Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rising star Davis bounces back from concussion

   REDDING — Tiny Lauren Davis is handling the big girls in professional tennis just fine.
   Television cameras are another matter.
   It's not that Davis is shy. Rather, in one of the strangest accidents in sports history, the 17-year-old rising star suffered a concussion while filming a commercial at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C., in April. The wind knocked over the camera, which fell on the 5-foot-2, 120-pound Davis' head. 
   "I blacked out for five or 10 seconds," the sixth-seeded Davis said after demolishing Katie Ruckert, 27, of Vienna, Va., 6-0, 6-0 in 62 minutes Wednesday in the first round of the $25,000 Oak River Rehab Challenger at Sun Oaks Tennis and Fitness. "I didn't think it was too severe, but the pain was excruciating the next day. I got really nervous then. I felt like my head was going to explode. I had headaches for two months straight, but it was never that severe again."
   In other first-round matches involving seeds Wednesday, No. 1 Camila Giorgi of Italy wore down qualifier Tori Kinard of Pasadena 7-6 (4), 6-0, but No. 4 Maria-Fernanda Alvarez-Teran of Bolivia lost to Yuliana Lizarazo of Colombia, and No. 7 Tamaryn Hendler of Belgium fell to wild card Allie Will of Boca Raton, Fla., 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
   Hendler, who played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2008, began cramping midway through the second set. She later complained of fatigue after arriving Monday night from Japan, where she won a $25,000 tournament last week and reached the semifinals of another the previous week.
   Will, a 5-10 junior at Florida, played No. 1 singles and doubles on the team that won the NCAA title at Stanford in May.
   In the opening round of doubles, top-seeded Yasmin Schnack of Elk Grove and Maria Sanchez of Modesto beat Yawna Allen of Phoenix and Jessica Roland-Rosario of Puerto Rico 7-5, 6-2, and wild cards Alexandra and Kat Facey, 18-year-old twins from Cameron Park outside of Sacramento, lost to Julia Boserup of Newport Beach and Malou Ejdesgaard of Denmark 6-0, 6-4.   
   Davis admitted that she missed tennis while sitting out for two months.
   "I couldn't do much other than watch TV. I was bored out of my mind," said Davis, a Cleveland product who trains at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton.
   Davis returned to competition in her hometown, losing in the first round of a $10,000 tournament. She then won 13 consecutive matches, capturing titles in $10,000 events in Buffalo, N.Y., and Atlanta and reaching the semifinals of a $50,000 tournament in Lexington, Ky.
   Last month, Davis won the girls 18 singles title at the USTA National Championships in San Diego to earn a berth in the main draw of the U.S. Open. She lost to eventual semifinalist Angelique Kerber of Germany 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the first round.
   "Taking time off made me want to come back and do well more than before," Davis said.
   Davis ended the 2010 season on a 27-match winning streak. She beat 6-1 Coco Vandeweghe, another former Capital, in a wild-card playoff in December to earn a spot in the Australian Open. Making her Grand Slam debut in Rod Laver Arena, Davis lost to fifth-seeded Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-1, 6-1 in January. Stosur won her first Grand Slam singles title Sunday in the U.S. Open.
   Davis, who began playing at the advanced age of 9 and turned pro two weeks before the Australian Open, has soared from No. 437 in the world at the end of 2010 to No. 320. She hopes to reach the top 10 eventually in a sport increasingly dominated by big, powerful, athletic players.
   "The thing hurting Lauren is her height, but she makes up for a lot of that territory by being an incredible athlete, very much like (5-8) Kim Clijsters,'' tennis legend and ESPN analyst Chris Evert told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel last month. "The way she moves, she's a great little competitor.''
   And a headache for opponents.

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