Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wang's weird background, etc.

   Of all the players in the recent $15,000 Futures tournaments in Sacramento and Chico, Jimmy Wang almost certainly has the weirdest background.
   A 26-year-old Taiwanese veteran born in Saudi Arabia and given an American nickname, Wang reached a career-high No. 85 in the world in 2006 before missing three years because of two operations on his right (playing) wrist.
   Wang’s mother worked as a physician in Saudi Arabia, but the family moved back to Taiwan when Jimmy was 3 months old. His nickname has nothing to do with Jimmy Connors. When Wang was 8, an English teacher dubbed him Jimmy. His given name is Yeu-Tzuoo.
   Ten years ago in the juniors, Wang reached the Australian Open and U.S. Open finals and the Wimbledon semifinals to ascend to No. 3 in the world. After graduating to the men’s tour, he advanced to the second round in three Grand Slam tournaments (the Australian Open in 2006 and Wimbledon in 2006 and 2007).
   But then Wang sat out from November 2007 to November last year while undergoing surgery for a torn ligament and then a bone spur. When asked how he hurt his wrist, Wang said, “I wish I knew.”
   After dropping out of the rankings, Wang has soared from No. 1,009 to No. 491 since his return. He reached the singles semifinals of the Park Terrace Pro Tennis tournament in Sacramento and teamed with his coach, Vahe Assadourian of the Gorin Tennis Academy in Granite Bay, to win the doubles title of the Balbutin’s Chico Pharmacy Tennis Classic.
   “It’s good to be back,” Wang said. “I don’t know how to describe (how much I missed tennis). Every day I followed tennis. I grew up in tennis. My whole family played. It’s what I’m used to.”
   He’s changing his game to Wang 2.0, though.
   “I’m more aggressive,” he said. “I’m changing the technique on my serve and forehand and the way I move. I’m sick of the old way. I’m updating myself.”
   Oh, brotherFrance’s Antoine Benneteau, a singles semifinalist in the Park Terrace tournament, is the younger brother of Julien Benneteau, ranked 106th in the world after climbing to a career-high No. 32 last July.
   Christian Harrison, a 17-year-old resident of Bradenton, Fla, who lost in the first round of Park Terrace, is the brother of Ryan Harrison, ranked No. 101 in the world at 19 years old.
   Oh, Canada – Growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Philip Bester played tennis instead of hockey.
   “But sometimes I think to myself that in my future life, I would really love to be a hockey player,” the 22-year-old Chico singles champion said. “I’m a huge hockey fan.”
   Bester’s beloved Vancouver Canucks recently lost to the visiting Boston Bruins in the deciding seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
   “It was very disappointing, more so what a small group of people did afterward with all the rioting downtown, but it was a very entertaining season that the Canucks put up,” said Bester, who attended Games 1 and 2 in Vancouver. “We’ll get (the Stanley Cup) next year.”
   Learning self-reliance – Sometimes, it’s better not to have a coach.
   “Last year, I was without a coach, and I felt that helped me the most,” Bester said. “I was just figuring out things on my own and not having somebody else tell me.”
  The 229th-ranked Bester, however, resumed working with Jon Sorbo of Toronto at the beginning of this year.
   Wish you were here – Florida apparently agrees with Granite Bay resident Artem Ilyushin and former Sacramento State star Kiryl Harbatsiuk.
   Ilyushin, a native of Vladivostok, Russia, who recently completed his junior year at Mississippi State, reached his first Futures final Saturday. Unseeded, he fell to eighth-seeded Rhyne Williams, the runner-up in the NCAA championships at Stanford in May as a Tennessee sophomore, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 Sunday in the $10,000 PressEx Print Open in Innisbrook, Fla.
   In doubles, Ilyushin advanced to the final of last week's $10,000 MIMA Foundation Pro Tennis Classic in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., and the semifinals in Innisbrook.
   Harbatsiuk -- a native of Minsk, Belarus, playing in his third tournament as a professional -- reached the singles semifinals in Indian Harbour Beach. He beat Ilyushin 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals before falling to top seed and eventual champion Jesse Levine by the same score.       


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