Saturday, June 2, 2012

Solovieva, 19, upsets top seed in Gold River tourney

   With her piercing blue eyes, Valeria Solovieva bears an uncanny resemblance to fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva.
   Solovieva, 19, did a pretty good impersonation of the 27-year-old star on the court Friday, too.
   Seeded seventh, Solovieva dismantled top-seeded Elena Bovina of -- you guessed it -- Russia 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger at the Gold River Racquet Club.
Seventh-seeded Valeria Solovieva, top, routed top-seeded
Elena Bovina, below, in an all-Russian quarterfinal Friday.
Solovieva, 19, is 10 years younger than the 6-foot-2 Bovina.
Photos by Paul Bauman
   Solovieva rolled her eyes when asked if many people tell her she looks like Zvonareva, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals two years ago to climb to No. 2 in the world.
   "So much," Solovieva, who won the 2009 U.S. Open junior girls doubles title with Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine, said with a smile. "I know her pretty well. She's the only person I actually idolize. Since I was young, I really liked how she played, she's a great person, and she's smart. I used to get (comparisons to Maria) Kirilenko and Zvonareva all the time, which is not bad."
   Second-seeded Ashley Weinhold also lost Friday. The 22-year-old resident of Spicewood, Texas, in the Austin area fell to fifth-seeded Jessica Pegula, 18, of Boca Raton, Fla., 7-5, 6-4.
   Forbes magazine reported that Pegula's father, Terry, sold his oil and gas company, East Resources, to Royal Dutch Shell for $4.7 billion in 2010 and bought his hometown team, the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, for $189 million in February 2011.
   In an all-Northern California quarterfinal, fourth-seeded Maria Sanchez of Modesto brushed aside unseeded Romana Tedjakusuma, a 35-year-old Indonesian who lives in Tracy, 6-3, 6-3.
   Also, 17-year-old Samantha Crawford of Boca Raton advanced with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Asia Muhammed, a 21-year-old Henderson, Nev., resident who will make her World TeamTennis debut for the Sacramento Capitals in July.
    Today's semifinals, starting at noon, match two prototypically tall women against two 5-foot-6 competitors. The 5-foot-10 Sanchez will face Solovieva in the first match, and the 6-foot-2 Crawford will take on Pegula in the second. Both will be first-time meetings.
   Sanchez, last year's Pacific-10 Conference Women's Player of the Year at USC, is the old lady of the group at 22. The three teenagers have taken advantage of a field diluted by the tournament's position during the first week of the French Open. Bovina, 29, is ranked No. 246. 
   Solovieva improved to 2-0 against the 6-foot-2 Bovina, who reached No. 14 in the world in 2005 before injuries derailed her career. Solovieva won 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in the final round of qualifying on clay at a $50,000 tournament in Dothan, Ala., in April.
   Solovieva grew up in Saratov, a city of 873,000 people on the Volga River 560 miles southeast of Moscow. She said that when she was 5, she saw Bovina play in the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.
   "I came as a little girl to watch some (top) players. She was (later) top 20. She wasn't my idol, but she was a (top) player for me. I was really excited to play her a month ago. This time, I knew her (game), so I was ready," Solovieva said.
   Solovieva kept Bovina, who has stork-like legs, off-balance with pinpoint groundstrokes and great gets in 97-degree heat. Rattled, Bovina struggled with her serve.
   "I played really well," Solovieva said. "I put pressure on her right away. I didn't let her play her game. She likes to come in, be in control and not be controlled. That's what I did today."
   Bovina, described by Pegula as "very intense," was not available for comment after the match.
   So has Zvonareva given Solovieva any advice?
   "When I was 12," Solovieva said.
   What did she say?
   "I keep it for me," Solovieva said with a smile.
   Whatever it was, it's working.
   See below for Friday's full singles and doubles results and today's schedule.
   French Open in Paris -- Au revoir, Serena. Thanks for coming.
   Serena Williams ended her brief stay in Paris with a first-round loss in mixed doubles that followed her opening-round exit in singles. Pairing for the first time, Williams and Bob Bryan lost to Gisela Dulko and Eduardo Schwank of Argentina 7-5, 3-6, 10-6 tiebreak. Williams did not play women's doubles.
   Williams hadn't played mixed doubles at a Grand Slam tournament since the 1999 Australian Open, when she and Max Mirnyi of Belarus lost in the final. Williams and Mirnyi won the 1998 Wimbledon and U.S. Open mixed doubles crowns.
   Williams is scheduled to defend her singles title in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in July, and Bryan won the 1998 NCAA doubles title with twin brother Bob when they were Stanford sophomores.
   In men's doubles Friday, 40-year-old Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Xavier Malisse, a comparative youngster at 31 from Belgium, upset 13th-seeded Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram of Israel 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the second round.
   Knowles, who will return for his 11th season with the Capitals, and Malisse could meet the second-seeded Bryans in the third round. All four players have won the French Open men's doubles title once -- the Bryans in 2003, Malisse in 2004 with countryman Olivier Rochus and Knowles in 2007 with former longtime partner Daniel Nestor of Canada.
   Meanwhile, former Cal All-American John Paul Fruttero of San Jose made his Grand Slam men's doubles debut as a  31-year-old lucky loser with Raven Klaasen of South Africa. They lost to unseeded Dudi Sela of Israel and Filippo Volandri of Italy 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the first round.          
(All Times PDT)
   Today -- Third round, Tennis Channel, 2-9 a.m. (live). Third round, NBC, 9 a.m.-noon (live).  French Open Tonight (daily wrapup), Tennis Channel, noon-3 p.m. (premiere), 3-6 p.m. (repeat), 6-9 p.m. (repeat).
   Sunday -- Fourth round, Tennis Channel, 2-10 a.m. (live). Fourth round, NBC, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (live). French Open Tonight (daily wrapup), Tennis Channel, 1-4 p.m. (premiere), 4-7 p.m. (repeat), 7-10 p.m. (repeat).

