Saturday, July 6, 2013

Capitals have major concerns entering season

Mark Knowles, who reached No. 1 in the world in doubles
in 2002 and 2004, will return for his 12th season with the
Sacramento Capitals at age 41. 2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   For a team that came within three points of winning the World TeamTennis title last year, the Sacramento Capitals have an alarming number of concerns entering their 28th season.
   Topping the list is a women's lineup with zero WTT experience. Americans Taylor Townsend, 17, and Megan-Moulton Levy, 28, replace Asia Muhammad and Yasmin Schnack.
   Women are more important than men in WTT, with its no-add scoring and sets up to five games. Because women are less powerful, they are more likely to break serve and create leads.
   The Capitals' two full-time men have their issues, too. Mark Knowles, who reached No. 1 in the world in men's doubles in 2002 and 2004, is 41 years old. Ryan Sweeting's singles ranking has plummeted from a career-high No. 64 in 2011 to No. 293. 
   One of Sacramento's two marquee players, 31-year-old Mardy Fish, has missed most of the past 15 months with heart palpitations. He is scheduled to play three matches, all early in the three-week regular season that begins on Sunday night.
   Finally, there's no Kevin Anderson, Vania King or CoCo Vandeweghe to bail out the Capitals. All played part-time for Sacramento last year.
   The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson, ranked 23rd in the world, will play for Washington this season. Just what the Capitals and the rest of the league need -- for the Kastles to get stronger. Washington edged Sacramento 20-19 last year in Charleston, S.C., for its second consecutive WTT title and 32nd straight victory.
Under coach Wayne Bryan, the Capitals came within
three points of winning the World TeamTennis title
last season. 2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   King will return to the Springfield (Mo.) Lasers, with whom she won the 2009 WTT Female MVP award, after playing three full- or part-time seasons with the Capitals.
   The 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) Vandeweghe, who reached the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last summer as a qualifer, will play for the Orange County Breakers. They're based in Irvine, about 90 minutes up Interstate 5 from her home in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe.
   Not that all is lost for the Capitals, however.
   Townsend, a 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) left-hander, ended 2012 as the No. 1 junior girl in the world. She became the first U.S. girl to hold the No. 1 year-end ranking since Gretchen Rush in 1982.
   Townsend also beat the world's 57th-ranked woman, Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic, in March.
   After falling in today's Wimbledon girls final, Townsend will miss Sunday's 7:35 p.m. season opener against the Texas Wild at Sunrise Mall in the Sacramento area and possibly Monday night's home match against the Philadelphia Freedoms.
   “Many tennis insiders think Taylor has potential to be the next great American women’s
player," Sacramento coach Wayne Bryan said when the Capitals drafted Townsend in March, although 18-year-olds Madison Keys and Samantha Crawford are also in the conversation.
   Nicole Gibbs, who turned pro out of Stanford last month after winning her second straight NCAA singles title as a junior, will replace Townsend.
   Moulton-Levy, a 5-foot (1.52-meter) doubles specialist, is ranked a career-high No. 57 in that department.     
   Marquee player Sam Querrey, the top-ranked American man at No. 19 in the world, will return for his second part-time season with Sacramento. The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) San Francisco native is scheduled to play the Capitals' final four regular-season matches. He competed in six last year and finishing second in the men's singles standings.
   Because of their schedule, the Capitals could get off to a fast start and then cool off. They will play the first five of their 14 regular-season matches at home and seven of their last nine on the road.
CAPITALS’ SCHEDULE
(Home matches at Capitals Stadium, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights)
   Sunday vs. Texas, 7:35 p.m.
   Monday vs. Philadelphia, 7:35 p.m.
   Wednesday vs. Orange County, 7:35 p.m. (Mardy Fish plays for Capitals)
   Friday vs. Boston, 7:35 p.m. (Fish plays for Capitals)
   Saturday vs. Washington, 7:35 p.m. (Fish plays for Capitals)
   July 14 at Texas, 5:35 p.m.
   July 15 at Orange County, 7 p.m. 
   July 17 vs. Texas, 7:35 p.m. (Bob and Mike Bryan play for Wild)
   July 18 at Springfield, 5:05 p.m.
   July 19 at Boston, 4 p.m. (Mark Philippoussis plays for Lobsters)
   July 21 at Orange County, 5 p.m. (Sam Querrey plays for Capitals)
   July 22 vs. Orange County, 7:35 p.m. (Querrey plays for Capitals)
   July 23 at Springfield, 5:05 p.m. (Querrey plays for Capitals)
   July 24 at Texas, 5:35 p.m. (Querrey plays for Capitals)
TICKETS
   $25-$70 (discounts for children). For more information, visit www.saccaps.com or call (916) 747-6728.
2013 CAPITALS
