Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gold River Challenger champ signs with UCLA

Mayo Hibi, 17, of Irvine is ranked No. 232 in the world.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Professional tennis can wait for Mayo Hibi.
   The 17-year-old Los Angeles-area resident, who won Challengers in the Sacramento area and Las Cruces, N.M., this year as an amateur, signed a letter of intent last week to attend UCLA.
   Ranked No. 232 in the world, Hibi is rated as the No. 1 recruit in this year's class by Tennisrecruiting.net. She won consecutive titles in the Las Cruces $25,000 Women's Challenger in June and the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger in July.
   Only 5-foot-5 (1.65 meters) and 117 pounds (53 kilograms), Hibi won the U.S. Open National Playoff in August to earn a wild card into women's qualifying at the year's last Grand Slam tournament. She lost to 13th-seeded Anastasia Rodionova, a former Sacramento Capital in World TeamTennis from Australia, in the second round but reached the junior girls semifinals in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Hibi plays for her native Japan but has lived in California since she was 2 1/2, first in the San Francisco suburb of Foster City and for the past 12 years in Irvine.             
   Hibi's father, a sales manager for a branch of a Japanese music company, taught her an old-school game featuring a one-handed backhand and occasional volleys.
   "My dad liked that style more than the modern game," Hibi said in July. "Since I'm not going to be 6-foot tall like Maria Sharapova, since I'm going to be one of the shortest and smallest players on the tour, my dad knew I had to do something different from everyone else to become one of the top players like Justine Henin. She (had) an all-court game."
   UCLA is coached by Stella Sampras Webster, the older sister of Pete Sampras.
   The Bruins won their only NCAA women's tennis team title in 2008 with the help of sophomore Yasmin Schnack of Elk Grove in the Sacramento area.
   UCLA reached the semifinals of this year's NCAAs, losing a 4-3 heartbreaker to Texas A&M in Urbana, Ill. The Bruins' Chanelle Van Nguyen led Ines Deheza 4-2 in the third set of the deciding match at No. 4 singles before falling 6-3, 6-7 (9), 6-4. The Aggies then lost to Stanford in the final.
   The UCLA men's team features freshman Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont, a suburb of Oakland.
   Other signings -- The Cal men added William Griffith of Fresno and J.T. Nishimura of San Jose.
   Griffith is ranked third and Nishimura 44th in this year's class by Tennisrecruiting.net. They played doubles together in the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in August, reaching the semifinals.
   The Cal women signed Australian Lyann Hoang, who won a bronze medal in the 2010 World Junior Teams Competition in the Czech Republic. She has captured seven national junior doubles titles and one in singles.
   Lani-Rae Green, from Kekaha on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, became the first member of the UC Davis women's class. Green has earned eight varsity letters in four sports (tennis, cross country, swimming, and track and field).  

1 comment:

  1. Los Angeles Area!??? Irvine. Irvine. A tennis hotbed, thank you, with great pro staff at Woodbridge where she trains regularly.