Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Redding top seed bounces back from shutout loss

Top seed Olivia Rogowska serves during her 6-4, 6-0
victory over Montserrat Gonzalez, 19, of Paraguay
in the first round of the Redding Challenger.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   REDDING, Calif. -- It took a few days, but Olivia Rogowska overcame the trauma.
   The 22-year-old Australian recently endured a tennis player's worst nightmare, a 6-0, 6-0 loss.
   Futhermore, the humiliation wasn't hidden from public view in Azerbaijan on an outside court at 10 a.m.
   No, it occurred at the U.S. Open. In Louis Armstrong Stadium. On television. In prime time.
   On the bright side, Rogowska had survived qualifying to earn a berth in the main draw and a guaranteed $31,455, and the perpetrator, Sara Errani of Italy, was ranked fifth in the world.
   "I was really upset after the match, but every player has to have a tough loss to learn from," the top-seeded Rogowska said after beating Montserrat Gonzalez, 19, of Paraguay 6-4, 6-0 today in the first round of the $25,000 The Ascension Project Women's Challenger at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness. "It was a good experience now that I look back on it."
   It was the first time Rogowska, now ranked 138th in the world, had been shut out since she turned pro in June 2007.
   Rogowska described Errani, last year's French Open runner-up to Maria Sharapova, as "the best in the world at not missing, getting every single ball back. She's the most solid player in the world. I just have to work on attacking in the right moments and smarter shot selection against her. There were a lot of close games, and she just seemed to win the tighter points, just being a bit smarter and more solid."
   After slinking away from New York, Rogowska spent a week training at the Chris Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Fla. Evert, though, was still commentating at the U.S. Open for ESPN.
   Rogowska was not particularly pleased with her performance against Gonzalez, who has won four $10,000 tournaments (three on clay) this year.                    
   "I guess the first match is always the toughest at a tournament, just getting used to the conditions, the court," said Rogowska, who reached the second round of last year's Australian Open in her hometown of Melbourne. "The first set, I was just a bit nervous, but once I settled down, once I won the first set, I thought I started playing a bit better.
   "I started making more balls, and she started missing a bit more. Once that started, I felt like I got a bit more aggressive and a bit more dominant. I felt like I played some pretty good tennis at the end."
   Rogowska's biggest strength is her mobility.
   "I like to get a lot of balls back," said Rogowska, who's rail thin at 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters) and 125 pounds (58 kilograms). "I like to change direction sometimes. That puts my opponents off -- they don't really know where I'm hitting it.   "I feel like my serve has improved a lot. I don't think I got broken today, so I feel like my serve really helped me win that first set and in the end win the match."
   Both players grew up on clay, even though Australia is known more for hardcourts and formerly grass. Rogowska's affinity for clay showed at Sun Oaks as she often slid into shots, her shoes screeching against the hardcourt.
   "Sliding to me is pretty natural," Rogowska said. "Sometimes it's a bad habit. You shouldn't really do it all the time on hard, but it's just the way I move and feel comfortable. We have a lot of clay courts in Melbourne."
   Several times during the match, the chair umpire referred to Rogowska as "Radwanska," confusing the Aussie with Polish star Agnieszka Radwanska.
   "I actually get that quite a lot," said Rogowska, whose parents moved from Poland to Australia two years before she was born. "They struggle with my surname here in the States. It should be pronounced Ro-GOFF-ska, but I've had so many mispronunciations, I'm used to it."
   Speaking of name problems, third-seeded Chanel Simmonds narrowly avoided an upset by winning the last four games to beat qualifier Michelle Sammons 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 in a battle of South Africans.
   Sammons served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but the 26-year-old former Texas A&M and Purdue standout choked big-time and was broken at love. She double-faulted twice to trail 0-30, hit a backhand that clipped the tape and bounced back, then double-faulted.
   In addition to facing Simmonds, Sammons later lost in doubles with American Sianna Simmons. Seriously. Unfortunately, forward John Salmons of the Sacramento Kings in the NBA didn't make the 2 1/2-hour drive up Interstate 5 for the matches.
   One seed fell for the second straight day as qualifier Anamika Bhargava knocked off fellow American Samantha Crawford, the sixth seed and last year's U.S. Open junior girls champion, 7-6 (2), 6-4. American Sanaz Marand, seeded eighth, lost to 17-year-old qualifier Christina Makarova of San Diego on Tuesday.
   Unseeded Julia Boserup, the 2011 champion, advanced easily with her laser-like groundstrokes. The Newport Beach resident, who turned 22 on Monday, missed the first six months of the year with a bulging disc.
   However, the back problems of 2005 runner-up Ivana Lisjak flared up. She retired against fifth-seeded Adriana Perez of Venezuela with the match tied 1-1 in the third set. Lisjak, a 26-year-old Croat who lives in Las Vegas, returned to the tour in July after missing almost all of a 2 1/2-year stretch with a lower-back injury.
In Redding, Calif.
First-round singles
   Macall Harkins, United States, def. Maria-Fernanda Alves, Brazil, 6-1, 6-1.
   Chanel Simmonds (3), South Africa, def. Michelle Sammons, South Africa, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.
   Olivia Rogowska (1), Australia, def. Montserrat Gonzalez, Paraguay, 6-4, 6-0.
   Adriana Perez (5), Venezuela, def. Ivana Lisjak, Croatia, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 1-1, retired (back injury).
   Catherine Harrison, United States, def. Angelina Gabueva, Russia, 6-4, 6-2.
   Julia Boserup, United States, def. Ulrikke Eikeri, Norway, 6-0, 6-2.
   Anamika Bhargava, United States, def. Samantha Crawford (6), United States, 7-6 (2), 6-4.
   Beatrice Capra, United States, def. Caitlin Whoriskey, United States, 6-2, 6-1.
First-round doubles
   Robin Anderson and Lauren Embree, United States, def. Roxanne Ellison and Sierra A. Ellison, United States, 6-1, 6-4.
   Ksenia Pervak, Russia, and Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove, def. Angelina Gabueva, Russia, and Ivana Lisjak, Croatia, walkover (Lisjak back injury).
  Macall Harkins and Sanaz Marand (4), United States, vs. Michelle Sammons, South Africa, and Sianna Simmons, United States, late.
   Anamika Bhargava and Ashley Weinhold, United States, vs. Ulrikke Eikeri, Norway, and Chanel Simmonds (3), South Africa, late.
Thursday's schedule
(Starting at 10 a.m.)
Court 2
   Macall Harkins, United States, vs. Ksenia Pervak (2), Russia.
   Robin Anderson, United States, vs. Veronica Cepede Royg (4), Paraguay.
   Olivia Rogowska (1), Australia, vs. Lauren Embree, United States.
   Emily Harman and Elizabeth Lumpkin, United States, vs. Jacqueline Cako and Allie Kiick, United States.
Court 1
   Anamika Bhargava, United States, vs. Julia Boserup, United States.
   Christina Makarova, United States, vs. Jacqueline Cako, United States.
   Chanel Simmonds (3), South Africa, vs. Beatrice Capra, United States.
   Robin Anderson and Lauren Embree, United States, vs. Anamika Bhargava and Ashley Weinhold, United States.
Court 3
   Despina Papamichail, Greece, vs. Allie Kiick (7), United States.
   Catherine Harrison, United States, vs. Adriana Perez (5), Venezuela.
   Macall Harkins and Sanaz Marand (4), United States, vs. Ksenia Pervak, Russia, and Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove.
   Erin Clark, United States, and Despina Papamichail, Greece, vs. Veronica Cepede Royg, Paraguay, and Adriana Perez (2), Venezuela.

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