Saturday, July 6, 2013

Lisjak throws racket after loss, hurts official

No. 5 seed Madison Brengle, shown in Thursday's
quarterfinals, rallied to beat unseeded Ivana Lisjak
in Friday's semis. Photo by Paul Bauman
   An ugly incident marred a night of high drama at the Gold River Racquet Club.
   After fifth-seeded Madison Brengle rallied to beat unseeded Ivana Lisjak 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 on Friday in the semifinals of the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger, Lisjak threw her racket in anger. It skipped off the court and hit a lineswoman in the face, according to tournament spokesman Clint Swett.
   The lineswoman had a welt above one eye afterward but didn't seek medical attention, Swett said.
   Lisjak, a 26-year-old Croat who lives in Las Vegas, said she was aiming at her racket bag and missed.
   "I apologize from the bottom of my heart," Lisjak (pronounced LEE-zhak) told the lineswoman.
   Lisjak was very emotional during her matches at Gold River, loudly berating herself in Croatian after missing shots and complaining -- probably with justification -- about line calls.
   Tournament supervisor Billie Lipp said Lisjak likely will be fined $250 for unsportsmanlike conduct after Friday night's match at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento area.
   Mayo Hibi, a diminutive 17-year-old amateur from Japan, outlasted Allie Will, a 22-year-old native of San Mateo in the San Francisco Bay Area who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the second semifinal. The battle of unseeded players ended at midnight.
   All four of Will's matches went to three sets, the first three in sweltering heat.
   Brengle and Hibi -- ranked No. 219 and No. 304 in the world, respectively -- will meet for the first time tonight at 7 PDT. Both seek their second title this year, and Hibi will try to make it two straight after winning a $25,000 hardcourt tournament in Las Cruces, N.M., last month. This will be her first final in a $50,000 tournament or higher.
Lisjak, shown in her quarterfinal victory
over Alisa Kleybanova on Thursday,
accidentally hurt a lineswoman after
Friday's loss. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Brengle, 23, of Bradenton, Fla., has won four singles titles overall and Hibi two.
   Hibi -- a 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter), 117-pound (53-kilogram) resident of Irvine in the Los Angeles area -- was born in Japan but has lived in the United States since she was 2 1/2. Despite her youth, she has an old-school game featuring a one-handed backhand and occasional volleys. 
   The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Lisjak, who reached No. 95 in the world in 2006, was playing in her first tournament since last August and only her third in the past 2 1/2 years because of a lower-back injury. She did not need surgery.
   Lisjak ousted top seed and defending champion Maria Sanchez, originally from Modesto in Northern California, on Wednesday in the second round and former top-20 player Alisa Kleybanova, 7-6 in the third set, in 108-degree Fahrenheit (42-degree Celsius) heat in Thursday's quarterfinals. Kleybanova was playing in her third tournament after battling Hodgkin's lymphoma for two years.
   Lisjak, though, squandered a 5-3 lead in the final set in her first meeting with Brengle.
   "I was pushing the ball," Lisjak complained. "This is my first tournament back, and I don't have a lot of matches in my legs yet."
   Lisjak added that Brengle, who had lost only nine games in her three previous matches, "has amazing anticipation. She sees the ball so early. She gave me no free points, and I gave her a million free points on my double faults. She can run until tomorrow."
   Lisjak possesses a huge serve but finished with no aces and 15 double faults. Her groundstrokes impressed Brengle.
Mayo Hibi, 17, of Japan is shown in her first-
round win over Victoria Duval. Hibi seeks her
second straight title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   "She hits a huge ball, and I had to play a lot of defense," the 5-foot-4 (1.63-meter) Brengle said. "It was a lot of running. I just tried to get more balls back. She was hitting the cover off the ball."
   Will, who turned pro after leading Florida to the 2011 and 2012 NCAA titles, played with one thigh wrapped because of a pulled hamstring muscle but didn't use that as an excuse.
   "I lost because she played the bigger points better than I did," Will said. "She deserves to be in the finals. She has a very together game, she makes you earn every point, and she is incredibly quick."
   Will hit many high-kicking balls to Hibi's backhand.
    "I had a tough time with her high balls," Hibi admitted. "I had to remind myself to be very patient against her."   
$50,000 FSP GOLD RIVER WOMEN'S CHALLENGER
At Gold River Racquet Club in Gold River, Calif.
Singles semifinals
   Madison Brengle (5), United States, def. Ivana Lisjak, Croatia, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
   Mayo Hibi, Japan, def. Allie Will, United States, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Doubles semifinals
   Robin Anderson and Lauren Embree, United States, def. Macall Harkins and Zoe Scandalis, United States, 6-2, 6-1.
   Naomi Broady, Great Britain, and Storm Sanders, Australia, def. Jacqueline Cako and Natalie Pluskota (2), United States, 6-4, 6-4.
Today's schedule
Stadium
(Beginning at 7 p.m.)
   Madison Brengle (5), United States, vs. Mayo Hibi, Japan.
   Naomi Broady, Great Britain, and Storm Sanders, Australia, vs. Robin Anderson and Lauren Embree, United States.

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