Sunday, August 12, 2018

Brooksby wins USTA boys 18s for U.S. Open wild card

Jenson Brooksby practices at the Arden Hills Athletic and
Social Club in Sacramento in May. Photo by Paul Bauman
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   Five years ago, Collin Altamirano and Jenson Brooksby from the JMG Tennis Academy in Sacramento won USTA Boys National titles in the 18s and 12s, respectively.
   Today, Brooksby repeated Altamirano's feat to earn a wild card into the U.S. Open main draw later this month.
   The fourth-seeded Brooksby, 17, dominated third-seeded Brandon Nakashima of San Diego 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in Kalamazoo, Mich. Brooksby, who's headed to Texas Christian in the fall of 2019 or in January 2020, did not lose a set in the tournament.
   The U.S. Open is scheduled for Aug. 27 to Sept. 9 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Altamirano lost to No. 22 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the 2013 U.S. Open. He turned pro in June 2017 after his junior year at Virginia, which won the NCAA title in all three of his years there.
   Now 22, Altamirano has soared from No. 761 at the beginning of the year to a career-high No. 347.
   WTA tour -- In a rematch of the French Open final, top-ranked Simona Halep outlasted third-seeded Sloane Stephens 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4 in 2 hours, 41 minutes to win the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
   Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product, led 4-0 in the tiebreaker and had four set points in the first set.
   Halep defeated Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 at Roland Garros for her first Grand Slam title after going 0-3 in major finals. Stephens won her only Grand Slam title in last year's U.S. Open, beating countrywoman and close friend Madison Keys.
   ITF Pro Circuit -- No. 3 seed Madison Brengle defeated unseeded fellow American Kristie Ahn 6-4, 1-0, retired in the final of the Koser Jewelers $60,000 Tennis Challenge in Landisville, Pa.
   Ahn, a 26-year-old Stanford graduate, suffered a heat-related illness.
   USTA NorCal -- No. 1 seeds Karue Sell of Los Angeles and Chanel Simmonds of South Africa defeated the No. 2 seeds to win the men's and women's singles titles, respectively, in the $25,000 Heritage Bank of Commerce Open Tennis Championships at the Moraga Country Club in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Moraga.
   Sell, a former UCLA standout from Brazil, routed Jianhui Li of West Harrison, N.Y., 6-1, 6-1 to repeat as the champion. Simmonds beat Jacqueline Cako of Brier, Wash., 6-0, 6-4.
   The top seeds also won the titles in men's doubles (Austin Rapp and Sell), women's doubles (Cako and Simmonds) and mixed doubles (Cako and Joel Kielbowicz of Scottsdale, Ariz.).

