Monday, April 30, 2012

30's champ falls; Wilson wins marathon

   Few people want to get up early on a Sunday or spend a gorgeous day indoors.
   Those who did, though, were rewarded at the Spare Time Indoor Tennis Center in Gold River. They witnessed a champion's demise and a thrilling marathon in the USTA National 30's Indoor Championships.
   Third-seeded Calle Hansen of Newbury Park in the Los Angeles area knocked off top-seeded Jan Tiilikainen, the two-time defending champion and four-time winner from Reno, 6-3, 6-3 in a 9 a.m. men's semifinal.
   Roughly when that match ended, second-seeded Kelly (Pace) Wilson of Cameron Park and unseeded Elizabeth Seiverling of Portland, Ore., took the court in the women's semis. Three and one-half hours later, Wilson emerged with a 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 triumph.
   Today's 9 a.m. men's final will be a study in contrasts. Hansen, a 6-foot-5 right-hander with a two-handed backhand, will face fifth-seeded Sherif Zaher, a 5-10 left-hander with a one-handed backhand.
   The only apparent similarity between Hansen and Zaher,  who beat No. 4 Hunter Gallaway of Lafayette 6-0, 6-4, is that both moved from their native countries to star at California colleges. Hansen, a 32-year-old teaching pro from Sweden, earned All-America honors at Pepperdine. Zaher, a 33-year-old sports psychologist and tennis coach from Egypt, was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002 at Sacramento State.
   Wilson, meanwhile, will meet top-seeded Romana Tedjakusuma of Tracy at 11 a.m. in a rematch of last year's final, won by Tedjakusuma 7-5, 6-2.
   While Wilson, a teaching pro at the Gold River Racquet Club, was locked in a baseline battle with the 5-foot-2 Seiverling, who stopped playing for 10 years while she completed her residency in dermatology, Tedjakusuma coasted to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Ioulia Bolotova of Philadelphia.
   Hansen overpowered the 5-foot-11 Tiilikainen and displayed surprisingly good movement for his size.
   "He's a good player, perfect for indoors," said Tiilikainen, a 40-year-old teaching pro and former standout at Nevada originally from Finland. "I should have broken him a few more times and put pressure on him. When he gets ahead, he's very tough."
   Wilson, a 38-year-old native of Huntsville, Ala., and former touring pro who cracked the top 200 in the world in 1996, was supported by fans lining one side of the court. She used patience to subdue the gallant Seiverling, a 31-year-old product of Hershey, Pa., who played No. 1 at the College of Charleston (S.C.) after transferring from Tennessee.
   "In the first set, she played unbelievably well," said Wilson, the top-ranked college player in the nation as a senior at Texas in 1995. "She made only two or three unforced errors. I told myself that the odds are she's not going to play an entire match making only four or five errors. It helped to lead 3-0 in the second set. It gave me some momentum."
   Wilson served for the match at 5-3 in the third set, but Seiverling fought back to 5-5. After Wilson held for 6-5, she broke with the help of a drop shot and two Seiverling forehand errors to end the match.
   "She served better at the end than I did," Seiverling lamented. "I've never had a big serve. I'm 5-2. It's not a question of being able to serve aces. It's a matter of getting it in."
   Seiverling, who returned to tennis last year, added that she was playing in her first tournament "in many, many years."
   Said Wilson: "She played very well. She didn't give me many free points. Every point was a battle."
   To which fans who missed church Sunday can only say, "Amen."
   Women's Challenger in Charlottesville, Va. -- Fourth-seeded Maria Sanchez of Modesto and Yasmin Schnack, who plays for her hometown Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis, beat unseeded Elena Bovina of Russia and Julia Glushko of Israel 6-2, 6-2 to win the $50,000 Boyd Tinsley Women's Clay Court Classic.   Schnack, who will turn 24 on Friday, won her fourth doubles title on the ITF Women's Circuit this year and ninth overall. Sanchez, 22, has won three and six, respectively. Schnack is 4-0 in doubles finals this year, three of the wins coming with Sanchez.
   Men's Challenger in Kaohsiung, Taiwan -- Second-seeded John Paul Fruttero, an ex-Cal All-American living in San Jose, and Raven Klaasen of South Africa won the doubles crown in the $125,000 OEC Kaohsiung with a 6-7 (6), 7-5, 10-8 victory over Daniel King-Turner of New Zealand and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark.
   Fruttero, who turns 31 today, has won two Challenger doubles titles this year and five overall.
   Pac-12 Championships in Ojai -- Top-seeded Nicole Gibbs routed unseeded Anett Schutting of Cal 6-0, 6-2 to become the second consecutive Stanford woman to win the Pac-12 Championships. Kristie Ahn triumphed last year.
   After needing three sets to win her opening match, Gibbs lost only four games in her subsequent four contests. From the quarterfinals through the final, she won four consecutive sets 6-0. Three of Gibbs' five victims were from Cal. 
   Gibbs, a sophomore from Santa Monica who reached the NCAA semifinals last year, improved to 31-5 (17-2 in dual matches) with seven straight wins.
   However, she fell short in her bid to become the first Stanford player to sweep the conference titles since Marissa Irvin in 1999. Gibbs and Mallory Burdette, the top seeds, lost to USC's Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria 6-4, 6-4 in the doubles final.
   Big West Championships in Indian Wells -- Third-seeded UC Irvine, with freshman twins Ali and Kat Facey of Cameron Park in the Sacramento area, lost to top-seeded Long Beach State 4-1 in the final of the Big West Championships.
   Kat Facey fell to Sarah Cantlay 6-1, 7-5 at No. 4 singles and teamed with Ali in an 8-2 loss to Cantlay and Julie Luzar at No. 3 doubles.

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