Sunday, September 15, 2019

Parks, 18, stuns top seed to reach $25K Redding final

Alycia Parks, playing in Berkeley, Calif., in July, beat top-seeded
Katherine Sebov of Canada 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday night to reach the
final of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding,
Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   REDDING, Calif. – It's not difficult to see why Alycia Parks has been compared to Venus and Serena Williams.
   Like the Williams sisters, Parks is an African-American who skipped the juniors to let her body develop.
   Like Venus, Parks is tall (5-foot-11 or 1.80 meters) and slender. They even look alike facially.
   Like Serena, Parks has a booming serve.
   The unseeded Parks, 18, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., used her serve and laser groundstrokes to overpower top-seeded Katherine Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian ranked 200th, 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday night to reach the final of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open.
   Parks, ranked No. 522, earned her first victory over a top-200 player and advanced to the second and biggest final of her career. She lost to Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei in the final of a $15,000 clay-court tournament in Shreveport, La., in late June.
   Parks, who turned pro at 16, is scheduled to play third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a 24-year-old left-hander from Romania, today at noon at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Talaba, who graduated from Texas Tech in sports management last year, outsteadied Jada Hart, a 21-year-old wild card from Colton, Calif., in the San Bernardino area, 6-3, 6-2.
   Hart reached the NCAA singles quarterfinals as a UCLA junior in May and won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with fellow Bruin Ena Shibahara.
   Talaba, ranked No. 307, reached the first hard-court final of her career. She won clay-court titles in Charleston ($25,000) and Marbella ($15,000) last year and Bucharest ($15,000) in 2017.
   Talaba and Parks will meet for the second time. Talaba triumphed 7-5, 6-0 in the final round of qualifying in a $25,000 clay-court tournament in Bethany Beach, Del., last summer.
   Parks reeled off the last five games against Sebov.
   "I'm known for coming back when I'm down," said Parks, who pounded nine aces and won 83 percent of the points on her first serve (30 of 36). "I just had to re-focus."
   Talaba raced to a 3-0 lead (one service break) against the unranked Hart, who recovered for 3-3.
   "I started being a little bit less aggressive and making a little bit more mistakes, so I changed that and said, 'Well, you have to be more aggressive. You can't just wait for the points to come to you,'" said Talaba, who won nine of the last 11 games. "I tried to force errors, and she made some."
   Talaba broke Hart's serve four consecutive times to lead 5-3 in the first set and 4-1 in the second set. Hart finished with six double faults, including two in a row to trail 3-5 in the first set.
   Talaba, one of the few women with a one-handed backhand, has played all week with a bandage on her left hand to protect a blister on her palm.
   In Saturday's doubles final, second-seeded Emina Bektas of Indianapolis and Tara Moore of Great Britain beat third-seeded Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis area and Paige Hourigan of New Zealand 6-3, 6-1.
   All except Moore starred in college – Bektas at Michigan, Harrison at UCLA and Hourigan at Georgia Tech.
   In the first round of singles in a $25,000 tournament at Sunderland, Great Britain, last April, Moore trailed 0-6, 0-5 and faced match point against Jessika Ponchet of France before prevailing 0-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
   Kunal Patel San Francisco (KPSF) ChampionshipsSteve Johnson is set to play Stefan Kozlov in the final of the non-sanctioned tournament today at 1:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Tennis Club.
   Johnson defeated Bradley Klahn, a Stanford graduate, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in a matchup of 29-year-old Americans. Kozlov, a 21-year-old American, beat Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, 6-4, 7-5.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Wild card Hart reaches semifinals of $25K Redding

