Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Something's Bruin as Capitals pick another UCLA alum

   When the Sacramento Capitals open their World TeamTennis season on July 9, the roster will look like a meeting of the UCLA alumni association.
   The Capitals added yet another former Bruin when they selected Jean-Julien Rojer, the 2011 WTT Male Rookie of the Year for St. Louis, in the second round of Tuesday's WTT roster player draft.
   Ironically, Rojer and Liezel Huber won the fifth set to give St. Louis a 20-19 victory over Sacramento in last season's Western Conference finals. The Aces then lost to Washington in the WTT Finals and folded in the offseason. 
   Sacramento, picking seventh in the eight-team draft, protected ex-UCLA stars Mark Knowles in the first round and local resident Yasmin Schnack in the fourth and final round.
   The Capitals also picked 20-year-olds Asia Muhammad of Las Vegas in the third round and CoCo Vandeweghe of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area as a supplemental, part-time player.
   "Based on (picking seventh), I think we did really well," Capitals co-owner Ramey Osborne said. " ... We didn't think Rojer would be available."
   Vandeweghe, a former Capital and the 6-foot-1 niece of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe, will play at least four or five of Sacramento's 14 regular-season matches, Osborne said.
   Mardy Fish, chosen by the Capitals in last month's marquee player draft, is scheduled to play home matches on July 12 and 13. Fish, a 30-year-old Los Angeles resident, leads all American men and women at No. 8 in the world but has started slowly this year. 
   Vania King and Dusan Vemic, who have played key roles for the Capitals in the past two seasons, were  bypassed in the draft.
   King, the 2009 WTT Female MVP for Springfield (Mo.), still could play some matches for Sacramento if she does not make the U.S. Olympic team, which will be based on the June 11 rankings. Osborne said last week, though, that he was not interested in bringing back the entertaining but erratic Vemic, a 35-year-old Serbian.
   Knowles, 40, and Rojer, 30, have more in common than UCLA. Both are doubles specialists from Caribbean nations. Knowles is from the Bahamas, near Miami, and Rojer from Netherlands Antilles, off the coast of Venezuela.
   Knowles will return for his 11th WTT season, all with Sacramento. Ranked No. 1 in the world in doubles in 2002 and 2004, he has won four Grand Slam titles (three in men's doubles and one in mixed doubles), 55 overall and three WTT Male MVP awards (2001, 2005 and 2007). Knowles has dropped to No. 61 but last month won the doubles crown in San Jose with Xavier Malisse.
   Rojer is ranked 38th, down from a career-high 17th last August. He has won five ATP doubles titles, all with former Capital Eric Butorac since October 2010, and reached the semifinals of last year's Australian Open with Butorac.
   The addition of Rojer addresses Sacramento's biggest weakness last year. The Capitals finished fourth or better in every category except men's doubles, in which they placed eighth. That was baffling, given Knowles' background and Vemic's appearances in two Grand Slam doubles semifinals.
   "We're very happy about men's doubles," Osborne said. "We're not done. We have a couple ideas we're working on. ... We're working on a possible trade for a singles player."
   If necessary, Rojer could play singles. He earned All-American honors in singles and doubles at UCLA and played singles regularly on the pro tour until 2008.
   Schnack, 23, played well as a WTT rookie last year. She helped Sacramento finish second in women's doubles and went 16-15 (.516) in singles games filling in for King, who missed the first week of the season to rest after Wimbledon.
   Muhammad, who will make her WTT debut, is ranked 186th in doubles and 387th in singles. She has won four minor-league doubles titles, including three last year. In 2009, Muhammad won the USTA girls 18 national doubles crown in Berkeley with Christina McHale, now the second-ranked American in singles at No. 35 in the world.
   Vandeweghe, the 2008 U.S. Open junior girls champion, played for the Capitals as a WTT rookie in 2009 and for Boston the past two seasons. As a qualifier in her hometown of San Diego in 2010, she beat Wimbledon runner-up Vera Zvonareva en route to the quarterfinals. Vandeweghe is ranked No. 159 in singles after reaching a career-high No. 89 last April.
   The Capitals have won a record six WTT titles but none since 2007.
   Maria Sanchez, a Modesto resident who led the league in women's doubles last year for St. Louis, went to Springfield in the second round. She plays doubles with Schnack on the regular circuit.
   Defending champion Washington, which last season became the first team in the WTT's 36-year history to go 16-0, returns largely intact. Former Capital Anastasia Rodionova joins her sister Arina and replaces Rennae Stubbs, the 2008 WTT Female MVP who turns 41 on March 26.
   See the full WTT draft and team rosters below.
   BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells -- In a matchup of former No. 1 players and Indian Wells champions, 15th-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia defeated fourth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-3, 6-2 in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. Wozniacki won the tournament last year and Ivanovic in 2008.
   Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka of Belarus improved to 20-0 this year with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 14 seed Julia Goerges of Germany.
   The last two American women lost in the fourth round. Eighteenth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany rallied from match points down against a U.S. teenager for the second straight round to beat No. 32 Christina McHale 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4). Also, wild card Jamie Hampton retired because of cramps with No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska leading 6-3, 4-6, 3-0.
   Kerber, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year, survived three match points against the 19-year-old McHale, who had upset No. 3 seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round. Kerber had rallied from 6-2, 5-1 and two match points down to stun 18-year-old Sloane Stephens 26, 75, 64 in the previous round.
   France's Marion Bartoli, the No. 7 seed and last year's runner-up, dismissed 23rd-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-1. Bartoli won the 2009 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford and also reached the final there in 2011 and 2008.
   On the men's side, third-seeded Roger Federer extended his winning streak to 11 matches, but fifth-seeded David Ferrer's ended at 11.
   Federer, a three-time champion at Indian Wells (2004-06), outlasted 27th-seeded Milos Raonic, the two-time reigning SAP Open champion in San Jose, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4 in the third round. It was their first career meeting. Unseeded Denis Istomin, the runner-up in last month's SAP Open, ousted Ferrer 6-4, 6-3 for his first career victory over a top-10 player in 11 attempts.
   In the second round of men's doubles, unseeded John Isner and Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native, edged fourth-seeded Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau, the runners-up at Wimbledon for the past two years, 6-3, 5-7, 10-5 tiebreak.
2012 WTT Roster Player Draft

