Sunday, September 16, 2012

Capitals face daunting task in WTT final

   If the Sacramento Capitals win their seventh World TeamTennis title today to extend their record, they will have earned it.
   All Sacramento has to do is beat one of the most dominant teams in U.S. sports history.
   The defending champion Washington Kastles, led by Venus Williams, reached the WTT final with a 19-15 victory over the New York Sportimes on Saturday in Charleston, S.C.
   Washington (15-0) has won 31 consecutive matches, second to the Los Angeles Lakers' 33 straight in 1971-72 among U.S. teams, dating to July 22, 2010.
    Sacramento, meanwhile, barely qualified for the playoffs with a 7-7 record. The Capitals beat the Orange County Breakers 25-15 Friday in the Western Conference final in Charleston.
   Today's title match will be shown live on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. PDT.
   The 32-year-old Williams has won 22 Grand Slam titles (seven in singles, 13 in women's doubles and two in mixed doubles). Joining her on the Kastles are 39-year-old Leander Paes, who has earned 13 Grand Slam crowns (seven in men's doubles and six in mixed doubles) and two WTT Male MVP awards; Bobby Reynolds, this year's WTT Male MVP and the 2010 league Rookie of the Year; and Anastasia Rodionova, a former Capital ranked 22nd in the world in women's doubles.
   Sacramento will counter with Kevin Anderson, a 6-foot-8 South African ranked 37th in the world in men's singles; 40-year-old Mark Knowles, a three-time WTT Male MVP formerly ranked No. 1 in men's doubles; CoCo Vandeweghe, a 6-foot-1 American who's 88th in the world in women's singles at 20 years old; and top-200 women's doubles players Yasmin Schnack and Asia Muhammad.
   In the only meeting between Washington and Sacramento during the regular season, the host Kastles won 21-19 in overtime on its sixth match point. And that was without Williams, a part-time player for Washington.
   Women's Challenger in Redding -- Former Southeastern Conference rivals Chelsey Gullickson and Allie Will reached today's singles final of the $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenge at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   They will meet after the 12:30 p.m. doubles final between second-seeded Macall Harkins and Chieh-Yu Hsu and fourth-seeded Jacqueline Cako and Sanaz Marand.
   Gullickson, the 2010 NCAA singles champion from Georgia and daughter of former major-league pitcher Bill Gullickson, downed fellow qualifier Kristie Ahn 0-6, 6-1, 6-2. Ahn, a Stanford junior, eliminated top-seeded Florencia Molinero of Argentina in the first round.
   Will, who led Florida to the last two NCAA team titles, beat Sachie Ishizu of Japan 6-4, 6-4 in a matchup of unseeded players.
   The 5-foot-11 Gullickson completed her eligibility in May, and the 5-foot-10 Will turned pro in July after her junior year.
   Gullickson went 3-0 against Will in college. In their last meeting, Gullickson won 6-1, 6-4 in March.

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