Friday, November 15, 2019

Bellis, Klahn, Brooksby lose in Houston Challenger

Qualifier CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, lost to third-
 seeded Kirsten Flipkens, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2013, 6-4, 6-4 today in the
third round of the Oracle Challenger Series in Houston. 2018 photo by Mal Taam
   All three players with Northern California connections lost today in the third round of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco native who grew up in nearby Atherton, fell to third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens, a 33-year-old Belgian, 6-4, 6-4 after Thursday's matches were rained out.
   Flipkens, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2013, then topped sixth-seeded Caty McNally, 17, of Cincinnati 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
   Bellis played in her first tournament since undergoing three surgeries on her right wrist and one operation on her right elbow and missing 19 months. She was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2017 after reaching a career-high No. 35.
   Second seed and defending champion Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, lost to 14th-seeded Michael Mmoh of Bradenton, Fla., 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).
   Klahn, a left-hander who reached the second round of the U.S. Open in August, pounded 16 aces, won 80 percent of the points on his first serve (59 of 74) and faced only one break point, which he lost.
   Mmoh subsequently fell to sixth-seeded Christopher O'Connell of Australia 5-0, retired, ending the American's winning streak at eight matches. O'Connell won last month's $108,320 Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger.
   Thirteenth-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 19, of Carmichael in the Sacramento area succumbed to fourth-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles region 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
   Giron then beat Jason Jung, a native of Torrance in the Los Angeles area who plays for Chinese Taipei, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
   Brooksby shocked Tomas Berdych, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2010, in the first round of the U.S. Open. Berdych had missed most of the previous 14 months because of a back injury.
   That apparently will be the last match of Berdych's career. He has not played since then and reportedly will announce his retirement on Saturday at 34.
   Giron, the 2014 NCAA singles champion from UCLA, has soared from No. 308 at the end of last year to No. 123. He reached the third round of the prestigious BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March as a qualifier, beating then-No. 24 Alex de Minaur and then-No. 37 Jeremy Chardy.
   College signingAryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara has signed a letter of intent to attend nearby Stanford.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

All matches rained out in Houston Challenger

   Today's scheduled matches in the $162,480 Houston Challenger were postponed by rain.
   The third round and quarterfinals are set for Friday, when the forecast calls for sunny weather with a high of 61 degrees (16.1 Celsius).
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, will face third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens, a 33-year-old Belgian, at 8 a.m. PST (live stream).
   Bellis is playing in her first tournament in 19 months. During her layoff, the right-hander underwent three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow.
   Flipkens, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2013, outlasted Bellis 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the first round at Indian Wells in 2017 in their only previous meeting.
   Second seed and defending champion Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, will meet 14th-seeded Michael Mmoh, 21, of Bradenton, Fla., at about 10 a.m. Klahn leads the head-to-head series 2-0, both three-setters in 2017.
   Mmoh has won seven consecutive matches, including the title in last week's $54,160 Knoxville Challenger, since being defaulted from his second-round match in Charlottesville for throwing his racket and hitting a line judge.
   Thirteenth-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 19, of Carmichael in the Sacramento area will take on fourth-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles region for the first time at about noon.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Roundup: Bryans to retire after 2020 U.S. Open

