Friday, April 13, 2012

Qualifier stuns top-seeded Fish in Houston

   Mardy Fish's disappointing year hit a new low Thursday.
   It wasn't just that Fish lost his opening match at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston. Seeded first, he was trounced by a 33-year-old pipsqueak qualifier who had never beaten a top-10 player.
   Wait, there's more. Fish, ranked ninth, could fall out of the top 10 and be replaced by No. 10 John Isner as the top American when the new rankings are released Sunday night. The 6-foot-10 Isner, seeded second in Houston after leading the U.S. Davis Cup team over host France last week, will meet defending champion Ryan Sweeting of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., today in the quarterfinals.    
   In an All-American encounter, 5-foot-8 Michael Russell stunned Fish 6-3, 6-1 in the second round. Fish, who's scheduled to play two home matches for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in July, had received a bye in the first round.
   Of course, Russell did have a few things going for him. The clay reduced the 6-foot-2 Fish's power, Russell was playing in his adopted hometown, and he compensates for his small size with an indomitable will.
   Fish, 30, suffered his second consecutive one-sided loss. He fell to Juan Monaco of Argentina 6-1, 6-3 on hardcourt in the quarterfinals at Key Biscayne, Fla., two weeks ago. Fish then withdrew from the Davis Cup with fatigue.
   Key Biscayne marked the first time Fish had won consecutive matches since reaching the Tokyo semifinals last October. He did, however, rally to beat then-No. 28 Stanislas Wawrinka 9-7 in the fifth set to help the visiting United States beat Switzerland, which also had Roger Federer, on clay in the first round of the Davis Cup in February.
   Russell, who had been 0-12 against top-10 players, advanced to his first tour-level quarterfinal of the year. He will meet Ryan Harrison, a 19-year-old Austin, Texas, resident who replaced Fish on the Davis Cup team and went 0-2 in singles (one loss coming after the United States had clinched victory).
   Also in the second round at Houston, 6-foot-6 San Francisco native Sam Querrey lost to Kevin Anderson, a 6-foot-8 South African, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-6 (2).  But James Blake and Querrey upended No. 1 seeds Alex Bogomolov Jr. of Russia and Scott Lipsky, a former Stanford All-American, 6-3, 6-3 in the doubles quarterfinals. Blake won the 2004 title with Fish.
   Second-seeded Mark Knowles, a Capitals veteran from the Bahamas and two-time Houston champion with Daniel Nestor, and Xavier Malisse of Belgium also lost in the doubles quarters. They were edged by Treat Conrad Huey of the Philippines and Dominic Inglot of Great Britain 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 tiebreak.
   Other pro results -- Jean-Julien Rojer, a Capital from the Netherlands Antilles, and Robin Haase of the Netherlands ousted second-seeded Eric Butorac, a former Capital from Rochester, Minn., and Bruno Soares of Brazil 7-5, 6-0 in the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix Hassan II on clay in Casablanca, Morocco. Rojer and Butorac are former partners who reached the semifinals of last year's Australian Open.
   Eighth-seeded Coco Vandeweghe, a Capital from Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area, defeated 19-year-old qualifier Shelby Rogers of Charleston, S.C., 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Challenger in Pelham, Ala. Rogers won the USTA girls 18 singles title in 2010 in San Diego.
   Qualifier Pedro Zerbini, a former Cal star from Brazil, shocked top-seeded Stefan Seifert of Germany 7-6 (0), 7-6 (5) to gain the quarterfinals of the $15,000 Oklahoma City Open. However, Zerbini and Dean O'Brien of South Africa lost in the doubles semifinals to second-seeded Edward Corrie of Great Britain and Vahid Mirzadeh of Wellington, Fla. 6-4, 6-1.
   Sac State women -- In the final regular-season home matches of their careers, Tatsiana Kapshai, Clarisse Baca and Maria Meliuk won in singles to help the No. 59 Sacramento State women (13-9) win 5-1 over No. 66 UC Irvine (13-6).
  Kapshai, from Belarus, won in straight sets at No. 1 singles. Baca, from Mexico, triumphed 6-0 in the third set at No. 3, and Meliuk of Belarus prevailed 7-6 (5) in the third set at No. 5.
   UC Irvine's Kat Facey, a freshman from Cameron Park in the Sacramento area, lost to Sophie Lohsheidt 7-5, 6-2 at No. 4 singles. 
   Easter Bowl -- Piedmont's Mackenzie McDonald, seeded third in the boys 18s, and Atherton's Catherine Bellis, seeded 17th in the girls 14s, remained alive in singles at the Easter Bowl in Rancho Mirage.
   McDonald crushed unseeded Justin Butsch of Miami Beach 6-0, 6-2 in the round of 16, but No. 8 Trey Strobel, a Stanford-bound resident of Bradenton, Fla., lost to No. 9 Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., 6-4, 7-6 (5). Bellis dominated unseeded Adriana Reami of Miami 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
   Caroline Doyle of San Francisco fell to Mayo Hibi of Irvine 6-3, 7-5 in a clash of unseeded players in the girls 18 quarterfinals. Losing in the boys 16 round of 16 were unseeded Logan Staggs of Tracy, Kial Kaiser of Saratoga and Cameron Klinger of San Jose.
   In the boys 16 doubles semifinals, Klinger and Jake Devine of Boca Raton, Fla., will face Winston Limhengco of Sacramento and Cody Rakela of Scotts Valley.
   Reaching the boys 14 doubles semis in opposite halves of the draw were seventh-seeded Lane Leschly of Atherton and Victor Pham of Saratoga and unseeded Alexander Hwang of Orinda and Sreyas Kolachalam of Campbell.
   Advancing to the girls 16 doubles quarters were ninth-seeded Hadley Berg of Greenbrae and Kristina Hovsepyan of Danville and unseeded Paige Cline of Kentfield and Annika Ringblom of Palos Verdes Estates.
   In the girls 14 doubles semis, top-seeded Bellis and Helen Altick of Monroe, La., lost to No. 8 Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., and Parris Todd of Irvine 6-2, 7-5.   

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