Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sad but memorable year: Top 10 stories of 2012

Milos Raonic of Canada serves to Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the 2012
SAP Open final in San Jose. Raonic won his second straight title in the
tournament, which will be held for the 125th and last time in 2013.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   It was a bittersweet year in Northern California tennis. 
   Officials announced that the second-oldest tennis tournament in the United States will leave after 2013, and a legend died at 76. But two former Stanford All-Americans, who happen to be twins, tied an all-time record and won an Olympic gold medal.
   Following are the top 10 stories of 2012, plus five honorable mentions:
   1. Bay Area to lose SAP Open — Northern California fans suffered a crushing blow when it was announced that next February's SAP Open will be the last after 125 years.
   Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics and a co-host of the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament, will replace San Jose on the ATP World Tour calendar beginning in 2014.
   Past champions include legends Don Budge, Jack Kramer, Rod Laver, Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. But the tournament has struggled to attract top players and big crowds in recent years.
   2. Bryans tie Newcombe-Roche — Bob and Mike Bryan won the U.S. Open for their 12th Grand Slam men's doubles title, tying the all-time record of Australians John Newcombe and Tony Roche.
   The 34-year-old sons of longtime Sacramento Capitals coach Wayne Bryan have won five Australian Opens, four U.S. Opens, two Wimbledons and one French Open. And they easily could play another five years.
   3. Bryans win Olympic gold — The Bryans earned their first Olympic gold medal, the only significant men's doubles honor to have eluded them, in London. They took the bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Games.
   4. MacKay dies — Barry MacKay, a Northern California legend, died in San Francisco after a long illness.
   MacKay left an indelible mark as a player, tournament director, promoter and commentator. Nicknamed "The Bear," he was among the friendliest and best-liked members of the tennis community.
Top-seeded Serena Williams won the Bank of the West Classic
at Stanford for the second year in a row. Photo by Paul Bauman
   5. Serena repeats — Top-seeded Serena Williams saved a set point and beat lucky loser CoCo Vandeweghe 7-5, 6-3 to win the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford for the second straight year.
   It was the first all-American final on the WTA tour in the United States since Lindsay Davenport routed Williams 6-1, 6-3 in Los Angeles eight years ago.
   6. Raonic repeats — Dropping only four points on his serve, third-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada wore down unseeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 7-6 (3), 6-2 in San Jose for his second consecutive SAP Open title.
   The 6-foot-5 Raonic won 28 of 31 points, including 17 straight, on his serve in the first set and 16 of 17 in the second set. He never surrendered more than one point in a service game.
   7. Ex-Capitals among top 100 players ever — Tennis Channel's list of the top 100 players of all time included three ex-Capitals: No. 12 Agassi, No. 43 Lindsay Davenport and No. 100 Michael Chang.
   The top 10 in the rankings, chosen by an international panel of experts, were Roger Federer, Laver, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Bjorn Borg, Margaret Court, Chris Evert and Billie Jean King.
Mark Knowles, right, of the Bahamas won the 55th and last ATP World Tour
doubles title of his career with Xavier Malisse, left, of Belgium in the SAP Open.
Knowles was 40 at the time. Photo by Paul Bauman
   8. Knowles retires — The longtime Capital retired from the ATP World Tour just before his 41st birthday with 55 men's doubles titles, fourth among active players and tied for 15th in the Open Era (since 1968).
   The Bahamas native won three Grand Slam crowns in men's doubles and one in mixed doubles. He reached No. 1 in the world in men's doubles in 2002 and 2004.
   9. Gibbs sweeps NCAA titles — Stanford sophomore Nicole Gibbs became the first woman to sweep the NCAA singles and doubles titles in 17 years and the first Cardinal woman to do it in 27 years.
Stanford's Nicole Gibbs, losing to Serena Williams in the second
round of the Bank of the West Classic on Gibbs' home court,
became the first woman in 17 years to sweep the NCAA singles
and doubles crowns. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Gibbs, seeded third, outlasted doubles partner Mallory Burdette, seeded fifth, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 in Athens, Ga., after trailing 4-1 and 5-2 in the second set. Then, in a match moved indoors because of rain, second-seeded Burdette and Gibbs defeated unseeded Nadja Gilchrist and Chelsey Gullickson of host Georgia 6-2, 6-4.
   10. McDonald wins Easter Bowl — After sitting out for eight months last year with a blood disorder, Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont won the boys 18 singles title at the prestigious Easter Bowl in the Palm Springs suburb of Rancho Mirage.
   McDonald, seeded third, beat No. 4 Alexios Halebian of Glendale in the Los Angeles area 6-4, 6-1 for his second singles title in the tournament. He also won the singles title in the 14s three years ago. McDonald will be a freshman at UCLA next fall.
   Honorable mention — The Capitals came within a tiebreaker of extending their record to seven World TeamTennis titles as Venus Williams edged Vandeweghe 5-4, giving the Washington Kastles a 20-19 victory in Charleston, S.C. It was Washington's 32nd consecutive triumph, the fourth-longest streak in the history of U.S. team sports. ...
   Mardy Fish, a former top-10 player, was plagued throughout the year by an accelerated heartbeat but reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and played two matches for the Capitals. ... 
   Raquel Kops-Jones, a San Jose resident and former NCAA doubles champion from Cal, climbed to a career-high No. 13 in women's doubles. ...  
   Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native and part-time Capital this year, defeated Novak Djokovic en route to the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters. ...  
   Maria Sanchez of Modesto won the inaugural Gold River Women's Challenger in the Sacramento area.  

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