Thursday, May 31, 2012

Schnack upsets third seed in Gold River Challenger

   With her exceptional volley, Yasmin Schnack has fared better in doubles than singles since turning professional two years ago.
   But the former UCLA All-American's singles career received a boost Wednesday in the first round of her hometown tournament.
   Schnack, a 24-year-old resident of Elk Grove in the Sacramento area, upset third-seeded Marie-Eve Pelletier 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the featured night match at the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger at the Gold River Racquet Club.
Yasmin Schnack of Elk Grove in the Sacramento area steps into
a forehand during her three-set victory over third-seeded
Marie-Eve Pelletier of Canada in the first round of the $50,000
FSP Gold River Women's Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   It's the first women's pro tournament in the Sacramento area since at least the early 1970s and the first pro event at the club since the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis moved to Sunrise Mall 10 years ago.
   Schnack admitted she was surprised to beat Pelletier, a 30-year-old Fed Cup veteran for Canada, in their first career singles meeting. They are friends who are scheduled to play doubles together for the first time next week in El Paso, Texas.
   "I've known her for a while," Schnack said of Pelletier, a right-hander who played with a possible cartilage tear in her right shoulder but didn't seem hindered. "She's a great girl and a great player with a lot of experience. I knew I would have to play my best. I caught her on a bit of an off day, but I'll take what I can get. It's a confidence booster for me to beat someone of that caliber."
   Schnack wasn't the only Northern Californian who pulled off a first-round upset. Romana Tedjakusuma, a 35-year-old Tracy resident from Indonesia, knocked off sixth-seeded Adriana Perez, a 19-year-old Venezuelan, 7-6 (2), 7-5. 
Alexandra Stevenson, a Wimbledon semi-
finalist in 1999 and the daughter of NBA
legend Julius Erving, fell to Lena Litvak
in the opening round. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Meanwhile, Alexandra Stevenson's tailspin continued as she fell to Lena Litvak of Bronx, N.Y., 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. In 1999, Stevenson joined John McEnroe as the only qualifiers in Wimbledon history to reach the semifinals.
   Ranked a career-high No. 18 in 2002, Stevenson has plunged to No. 410. The 31-year-old daughter of NBA legend Julius Erving appeared to be packing a few extra pounds on her 6-foot-1 frame against the 5-foot-4 Litvak, who played at Harvard in 2006-07 before turning pro.
   Schnack won a main-draw singles match for the first time since January. In singles, she's ranked No. 399 in the world with two career ITF (minor-league) titles. In doubles, she's No. 152 with nine crowns. Her 5-foot-10 height gives her power on her serve and groundstrokes but limits her quickness.
   Like Schnack, the 5-foot-8 Pelletier has had more success in doubles than singles. She is ranked No. 284 in singles with two career ITF titles and No. 136 in doubles with 21 championships. She has been as high as No. 106 in singles (2005) and No. 54 in doubles (2010).
   Schnack said playing in her hometown helped "big time," although it initially worked against her.
   "I had so much support," said Schnack, who will return for her second season with the Capitals in July. "I was so nervous in the beginning. To have everyone support me made a big difference."
   The bad news for Schnack was she lost her first two service games. The good news was Pelletier dropped her first three service games and double-faulted to lose the first set.
   Schnack then suffered a letdown, getting broken in the opening game of the second set. Both players held serve from there until Schnack was broken at love to lose the set. But Schnack held serve throughout the third set and broke for 4-2 and 6-3.    
   "She started playing better  and attacking in the second set, and I hit shorter," Schnack said. "Then I quieted down everything. I used a compact swing and focused on getting balls in the court. The more I made her play, the better chance I had. She let up just enough for me to get my confidence back, and the momentum shifted."
   Schnack will play another first-time opponent, 17-year-old Samantha Crawford of Tamarac, Fla., today in the third match on the Stadium Court. The first one begins at 11 a.m.
   Crawford won last year's USTA girls 18 doubles title with Madison Keys to earn a wild card into women's doubles at the U.S. Open. The teenagers then lost to sixth-seeded Sania Mirza of India and Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-2, 6-0 in the first round.
   "She's a great up-and-coming American player," Schnack said of Crawford. "I think she's here with Tom Gullikson (the USTA's lead national coach for women's tennis). She's working with one of the best coaches in the world.
   "She'll come out with good strategy and technique. She's a big hitter. If I mix it up, give her off-pace shots and keep her off-balance, I think I'll have a good chance."
   See below for Wednesday's full results and today's order of play.