   Mardy Fish, 31, Westwood, Calif. ... Fifth World TeamTennis season (second with Capitals). ... Scheduled to play three matches for Capitals, all early in season. ... Has missed much of last 18 months with irregular heartbeat. Has played only two tournaments this year and none since April. ... Ranked No. 43 in world after reaching career-high No. 7 in 2011. ... Singles quarterfinalist at Australian Open (2007), U.S. Open (2008) and Wimbledon (2011). ... Has won six career ATP World Tour titles in singles and eight in doubles (including San Jose in 2004 with James Blake and 2010 with Sam Querrey). ... Won singles silver medal in 2004 Olympics in Athens, losing to Nicolas Massu of Chile 6-4 in fifth set after leading two sets to one. ... Seven-time U.S. Davis Cup team member. ... Named 2006 Comeback Player of Year after undergoing two operations on left wrist.  ... Has booming serve, excellent return of serve. ... Moved from native Minnesota to Florida at age 4 and lived with Andy Roddick in 1999 during high school.
   Mark Knowles (captain), 41, Bahamas. ... Twelfth WTT season (all with Capitals). ... Retired from ATP World Tour last September as one of best doubles players in Open Era (since 1968). ...  Reached No. 1 in world in doubles in 2002 and 2004. Finished in top 10 for eight straight years (2002-09). … In April 2010, became fifth player in ATP history to record 700 doubles match wins. … Has won four Grand Slam titles: three in men’s doubles with ex-partner Daniel Nestor (2002 Australian Open, 2004 U.S. Open and 2007 French Open) and one in mixed doubles with Anna-Lena Groenefeld (2009 Wimbledon). … Overall, has won 55 men’s doubles crowns (tied for 15th in Open Era). Won at least one in 19 of 20 seasons (1992-2012). … Five-time Olympian for Bahamas (1992-2008). ... Three-time WTT Male MVP (2001, 2005 and 2007), tied with ex-Capital Brian MacPhie (1996-98) for men’s record. ... Has coached Fish since March 2012. ... Possesses textbook volley and return of serve.
    Megan Moulton-Levy, 28, Washington, D.C. ... First WTT season ... Doubles specialist, only 5 feet (1.52 meters), is ranked a career-high No. 57 in that category. ... Recorded first Grand Slam doubles victory of career in 2013 Australian Open. ... Reached doubles semifinals in Auckland, Memphis, Charleston and s'-Hertogenbosch this year. ... Has captured 10 doubles titles and one singles crown in minor leagues. ... Four-time Colonial Athletic Association Women's Tennis Player of the Year at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
   Sam Querrey, 25, Las Vegas. ... Third WTT season (second with Capitals). ... Top-ranked American at No. 19 in world, down two spots from career high in 2011. ... Has won seven singles and four doubles titles in career. ...  Reached fourth round of U.S. Open in 2008 and 2010 and at Wimbledon in 2010 for best Grand Slam singles results. ... Member of U.S. Davis Cup team in 2008 and 2010. ... Gashed right (playing) arm in 2009 when glass table he was sitting on at Bangkok tournament collapsed. Narrowly missed damaging nerves, which could have ended career. ... Sidelined for three months after right elbow surgery in 2011.
   Ryan Sweeting, 25, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ... Second WTT season (both with Capitals). Suffered back spasms in WTT debut last year and missed only other scheduled match for Sacramento. ... Has plunged from career-high No. 64 in 2011 to No. 293. ... Won his only ATP World Tour title on clay in Houston in 2011. ... Won 2005 U.S. Open junior title and reached No. 2 in world in juniors that year. ... Bahamas native became U.S. citizen in 2006 and attended University of Florida for one year before turning pro in 2007.
   Taylor Townsend, 17, Boca Raton, Fla.... First WTT season. ... Often compared to Serena Williams because she's stocky African-American but plays more like Martina Navratilova. Both are left-handed with strong volley. ... Became first American in 30 years to top world junior rankings in 2012. ... Won junior titles in 2012 Australian Open singles and doubles, Wimbledon doubles and U.S. Open doubles. ... Became first American to sweep the junior girls crowns in a Grand Slam event since Lindsay Davenport in 1992 U.S. Open. ... Made WTA main-draw debut at 16 in March, beating No. 57 Lucie Hradecka. ... Reach third round of women's doubles in 2011 U.S. Open at 15 with Jessica Pegula.
   Wayne Bryan, coach, Camarillo, Calif. ... Thirteenth WTT season (12th with Capitals). ... Longest-tenured coach in the league. … Three-time WTT Coach of the Year (2004-06). … Has led Capitals to two of their record six league titles (2002 and 2007). … Father of identical twins Bob and Mike Bryan, who have won record 14 Grand Slam men's doubles titles. … Tennis’ unofficial ambassador. … Non-practicing attorney. … Author of 2004 book “Raising Your Child to be a Champion in Athletics, Arts and Academics.” … Front man for Bryan Bros. Band.
OTHER TEAMS
Western Conference
   Orange County – Maria Elena Camerin, Treat Huey, Steve Johnson, CoCo Vandeweghe, Liga Dekmeijere. Coach: Trevor Kronemann.
   Springfield (Mo.) Lasers – Andy Roddick, Rik de Voest, Vania King, Alisa Kleybanova, Jean-Julien Rojer. Coach: John Laffnie de Jager.
   Texas Wild – Bob and Mike Bryan, Jim Courier, Alex Bogomolov Jr., Eugenie Bouchard, Darija Jurak, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi. Coach: Brent Haygarth.
Eastern Conference
   Boston Lobsters – Mark Philippoussis, Eric Butorac, Jill Craybas, Katalin Marosi, Amir Weintraub. Coach: Bud Schultz.
   New York Sportimes – John McEnroe, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Kveta Peschke, Robert Kendrick, Jesse Witten, Abigail Spears. Coach: Claude Okin.
   Philadelphia Freedoms – Sloane Stephens, Samuel Groth, Liezel Huber, Jordan Kerr, Jessica Pegula, Maria Sanchez. Coach: Josh Cohen.
   Washington Kastles – Martina Hingis (2012 WTT Female MVP), Kevin Anderson, Anastasia Rodionova, Leander Paes, Bobby Reynolds (2012 WTT Male MVP). Coach: Murphy Jensen (2012 WTT Coach of the Year).

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