Kokkinakis ends title drought, Harris streak

Fourth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis, serving in the
first round on Tuesday, beat unseeded Lloyd Harris
6-2, 6-3 today to win the $100,000 Nordic Naturals
Challenger in Aptos, Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
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   It's only a Challenger title, but Thanasi Kokkinakis will take it.
   Kokkinakis, who was on his way to stardom three years ago before injuries derailed his career, dominated Lloyd Harris 6-2, 6-3 in 67 minutes today to win the $100,000 Nordic Naturals Challenger at the Seascape Sports Club in Aptos, Calif.
   It was Kokkinakis' first title since he won the 85,000 euro ($96,781) Bordeaux Challenger on clay as a qualifier in May 2015. The following month, he reached a career-high No. 69 in the world at age 19.
   Later that year, the right-hander hurt his right shoulder lifting weights -- not to improve his tennis but to look better in Nike's new sleeveless shirts -- and had surgery. Because of that and numerous other injuries, he played only one match in 2016 and seven tournaments last year.
   Kokkinakis reached his first ATP final last August in Los Cabos but lost to promising American Taylor Fritz 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) in the first round there last week. That dropped Kokkinakis' ranking 104 places to No. 268. He will rise to No. 201 on Monday.
   Before losing to Kokkinakis in Saturday's semifinals, top-seeded Thomas Fabbiano of Italy predicted the 22-year-old Australian, who stunned Roger Federer in the second round at Miami in March, eventually will crack the top 10.
   Kokkinakis, seeded fourth, emphatically ended the unseeded Harris' winning streak at nine matches. Harris, who won his first Challenger title last week in a $75,000 tournament in Lexington, Ky., lost no more than four games in a set during his streak.
   Kokkinakis dropped only one set during the week. He trailed eighth-seeded Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India by a set and an early service break before prevailing 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Friday night in the quarterfinals.
   Against Harris, the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Kokkinakis had 12 aces and one double fault, lost only one point on his first serve (26 of 27) and did not face a break point.
   The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Harris finished with six aces and six double faults, and won only 8 of 27 points on his second serve (30 percent).
   Harris, appearing tight, lost his serve in the opening game when he netted a forehand putaway and for 1-4 on a double fault. Both players held serve for 3-3 in the second set before Kokkinakis broke twice on unforced errors.
   Harris, 21, of South Africa will crack the top 150 for the first time at No. 145. He was ranked No. 221 at the beginning of July.
   Kokkinakis also won the doubles title with countryman Matt Reid. Unseeded, they nipped top-seeded Jonny O'Mara and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain 6-2, 4-6 [10-8].
   Kokkinakis became the first player to sweep the Aptos singles and doubles crowns since Chris Guccione of Australia in 2009 and the fourth in the tournament's 31-year history.
   Past competitors in the Aptos Challenger, the oldest in the United States, include International Tennis Hall of Famers Patrick Rafter and Michael Chang and future Hall of Famers Andy Murray, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. The Bryan twins played at Stanford in 1997 and 1998, winning the NCAA doubles title as sophomores.
   Kokkinakis collected $14,400 for the singles title and $3,100 for the doubles crown. Harris, who lost in the first round of doubles, pocketed $8,480 for reaching the singles final.
   Both Kokkinakis and Harris are scheduled to play in next week's $100,000 Vancouver Challenger. Kokkinakis drew second seed and countryman Jordan Thompson, ranked No. 100, and Harris will play a qualifier to be determined.
   Here are the complete Aptos singles and doubles draws.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Brooksby reaches USTA boys 18 final; Quan wins 12s

Jenson Brooksby practices at the Arden Hills Athletic and
Social Club in Sacramento in May. Photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 4 seed Jenson Brooksby of Carmichael in the Sacramento area crushed No. 6 Drew Baird of Holly Springs, N.C., 6-1, 6-0 in 45 minutes today in the semifinals of the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich.
   Brooksby, 17, has not lost a set in the tournament. He reached the 16s final two years ago.
   Brooksby, who's headed to Texas Christian in the fall of 2019 or in January 2020, will face No. 3 seed Brandon Nakashima of San Diego. The winner will earn a wild card into the U.S. Open men's main draw, and the loser will receive a berth in men's qualifying in Flushing Meadows.
   Nakashima, last year's champion in the 16s, beat No. 26 seed Stefan Dostanic of Irvine in the Los Angeles area 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
   Brooksby dominated Nakashima 6-2, 6-3 in the Easter Bowl quarterfinals and went on the win the title at Indian Wells in March.
   Meanwhile, No. 1 seed Rudy Quan from the Sacramento suburb of Roseville routed No. 5 Dylan Charlap of Palos Verdes Estates in the Los Angeles region 6-2, 6-1 to win the USTA Boys 12 National Championships in Mobile, Ala.
   Quan lost no more than five games in any of his seven matches. He also won the 12s title in the USTA National Winter Championships in Tucson, Ariz., in January, Easter Bowl and USTA Clay Court Championships in Orlando, Fla., last month.
   In the final of the USTA Girls 16 National Championships in San Diego, No. 3 seed Fiona Crawley of San Antonio defeated No. 4 seed Allura Zamarripa of Saint Helena in the Napa area 6-4, 6-0. Crawley will receive a wild card into the U.S. Open girls tournament next month.
   In the girls 18 doubles semifinals in San Diego, No. 1 seeds Caty McNally of Cincinnati and Whitney Osuigwe of Bradenton, Fla., outclassed No. 4 Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area and Natasha Subhash from the Washington, D.C., suburb of Fairfax, Va., 6-1, 6-2.

