Friday, August 17, 2018

Tursunov, who reached No. 20, unofficially retires

Dmitry Tursunov, right, chats with former world No. 2 Petr Korda, the father
 of U.S. prospect Sebastian Korda, during the Stockton (Calif.) Challenger last
October. It was the last tournament of Tursunov's career. The Moscow native
was based in Northern California from age 12 to 30. 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 support.
   The almost-nonstop injuries finally got to Dmitry Tursunov.
   The Moscow native, who was based in Northern California from age 12 to 30, has unofficially retired at 35.
   Fittingly, Tursunov's last match was in Northern California, and he was unable to complete it. As a qualifier in the $100,000 Stockton Challenger last October, he retired from his quarterfinal against U.S. prospect Michael Mmoh with leg problems after losing the first set 6-3.
   "It was going to take me three months to do rehab, which was going to be a little too long," Tursunov, who owns a townhouse in the Sacramento suburb of Folsom that he rents out, said this week. "There were too many uncertainties. At that stage, it wasn't worth the trouble to try to get back. It's muscular, tendon-related (in the quadriceps above both knees). I don't know the exact diagnosis."
   Then the irreverent Tursunov, who was perhaps the most colorful player in men's tennis, used one of his trademark analogies.
   "It's like a bad car alignment that starts affecting a lot of other things," he said. "Your tires wear, your springs and shocks get all weird, and your suspension goes bad. Then you say, it's time to get a new car instead of always trying to fix this one."
   Tursunov said his retirement "isn't official." But when asked if he's thinking of playing again, Tursunov replied: "Not so much really, no. A lot of people ask me that, but I think those days are over."
Dmitry Tursunov helped Russia win the Davis
Cup in 2006 and played in the 2008 and 2012
Olympics. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Tursunov spoke from Cincinnati, where he's coaching 20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. She is scheduled to play top-ranked Simona Halep on Saturday in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
   "I'm enjoying helping a player," Tursunov said. "I like her; she's a nice person. She listens. She wants to get better. I feel like she has very good potential. I feel like I'm part of something a little bit bigger than trying to revive a career."
   Tursunov also coached fellow Russian Elena Vesnina, who reached career highs of No. 1 in doubles in June and No. 13 in singles in March 2017, early this year. Ironically, she has been sidelined with a knee injury since the French Open.
   Tursunov said nothing has been decided when Vesnina returns and he has no plans other than to continue coaching Sabalenka, who will crack the top 30 for the first time in Monday's updated rankings.
   The hard-hitting Tursunov, hobbled by injuries throughout his career, peaked at No. 20 in singles in 2006 and No. 36 in doubles in 2008. He won seven ATP titles in singles and seven in doubles, and collected $5.9 million in prize money.
   Tursunov helped Russia win the Davis Cup in 2006 and played in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. In the match of his life, he outlasted Andy Roddick 17-15 in the fifth set in four hours, 48 minutes on clay in Moscow to clinch Russia's victory over the United States in the 2006 Davis Cup semifinals.
   Off the court, Tursunov became the talk of the tour as the ATP's resident blogger in 2006 but gave it up because it took too much time.
   With his curly, blond hair, blue eyes and impeccable, accent-less English, Tursunov easily could be mistaken for a Southern California surfer. In fact, his countrymen called him "Surfer Dude."
  Tursunov doesn't consider his career in terms of whether he was happy with it. Characteristically, he has a more philosophical view.
   "I don't know. I don't know what to compare it to," he said. "If you compare it to someone who didn't get to 20, then I'm happy. If you compare to someone who got to No. 1, I guess I'm unhappy.
   "I look at it more as a set of experiences. Now that it's sort of, unofficially over, it's a question of, how can I use all of that knowledge and experience? I can't just frame it and post it on the wall. I found a logical use for it by trying to help somebody else correct some of the mistakes a little bit earlier and make her sailing a little bit smoother than mine was."
   Tursunov, who finished with a career record of 231-218, also was philosophical about what he'll miss most and least about playing.
   "When you have a good day at the office, it's always fun," he said. "I never really loved competing. There are some people who love competing, and I wasn't one of them. Still, when you win, everything is good. You feel like your life is good, and you get used to your results (defining you). It's a bad day if you lose and a good day if you win.
   "But there's a lot of work behind the scenes that is not fun, and I'm definitely not missing that part --  working hard and sweating and forcing yourself to do something and setting limits for yourself in order to get better."
   Unlike many players, Tursunov seems to have made a smooth transition to retirement.
   "I'm happy," he said. "My life is a little bit more relaxed. It's a different type of responsibility. I'm out of the limelight, and I'm completely fine with it. I'm happy with my secondary role, not being the priority.
   "Some people can't get over the fact that their career is over, so they search for adrenaline rushes. I'm OK. I'm not trying to do that."

Serena learned of killer's parole before San Jose loss

Serena Williams lost to Johanna Konta 6-1, 6-0 in 51 minutes in the first round
of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose on July 31. Photo by Mal Taam
   As expected, the parole of the man who killed Serena Williams' sister led to the most lopsided loss of Williams' career on July 31.
   Williams told Time that she learned of Robert E. Maxfield's parole about 10 minutes before her first-round match in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose.
   "I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Williams said.
   After losing to Johanna Konta of Great Britain 6-1, 6-0 in 51 minutes, Williams told reporters: "She played better in this match than she has in about 18 months, so that's great for her. I know I can play a zillion times better, but I have so many things on my mind, I don't have time to be shocked about a loss that clearly wasn't when I was at my best. I can only try to be there and fight, which is what I was doing out there. I moved a lot better, too, so I'll take the positives where I can."
   Maxfield was convicted of fatally shooting Yetunde Price, a 31-year-old mother of three, in 2003 and paroled three years short of his full sentence earlier this year, ESPN and The Associated Press reported. Williams said she received the news of the parole while checking Instagram on her phone before the match.
   "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," Williams told Time, "and what they meant to me. And how much I love them.
   "No matter what, my sister is not coming back for good behavior. It's unfair that she'll never have an opportunity to hug me."
   Williams added that she wants to forgive but can't yet.
   Williams lives in San Francisco with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and their daughter Olympia, who will turn 1 on Sept. 1. Reddit is a social news aggregation, web content rating and discussion website.

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
   Note to readers: If you enjoy my coverage of Northern California tennis, please donate on my homepage. Here's why I need your help.
   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
   Note to readers: If you enjoy my coverage of Northern California tennis, please donate on my homepage. Here's why I need your help.
   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.
Please help defray travel expenses
$
Thanks for your donation!