Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BAY AREA TO LOSE ATP TOURNEY

   Northern California fans suffered a crushing blow Tuesday when it was announced that next February's SAP Open, the second-oldest tennis tournament in the United States, will be the last.
   Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics and a co-host of the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament, will replace San Jose on the ATP World Tour beginning in 2014.
   “We were presented with a fantastic opportunity to further strengthen the ATP’s presence in South America and Brazil, in particular, a country with a great tradition in tennis," ATP executive director and president Brad Drewett said on atpworldtour.com. "Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant world city that will offer an excellent platform for the ATP World Tour and men’s tennis.” 
   This year's SAP Open, won by Milos Raonic of Canada for the second time in a row, marked the 124th edition of the tournament.
   The event began in Monterey in 1889 and also has been held in Berkeley, San Francisco, Alamo and Daly City. San Jose's HP Pavilion, the home of the San Jose Sharks in the NHL, has hosted the tournament since 1994, when it opened.
   Past champions include legends Don Budge, Jack Kramer, Rod Laver, Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. But the tournament has struggled to attract top players and big crowds in recent years. American Andy Roddick has headlined the tournament for the past nine years -- winning the title in 2004, 2005 and 2008 -- but has fought age and injuries lately.
   France's Gael Monfils, ranked 13th in the world, was seeded first in this year's SAP Open and withdrew beforehand with a knee injury. The final, in which Raonic beat unseeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, drew an announced crowd of 5,682.
   “The history and longevity of pro tennis in the Bay Area is definitely something we didn’t take lightly,” Mike Lehr, executive vice president of business development for Sharks Sports & Entertainment (which owns the tournament), told the San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s one reason we’re going to continue to try to find ways to bring tennis to San Jose.”
   Lehr hopes to lure superstars for Bay Area exhibitions. 
   The loss of the SAP Open will leave the Challengers, equivalent to Triple-A baseball, in Tiburon, Sacramento and Aptos as the top men's tournaments in Northern California. 
   Also, the Bank of the West Classic on the elite WTA Tour is scheduled for July 9-15 at Stanford. In its 42nd year, the Bank of the West ranks as the oldest women's tournament in the world.
   History, though, doesn't count for much these days.
   Tursunov loses in return -- Understandably, Dmitry Tursunov was rusty Tuesday. 
   Playing his first match in more than three months, the top-seeded Sacramento-area resident fell to Peter Polansky of Canada 6-4, 6-3 on clay in the first round of the $50,000 Savannah (Ga.) Challenger.  
   Tursunov, a 29-year-old Moscow native living in Folsom, had been sidelined with a strained tendon in his left wrist. He is right-handed but uses a two-handed backhand.
   "The wrist felt OK," the 88th-ranked Tursunov, who reached a career-high No. 20 in 2006, said by telephone. "It didn't bother me. There were a couple moments when it felt uncomfortable."
   Tursunov started well in his first meeting with the 23-year-old Polansky, ranked No. 211, before faltering.
   "I was playing OK," Tursunov said. "I was up a break a couple times in the first set but started rushing a little bit. I was not comfortable being in the lead. Everything was moving faster, and I didn't make decisions fast enough. I was a little rattled. When you first come back, it's hard to stay within yourself. You start rushing and making bad decisions."
  It won't get any easier Wednesday in the first round of doubles. Tursunov and Teymuraz Gabashvili are scheduled to face top-seeded Carsten Ball of Australia and Bobby Reynolds of Acworth, Ga. Ball and Chris Guccione, also from Australia, won the Sacramento Challenger last October.
  The irreverent Tursunov, formerly the ATP World Tour's resident blogger, recently began writing an advice column called Agony Uncle at www.thetennisspace.com/opinion/expert-help-from-agony-uncle-dmitry.
  ATP World Tour in Barcelona, Spain -- Eric Butorac of Rochester, Minn., and Bruno Soares of Brazil defeated Scott Lipsky of Huntington Beach and Rajeev Ram of Carmel, Ind., 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Barcelona Open. Lipsky won the title last year with Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico.
   Butorac played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2008. Lipsky helped Stanford win the NCAA team title in 2000 and reached the NCAA doubles final in 2002 with David Martin. Ram advanced to Sacramento Challenger finals in 2006 (singles) and 2008 (doubles).
