Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Querrey rolls to first win, leads Vegas in WTT

Sam Querrey routed Ryan Harrison of the San Diego Avia-
tors 5-1 in the first set today. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Not only did Sam Querrey win for the first time in the young World TeamTennis season, he did so emphatically.
   The 32-year-old San Francisco native routed Ryan Harrison 5-1 in the opening set, leading the Vegas Rollers to a 23-21 (2-0 extended play) victory over the San Diego Aviators today at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
   Querrey, 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), blasted five aces and committed no double faults as Vegas improved to 2-1. Harrison, who underwent elbow surgery last October, had two aces and two double faults.
   Querrey had lost to 18-year-old Brandon Nakashima 5-1 in Vegas' season opener on Sunday and 5-4 (5-3) to Tennys Sandgren on Monday.
   In today's second set, Monica Puig edged Christina McHale, Harrison's sister-in-law, 5-4 to give Vegas a commanding 10-5 lead.
   San Diego (1-1) won the last three sets 5-4, but the Rollers' Bob Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) held serve at 15 in the second game of extended play to end the match.
   After an off-day on Wednesday, Vegas will meet the Orange County Breakers (0-2 entering Wednesday's match against the Chicago Smash) on Thursday at 8 a.m. (ESPN+) at The Greenbrier.
   Men's singles – Sam Querrey (LV) def. Ryan Harrison 5-1.
   Women's singles – Monica Puig (LV) def. Christina McHale 5-4.
    Mixed doubles – Nicole Melichar and Jonny O'Mara (SD) def. Asia Muhammad and Bob Bryan 5-4.
   Women's doubles – Melichar and CoCo Vandeweghe (SD) def. Kristie Ahn and Muhammad (SD) 5-4.
   Men's doubles – Harrison and O'Mara (SD) def. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 5-4.
   Extended play – Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (LV) tied Harrison and O'Mara 1-1.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Vegas routs Orlando to even WTT record at 1-1

   Sam Querrey lost the opening set again, but the Vegas Rollers dominated the rest of today's World TeamTennis match.
   Vegas defeated the Orlando Storm 24-15 at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V., to even its record at 1-1.
   Querrey, a 32-year-old San Francisco native, lost to Tennys Sandgren 5-4 (5-3) after falling to 18-year-old Brandon Nakashima of the expansion Chicago Smash 5-3 on Sunday at The Greenbrier.
   But Monica Puig, the women's singles gold medalist in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, kick-started Vegas' victory with a 5-3 decision over Danielle Collins, a semifinalist in the 2019 Australian Open and inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State University in 2018.
   Puig rebounded from a 5-1 loss to Fresno product Sloane Stephens in Sunday's second set. It was Puig's first competitive match since she had elbow surgery in December.
   Collins missed Orlando's 21-18 win over the two-time defending champion Springfield (Mo.) Lasers on Sunday with an undisclosed illness. She beat three top-20 players – No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 7 Belinda Bencic and No. 15 Sofia Kenin – in January.
   Vegas swept today's three doubles sets behind Asia Muhammad and ex-Stanford stars Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan and Kristie Ahn.
   The Rollers will return to the court on Tuesday at 8 a.m. (ESPN2) against the San Diego Aviators (1-0).
   Men's singles – Tennys Sandgren (Orl) def. Sam Querrey 5-4 (5-3).
   Women's singles – Monica Puig (LV) def. Danielle Collins (Orl) 5-3.
   Mixed doubles – Asia Muhammad and Mike Bryan (LV) def. Darija Jurak and Sandgren 5-3.
   Women's doubles – Kristie Ahn and Muhammad (LV) def. Jurak and Jessica Pegula 5-3.
   Men's doubles – Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (LV) def. Sandgren and James Ward 5-1.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Vegas, with NorCal stars, loses TeamTennis opener