Kokkinakis, Harris to meet for 100K Aptos title

Fourth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis, shown Tuesday, beat
top-seeded Thomas Fabbiano 7-5, 6-1 today in the semi-
finals in Aptos, Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Thanasi Kokkinakis, who beat Roger Federer in March, and red-hot Lloyd Harris will meet for the first time Sunday in the final of the $100,000 Nordic Naturals Challenger.
   The fourth-seeded Kokkinakis, a 22-year-old Australian, beat top-seeded Thomas Fabbiano, 29, of Italy 7-5, 6-1 today at the Seascape Sports Club.
   Harris, a 21-year-old South African, dismissed 6-foot-7 (2.01-meter) Christopher Eubanks, 22, of Atlanta 6-2, 6-2 in only 46 minutes in a matchup of unseeded players.
   Harris' four matches in the tournament have averaged 55 minutes. His longest one, a 6-2, 6-2 decision over Liam Broady in the quarterfinals, lasted 64 minutes.
   Harris, who won his first Challenger title last week in a $75,000 tournament in Lexington, Ky., extended his winning streak to nine matches. He has not lost more than four games in any of them.
   Kokkinakis, 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters), is rebounding from multiple injuries. He had 11 aces and three double faults against the 5-foot-8 (1.73-meter) Fabbiano, ranked No. 105 after reaching a career-high No. 70 last September. Kokkinakis converted all four of his break points and saved six of seven against him.
   "He started playing really well, and I immediately felt I needed to raise my level and be a bit more switched-on," said Kokkinakis, who has plunged from a career-high No. 69 in June 2015 to No. 268. "I couldn't really sustain that at the start, but then I started to find my way into the match. I started to serve a lot better and played really well toward the end."
   Harris, 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters) finished with eight aces and one double fault. He won 73 percent of the points on both his first serve (22 of 30) and second delivery (11 of 15).
   "Really good performance once again," said Harris, ranked a career-high No. 161. "I felt I played tremendously well the whole match. I think I retrieved so many serves that he didn't expect. I was making him play every single point and really found my range to get the balls nice and deep and made it difficult for him to attack and play his game."
   Eubanks had no aces after hammering 10 in his 6-4, 7-6 (6) semifinal victory over former top-70 players Ernesto Escobedo. Eubanks, ranked No. 236, flexed his right wrist late in today's match.
   WTA tour -- No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product, beat No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3 6-3 to reach the Rogers Cup final in Montreal.
   Stephens, now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will meet No. 1 seed Simona Halep in a rematch of the French Open final in June. Halep won that match 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 for her first Grand Slam title after going 0-3 in major finals.
   Halep advanced to the Montreal final with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over No. 15 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia.
   Stephens won her only Grand Slam singles title in last year's U.S. Open, beating countrywoman and close friend Madison Keys.
   ITF Pro Circuit -- Unseeded Kristie Ahn, a 26-year-old Stanford graduate, topped fellow American Jessica Pegula 6-7 (3), 7-6 (7), 6-4 in the semifinals of the Koser Jewelers $60,000 Tennis Challenge in Landisville, Pa.
   Ahn will play third-seeded Madison Brengle, a 28-year-old American who beat Priscilla Hon of Australia 7-5, 7-5.

Zamarripa, Quan to play for USTA National junior titles

   No. 4 seed Allura Zamarripa of Saint Helena in the Napa area defeated No. 1 Gianna Pielet of El Paso, Texas, 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Friday in the semifinals of the USTA Billie Jean King Girls 16 National Championships in San Diego.
   Zamarripa is scheduled to face No. 3 seed Fiona Crawley of San Antonio today. Crawley outplayed No. 17 Misa Malkin of Tucson, Ariz., 6-2, 6-3 after eliminating Zamarripa's twin, Maribella, 6-2, 6-2 in Thursday's quarterfinals.
   Rudy Quan of Roseville in the Sacramento area also will play for a gold ball. Quan, seeded No. 1, dominated No. 3 Alexander Razeghi of Humble, Texas, 6-3, 6-1 in the boys 12 semifinals in Mobile, Ala.
   Quan will meet No. 5 seed Dylan Charlap of Palos Verdes Estates in the Los Angeles region. Charlap beat No. 2 Andrew Salu of Sarasota, Fla., 6-4, 6-2.
   In the boys 12 doubles final, No. 2 seeds Razeghi and Cooper Woestendick of Olathe, Kan., topped No. 3 Maxwell Exsted of Savage, Minn., and Quan 6-4, 6-3.
   Herrick Thomas Legaspi of Sacramento won the boys 14 doubles crown in Mobile with Nicholas Heng of Madison, Ala. Seeded No. 8, they upended No. 1 Lucas Brown of Plano, Texas, and Aidan Kim of Milford, Mich., 6-2, 7-5.
   Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Jenson Brooksby from the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael defeated No. 25 Jacob Bullard of Calabasas in the Los Angeles area 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals of the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich.
   Brooksby, 17, will meet No. 6 seed Drew Baird of Holly Springs, N.C. Baird saved five match points in a 5-7, 7-6 (8), 6-2 victory over No. 9 Kevin Zhu of Houston after beating No. 16 Keenan Mayo of Roseville in the Sacramento region 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in Thursday's round of 16.
   In the quarterfinals of the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in San Diego, No. 2 seed Whitney Osuigwe of Bradenton, Fla., beat No. 9 Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-2, 6-4. Both players are 16.
   Osuigwe in 2017 became the first American to win the French Open girls singles title in 28 years and ended the year as the top-ranked junior in the world.
   Volynets remains alive in doubles with Natasha Subhash from the Washington, D.C., suburb of Fairfax, Va. Seeded No. 4, they will take on No. 1 Caty McNally of Cincinnati and Osuigwe in the semifinals.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Harris extends win streak with another rout in Aptos