Bob Bryan, left, and Mike Bryan have won a record 16 Grand
Slam men's doubles titles. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Former Stanford stars Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, generally considered the greatest doubles team in history, announced today that they will retire after the 2020 U.S. Open.
   The 41-year-old identical twins have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, an Open Era-record 118 trophies (including four in the ATP Finals) and an Olympic gold medal (2012 London). They also helped the United States win the Davis Cup championship in 2007.
   The Bryans spent 438 weeks and ended 10 seasons as the No. 1 team (2003, 2005-07, 2009-14). Mike Bryan became the oldest No. 1 at age 40 on July 16, 2018, and holds the record of 506 weeks at the top of the rankings.
   Overall, the Bryans have a 1,102-358 (.755) match record.
   "Mike and I chose to finish our 2019 season after the U.S. Open, even knowing there was a strong chance we'd qualify for the ATP Finals," Bob Bryan said on atptour.com. "After much discussion, we decided that it would be best to rest our minds and strengthen our bodies in preparation for 2020, which will be our final season on the ATP Tour.
   "For the last 21 years, we have been so grateful for the opportunity to live out our dreams of playing professional tennis. It has truly been a magical ride. However, we want to end this great ride while we're healthy and we can still compete for titles."
   Mike Bryan said: "We are currently extremely motivated and excited going into our last season. We will enjoy and appreciate each moment we have while saying our goodbyes and giving thanks to the fans who have given us so much joy."
   Bob Bryan underwent right hip surgery in August 2018 and returned at the beginning of 2019. The brothers won two titles this year, in Delray Beach and Miami. After reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, they lost in the third round of the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
   The Bryans played at Stanford in 1997 and 1998, helping the Cardinal win the NCAA team championship each year. Bob Bryan achieved a rare Triple Crown in 1998, sweeping the NCAA singles, doubles (with Mike) and team titles.
   Stanford students are not allowed to choose roommates. The Bryans were given rooms on opposite sides of campus, but Bob brought a mattress to Mike's dorm and slept on the floor.
   The Bryans' father, Wayne Bryan, coached the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis for 12 years (2002-13). He led Sacramento to two WTT titles (2002 and 2007) and was named the league's Coach of the Year three times (2004-06).
   Oracle Challenger Series in Houston – Second seed and defending champion Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, and 13th-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 19, of Carmichael in the Sacramento area won their second-round matches.
   Klahn, a left-hander who won the 2010 NCAA singles title, defeated Filip Cristian Jianu, 18, of Romania 7-5, 6-3. Brooksby outclassed Gonzalo Villanueva of Argentina 6-2, 6-2.
   Klahn is set to face 14th-seeded Michael Mmoh, 21, of Bradenton, Fla., on Thursday at about 3 p.m. PST (live stream). Klahn leads the head-to-head series 2-0, both three-set matches in 2017.
   Mmoh won last week's $54,160 Knoxville Challenger after being defaulted from his second-round match in the $54,160 Charlottesville Challenger the previous week for throwing his racket and hitting a line judge.
   Brooksby will meet fourth-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles region for the first time at about 5 p.m.
   Giron, the 2014 NCAA singles champion from UCLA, topped Brandon Holt, the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (7), 6-2. Holt, a USC senior, trailed 5-0 in the second set and saved 11 match points.
   Collin Altamirano, 23, of Sacramento lost to 11th-seeded Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain 6-4, 6-0. Both Brooksby and Altamirano train at the JMG Tennis Academy in Sacramento.
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, will take on third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium at 1 p.m.
   Bellis is playing in her first tournament in 19 months. During her layoff, the right-hander underwent three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow.
   College signing – Stefan Leustian of Mather in the Sacramento area signed with UCLA.
   "I have seen all the things Billy (Martin) and (assistant coach) Rikus (de Villiers) have done in the past and seen improvements from all the players," Leustian said on tennisrecruiting.net. "I've been a really big UCLA fan since I was young, and I love the location. Nothing beats L.A. It was kind of like the best of every world."

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bellis survives Houston test; Cibulkova retires at 30

Qualifier CiCi Bellis, shown in 2017, edged 16th-seeded Varvara Lepchenko
6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) today in the second round of the Oracle Challenger Series in
Houston. Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, is playing in
her first tournament in 19 months. Photo by Mal Taam
   CiCi Bellis survived the first big test of her comeback.
   The 20-year-old qualifier, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Atherton, edged 16th-seeded Varvara Lepchenko, a 33-year-old American from Uzbekistan, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) in 2 hours, 25 minutes today in the second round of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
   Bellis reached a career-high No. 35 in 2017. The right-hander is playing in her first tournament since undergoing three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow and sitting out for 19 months.
   Lepchenko, a left-hander, is ranked No. 167 after climbing as high as No. 19 in 2012.
   Bellis will take on another 33-year-old former top-20 player, third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, on Thursday. Live streaming is available.
   Flipkens, ranked No. 94, nipped 17-year-old Hailey Baptiste of Washington, D.C., 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in 2:04.
   Flipkens reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2013, catapulting her to a career-high No. 13. In her only match against Bellis, Flipkens prevailed 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the first round at Indian Wells in 2017.
   Meanwhile, 14th-seeded Caroline Dolehide, a 20-year-old native of Hinsdale, Ill., now based in Orlando, Fla., beat Giuliana Olmos of Mexico 7-5, 6-4.
   Dolehide reached the quarterfinals of the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Tennis Club Challenge in July.  Olmos, 26, was born in Austria and grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   In the completion of a men's match suspended by rain, Collin Altamirano of Sacramento defeated Gage Brymer of Irvine in the Los Angeles area 6-2, 7-6 (5) in the opening round.
   The 23-year-old Altamirano, ranked No. 390, will face 11th-seeded Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, a 34-year-old Spaniard ranked No. 236, for the first time.
   Cibulkova retires – Dominika Cibulkova, who won the 2013 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, announced her retirement at 30.
   The 5-foot-3 (1.61-meter) Cibulkova peaked at No. 4, the highest ranking by a Slovakian woman, in 2017 and became the first woman from her country to reach a Grand Slam final, losing to Li Na in the 2014 Australian Open.
   Cibulkova also advanced to the French Open semifinals in 2009, the Wimbledon quarterfinals three times (2011, 2016 and 2018) and the U.S. Open quarters in 2010. She won eight WTA singles titles, including the 2016 WTA Finals.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Bellis breezes in second match of comeback

