PALM SPRINGS — For six days of singles and doubles matches, Villa Park freshman Lindsey Nelson overcame heat, whipping winds and a strained stomach muscle in the Easter Bowl/USTA Super National Spring Championships.
But on the seventh day, in the third set of the girls' 16 singles finals against Caitlin Collins of Lawrence, Kan., exhaustion and frustration kicked in, and that proved to be too much for the second-seeded Nelson, who lost 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, Wednesday at the Riviera Resort and Racquet Club.
"It was unlucky that everything hit me in the last set," Nelson said. "I was so flustered and confused out there. Usually, I can figure things out on the court. But I was just was scattered, I couldn't calm myself down."
Collins' top-spin forehands and backhands only made things worse.
"There was so much spin, the balls felt like they weighed 20 pounds," Nelson said. "She was playing really well. She didn't really make too many mistakes."
The combination of the winds and the spin caused Collins' balls to kick high into the air, forcing Nelson to reach for her shots.
"Every time I reached up, I ripped my stomach so bad," she said. "There was so much pain."
Nelson strained a muscle in her left side Sunday in a three-set match with Canyon High's Tracy Lin. Each day, the pain became a little more intense. Before she took the court Wednesday, Nelson took three ibuprofen tablets. She took three more between the second and third sets.
"Nothing helped," she said.
Nelson and Collins split the first four games of the match, but the eighth-seeded Collins ran off the next four and won the set in 35 minutes. Nelson rallied to win the second set, 6-3, but she held her serve only once. In the final set, Nelson had only one game point on her serve.
"There was really no motion to my serve," Nelson said. "It was a joke."
Collins, meanwhile, had little trouble spinning her first serves into the court.
"My main focus was getting my first serve in because of the wind," Collins said. "I wanted it so bad. You have to will yourself to win."
Nelson had the will, just not the way.
"When I came into the tournament, I thought second place would be fine," Nelson said. "But right now, it feels very hollow."
In the girls' 16 doubles final, Corona del Mar sophomore Anne Yelsey and Beverly Hills High freshman Riza Zalameda lost to Audrey Banada of North Miami Beach, Fla., and Joelle Schwenk of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-2, 7-5.
Yelsey defeated Alexandra Hirsch of Atlanta for the second time in five days to take fifth place in the girls' 16s. The third-seeded Yelsey won, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, in just under three hours.
"I wanted to win it, but I'm glad I could come out and prove that I could play better," said Yelsey, who lost in the round of 16 in the main draw.
Yelsey finished with a 7-1 singles record over seven days.
"That's a lot of matches," Yelsey said. "But I think I'm in pretty good shape and maybe that's why I was able to stay out there longer than my opponents."
In the boys' 18 doubles semifinals, second-seeded Drew Hoskins of Los Alamitos and Roger Gubser of Laredo, Texas, defeated K.C. Corkery of Manhattan Beach and Phil Sheng of Thousand Oaks, 6-4, 6-4. Hoskins, a senior at St. Stephen's Tennis Academy in Austin, Texas, will play for his first national title today against the Armritraj cousins, Stephen and Prakash.
"We're playing solid and smart and we're keeping our emotions in check," said Hoskins, who has lost in two previous national doubles finals. "That's what is taking us over the top in close matches."