Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Capitals draft 16-year-old prodigy

   The future of U.S. women's tennis is coming to Sacramento.
   The Capitals selected Taylor Townsend, 16, of Stockbridge, Ga., in the second round of Tuesday's World TeamTennis roster draft.
   Townsend, a sturdy 5-foot-6 African-American, has been compared to Serena Williams. But as an aggressive left-hander, she plays more like her idol, Martina Navratilova.
   Last year, Townsend swept the girls singles and doubles titles in the Australian Open, added the girls doubles crowns at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and ended the year as the No. 1 junior in the world.
   She became the first American to sweep the girls crowns in a Grand Slam event since Lindsay Davenport in the 1992 U.S. Open and the first U.S. girl to hold the No. 1 year-end world ranking since Gretchen Rush in 1982.
   Townsend debuted on the elite WTA tour last week as a wild card in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. She beat No. 57 Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic before losing to former world No. 1 and 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic.  
   “Many tennis insiders think Taylor has potential to be the next great American women’s
player," Capitals coach Wayne Bryan said in a statement, although 18-year-olds Madison Keys and Samantha Crawford are also in the conversation. "She is good on the singles and doubles court and is very talented with a great personality.”
Mark Knowles, 41, will return for his 12th season with
the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Sacramento also protected Mark Knowles of the Bahamas in the first round, picked American doubles specialist Megan Moulton-Levy in the third round and took Ryan Sweeting of the United States in the fourth and final round.
   Knowles, 41, retired from the ATP World Tour after last year's U.S. Open. But the three-time WTT Male MVP (2001, 2005 and 2007) will return for his 12th season in the league, all with Sacramento.
   Moulton-Levy, only 5-foot (1.52 meters) and 135 pounds (61 kilograms), is ranked No. 74 in the world in doubles. Sweeting, the 2005 U.S. Open boys champion, played one match for the Capitals last season but suffered back spasms and missed his other scheduled match.
   Mardy Fish and San Francisco native Sam Querrey are set to return as Sacramento's marquee players. Fish, who reached No. 7 in the world in 2011, is scheduled to play three of the Capitals' 14 regular-season matches, and the 23rd-ranked Querrey plans to play four.
   Missing from the roster after playing for Sacramento last year are 2012 part-timers Kevin Anderson, CoCo Vandeweghe and Vania King and full-timers Asia Muhammad and Yasmin Schnack.
   Anderson, a 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) right-hander, underwent right elbow surgery in January after climbing to No. 28 one year ago. He and Muhammad are not scheduled to play team tennis this season.
   The 99th-ranked Vandeweghe, who lives in the San Diego area, was a roster-exempt selection by Orange County. King, the 2009 WTT Female MVP for Springfield (Mo.), went back to the Lasers in the roster-exempt draft after three seasons in Sacramento. Schnack, a 24-year-old doubles specialist, retired from professional tennis in November.
   Sacramento has won a record six WTT titles but none since 2007. The Capitals squeaked into the playoffs last season with an 8-6 mark and advanced to the WTT Finals, falling to the defending champion Washington Kastles 20-19 in Charleston, S.C. Washington has won 32 consecutive matches. 
   In the 2012 regular season, Sacramento finished third among eight teams in men's singles, fifth in women's singles, fourth in men's doubles, seventh in women's doubles and fourth in mixed doubles.
   The Capitals open the 2013 season on July 7 against the Texas Wild at Sunrise Mall in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights.   
   Alisa Kleybanova, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in May 2011, was drafted first overall by Springfield. Kleybanova, a 23-year-old Russian, ascended to No. 20 in the world in singles and No. 10 in doubles in February 2011.
   Washington acquired Martina Hingis from the New York Sportimes for financial considerations. Hingis, 32, will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July.
   BNP Paribas Open -- Querrey advanced to the fourth round at Indian Wells, ensuring that he will become the No. 1 American man and that the United States won't be shut out of the top 20 in the men's world rankings for the first time.
   Querrey, seeded and ranked 23rd, outlasted Marinko Matosevic of Australia 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 7-5 in the longest match of the tournament at 2 hours, 47 minutes.
   Querrey will return to the top 20 after reaching a career-high No. 17 in January 2011. The 6-foot-6 right-hander missed three months after undergoing right elbow surgery on June 16 that year and dropped to No. 125. He will replace John Isner as the top American.
    "It means a lot. It's a great feeling," Querrey, 25, said on www.bnpparibasopen.com. "I feel like I have worked hard to earn it. Everyone seems like they've got their shot with Andy (Roddick) and Mardy and James (Blake) and John, and so I feel like it's my turn now."
   Querrey will meet world No. 1 and two-time Indian Wells champion Novak Djokovic on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. PDT or later (Tennis Channel). Djokovic improved to 15-0 this year with a 7-6 (4), 6-1 victory over 31st-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
   Querrey is the last player to beat Djokovic, prevailing 0-6 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the second round of the Paris Masters last October. After the match, Djokovic told reporters: "It's unfortunate, but on the brighter side, I have a little bit more time to rest because I had really difficult period in the last couple of weeks. Some things happened and a lot of things on my mind."
   Djokovic, who's 4-1 against Querrey, seeks his third title of the year after winning the Australian Open and at Dubai.
   Meanwhile, eighth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France defeated the 32nd-seeded Fish 7-6 (4), 7-6 (0) in the third round. Fish, who returned to the circuit at Indian Wells after missing six months because of heart palpitations, led 4-0 in the second set and was broken at love serving for the set at 5-4.
   "I felt like I could have easily won the match," Fish said on www.bnpparibasopen.com. "Bunch of break points obviously in the first set, and the second set was what it was. Tennis wise, it's a good sign that it hasn't taken too long to get the form back. I usually don't lose 4-0 sets.  I can't remember the last one. Maybe just not being in that position I'm sure had something to do with it."
   Fish remains alive in doubles with Blake. The wild cards are scheduled to face Treat Huey, a Washington, D.C., native who plays for the Philippines, and Jerzy Janowicz of Poland on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. 
   Fish won the 2009 doubles title at Indian Wells with his close friend Andy Roddick.
COLLEGE SCORE
Men
   Sacramento State def. Montana State 7-0 in Sacramento. No. 1 singles: Marek Marksoo (SS) def. Niklas Brandes 6-1, 6-2. Records: Sac State 5-9 overall, 2-0 Big Sky Conference; Montana State 9-7, 5-1.

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