Monday, November 4, 2013

Roberson stars in Sacramento Clay Court finals

Eric Roberson, left, and Darrin Cohen won the
open division in the Sacramento Clay Court
League. Photos by Paul Bauman
   ORANGEVALE, Calif. -- Eric Roberson won two titles Sunday in the Sacramento Clay Court League.
   Top-seeded Roberson and Darrin Cohen held off third-seeded Jeff Shin and Justin Garcia 7-6 (5), 7-6 (0) in the open division of the doubles-only tournament at Ben and Mary Combs’ house.
   Roberson, a 27-year-old former Boise State player from Sacramento, and Cohen, a 30-year-old ex-Virginia star from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, split $800.
   Earlier, top-seeded Roberson and Yasmin Schnack, mixed doubles partners in this year’s U.S. Open, overwhelmed second-seeded Isabella Kling-Norton and Chris Gerety 6-0, 6-3 to share the $400 first prize.
   In the only other division, fourth-seeded Bryan Paveglio and Steve Scurfield outplayed second-seeded Dave Hagiwara and Chris Evers 6-3, 6-1 to divide $1,000 for the 40-and-over crown.
   Roberson and Schnack, a 25-year-old resident of Elk Grove in the Sacramento area, won a national playoff over the summer to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open. They fell to Slovakians Janette Husarova and Filip Polasek 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the first round in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Husarova, 39, has been ranked as high as third in the world in women’s doubles and Polasek, 28, as high as No. 20 in men’s doubles.
   Schnack, the 2010 Pacific-10 Conference Women's Player of the Year at UCLA, plans to start nursing school in January after all rather than return to the professional tour.
   The Sacramento tournament featured all the trappings of a major event but in a relaxed atmosphere in the beautiful back yard of the Combs' 3,800-square-foot California Spanish-style house.
   The top recreational players in the area displayed outstanding shotmaking, including "tweeners" and sharply angled backspin volleys, and quick reflexes. All received T-shirts and gift bags.
   A USTA chair umpire and ballboys and ballgirls from the tennis teams at nearby Sierra College worked the finals. Sponsors' banners lined one side of the court, and VIP seating was provided on the other.
   About 85 fans  – including former Sacramento Capitals owners Ben Combs, Ramey Osborne and Lonnie Nielson – attended the finals free of charge and enjoyed a complimentary barbecue lunch cooked by Kenny Vowell.
   Some spectators lobbed good-natured barbs at the players during play. When Roberson served for the match in the open final, one fan yelled, "C'mon, Robo, we want to see three sets. Double-fault or something."
   Ben Combs, equipped with a microphone, presented the prize money after each final. 
   And, of course, all the details of the league can be found at
   It's a first-class operation all the way.
Roberson and Yasmin Schnack, mixed doubles
partners in this year's U.S. Open, coasted in the
Sacramento final.
Steve Scurfield, left, and Bryan Paveglio
split $1,000 for winning the 40-and-over
Former owners of the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis
(left to right)  Ben Combs, Ramey Osborne and Lonnie Nielson
attended the finals. Combs hosted the league at the clay
court in his back yard.

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