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   APTOS, Calif. -- Liam Broady accomplished an impressive feat today.
   He kept Lloyd Harris on the court for more than an hour.
   Not much more, and Broady still lost, but he has plenty of company lately.
   In a matchup of unseeded players, Harris rolled past Broady 6-2, 6-2 in 64 minutes today to reach the semifinals of the $100,000 Nordic Naturals Challenger on a gorgeous, 64-degree (17.8 Celsuis) day at the Seascape Sports Club.
   Harris, a 21-year-old South African, dispatched third-seeded Quentin Halys of France 6-4, 6-2 in 59 minutes in the first round and Joris De Loore of Belgium 6-2, 6-0 in 52 minutes in the second round.
   "I'm happy to keep the matches short and keep my body fresh for every round to come," said Harris, 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters) and only 176 pounds (80 kilograms).
   Harris, who won his first Challenger title last week in a $75,000 tournament in Lexington, Ky., extended his winning streak to eight matches. He has not lost more than four games in a set in any of them.
   "I've really just been focused on tennis and to keep on working and improving my game," Harris explained. "Every day I've just been practicing and trying to improve, and that's been the key for me."
   Harris soared 47 places to a career-high No. 161 with the Lexington title in Monday's updated rankings. That would have given him the fourth seed in Aptos, but the singles draw was held on Saturday based on last week's rankings.
   Harris had 10 aces and no double faults against Broady, a 24-year-old left-hander who reached last year's Aptos final as a qualifier. Harris won 83 percent of the points on his first serve (29 of 35) and 60 percent on his second delivery (6 of 10), and escaped both break points against him.
   "I felt I played tremendously well today," Harris crowed. "I came out of the starting blocks very (well) again and just kept that level up throughout the match. I felt I really served well, was defending well, attacking well, coming forward well -- all around a good performance."
   Harris turned pro three years ago out of high school.
   "I was never really interested in the college route," he said.
   In contrast, Harris' 32-year-old countryman, Kevin Anderson, starred at the University of Illinois for three seasons (2005-07). The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson has reached two of the last four Grand Slam singles finals, losing to Rafael Nadal in last year's U.S. Open and to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last month.
   "We touch base here and there and send texts back and forth," Harris said of Anderson. "When I'm in the bigger tournaments and I get to see him, we'll talk. I wouldn't say I know him very well."
   Asked whether Anderson has been a mentor to him, Harris said with a laugh: "It's hard to say. His results definitely have been a positive influence on me and the country."
   Harris will play 6-foot-7 (2.01-meter) Christopher Eubanks, who beat former top-70 player Ernesto Escobedo 6-4, 7-6 (6) in a hard-hitting battle of unseeded 22-year-old Americans.
   As he did against second-seeded Michael Mmoh in the second round, Eubanks frustrated Escobedo with his booming serve. Eubanks had 10 aces and two double faults and did not face a break point. He won 75 percent of the points on his first serve (36 of 48) and a whopping 74 percent on his second delivery (14 of 19).
   "I think I served well at critical times," said the 236th-ranked Eubanks, who turned pro last fall after his junior year at Georgia Tech in his hometown of Atlanta. "I think I did a good job of keeping my composure when I was under pressure a little bit on my service games. Anytime you play a match and don't get broken, it's usually a pretty good day. I was very pleased with how I served and how I played overall."
   Eubanks and Harris will meet for the first time in Saturday's second semifinal at about 3 p.m.
   "Eubanks has a massive game and can play anyone off the court," Harris said. "It's going to be a really tough match, but I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a great challenge for me."
   Finally.
   In the top half of the draw, Fabbiano, one of the smallest players in men's pro tennis at 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters) and 152 pounds (69 kilograms), won 6-2, 6-2 for the second consecutive match. This time, he outclassed U.S. wild card Martin Redlicki, a 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) left-hander, in one hour.
   "The key was the same as (Thursday against countryman Stefano Napolitano)," said Fabbiano, who's ranked No. 105 after reaching a career-high No. 70 last September. "Good return, put the ball in -- he's a good server -- then do my shots. It was not that difficult today, but I had to be focused from the first to last point."
   Redlicki, a two-time NCAA doubles champion who graduated from UCLA in June, said he was most impressed by Fabbiano's "rally ball -- his regular, normal ball has that much more bite, it's that much heavier -- his ability to open the court, and his first ball. I would hit what I felt were some pretty decent returns off his serve, and he would just be able to take it and hit a winner off the first ball, which is something I wasn't expecting off the return I was hitting. I guess that's the next level I'm working for.
   "It was a really good learning experience, a good eye-opener. Lots to build on, lots to work on, a lot to look forward to."
   Fabbiano, who stunned Stan Wawrinka to reach the third round at Wimbledon last month, will face either fourth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia for the first time on Saturday not before 1 p.m. 
   Kokkinakis, who shocked Roger Federer in the second round in Miami in March, topped eighth-seeded Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 after trailing by an early service break in the second set. Gunneswaran, a 28-year-old left-hander, double-faulted for the only break in the third set to trail 2-4.
   The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Kokkinakis, who's rebounding from multiple injuries, has plummeted from a career-high No. 69 three years ago at age 19 to No. 268. But Fabbiano predicted Kokkinakis eventually will reach the top 10.
   "He's solid, big serve," Fabbiano said. "He's doing the right things. He's still young, so he can get his body even better than now. He will be on top in the next few years, for sure. He's a next-generation guy."
   Here are the updated Aptos singles and doubles draws and Saturday's schedule. Live streaming is available.

