Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Knowles ends year with another first-round loss

   Mark Knowles is staggering toward the finish line of his career.
   The 40-year-old doubles specialist and longtime Sacramento Capital ended his year Tuesday with his sixth first-round loss in his last seven tournaments.
   Knowles and Belgium's Xavier Malisse, a comparative youngster at 31, fell to French wild cards Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-3 at the $3.78 million BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
   Knowles, a Bahamas native, will miss the ATP World Tour Finals for the second consecutive year after qualifying for the season-culminating tournament for eight seasons in a row and winning the 2007 title with Daniel Nestor. 
   "Done for the year and happy the season is over!" Knowles, who has won three World TeamTennis Male MVP awards in his 10 seasons with the Capitals, wrote on his Facebook page.  
   Knowles, who reached No. 1 in the world in doubles in 2002 and 2004, has plunged from No. 5 at the end of 2009 to No. 28 at the conclusion of last year to No. 43.
   He won one title this year, at Los Angeles in July with Malisse in their first tournament together, to give him 54 for his career (three in Grand Slams). That ranks fourth among active players behind Mike Bryan (77), Bob Bryan (75) and Nestor (74) and tied for 16th in the Open Era (since 1968).
   The Los Angeles title came at UCLA, where Knowles starred from 1990 to 1992.
   Knowles, who's married with three young children, hopes to play in the 2012 Olympics in London next summer. His mother is British, and he carries a British passport. As if that's not enough motivation for Knowles, the Olympic tennis event will be held at Wimbledon.
   In the first round of singles in Paris, qualifier Donald Young lost to Juan Monaco of Argentina 6-4, 6-2. Young won the 2008 Sacramento Challenger.
   Schnack qualifies -- Fourth-seeded Yasmin Schnack of Elk Grove, a Sacramento suburb, defeated seventh-seeded Shelby Rogers of Charleston, S.C., 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the final round of qualifying for the $75,000 Goldwater Women's Tennis Classic in Phoenix.
   Rogers, 19, won last year's USTA girls 18 national hardcourt title.
   Schnack, a Capitals rookie in July, is scheduled to meet unseeded Kurumi Nara of Japan on Wednesday in the first round of the main draw. The winner will face Portugal's Michelle Larcher De Brito, who played on the Capitals' 2007 WTT championship team, in the second round. Larcher De Brito upset top-seeded Irina Falconi of Atlanta 6-2, 4-6, 6-0.
   The singles draw features five current or former Capitals: Schnack, Larcher De Brito, sixth-seeded Coco Vandeweghe (2009), Tammy Hendler (2008) and Olga Puchkova (two matches in 2008).
    Niland advances -- Ireland's Conor Niland, a former Cal All-American, defeated Andrea Arnaboldi of Italy 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of a $58,794 Challenger in Loughborough, England.
   Niland, the 2006 Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year, is scheduled to face second-seeded Tobias Kamke of Germany on Wednesday in the second round. Kamke won last year's Tiburon Challenger.         

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