Championships in Tempe three weeks ago and 40’s Grass Court at Forest Hills.
Her victory Sunday qualifies her for a spot on the United States Young Cup team, which will play against host Australia next April.
In the women’s 40 doubles championship, Raquel Giscafre of La Jolla and Rosie Casals of Sausalito defeated Mary Hill of Los Angeles and Martha Downing of Shingle Springs, 6-2, 6-2.