Sam Querrey, a 32-year-old San Francisco native, lost to
18-year-old Brandon Nakashima of the Chicago Smash
5-3 in men's singles today. File photo by Paul Bauman 
   The Vegas Rollers, featuring four players with strong Northern California ties, were unable to overcome a dismal start in their World TeamTennis season opener today.
    Vegas trailed 10-4 after the first two sets, accounting for the difference in its 24-18 (1-0 extended play) loss to the expansion Chicago Smash at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V. The match was televised on the CBS Sports Network while the ATP and WTA tours are shut down until next month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
   Chicago's Brandon Nakashima, 18, of San Diego upset Sam Querrey, a 32-year-old San Francisco native, 5-3 in the first set. The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey, who ranks eighth in aces since ATP Match Stats began in 1991, double-faulted on break point at 3-3.
   Fresno, Calif., product Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up, then routed Monica Puig, the singles gold medalist in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, 5-1 to give Chicago a 10-4 lead. Puig, who underwent elbow surgery in December, has not played on the WTA tour since October.
   Each of the three doubles sets went to a tiebreaker, with Vegas winning two. Competing for the Rollers were former Stanford stars Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan (both 1997-98) and Kristie Ahn (2011-14). Playing for the Smash was Rajeev Ram, a 36-year-old volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley during breaks from the pro tour.
   Players and coaches replaced ballkids, and fans, wearing masks, were separated in the 2,500-seat stadium at The Greenbrier, which is hosting the entire three-week season. A chair umpire officiated, but there were no line judges.
   Vegas will play the Orlando Storm (1-0), led by two-time Australian Open quarterfinalist Tennys Sandgren, on Monday at 10 a.m. PDT on ESPN2. Orlando beat the two-time defending champion Springfield (Mo.) Lasers 21-18 (1-0 extended play) today.
   Men's singles – Brandon Nakashima (Chi) def. Sam Querrey 5-3.
   Women's singles – Sloane Stephens (Chi) def. Monica Puig 5-1.
   Mixed doubles – Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Rajeev Ram (Chi) def. Asia Muhammad and Mike Bryan 5-4 (5-3).
   Women's doubles – Kristie Ahn and Muhammad (LV) def. Eugenie Bouchard and Mattek-Sands 5-4 (5-3).
   Men's doubles – Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (LV) def. Nakashima and Ram 5-4 (5-2).
   Extended play – Nakashima and Ram (Chi) def. Bryan and Bryan 1-0.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Wimbledon awards prize money despite cancellation

After Wimbledon announced it will pay 10 million British pounds
($12.62 million) in prize money despite the cancellation of this year's
tournament, Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) tweeted, "Wow. Incred-
bile stuff @Wimbledon (thank you emoji)." 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Wimbledon gave players some welcome news today.
   Even though the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the tournament, the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced today that its insurance policy will allow it to pay 10 million British pounds ($12.62 million) in prize money.
   "Wow. Incredible stuff @Wimbledon (thank you emoji)," tweeted Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13).
  The AELTC will pay the 620 players whose world ranking would have enabled them to gain entry into Wimbledon, which was scheduled for June 29 to July 12. On April 1, the tournament was canceled for the first time in 75 years and the first time ever during peacetime.
   Based on their world ranking, players will receive either 12,500 pounds ($15,780) for singles qualifying, 25,000 pounds ($31,552) for main-draw singles or 6,250 pounds ($7,890) for main-draw doubles.
   "Immediately following the cancellation of The Championships," AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis said on wimbledon.com, "we turned our attention to how we could assist those help make Wimbledon happen. We know these months of uncertainly have been very worrying for these groups, including the players, many of whom have faced financial difficulty during this period and who would have quite rightly anticipated the opportunity to earn prize money at Wimbledon based on their world ranking.
   "We are pleased that our insurance policy has allowed us to recognize the impact of the cancellation on the players and that we are now in a position to offer this payment as a reward for the hard work they have invested in building their ranking to a point where they would have gained direct entry in The Championships 2020."
   World TeamTennisTommy Paul will replace Frances Tiafoe, who is ineligible after testing positive for COVID-19, on the Washington Kastles. Both are 22-year-old Americans who have won a Northern California Challenger. Paul is ranked No. 57 (sixth in the United States), and Tiafoe is No. 81 (eighth in the U.S.).
   Also, Milos Raonic of the Orange County Breakers and Mardy Fish of the New York Empire will not play this season. Raonic, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2016, opted out for personal reasons, and Fish has an undisclosed injury. Neither will be replaced.
   The WTT season is scheduled for Sunday through Aug. 2 at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Tiafoe ineligible for WTT after testing positive