CiCi Bellis, serving in 2017, has not lost a set in two matches in the first tournament
of her comeback. Photo by Mal Taam
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis, playing in her first tournament after a 19-month layoff, dismissed Ellen Perez of Australia 6-3, 6-2 in 55 minutes today in the first round of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
   Bellis, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Atherton, has not lost a set in two matches in the hardcourt tournament. The 20-year-old right-hander is returning from three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow.
   "I knew (Perez) was going to come out firing," Bellis said on oraclechallengerseries.com. "She's such a great player. I've known her forever. I just had to counteract her pace, move really well and move her around really well."
   Perez, a 24-year-old left-hander ranked No. 238 in singles and No. 66 in doubles, was impressed with Bellis' performance in their first meeting.
   "Welcome back to the tour @cicibellis your game looked like you never left!" Perez tweeted. "Big things are coming for you again."
   Bellis, who reached a career-high No. 35 in 2017, is scheduled to face another left-hander, 16th-seeded Varvara Lepchenko, on Tuesday at about noon PST. Live streaming is available.
   Lepchenko, a 33-year-old American citizen from Uzbekistan, received a first-round bye.
   Ranked No. 167 after climbing as high as No. 19 in 2012, Lepchenko is 1-0 against Bellis. Lepchenko won 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals on clay in Rabat, Morocco, in 2017.
   In the Houston men's draw, Collin Altamirano of Sacramento leads Gage Brymer of Irvine in the Los Angeles area 6-2, 1-4 in a first-round match suspended by rain.
   Second seed and defending champion Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, and 13th-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 19, of Carmichael in the Sacramento region received first-round byes.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Bellis beats Glatch in Houston after 19-month layoff

CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, defeated Alexa Glatch
6-4, 6-3 today to reach the main draw of the Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
Bellis returned to competition after undergoing four operations during a 19-month
layoff. 2017 photo by Mal Taam
  In her first match in 19 months, CiCi Bellis defeated fellow California native Alexa Glatch 6-4, 6-3 today to advance to the main draw of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series on hardcourts in Houston.
   Bellis, a right-hander, underwent three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow during her layoff.
   The 20-year-old San Francisco native, who grew up in nearby Atherton, told reporters after today's match that nerves and rust "are going to be here for the next few tournaments. Today was pretty ugly tennis, but I'm glad I got through it. Everything is going to go up from here."
   Glatch has had an even more star-crossed career than Bellis. The 30-year-old Newport Beach native, who climbed as high as No. 102 in 2009, has had four hip operations, two knee surgeries and one wrist procedure.
   Bellis, who reached a career-high No. 35 in 2017, is scheduled to play Ellen Perez of Australia for the first time on Monday at 8 a.m. PST. Live streaming is available.
  Perez, a 24-year-old left-hander, is ranked No. 241 in singles and No. 65 in doubles. She won the biggest singles title of her career in a $60,000 tournament in Ashland, Ky., in July. But the highest-ranked player she beat was No. 200 Zoe Hives of Australia in the final, and that was by retirement.
   Perez also won her first WTA doubles title in May, teaming with Daria Gavrilova of Australia in Strasbourg, and reached the doubles round of 16 at the U.S. Open in September with Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg, Fla.
   Collins, 25, is seeded first in singles in Houston at No. 31 in the world.
   ITA National Fall Championships in Newport Beach –  Top-seeded Yuya Ito of the University of Texas beat unseeded Damon Kesaris of Saint Mary's 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in the men's final.
   Ito won the clinching match over Petros Chrysochos in the Longhorns' 4-1 victory over Wake Forest in the NCAA final in Orlando, Fla., last May. Both Chrysochos and the Demon Deacons were defending champions. It was Texas' first NCAA team title in men's tennis.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Clijsters postpones comeback because of knee injury

   International Tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters has postponed her comeback because of a knee injury.
   "I've had to make the decision that I will not be able to compete in January," the 36-year-old mother of three tweeted Monday. "I am undergoing rehab and treatment for a knee injury. It's a setback but I'm determined as ever to get back to the game I love. I really appreciate all your support and encouragement."
   Clijsters did not disclose the nature of the injury, how it occurred or when she hopes to return. She reportedly was hurt while playing padel, a different racket sport.
   Clijsters, who left the circuit for the second time in 2012, won four Grand Slam titles in singles (three in the U.S. Open) and two in doubles. With 41 overall singles crowns, she ranks third among active players, behind Serena Williams (72) and Venus Williams (49), and 14th in the Open era (since 1968).
   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 Krantzcke 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.
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