Monday, July 1, 2013

Kleybanova tops Boserup in 'Comeback Classic'

   GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- You call this a final-round qualifying match?
   It looked more like a main-draw final.
   In the "Comeback Classic," Alisa Kleybanova outslugged top-seeded Julia Boserup 6-3, 6-4 Monday in the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento area.
   Kleybanova, a Russian who reached No. 20 in the world in 2011, is competing in her third tournament after missing almost two years with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
   Boserup, a Newport Beach resident who climbed to a career-high No. 174 early last year, was playing in her first tournament after sitting out for six months because of a bulging disc.
   In the first round of the main draw, diminutive Mayo Hibi of Japan eliminated eighth-seeded Victoria Duval of Bradenton, Fla., 7-5, 5-7, 6-0. Both players are 17.
   Kleybanova and Boserup have plunged to No. 930 and No. 510, respectively, but don't be deceived. They engaged in numerous breathtaking rallies, firing missiles at each other, in a 1-hour, 40-minute match that was closer than the score indicated.
   Fortunately for the players, the battle began at 10:15 a.m. The temperature later soared to a high of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.6 Celsius). It's expected to reach 108 (42.2) on Tuesday.
   As big and powerful as Boserup is at 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters) and 145 pounds (66 kilograms), Kleybanova is bigger and more powerful at 5-foot-11 and 159 pounds (72 kilograms).
   "She has a very big game," said the 21-year-old Boserup, who won the $25,000 Redding Challenger in 2011. "You can tell she has a lot of experience at the top level. She hits the ball big, and she places it well. She comes up with the goods at the big moments, so you can definitely tell she's a top player, and I'm sure she'll get back there."
   Despite some serving woes, both players were happy with their performances.
   "Today, I managed to put my game together," crowed the 23-year-old Kleybanova, who improved to 15-1 in her comeback, all in tennis' minor leagues. "I was more quick, and I was aggressive. ...
   "It was probably one of the best matches that I've played so far. It's very good news for me, and I hope to keep it up, keep going in the same direction and improve match by match, step by step."
   So does Boserup.
   "I feel like I played well," she said. "I'm still getting a feel for being out there. I gave it my best today, and there's a lot to learn from it. I'm definitely looking forward to taking what I learned today into my next tournament next week (in Yakima, Wash.)."
   Asked what she learned, Boserup said, "It's good to play against a big ball like that and know that that's kind of how I need to play as well."
   Both players double-faulted seven times, including three in one game (Boserup's came consecutively). Boserup converted 66 percent of her first serves and Kleybanova 52.7 percent.
   "I was still able to hold my serve at the end of the match," said Kleybanova, who will face 17-year-old Brooke Austin of Indianapolis on Tuesday in the opening round. "That was the most important thing."
   Boserup had a break point at 4-4 in the second set but netted a makeable backhand return on Kleybanova's first serve. Kleybanova held serve and broke in the next game for the match. Boserup double-faulted for 15-40 in the last game, then hit a forehand down the line barely wide and long. 
   Boserup shrugged off her double faults.
   "I just went for it on all my serves," she said. "That's what I'm working on right now. ... The double faults are going to come. It's part of the game. I wasn't too worried about that."
   Boserup wouldn't be surprised if Kleybanova won the Gold River title.
   "She's a great player, and she definitely has a good chance," Boserup said.
   Qualifier or not.
At Gold River Racquet Club in Gold River, Calif.
First-round singles
   Ivana Lisjak, Croatia, def. Natalie Pluskota, United States, 6-1, 6-3.
   Allie Kiick, United States, def. Brianna Morgan, United States 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.
   Madison Brengle (5), United States, def. Emily Webley-Smith, Great Britain, 6-0, 6-1.
   Mayo Hibi, Japan, def. Victoria Duval (8), United States, 7-5, 5-7, 6-0.
   Ashley Weinhold, United States, def. Sanaz Marand, United States, 6-2, 6-3.
Third-round singles qualifying
(Winners advance to main draw)
   Alisa Kleybanova, Russia, def. Julia Boserup (1), United States 6-3, 6-4.
   Robin Anderson, United States, def. Anne-Liz Jeukeng (7), United States, 6-2, 6-4.
   Jessica Lawrence (6), United States, def. Elizabeth Profit, United States, 6-1, 6-4.
   Mary Weatherholt, United States, def. Nicole Robinson (8), United States, 6-0, 5-7, 6-1.
First-round doubles
   Macall Harkins and Zoe Scandalis, United States, def. Dianne Hollands, New Zealand, and Kady Pooler, United States, 6-1, 3-6 (10-8).
   Robin Anderson and Lauren Embree, United States, def. Julie Coin, France, and Keri Wong (3), United States, 7-5, 6-3. 
Tuesday's schedule
(Beginning at 10 a.m.)
   Heidi El Tabakh (7), Canada, vs. Asia Muhammad, United States.
   Petra Rampre (4), Slovenia, vs. Jan Abaza, United States.
   Naomi Broady, Great Britain, vs. Julie Coin (3), France.
   Alisa Kleybanova, Russia, vs. Brooke Austin, United States.
(Beginning at 7 p.m.)
   Maria Sanchez (1), United States, vs. Laura Embree, United States.
   Yasmin Schnack and Kelly Wilson, Sacramento, vs. Naomi Broady, Great Britain, and Storm Sanders, Australia.
Court 3
(Beginning at 10 a.m.)
   Alexandra Stevenson, United States, vs. Chanel Simmonds (2) South Africa.
   Mary Weatherholt, United States, vs. Storm Sanders (6), Australia.
   So-Ra Lee, South Korea, vs. Jelena Pandzic, Croatia.
   Jessica Lawrence, United States, vs. Angelina Gabueva, Russia.
   Elizabeth Lumpkin, United States, and Sally Peers, Australia, vs. Victoria Duval and Allie Kiick, United States.
Court 4
(Beginning at 10 a.m.)
   Mai Minokoshi, Japan, vs. Sally Peers, Australia.
   Allie Will, United States, vs. Robin Anderson, United States.
   Anamika Bhargava, United States, and Mayo Hibi, Japan, vs. Jacqueline Cako and Natalie Pluskota (2), United States.
   Jan Abaza and Allie Will, United States, vs. Chanel Simmonds, South Africa, and Emily Webley-Smith (4), Great Britain.

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