Monday, June 23, 2014

Sharapova slayer tops Gold River entries

   Michelle Larcher de Brito, who stunned Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon last year and helped the Sacramento Capitals win the World TeamTennis title at 14 years old, heads the acceptance list for the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger.
   Entries for the third annual tournament, July 7-12 at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento suburb of Gold River, were released today by the International Tennis Federation.
   Larcher de Brito, 21, of Portugal tops the list, which is subject to change, with a world ranking of No. 104. Following Larcher de Brito are Anna-Lena Friedsam, 20, of Germany at No. 111, Olivia Rogowska, 23, of Australia at No. 128 and Allie Kiick, 18, of Aspen, Colo., at No. 141.
   Kiick, the daughter of former Miami Dolphins running back Jim Kiick, won a $25,000 hardcourt tournament in Merida, Mexico, in December and reached the semifinals of another in Redding last October. She will turn 19 on June 30.
Reigning champion Mayo Hibi, right, and 2013 runner-up
Madison Brengle plan to return for next month's $50,000 FSP
Gold River Women's Challenger. 2013 photo by Paul Bauman
   Gold River entries also include:
   -- Defending champion Mayo Hibi, 18, of Japan.
   -- Inaugural winner Maria Sanchez, a 24-year-old Modesto product.
   -- Last year's runner-up, 24-year-old Madison Brengle of Bradenton, Fla.
   -- Nicole Gibbs, a 21-year-old resident of Santa Monica in the Los Angeles area who won back-to-back NCAA singles titles at Stanford.
   -- Six-foot-2 (1.89-meter) Naomi Broady, a 24-year-old Briton who reached the second round of singles at Wimbledon today and won last year's Gold River doubles title with Storm Sanders, then 18, of Australia.
   -- Alexandra Stevenson, a 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist who's now 33 years old.
   Broady, who received a wild card at Wimbledon, is one of three Gold River entrants in the singles main draw at the All England Club. Larcher de Brito, a qualifier, leads 28th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion from Russia, 2-1 in a suspended first-round match. Friedsam lost to Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-4, 6-4 today in the opening round.
   The 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) Larcher de Brito outslugged the 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) Sharapova, the third seed at Wimbledon last year and 2004 champion, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round before losing to Karin Knapp of Italy in the next round.
   Larcher de Brito became the youngest player in WTT history in 2007, helping the now-defunct Capitals win the last of their record six league titles.
   Two years later, American Madison Keys surpassed Larcher de Brito by 19 days as a 14-year-old with the Philadelphia Freedoms.
   The 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Keys, now 19, won her first career title last week at Eastbourne on grass to rise to a career-high 30th in the world. She ranks third among U.S. women behind No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 18 Sloane Stephens.
   Sanchez, the 2011 Pacific-10 Conference Women's Player of the Year as a senior at USC, has plummeted from a career-high No. 107 in the world last July to No. 310. That would put her in Gold River qualifying at the moment, but as a former champion from nearby Modesto, she probably will receive a wild card into the main draw if necessary.
   Qualifying starts July 5.
   Here's a link to the Gold River Challenger's full acceptance list: http://www.itftennis.com/procircuit/tournaments/women%27s-tournament/info.aspx?tournamentid=1100032268    

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