Friday, July 15, 2011

Junior champions span West Coast

   The USTA West Coast Junior Championships lived up to its name in boys and girls 18 singles.
   Emmett Egger of Issaquah, Wash., near Seattle, and Christina Makarova of San Diego, took the titles Tuesday at the Rio del Oro Racquet Club in Sacramento. Both players were seeded No. 1.
   Egger, ranked fourth nationally in the 18s, wore down his good friend, second-seeded Connor Farren of Hillsborough, 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the final. Farren is No. 2 in the United States in the boys 16s.
   Egger and Farren recently returned to the United States after traveling to European tournaments together for seven weeks.
   In the first set of the final, "there was a little nervous tension after spending that much time together," said Egger, 18. "I hit some key serves at good times (in the match), which helped me because Connor has such good returns."
   Makarova, ranked second nationally in the girls 16s, outsteadied unseeded Alison Ho, a left-hander from Thousand Oaks, 6-4, 6-3 for the title.
   "She gave me a lot of free points by hitting too hard," said Makarova, 15.
   Like Egger, Makarova admitted to being nervous in the first set, which had been tied 4-4. She resorted to hitting moonballs.
   "I was trying to be aggressive, but I guess I got tight because it was a final and fell into that," she said.
   Egger's parents, recreational players, introduced him to tennis when he was 7. He said growing up in the rainy Pacific Northwest did not hurt his tennis development because he has spent most of his time at academies in Florida, Texas and California since he was 14.
   Egger, who studied at an online high school, will play on scholarship at the University of Washington in Seattle beginning in the fall.
   "I liked the coach, Matt Anger," Egger said of the former touring pro who reached a career-high No. 23 in the world in 1986. "That's what sold me. I like the way he coaches and what he thought about my game. He changes (his style according) to the player. He's definitely not 'one size fits all.' He (talked about) mixing it up and keeping it deep, and he's helping me with my volley."
   If Egger becomes a successful pro player, as he hopes, he will not be the first from Washington.
   Tom Gorman of Seattle reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the French Open in the early 1970s and coached the U.S. Davis Cup team to titles in 1990 and 1992.             
   Patrick Galbraith of Tacoma reached No. 1 in the world in doubles in 1993, and Jan-Michael Gambill of the Spokane area in eastern Washington climbed to No. 14 in singles 10 years ago.
   Makarova was born in Montreal to Russian parents and moved with her family to San Diego when she was 4 because of her father's job. Michael Popkov is a scientist. Christina's mother and coach, Luda, was once the highest-ranked woman in the Soviet Union.
   Makarova, who will be a sophomore at an online high school in the fall, will either turn pro in the next few years or attend college.            
   "It depends on how things go," she said.
   Champions from Northern California in the West Coast Junior Championships were:
   --Eighth-seeded Sarah Hu of Oakland in girls 16 singles.
   --Unseeded Katya Tabachnik of San Francisco in girls 14 singles.
   --Second-seeded Richard Pham of Saratoga and Brandon Sutter of El Dorado Hills in boys 18 doubles.
   --Unseeded Kristy Jorgensen of San Carlos and Christi Tain of Milpitas in girls 16 doubles.
   --Top-seeded Grace Lin of South San Francisco and Karina Vyrlan of Sacramento in girls 14 doubles.

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