   Men's Challenger in Kaohsiung, Taiwan -- Second-seeded John Paul Fruttero of San Jose and Raven Klassen of South Africa edged Hsien-Yin Peng of Taiwan and Bumpei Sato of Japan 4-6, 6-4, 12-10 tiebreak in the first round of the $125,000 OEC Kaohsiung.
   Fruttero, an ex-Cal American, gained the doubles final of the Sacramento Challenger in 2005, the inaugural tournament, and in 2007.
   Women's Challenger in Charlottesville, Va. -- Fourth-seeded Yasmin Schnack, a member of her hometown Capitals, and Maria Sanchez of Modesto topped Lena Litvak of New York and Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 6-4, 6-1 in the opening round of the $50,000 Boyd Tinsley Women's Clay Court Classic.
   College rankings -- Following are this week's Division I college rankings of Northern California teams and players:
   Women's team -- 5. Stanford; 8. Cal; 41. Saint Mary's; 54. Sacramento State.
   Women's singles -- 3. Nicole Gibbs, Stanford; 5. Mallory Burdette, Stanford; 7. Jana Juricova, Cal; 14. Zsofi Susanyi, Cal; 23. Denise Dy (San Jose), Washington; 49. Katie Le, Santa Clara; 55. Tayler Davis (San Jose), Cal; 57. Stacey Tan, Stanford; 65. Ellen Tsay (Pleasanton), Stanford; 83. Annie Goransson, Cal; 86. Jenny Jullien, Saint Mary's; 96. Anett Schutting, Cal; 105. Catherine Isip, Saint Mary's.
   Women's doubles -- 2. Burdette and Gibbs, Stanford; 5. Goransson and Schutting, Cal; 18. Juricova and Susanyi, Cal; 25. Tan and Tsay, Stanford; 70. Rebeca Delgado and Tatsiana Kapshai, Sac State.
   Men's team -- 10. Stanford; 14. Cal; 35. Santa Clara.
   Men's singles -- 12. Artem Ilyushin (Granite Bay), Mississippi State; 27. Ryan Thacher, Stanford; 36. Bradley Klahn, Stanford; 44. Ben McLachlan, Cal; 56. Nick Andrews, Cal; 69. Carlos Cueto, Cal; 78. Kyle Dandan, Santa Clara; 113. Matt Kandath, Stanford.
   Men's doubles -- 5. Andrews and Christoffer Konigsfeldt, Cal; 6. Klahn and Thacher, Stanford; 25. George Coupland and Ilyushin (Granite Bay), Mississippi State; 56. Cueto and McLachlan, Cal; 60. John Morrissey and Thacher, Stanford; 90. Ilya Osintev and John Lamble, Santa Clara.
THIS WEEK'S TV SCHEDULE
(All times PDT)
   Thursday -- Barcelona (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 4:30-10:30 a.m. (live), 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (repeat), 4 p.m.-midnight (repeat).
   Friday -- Barcelona (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 3:30-9:30 a.m. (live), 7:30-11:30 p.m. (repeat); Stuttgart (women), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. (delay).
   Saturday -- Stuttgart (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 5-7 a.m. (live), 7-10 a.m. (repeat), 9:30-11:30 a.m. (live), 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (repeat); Barcelona (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (delay); Bucharest (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 4:30-8:30 p.m. (delay). 
   Sunday -- Barcelona (men), final, Tennis Channel, 7-9:30 a.m. (live), 5-7:30 p.m. (repeat); Stuttgart (women), final, Tennis Channel, 9:30-11:30 a.m. (live), 1:30-3:30 p.m. (repeat), 7:30-9:30 p.m. (repeat); Bucharest (men), final, Tennis Channel, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (delay).
   CALENDAR
   Wednesday-Saturday -- Pacific-12 Conference Men's Championships, Ojai.
   Thursday-Sunday -- Pacific-12 Conference Women's Championships, Ojai; Big West Conference Women's Championships, Indian Wells.
   Friday-Sunday -- Big West Conference Men's Championships, Indian Wells.
   Friday-April 30 -- USTA National Men's, Women's and Mixed 30's Indoor Championships, Spare Time Indoor Tennis Center, 11205 Pyrites Way, Gold River, Calif. (Sacramento area).

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