Frances Tiafoe won the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger at 18
to crack the top 100 for the first time. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Frances Tiafoe of the Washington Kastles was declared ineligible for the World TeamTennis season after testing positive for COVID-19 "within the advance travel testing window," league CEO Carlos Silva said in a statement today.
   The season is scheduled for Sunday through Aug. 2 at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
   Tiafoe, 22, is ranked No. 81 in the world (No. 8 in the United States) after climbing as high as No. 29 in February 2019. He won the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger at 18 to crack the top 100 for the first time.
   No replacement for Tiafoe was named. Also on the Kastles' roster are doubles specialists Marcelo Arevalo and Nick Monroe, plus Venus Williams, Bernarda Pera and Arina Rodionova. Arevalo, who reached a career-high No. 139 in singles in 2018, could play in that event instead of Tiafoe.

Friday, July 3, 2020

San Jose canceled; French Open fans; Djokovic negative

   Next month's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers announced Thursday.
   The WTA tournament, which moved from Stanford in 2018, was scheduled for Aug. 3-9 at San Jose State.
   Withdrawals and upsets marked the first two Mubadala tournaments. In the finals, Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania crushed Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 6-0 in 2018, and Zheng Saisai of China defeated Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-3, 7-6 (3) last year. Those are the only career WTA singles titles of Buzarnescu, a 32-year-old left-hander, and Zheng, 26.
   French Open to allow spectators – The French Open can accommodate as many as 20,000 fans per day if the public health situation in France does not deteriorate, The New York Times reported today.
   The tournament, now scheduled for Sept. 27 to Oct. 11, plans to operate at "50 to 60 percent" of capacity, Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French Tennis Federation, said in a videoconference with reporters.
   Tentatively, masks will be mandatory when moving about the grounds but not when seated at a court. There are no plans to check spectators' temperatures before entry or to require that they be tested for the coronavirus, according to The Times.
   The U.S. Open is scheduled for Aug. 31 to Sept. 13, as planned, in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., but without fans.
   World TeamTennis will allow up to 500 fans per day, 20 percent of capacity, during its season from July 12 to Aug. 2 at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
   Djokovic tests negative – Ten days after contracting the coronavirus, Novak Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, tested negative, his media team said in a statement.
   The No. 1-ranked player tested positive after playing in an exhibition series in Serbia and Croatia that he organized. Fans packed the stands, and players socialized with each other and spectators on and off the court.
   Djokovic and his wife had no symptoms and were in self-isolation in Belgrade, Serbia, according to the statement.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Blake encouraged by protests, charges against officers

James Blake beat his childhood idol, John McEnroe, to win
the 2014 Champions Shootout in Sacramento, Calif. Both
players grew up in the New York area. Photo by Paul Bauman
   James Blake said he's been on "a pretty big roller coaster of emotions" since George Floyd's death.
   "That night, I went to bed so discouraged, just thinking how sad it was," the former world No. 4 said on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on June 10. "But (then) I was so encouraged by the fact that people cared. People in this country have not become totally desensitized. They haven't become numb to this. The protests happened so quickly, so genuinely, and they got results. I don't know if those four officers would have been charged if it wasn't for the protests."
   Blake, who's half African American, endured a frightening incident with the police in 2015 in New York. Retired by then, he was waiting outside his hotel for a ride to the U.S. Open to make some corporate appearances when a plainclothes New York City Police officer ran up, slammed him against a wall, threw him to the ground and handcuffed him. After 10 or 15 minutes, Blake was released.
   "They said I looked like a suspect," recalled the 40-year-old Blake, who won the doubles title in the 2004 SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., on the ATP Tour and the singles crown in the 2012 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger. "Turns out the suspect was for a credit card scam, nothing violent. No reason, in my opinion, to tackle someone."
   Blake, who turned pro after two years at Harvard, sued but withdrew his claim, saying he wasn't looking for financial compensation "on the condition that the city establish a legal fellowship to investigate police misconduct and advocate for victims of brutality."
   "In terms of trying to get justice, I tried so hard," Blake, who's now the Miami Open tournament director, told Fallon. "This is why I'm so encouraged by today's events. I screamed and yelled for two years to get an internal trial against this police officer. All he lost was five vacation days, and it was his fifth incident. The other four were against African American men, one when he broke the guy's jaw, and they said he couldn't be fired. That's what needs to be changed, and that's why I'm so encouraged by the fact that more and more people are realizing that this (lack of) accountability is a joke."
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