Fabbiano routs countryman during Italian renaissance

No. 1 seed Thomas Fabbiano dominated
fellow Italian and friend Stefano Napoli-
tano 6-2, 6-2 Thursday to reach the quar-
terfinals of the $100,000 Nordic Naturals
Challenger in Aptos, Calif. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   Note to readers: If you enjoy my coverage of Northern California tennis, please donate on my homepage. Here's why I need your help.
   APTOS, Calif. -- You don't have to be Brad Gilbert to figure out the three countries with the most men in the top 200.
   The United States has 19, and Spain and France are next with 17 each.
   But No. 4 might come as a surprise. That's long-slumbering Italy with 13, ahead of Germany and Argentina with 12 each.
   Two Italians in the club met for the first time on Thursday night in the second round of the $100,000 Nordic Naturals Challenger at the Seascape Sports Club, and it wasn't close. Thomas Fabbiano, seeded first at No. 105, routed No. 194 Stefano Napolitano 6-2, 6-2 in one hour to reach the quarterfinals as fog rolled in from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
   The Italian renaissance began when Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in the 2010 French Open. Schiavone and Sara Errani were the runners-up at Roland Garros the following two years, respectively.
   Errani and Roberta Vinci completed a career Grand Slam in women's doubles in 2014, and Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli won the Australian Open men's doubles title in 2015.
   Vinci pulled off one of the biggest upsets in sports history when she ended Serena Williams' bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf's in 1988 in the semifinals of the 2015 U.S. Open. Vinci then lost to 33-year-old Flavia Pennetta in the first all-Italian Grand Slam final in the Open era.
   Fognini, 31, leads the current crop of Italian men at No. 14 in the world. Only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters), he won his third title of the year, eighth of his career and first on hard courts last week in Los Cabos, shocking top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro in the final.
   Fognini and Pennetta married in June 2016.
   Also, Marco Cecchinato reached the semifinals of the French Open in June, ousting Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
Stefano Napolitano fell behind 4-0 in each
set against Thomas Fabbiano. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   Fabbiano stunned Stan Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam singles champion rebounding from knee surgery, to reach the third round at Wimbledon last month before losing to 19-year-old Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas.
   Napolitano advanced to the final of last week's $75,000 Lexington (Ky.) Challenger, falling to Lloyd Harris of South Africa.
   On the women's side, Camila Giorgi gained her first Grand Slam quarterfinal last month at Wimbledon before losing to Williams.
   "We are many, we have good coaches, we are positive people," Fabbiano said of Italy's success. "Now we are waiting for the top 10, for the big name to get in the top 10.
   "Schiavone helps the women (with her success). Now with (Andreas) Seppi, Fognini, we are trying to do the same career (as) them. They are bringing us the new level. We are hoping there are new players coming in the next few years."
   Cecchinato and Errani, however, have been embroiled in controversy.
   In 2016, the Italian Tennis Federation suspended Cecchinato for 18 months and fined him 40,000 euros ($43,900) for fixing two matches and using confidential information for gambling, but he successfully appealed.
   Errani said she was "disgusted" that her two-month doping suspension recently was increased to 10 months. She argued that she had accidentally ingested her mother's breast cancer medicine at a family meal.