   Jada Hart, who had never won a main-draw singles match in a professional tournament before this week, has reached the semifinals of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Hart, a 21-year-old wild card from Colton, Calif. (east of Los Angeles), beat Pamela Montez, a 28-year-old former UCLA All-American from La Quinta in the Palm Springs area, 6-4, 7-5 today at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness. The temperature peaked at 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius).
   Hart advanced to the NCAA singles quarterfinals as a UCLA junior in May and won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with fellow Bruin Ena Shibahara.
   Hart, who's unranked in singles, will face third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a 24-year-old Romanian left-hander ranked No. 307, for the first time on Saturday not before 6 p.m.
   Talaba, who starred at Texas Tech, downed Emina Bektas, a 26-year-old former Michigan All-American from Indianapolis, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the semifinals for the third consecutive tournament.
   In the other semifinal not before 8 p.m., top-seeded Katherine Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian ranked No. 200, will meet Alycia Parks, an 18-year-old professional from Port St. Lucie, Fla., ranked No. 522, for the first time.
   Sebov, the runner-up in two consecutive $25,000 tournaments during the summer, eliminated lucky loser Ellie Douglas, a Texas Christian sophomore from McKinney, Texas, 6-2, 7-5.
   Parks, a finalist in a $15,000 clay-court tournament in Shreveport, La., in June, defeated qualifier Elysia Bolton, the Pacific-12 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year last spring from UCLA, 6-3, 7-5.
   Here are the updated Redding singles and doubles draws and Saturday's schedule.

Top seed survives as upsets continue in $25K Redding

   Only two seeds reached the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open on another blistering day in Redding, Calif.
   Joining top-seeded Katherine Sebov and third-seeded Gabriela Talaba in the quarters were qualifier Elysia Bolton, wild card Jada Hart and lucky loser Ellie Douglas.
   Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian, prevailed in three sets for the second consecutive match, beating Paige Hourigan, a former Georgia Tech All-American from New Zealand, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 on Thursday in 2 hours, 15 minutes on a 100-degree (37.8 Celsius) day at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Talaba, a 24-year-old Romanian left-hander who starred at Texas Tech, dispatched qualifier Peyton Stearns, a high school senior from Mason, Ohio, 6-2, 6-2.
   Bolton, the Pacific-12 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year last spring from UCLA, eliminated fourth-seeded Hanna Chang of Fontana in the Los Angeles area 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-0 in 2 hours, 35 minutes.
   Hart, a 21-year-old resident of Colton (east of Los Angeles), routed fifth-seeded Bianca Turati of Italy 6-2, 6-1.
   Hart won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with UCLA teammate Ena Shibahara. Turati, a senior at the University of Texas, is ranked No. 1 nationally in singles by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
   Pamela Montez, a 28-year-old former UCLA All-American from La Quinta in the Palm Springs area, outlasted Ashley Kratzer of Newport Beach, Calif., 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in 3 hours, 2 minutes.
   Kratzer, a 20-year-old left-hander, knocked off second-seeded Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis region in the first round.
   Here are the Redding singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Clijsters, 36, plans return to WTA Tour

   International Tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters, a 36-year-old mother of three, announced today that she plans to return to the WTA Tour in 2020.
   "I don't really feel like I want to prove something," Clijsters said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "For me, it's a challenge. ... I still love to play tennis."
   Clijsters, who left the circuit in 2012, won four Grand Slam titles in singles (three in the U.S. Open) and two in doubles. She ranks third among active players, behind Serena and Venus Williams, and 14th in the Open era (since 1968) with 41 singles titles.
   Four of Clijsters' titles came in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006). The tournament moved to San Jose as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic last year.
   Clijsters also played on Belgium's Fed Cup championship team in 2001 and won the Karen Kranrtzcke Sportsmanship Award, voted on by players, a record eight times.
   As a former world No. 1, Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wild cards in WTA tournaments.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Kratzer ousts No. 2 seed Harrison in $25K Redding

