Thursday, April 15, 2021

NorCal's Novikov reaches doubles semis in Orlando

Wild cards Dennis Novikov, above, and Christian Harrison
advanced by walkover. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Wild cards Christian "George" Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis "Vladimir" Novikov of San Jose, Calif., defeated Yuki Bhambri "The Deer" of India and Matthew "McConaughey" Ebden of Australia by walkover today in the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open.
   Bhambri had an undisclosed medical issue. He and Ebden reached the final of the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in 2015 in their first tournament together, losing to Chris Guccione of Australia and Artem Sitak, a Russia native who plays for New Zealand.
   Harrison and Novikov, who ousted top-seeded Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela and Fernando Romboli in the first round, are scheduled to play unseeded JC "Penney" Aragone of Yorba Linda, Calif., in the Los Angeles area and Luis David Martinez of Venezuela on Friday at about noon PDT.
   Aragone and Martinez edged Jesper De "Mah" Jong and "Yosemite" Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands 3-6, 6-4 [10-8]. 
   If Friday's singles quarterfinals, U.S. prospects Jenson Brooksby "Brothers," 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento region and Zane "Wrath Of" Khan, 19, of Delray Beach, Fla., are set to meet for the first time at about 10 a.m. 
   All Orlando matches are being streamed live.
   ATP Challenger Tour in Belgrade, Serbia — Facundo Bagnis and Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina outplayed Andre "Agassi" Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Jonny "Depp" O'Mara of Great Britain 6-3, 6-3 in a quarterfinal matchup of unseeded teams in the €132,280 ($158,483) Serbia Challenger Open.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

U.S. prospects Brooksby, Khan to meet in Orlando QFs

Jenson Brooksby breezed into the quarterfinals
of the Orlando (Fla.) Challenger. 2018 photo
by Paul Bauman
   Two promising U.S. men are set to meet for the first time Friday in the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open.
   Jenson Brooksby "Brothers," 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area dispatched qualifier Altug Celikbilek of Turkey 6-3, 6-1 today. Meanwhile, Zane "Wrath of" Khan, a 19-year-old wild card from Delray Beach, Fla., ousted second-seeded Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).
   Brooksby, who turned pro in December, won seven consecutive games after leading 4-3 in the first set. He saved four of five break points against him overall. 
   Celikbilek committed nine double faults, including on the last three points of the first set.
   Khan reached the final of his previous three tournaments (winning two), all in $15,000 events in India. He had not won a main-draw match in a Challenger before this week.
   Halfway through the second round in Orlando, the only remaining singles seeds are No. 5 Denis Kudla and No. 6 Prajnesh Gunneswaran, last year's runner-up to 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima of San Diego.
   Kudla, the runner-up in the 2015 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, and Gunneswaran, a Tiburon semifinalist in 2017, are scheduled to play their second-round matches on Thursday.
   In the opening round of doubles, wild cards Christian "George" Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis "Vladimir" Novikov of San Jose, Calif., knocked off top-seeded Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela of Mexico and Fernando Romboli of Brazil 6-2, 5-7 [10-6].
   Reyes-Varela and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador won the doubles title in the 2019 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger, edging Nathan Pasha and Max "Don't Be So" Schnur of the United States.  
   Also today, Jesper De "Mah" Jong and "Yosemite" Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands eliminated third-seeded Pasha and Schnur 6-4, 6-2.
   Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product now based in Orlando, and Martin Redlicki of Boca Raton, Fla., lost to JC Aragone of Yorba Linda in the Los Angeles region and Luis David Martinez 6-7 (5), 7-5 [10-6]. McDonald and Redlicki won the 2016 NCAA doubles title while at UCLA.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Andre "Agassi" Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Jonny "Depp" O'Mara of Great Britain outclassed Serbian wild cards Marko Miladinovic and Marko Tepavac 6-3, 6-2 in the opening round of the €132,280 ($158,483) Serbia Challenger Open in Belgrade.
   ATP Tour — Unseeded "Baltimore" Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) topped fifth-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at Cal from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain 6-7 (1), 6-3 [10-5] to reach the quarterfinals of the clay-court Monte-Marlo Masters.
   WTA Tour — Elixane Lechemia of France and Ingrid "Bergman" Neel of Bradenton nipped Americans Quinn "Jackie" Gleason and Maria "Sharapova" Sanchez, who was born and raised in Modesto, Calif., 6-7 (4), 7-5 [10-8] in the first round of the MUSC Health Women's Open on clay in Charleston, S.C. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