Roster Exempt Draft Selections (Roster Exempt players play a limited season)
Sacramento Capitals:  Coco Vandeweghe

2012 WTT Roster Draft - March 13, 2012
Round One 
1.  PHILADELPHIA:  Karolina Pliskova
2.  SPRINGFIELD:  Timea Babos
3.  ORANGE COUNTY:  Anna-lena Groenefeld
4.  NEW YORK:  Robert Kendrick (protection)
5.  KANSAS CITY:  Chanel Simmonds
6.  BOSTON:  Jan-Michael Gambill (protection)
7.  SACRAMENTO:  Mark Knowles (protection)
8.  WASHINGTON:  Arina Rodionova (protection)

Round Two 
1.  PHILADELPHIA:  Kristyna Pliskova
2.  SPRINGFIELD:  Maria Sanchez
3.  ORANGE COUNTY:  John-Patrick Smith
4.  NEW YORK:  Jesse Witten (protection)
5.  KANSAS CITY:  Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi
6.  BOSTON:  Eric Butorac (protection)
7.  SACRAMENTO:  Jean-Julien Rojer
8.  WASHINGTON:  Leander Paes (protection)

Round Three
1.  PHILADELPHIA:  Luka Gregorc
2.  SPRINGFIELD:  Amir Weintraub
3.  ORANGE COUNTY:  Travis Parrott
4.  NEW YORK:  Ashley Harkleroad (protection)
5.  KANSAS CITY:  Nick Monroe
6.  BOSTON:  Irina Falconi (protection)
7.  SACRAMENTO:  Asia Muhammed
8.  WASHINGTON:  Bobby Reynolds (protection)

Round Four 
1.  PHILADELPHIA:  Jordan Kerr
2.  SPRINGFIELD:  Devin Britton
5.  KANSAS CITY:  Tetiana Luzhanska
6.  BOSTON:  Carly Gullickson
7.  SACRAMENTO:  Yasmin Schnack (protection)
8.  WASHINGTON:  Anastasia Rodionova (doubles protection)  

2012 WTT TEAM ROSTERS (including Marquee & Roster players):

Boston Lobsters:  John Isner, Jan-Michael Gambill, Eric Butorac, Irina Falconi and Carly Gullickson.  Coach: Bud Schultz

Kansas City Explorers:  Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Chanel Simmonds, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, Nick Monroe, Tetiana Luzhanska.  Coach: Brent Haygarth

New York Sportimes:  John McEnroe, Martina Hingis, Robert Kendrick, Jesse Witten, Ashley Harkleroad.   Coach: Chuck Adams

Orange County Breakers:  Lindsay Davenport, Anna-lena Groenefeld, John-Patrick Smith, Travis Parrott.  Coach:  Trevor Kronemann

Philadelphia Freedoms:   James Blake, Mark Philippoussis, Karolina Pliskova, Kristyna Pliskova, Luka Gregorc, Jordan Kerr.  Coach:  Josh Cohen

Sacramento CapitalsMardy Fish, Coco Vandeweghe, Mark Knowles, Jean-Julien Rojer, Asia Muhammed, Yasmin Schnack.  Coach: Wayne Bryan

Springfield LasersTimea Babos, Maria Sanchez, Amir Weintraub, Devin Britton.    Coach:  John-Laffnie de Jager

Washington KastlesSerena Williams, Venus Williams, Arina Rodionova, Anastasia Rodionova, Leander Paes and Bobby Reynolds. Coach: Murphy Jensen

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