   Fabbiano and Napolitano, aside from being Italian, are opposites in many ways. Fabbiano is 29, one of the smallest men in pro tennis at 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters) and 152 pounds (69 kilograms), and swarthy. Napolitano is 23, prototypically tall at 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters) and movie star handsome.
   "(We are) very good friends," said Fabbiano, who lives five hours by car from Napolitano. "We know each other since many years. (On) the court, we try to win, but outside the court we have dinner together, which is not usual with tennis players. But it's nice to spend time with good friends on the tour."
Wild card Martin Redlicki overpowered qualifier
Marcos Giron in a matchup of former NCAA
champions from UCLA. Photo by Paul Bauman
  Even though Italians grow up on clay, Fabbiano prefers outdoor hard courts.
   "So this is my season, actually," cracked Fabbiano, who also advanced to the third round of last year's U.S. Open. "That's my weapon you saw today. I like to play on hard courts -- no more bad bounce."
   The sets against Napolitano were almost identical. Fabbiano broke serve in the first and third games to lead 4-0, and both players held serve the rest of the way.
   Fabbiano, playing in Aptos for the first time this year, won 86 percent of the points on his first serve (19 of 22) and survived all three break points against him.
   "I was more solid than him, less mistake, high intensity," said Fabbiano, who reached a career-high No. 70 last September. "It was not difficult match. There were many mistake from his side, but I was very solid. I did my thing in the best way, and I bring the win from my side."
   In addition to his speed and superb groundstrokes, Fabbiano has an outstanding return of serve.
   "It was actually a good key," added Fabbiano, who won 62 percent of the points on Napolitano's second serve (13 of 21). "When he put the first serve in, he made good points, but with the second serve, I put all my aggression on his game, and he fell from the first game."
   Fabbiano will play Martin Redlicki, a 22-year-old wild card from Boca Raton, Fla., today not before 1 p.m. The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) left-hander overpowered 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Marcos Giron, a 25-year-old qualifier from Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles area, 6-3, 6-4 in a matchup of former NCAA champions from UCLA to reach his second Challenger quarterfinal.
Marcos Giron fell to Martin Redlicki 6-3, 6-4 in the second
 round in Aptos, Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Redlicki, who was born and raised in the Chicago area, captured the NCAA doubles title as a sophomore in 2016 with Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product, and this year with Evan Zhu. Giron won the NCAA singles crown in 2014.
   Today at 11 a.m., Harris will meet Liam Broady of Great Britain. Although both players are unseeded, it's an intriguing matchup.
   The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Harris, 21, whipped Joris De Loore of Belgium 6-2, 6-0 in 52 minutes to extend his winning streak to seven matches. He dispatched third-seeded Quentin Halys of France 6-4, 6-2 in 59 minutes in the first round.
   Broady, last year's runner-up in Aptos as a qualifier, defeated seventh seed and countryman Jay Clarke 7-6 (3), 6-4 to ensure that an unseeded player will reach the final.
   Broady, a 24-year-old left-hander, came to Aptos with an eight-match losing streak. Clarke, 20, won his first Challenger title two weeks ago in Binghamton, N.Y.
   Here are the updated Aptos singles and doubles draws and Friday's schedule. Live streaming is available.
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