At Gold River Racquet Club
Singles quarterfinals
   Valeria Solovieva (7), Russia, def. Elena Bovina (1), Russia, 6-1, 6-2. 
   Jessica Pegula (5), Boca Raton, Fla., def. Ashley Weinhold (2), Spicewood, Texas, 7-5, 6-4. 
   Samantha Crawford, Boca Raton, Fla., def. Asia Muhammed, Henderson, Nev., 1-6, 6-4, 6-1. 
   Maria Sanchez (4), Modesto, def. Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy/Indonesia, 6-3, 6-3.
Doubles quarterfinals
   Lena Litvak, Bronx, N.Y., and Adriana Perez, Venezuela, def. Jessica Pegula, Boca Raton, Fla., and Marie-Eve Pelletier (1), Canada, 6-3, 7-6 (4). 
   Maria-Fernanda Alves, Brazil, and Valeria Solovieva (3), Russia, def. Chieh-Yu Hsu, San Antonio, and Ashley Weinhold, Spicewood, Texas, 1-6, 6-3, 10-6 tiebreak. 
   Kaitlyn Christian, Orange, and Maria Sanchez, Modesto, def. Elena Bovina, Russia, and Gabriela Paz (4), Venezuela, 6-2, 6-0. 
   Asia Muhammed, Henderson, Nev./Capitals, and Yasmin Schnack (2), Elk Grove/Capitals, def. Yawna Allen, Phoenix, and Erin Clark, Fairfax, Va., 6-3, 6-4.
Today’s schedule
Stadium Court
(Beginning at noon)
   Valeria Solovieva (7), Russia, vs. Maria Sanchez (4), Modesto.
   Samantha Crawford, Boca Raton, Fla., vs. Jessica Pegula (5), Boca Raton, Fla.
   Maria-Fernanda Alves, Brazil, and Valeria Solovieva (3), Russia, vs. Asia Muhammed, Henderson, Nev./Capitals, and Yasmin Schnack (2), Elk Grove/Capitals.
Court 7
(After rest, not before 2:30 p.m.)
   Lena Litvak, Bronx, N.Y., and Adriana Perez, Venezuela, vs. Kaitlyn Christian, Orange, and Maria Sanchez, Modesto.

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