Monday, September 17, 2012

Venus, Kastles edge Capitals for WTT title

   Once again, CoCo Vandeweghe was in control against a Williams sister in a final.
   And once again, Vandeweghe lost.
   Venus Williams defeated Vandeweghe in a tiebreaker Sunday to give the Washington Kastles a 20-19 victory in the WTT Finals in Charleston, S.C. Two months ago, Vandeweghe held a set point in the first set against Serena Williams only to fall in straight sets in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. In both cases, the 20-year-old Vandeweghe self-destructed with double faults and unforced errors.
   Washington went 16-0 for the second straight year and won its third WTT title in the last four years. With a victory in their season opener next July, the Kastles can tie the Los Angeles Lakers for the longest winning streak in the history of U.S. team sports at 33.
   Sacramento (8-8) was trying to add to its record six WTT titles. Their last one came on their home court five years ago.
   Venus Williams, a five-time Wimbledon singles champion, was named the Finals MVP after winning all three of her sets (women's doubles, mixed doubles and the decisive women's singles). She continues to cope with a strength-sapping autoimmune disease that sidelined her from September 2011 through last March.
   Although Williams played on championship teams in Philadelphia and Washington, this was the first WTT Finals for the 32-year-old veteran.
   Vandeweghe, the 2008 U.S. Open girls singles champion and niece of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe, was drafted by Washington in 2009 but traded to Sacramento before the season. She played one season for the Capitals and two for the Boston Lobsters before returning to Sacramento part-time this season.
   Sunday's match was tied 15-15 entering the last set between Williams and Vandeweghe, both 6-foot-1. Vandeweghe broke Williams' serve at love to lead 3-2, but the Washington star broke right back with the help of a double fault. Both players then held serve to force a best-of-nine-point tiebreaker.
   Williams committed two errors on her serve to trail 2-0. Washington called a timeout, and Leander Paes of the Kastles jogged onto the court to talk with Williams.
   "I just told her she's one of the greatest of all time," said the 39-year-old Paes, who has won seven Grand Slam men's doubles crowns. " 'Go have fun and hit your shots.' "
   Williams won the next five points for the match and title. In order, Vandeweghe ripped a backhand barely wide, double-faulted, netted a forehand, flailed at a Williams service winner and swatted a forehand way long.
   After the last point, Vandeweghe slammed her racket to the court, and Williams was mobbed by her teammates and coach, Murphy Jensen.
   "CoCo played her heart out," said the Capitals' always-upbeat coach, Wayne Bryan. "I'm very proud of our team, and congratulations to the Kastles."
   See below for full results.
   Women's Challenger in Redding, Calif. -- In a battle of former Southeastern Conference rivals, qualifier Chelsey Gullickson of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., outlasted unseeded Allie Will of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to win the $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Gullickson, 5-foot-11, won the 2010 NCAA singles title on her home courts as a sophomore at Georgia. Her father, Bill, went 162-136 as a pitcher during his 14-year major-league career, and her older sister, Carly, won the 2009 U.S. Open mixed doubles title with Travis Parrott.
   Will, 5-foot-10, turned pro after leading Florida to its second straight NCAA team title in May as a junior.
   In an All-American doubles final, fourth-seeded Jacqueline Cako and Sanaz Marand topped second-seeded Macall Harkins and Chieh-Yu Hsu 7-6 (5), 7-5.
   Men's singles -- Kevin Anderson (Capitals) def. Bobby Reynolds (Kastles) 5-3.
   Women's doubles -- Venus Williams-Anastasia Rodionova (Kastles) def. Yasmin Schnack-Asia Muhammad (Capitals) 5-1.
   Men's doubles -- Mark Knowles-Anderson (Capitals) def. Reynolds-Leander Paes (Kastles) 5-2.
   Mixed doubles -- Paes-Williams (Kastles) def. Knowles-Vandeweghe (Capitals) 5-4.
   Women's singles -- Williams (Kastles) def. Vandeweghe (Capitals) 5-4.

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