   French Open in Paris -- Second-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan, the 1998 NCAA doubles champions from Stanford, defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine and Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the French Open.
   The 34-year-old Bryan twins won the French Open in 2003 and reached the final in 2005 and 2006.
   Also advancing were 15th-seeded Scott Lipsky, an NCAA doubles runner-up in 2002 from Stanford, and Rajeev Ram of Carmel, Ind. The champions of the 2011 SAP Open in San Jose beat Australians Ashley Fisher and Marinko Matosevic 7-5, 6-2. 
   In the opening round of mixed doubles, seventh-seeded Mirza and countryman Mahesh Bhupathi downed Raquel Kops-Jones and Eric Butorac 6-2, 6-4. Kops-Jones won the 2003 NCAA women's doubles title with Cal teammate Christina Fusano, a Sacramento native who retired from the pro circuit last year. Butorac played for the Capitals in 2008.
   Television coverage of the French Open continues today live from 2 to 7 a.m. PDT on ESPN2 and 7 a.m to 4 p.m. on Tennis Channel, which also will broadcast its daily wrapup show from 4 to 7 p.m.    
   Bank of the West Classic -- Three of the world's top 10 players have entered the Bank of the West Classic, July 7-15 at Stanford.
  Highlighting the field will be No. 5 Serena Williams of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., No. 8 Marion Bartoli of France and No. 10 Angelique Kerber of Germany.
   Williams, the defending champion, has won 13 Grand Slam singles titles. Bartoli, the Stanford champion in 2009 and runner-up in 2008 and 2011, reached the Wimbledon final in 2007. Kerber gained the U.S. Open semifinals last year.
   Entries also include former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, 2011 Wimbledon semifinalist Sabine Lisicki of Germany and two-time Grand Slam singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. 
   In conjunction with the tournament, three American men in the International Tennis Hall of Fame will play a series of exhibition matches. Pete Sampras will face Michael Chang on July 11 and Jim Courier on July 12. Courier will play Chang on July 13.
   Tickets are available by calling 866-WTA-TIXS (866-982-8497) or visiting
   Here is the full acceptance list with world rankings in parentheses:
   Williams (5); Bartoli (8); Kerber (10); Lisicki (13); Dominika Cibulkova (16), Slovakia; Jankovic (21); Kuznetsova (28); Nadia Petrova (29), Russia; Peng Shuai (30), China; Monica Niculescu (33), Romania; Yanina Wickmayer (35), Belgium; Christina McHale (36), Englewood Cliffs, N.J.; Simona Halep (37), Romania; Marina Erakovic (42), New Zealand; Sorana Cirstea (43), Romania; Chanelle Scheepers (45), South Africa; Petra Martic (50), Croatia; Tamira Paszek (52), Austria; Vania King (57), Boynton Beach, Fla.; and Varvara Lepchenko (63), Allentown, Pa.
At Gold River Racquet Club
First round
   Elena Bovina (1), Russia, def. Elizabeth Profit, United States, 6-1, 6-0.
   Samantha Crawford, United States, def. Tori Kinard, United States, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.  
   Maria Sanchez (4), Modesto, def. Mary Closs, Menlo Park, 6-3, 6-1.
   Lena Litvak, United States, def. Alexandra Stevenson, United States, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
   Asia Muhammed (Capitals), United States, def. Diana Ospina, United States, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
   Ashley Weinhold (2), United States, def. Tatsiana Kapshai, Sacramento/Belarus, 6-1, 6-0.
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy/Indonesia, def. Adriana Perez (6), Venezuela, 7-6 (2), 7-5.  
   Gabrielle Faith Andrews, United States, def. Piia Suomalainen, Finland, 6-3, 4-3, ret.
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove/Capitals, def. Marie-Eve Pelletier (3), Canada, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
First round
   Elena Bovina, Russia, and Gabriela Paz (4), Venezuela, def. Celine Cattaneo, France, and Nicole Robinson, United States, 6-2, 6-0.
   Yawna Allen and Eric Clark, United States, def. Isabella Kling, Orangevale/Sweden, and Kelly Wilson, Cameron Park, 7-5, 2-6, 10-7 tiebreak.      
Today's schedule 
(Beginning at 11 a.m.)
Stadium Court
   Jessica Pegula (5), United States, vs. Jennifer Elie, United States.
   Elena Bovina (1), Russia, vs. Maria-Fernanda Alves, Brazil.
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove/Capitals, vs. Samantha Crawford, United States.
   (Not before 6:30 p.m.) Jessica Pegula (5), United States, and Marie-Eve Pelletier (1), Canada, vs. Jennifer Elie, United States, and Kim-Alice Grajdek, Germany.
   Asia Muhammed (Capitals), United States, vs. Gabriela Paz (8), Venezuela.  
Court 1
   Whitney Jones, United States, vs. Valeria Solovieva (7), Russia.
Court 7
   Ashley Weinhold (2), United States, vs. Lena Litvak, United States.
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy/Indonesia, vs. Elizabeth Lumpkin, United States.
   Maria Sanchez (4), Modesto, vs. Gabrielle Faith Andrews, United States.
   Chieh-Yu Hsu and Ashley Weinhold, United States, vs. Whitney Jones and Elizabeth Lumpkin, United States.
   (Not before 4:30 p.m., might be moved to Stadium Court) Gabrielle Faith Andrews and Samantha Crawford, United States, vs. Maria-Fernanda Alves, Brazil, and Valeria Solovieva (3), Russia.  

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