Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kleybanova coasts on scorching day in Gold River

   GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- Alisa Kleybanova passed another test Saturday in her comeback from cancer.
   Namely heat. A lot of it.
   Kleybanova, a hard-hitting Russian formerly ranked among the world's top 20, defeated fifth-seeded Diana Ospina, a 33-year-old American, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of qualifying for the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento area.
   The match started at 11:42 a.m. on a day when the temperature reached 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41.7 Celsius). Highs are scheduled to remain at least 102 (38.9) through Thursday, peaking at an unheard-of 111 (43.9) on Tuesday, before dropping into the mid-90s (about 35.0) Friday and Saturday. Mercifully, night matches are scheduled for Tuesday through Saturday's final.
   "It takes a little bit to get used to it," the 23-year-old Kleybanova, 5-foot-11 (1.81 meters) and 159 pounds (72 kilograms), said of the heat. "Especially when you play longer points, it's tough. I felt pretty good. We didn't have really long rallies, so I managed it pretty good today."
   Three months after reaching No. 20 in the world, Kleybanova was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. She missed almost all of the next two years, dropping out of the world rankings.
   Since returning to competition last month, Kleybanova is 13-1, all in tennis' minor leagues. Now ranked No. 930, which does not count her runner-up finish in a $10,000 (Futures) tournament in Buffalo, N.Y., last week, she will face Malika Rose today at 10 a.m. on Court 3. Rose, a Miramar, Fla., resident, recently completed her eligibility at Oklahoma State.
   Kleybanova was candid about her fitness level.
   "I need to play tournaments," she admitted. "I need to play matches. I need to get into tournament shape because I'm still not at my peak yet. It's going to take a while to get to that level when I can play really tough matches and perform great. Right now, I'm trying to get there step by step."
   Meanwhile, four players with Sacramento-area ties competed Saturday, and two advanced. In a matchup of hitting partners from the capital city, 25-year-old Yasmin Schnack dismissed 14-year-old wild card Karina Vyrlan 6-1, 6-2.
   "I felt conflicted," conceded Schnack, the 2010 Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year from UCLA who  retired from professional tennis last fall. "She needs the (ranking) points, and I don't."
   Wild card Daria Kulbikova, a Russian who will be a freshman at Sacramento State next spring, defeated Morocco Hitt of the United States 6-4, 7-5.
   Breanna Bachini, a wild card from the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, lost to Csilla Borsanyi of Hungary 6-2, 6-3.
   Bachini converted only 36.0 percent of her first serves to Borsanyi's 72.5 and committed eight double faults. She has been working with her coach, Rich Andrews, to serve harder.
   "The serve is easily fixable," said Bachini, who will be a junior at Syracuse in the fall. "I just have to hit a few extra baskets of balls after practice." 
   Bachini, plagued by plantar fasciitis and bone spurs in her left foot as a freshman and sophomore, said she is finally healthy.  
At Gold River Racquet Club in Gold River, Calif.
First-round singles qualifying
   Julia Boserup (1), United States, def. Kady Pooler, United States, 6-4, 6-1.
   Csilla Borsanyi, Hungary, def. Breanna Bachini, Roseville, 6-2, 6-3.
   Malika Rose, United States, def. Miriam Lane, United States, 6-4, 6-2.
   Alisa Kleybanova, Russia, def. Diana Ospina (5), United States, 6-3, 6-2.
   Mary Weatherholt, United States, def. Elizabeth Lumpkin (2), United States, 6-3, 6-4.
   Dianne Hollands, New Zealand, def. Amanda Rodgers, United States, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-1.
   Daria Kulbikova, Russia, def. Morocco Hitt, United States, 6-4, 7-5.
   Nicole Robinson (8), United States, def. Anamika Bhargava, United States, 6-4, 6-3.
   Jacqueline Cako (3), United States, def. June Lee, United States, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
   Elizabeth Profit, United States, def. Sophia Bursulaya, United States, 7-5, 6-1.
   Yasmin Schnack, Sacramento, def. Karina Vyrlan, Sacramento, 6-1, 6-2.
   Jessica Lawrence (6), United States, def. Alexandra Champion, United States, 6-0, 6-3.
   Robin Anderson, United States, def. Macall Harkins (4), United States, 6-4, 6-2.
   Keri Wong, United States, def. Mary Closs, United States, 6-4, 6-2.
   Parris Todd, United States, def. Alyssa Smith, United States, 6-3, 6-1.
   Anne-Liz Jeukeng (7), United States, def. Zoe Scandalis, United States, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Today's schedule
(Matches begin at 10 a.m. PDT)
   Yasmin Schnack, Sacramento, vs. Jessica Lawrence (6), United States.
   Julia Boserup (1), United States, vs. Csilla Borsanyi, Hungary.
Court 3
   Malika Rose, United States, vs. Alisa Kleybanova, Russia.
   Jacqueline Cako (3), United States, vs. Elizabeth Profit, United States.
Court 4
   Robin Anderson, United States, vs. Keri Wong, United States.
   Daria Kulbikova, Russia, vs. Nicole Robinson (8), United States.
Court 5
   Parris Todd, United States, vs. Anne-Liz Jeukeng (7), United States.
   Mary Weatherholt, United States, vs. Dianne Hollands, New Zealand. 

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