Tuesday, March 19, 2013

U.S. men hit new low, but it could have been worse

Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native and part-time player
for the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis, became
the top-ranked American for the first time. He rose three
places to No. 20. Photo (2012) by Paul Bauman
   Congratulations, United States.
   You avoided being shut out of the top 20 in the men's world rankings for the first time.
   There's just one problem.
   You still hit a new low.
   By reaching the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells last week (including a first-round bye), Sam Querrey rose three places to No. 20 in the new rankings and became the top American for the first time.
   Querrey, a 25-year-old San Francisco native and part-time member of the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis, replaced 6-foot-9 (2.06-meter) John Isner in the top 20.
   Isner, the runner-up in last year's BNP Paribas Open, dropped eight spots to No. 23 after losing to 32-year-old Lleyton Hewitt in the second round at Indian Wells.
   Querrey, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) right-hander, reached a career high of No. 17 in January 2011 before undergoing right elbow surgery that June and plunging to No. 125 the following September.
   How far has the United States fallen in men's tennis? In 1980, three of the top four players in the world and six of the top 10 were American. Here's the list:
   1. Bjorn Borg, Sweden; 2. John McEnroe, United States; 3. Jimmy Connors, United States;  4. Gene Mayer, United States; 5. Guillermo Vilas, Argentina; 6. Ivan Lendl, Czechoslovakia; 7. Harold Solomon, United States; 8. Jose-Luis Clerc, Argentina; 9. Vitas Gerulaitis, United States; 10. Eliot Teltscher, United States.
   On the bright side for U.S. men's tennis, Bob and Mike Bryan won a record 13th Grand Slam men's doubles title at the Australian Open in January. They are ranked No. 1.
   Women's rankings -- Mallory Burdette and Maria Sanchez have many similarities.
   Both are young, 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Americans with Northern California ties. And both could crack the top 100 in the world for the first time soon.
   After reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open as a qualifier, the 22-year-old Burdette jumped 21 places to No. 104 only six months after turning professional out of Stanford. The Macon, Ga., native knocked off then-No. 27 Tamira Paszek of Austria in the second round.
   Sanchez, a 23-year-old Modesto product, improved three notches to No. 109 by advancing to the second round at Indian Wells as a wild card. Sanchez's mentor, International Tennis Hall of Famer Chris Evert, attended the tournament.
   Both Burdette and Sanchez played in the main draw at Indian Wells for the first time.   
   Fish withdraws -- Mardy Fish suffered a setback in his latest comeback from an accelerated heartbeat when the former top-10 player withdrew from the Sony Open in Miami. The tournament began today.
   Fish, 31, missed 2 1/2 months last spring while undergoing a procedure, played throughout the summer, then sat out for six more months. He said he retired from tennis "15 times" in his mind during his second layoff but returned two weeks ago in the BNP Paribas Open.
   Fish drew a bye in the first round at Indian Wells and beat fellow 30-something American Bobby Reynolds, a qualifier, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the second round before losing to eighth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (6), 6-4 in the third round.   
   “Unfortunately I won’t be able to compete in Miami this year friends,” tweeted Fish, who's scheduled to return for his second part-time season with the Capitals in July. “Hope to be out there again soon! Thanks for the love and support in IW!”
   Fish has dropped from a career-high No. 7 in the world in 2011 to No. 33. A quarterfinalist in Miami last year, he will plummet further when the next rankings are released on April 1.
   No. 25 Tulsa def. USF 6-0 in San Francisco on Monday. No. 1 singles: No. 31 Samantha Vickers (T) def. No. 76 Andrea Ka 5-7, 6-4, 10-6 match tiebreaker. Records: Tulsa 11-5, USF 6-5.
   No. 25 Tulsa def. No. 52 Saint Mary's 4-3 in Moraga on Tuesday. No. 1 singles: No. 31 Samantha Vickers (T) def. No. 18 Jenny Jullien 6-7, 7-6, 6-2. Records: Tulsa 12-5, Saint Mary's 7-7.

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