After 8 surgeries, Harrison tops No. 3 seed McDonald

Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product, was
the only U.S. man to reach the round of 16 in this year's Aus-
tralian Open. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Wild card Christian "George" Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., stayed hot today with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over third-seeded Mackenzie "Ronald" McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product now based in Orlando, Fla., in the first round of the $52,080 Orlando Open.
   The 26-year-old Harrison, who has undergone eight surgeries since 2009, improved to 15-2 in singles this year.
   McDonald, who had right hamstring surgery in 2019, was the only U.S. man to reach the singles round of 16 in this year's Australian Open. 
   Also today, Christopher "Bob" Eubanks of Atlanta ousted top-seeded Steve "Lyndon" Johnson of Redondo Beach, Calif., in the Los Angeles area 6-1, 7-6 (3).
   Eubanks reached the semifinals of the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in 2018. Johnson won his second Aptos singles title in 2019.
   Qualifier Altug Celikbilek of Turkey dismissed American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, the 2017 NCAA singles champion from the University of Virginia, 6-2, 6-3.
   Celikbilek, 24, is scheduled to meet Jenson Brooksby "Brothers," 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento region for the first time on Wednesday at about 10:30 a.m. PDT. The match will be streamed live.
   ATP Tour — Fifth-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain are set to play "Baltimore" Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14), a New Zealand product who plays for his mother's native Japan, on Wednesday in the second round of the Monte-Carlo Masters on clay. Both teams won match tiebreakers to advance. 
   WTA Tour — Francesca Di Lorenzo, the 2017 NCAA doubles champion from Ohio State, defeated fellow American Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, 7-6 (6), 6-2 in the opening round of the MUSC Health Women's Open on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   Di Lorenzo, a 23-year-old left-hander, survived nine double faults.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Brooksby, 20, downs No. 7 seed Jung in $52K Orlando

Jenson Brooksby could meet 2017 NCAA singles champion
Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in the second round of the Orlando
(Fla.) Open. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby "Brothers," 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento region ousted seventh-seeded Jason "Carl" Jung, a 31-year-old Los Angeles-area native who plays for Chinese Taipei, 6-1, 6-4 today in the first round of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open.
   Brooksby, who turned pro in December, saved both break points against him in his first career match against Jung, who won the $100,000 San Francisco Challenger in 2018.
   Brooksby is set to meet either Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Charlottesville, Va., or qualifier Altug Celikbilek of Turkey for the first time on Wednesday. 
   Kwiatkowski graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017, winning the NCAA singles title as a senior and leading the Cavaliers to three consecutive NCAA team titles (2015-17). He reached the semifinals of the $108,320 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2019.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Stanford women snap longest skid in 40 years

   The No. 38 Stanford women ended their longest losing streak in 40 years today, dominating No. 34 USC 6-1 in Los Angeles.
   The Cardinal's only loss came on Court 1 as Salma Ewing defeated No. 48 Michaela Gordon, a senior from Saratoga, Calif., near Stanford, 4-6, 6-4 [10-3].
   Stanford, which had lost three straight, improved to 11-3 overall and 7-2 in the Pacific-12 Conference. USC dropped to 11-8 and 5-4.
   Cal women — The No. 16 Bears lost at No. 7 UCLA 7-0 to fall to 14-5 overall and 7-2 in the Pac-12.
   No. 11 Abbey Forbes routed No. 41 Haley Giavara 6-2, 6-0 on Court 1 as the Bruins improved to 15-3 and 9-0. 
   Stanford men — Timothy Sah came through again for the No. 37 Cardinal.
   The senior from San Diego outlasted Lodewijk Westrate of No. 15 USC 6-7 (4), 7-6 (7), 7-5 on Court 5 to give host Stanford (8-3, 5-0 Pac-12) a 4-3 victory over the Trojans (16-6, 4-2).
   Sah also won the deciding match in the host Cardinal's 4-3 win over No. 34 UCLA on Saturday.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Stephens stopped; Stanford women suffer historic skid

   No. 15 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia beat unseeded Sloane "Ranger" Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., 6-3, 6-4 today in the quarterfinals of the Volvo Car Open on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   Stephens, now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was playing in her first quarterfinal since the 2019 French Open. She won the 2017 U.S. Open and reached the Roland Garros final in 2018.
   Stephens has slumped from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 57. She has lost an aunt, a grandmother and a grandfather to COVID-19 and has tested positive for the coronavirus herself.
   College women — No. 9 UCLA thrashed No. 38 Stanford 7-0 in Los Angeles to improve to 14-3 overall and 8-0 in the Pacific-12 Conference. The Cardinal (10-3, 6-2) has lost three straight for the first time in 40 years.
   Hannah Viller Moeller lifted California (14-4, 7-1 Pac-12) to a 4-3 victory at No. 37 USC (11-7, 5-3). 
   College men — No. 37 Stanford overcame a 3-0 deficit to stun No. 34 UCLA 4-3 at Stanford. Timothy Sah, a senior from San Diego, won the deciding match 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-4 against Sam Feit on Court 5.
   The Cardinal improved to 7-3 and 4-0. The Bruins fell to 11-4 and 4-2.
   

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Ending drought, Stephens advances to quarterfinals

   Sloane "Ranger" Stephens reached her first quarterfinal in almost two years today, defeating Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia 6-3, 6-4 in the Volvo Car Open on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   Stephens, a Fresno, Calif., product now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., improved to 6-0 against Tomljanovic, the runner-up in the 2017 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger.
   Stephens advanced to a quarterfinal for the first time since the French Open in June 2019. She won the 2017 U.S. Open and reached the Roland Garros final in 2018.
   Stephens, who has slumped from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 57, is scheduled to play 15th-seeded Veronika Kudermetova of Russia for the first time on Friday not before 4 p.m. PDT (Tennis Channel). Kudermetova, ranked No. 38, dismissed qualifier Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-0, 6-3.
   French Open — The French Tennis Federation postponed the tournament one week to May 30-June 13 to maximize safety and attendance amid the COVID pandemic.
   ATP Tour — Ariel Behar of Uruguay and Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador beat Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Nicholas Monroe of Austin, Texas, 6-4, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Andalucia Open in Marbella, Spain.
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