Ashley Kratzer, playing in Berkeley, Calif., last year,
ousted second-seeded Catherine Harrison today in the
first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's
Open in Redding, Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Ashley Kratzer, a 20-year-old left-hander from Newport Beach, Calif., toppled second-seeded Catherine Harrison from Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis area 7-6 (4), 6-3 today in the first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Kratzer won the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in 2017, reached the final of the $60,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger in 2017 and advanced to the semifinals of the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger last year. But she has tumbled from a career-high No. 200 last summer to No. 439.
   After defeating Kratzer in Berkeley, Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) predicted that Kratzer would climb to the "top 50 for sure, if not top 20, soon."
   Also losing today at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness were sixth-seeded Grace Min of Lake Nona, Fla., seventh-seeded Quinn Gleason from Mendon, N.Y., and eighth-seeded Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei.
   Qualifier Maria Mateas, a 20-year-old American, outlasted Min, the runner-up in the 2016 Sacramento Challenger, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours, 54 minutes. Min, 25, has plunged from a career-high No. 97 in 2015 to No. 366.
   Lucky loser Ellie Douglas, a Texas Christian sophomore from McKinney, Texas, defeated Gleason, a 24-year-old former Notre Dame star, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1. Also, qualifier Kimmi Hance, a high school junior from Torrance in the Los Angeles area, topped Hsu 6-4, 0-6, 6-3.
   The only singles seed in action today who won was No. 5 Bianca Turati of Italy. A University of Texas senior ranked No. 1 nationally, Turati beat qualifier Lauren Proctor of Bradenton, Fla., 6-4, 6-4. Proctor completed her eligibility at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., in the spring.
   Here are the Redding singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule.
   ATP Challenger Tour – Second-seeded Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Sem Verbeek (Pacific, 2013-16),  a Dutch left-hander, edged top-seeded Sander Arends and David Pel of the Netherlands 7-6 (6), 4-6 [11-9] last weekend to win the doubles title in the $51,311 Cassis (France) Open Provence.
   Goransson, 25, earned his third Challenger doubles title of the year and fifth overall. Verbeek, also 25, won his second Challenger doubles crown of 2019, both with Goransson, and third overall. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Top seed, others survive marathons in $25K Redding

   So much for easing into the tournament.
   Top-seeded Katherine Sebov needed almost three hours to win her first-round match in the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian, wore down Tara Moore of Great Britain 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-0 in 2 hours, 55 minutes at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Moore, 27, put in only 48 percent of her first serves (48 of 99) and committed 11 double faults.
   In the first round of a $25,000 tournament in Sunderland, Great Britain, in April, Moore trailed 0-6, 0-5 and faced match point against Jessika Ponchet of France before prevailing 0-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
   The Sebov-Moore match was not the longest of the day. Alycia Parks, 18, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., edged Sanaz Marand, a 31-year-old American left-hander, 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 6 minutes.
   Also, third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a Romanian left-hander, needed 2 hours, 32 minutes to subdue Lorraine Guillermo of Walnut in the Los Angeles area 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a battle of former collegiate All-Americans. Talaba, 24, starred at Texas Tech and Guillermo, 26, at Pepperdine.
   Wild card Jada Hart, a 21-year-old resident of Colton (east of Los Angeles), outlasted Luisa Stefani of Brazil 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in 2 hours, 26 minutes.
   Hart won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with UCLA teammate Ena Shibahara, and Stefani reached the doubles final in last year's $60,000 Stockton, Calif.,  Challenger with American Quinn Gleason.
   Fourth-seeded Hanna Chang of Fontana in the Los Angeles region had an easier time than the others, defeating wild card Haley Giavara, a Cal freshman from San Diego, 6-0, 7-5.
   Alexa Glatch, a Newport Beach, Calif., native playing on her 30th birthday, beat 18-year-old American Elizabeth Mandlik, the daughter of International Tennis Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova, 7-5, 6-1.
   Here are the Redding qualifying draw, singles and doubles main draws and Wednesday's schedule.

Top seed Sebov set for $25K Redding opener

   Top-seeded Katherine Sebov of Canada is scheduled to play Tara Moore of Great Britain today not before noon in the first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness in Redding, Calif.
   Sebov, 20, is ranked No. 200, and Moore, 27, is No. 518.
   Last year's tournament was canceled because of wildfires that ravaged the area. The Carr Fire, the sixth-most destructive in California history, killed eight people and injured three, burned 229,651 acres, destroyed 1,079 residences and 525 other structures, and cost more than $1.659 billion.
   Redding tournament alumni include former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, ex-doubles world No. 1 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic and current top-70 singles players Lauren Davis (No. 62) and Jennifer Brady (No. 66), both of Boca Raton, Fla.
   The Redding-based Ascension project develops athletes into leaders.
   Here are the Redding qualifying drawsingles and doubles main draws, and today's schedule.
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