Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Aussie gives it the old college try, upsets Klahn

John-Patrick Smith of Australia ousted No. 3 seed Bradley Klahn,
a former NCAA champion from Stanford, in the first round of the
Sacramento Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- It's rare for a professional tennis player to have a college degree.
   John-Patrick Smith and Bradley Klahn, who met today in the first round of the $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger, have three bachelor's degrees combined.
   That's right, three.
   Smith, a 25-year-old Australian, earned diplomas in economics and business administration from the University of Tennessee in 2011. Klahn, 24, from Poway in the San Diego area, picked up an economics degree from Stanford the following year.
   "I like school, and obviously I have a very keen interest in business," Smith, whose parents are both teachers, said after leading a parade of upsets with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 victory over the third-seeded Klahn at the Natomas Racquet Club. "After tennis, I look to do something in that."
   Such as?
   "I don't know what I'm going to do next week," Smith cracked, "so I wouldn't know what I'm going to do after tennis."
   Also ousted today were No. 4 Michael Russell of Houston, No. 6 Peter Polansky of Canada, No. 7 Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands and No. 8 Frank Dancevic of Canada. Russell, 36, and de Bakker retired from their matches with a breathing problem and back injury, respectively.
   With the first round complete, the only remaining seeds are No. 1 Sam Querrey of Las Vegas, No. 2 Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., and No. 5 Denis Kudla of Boca Raton, Fla.
   As if Querrey, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Davis Cup veteran who has been ranked as high as No. 17, needed any help, he already is the only seed left in his half of the draw. 
  In addition to their academic success, Smith and Klahn fared pretty well on the court in college.
  Smith became the second player in NCAA Division I history to earn All-America honors in singles and doubles all four years, joining eventual world No. 1 doubles player Jon Leach of USC.
Klahn, like Smith, has struggled
with injuries this year. Photo by
Paul Bauman
  Klahn won the 2010 NCAA singles title as a sophomore before undergoing surgery for a herniated disc at the beginning of his junior year. He bounced back to reach the NCAA singles quarterfinals and doubles final that year and the singles semis and doubles quarters as a senior.
  Both players are happy they stayed in college for four years.
  "I formed some great friendships, met some great people and had some good times," Smith said. "You can't replace that being on the tour. I got my degree, I've got my (general) backup plan, so now I can really enjoy tennis."
   Klahn has said he "had a great four years (at Stanford). I had a lot of fun and have a lot of memories."
   Smith and Klahn share more than their college backgrounds. Both are left-handed and have struggled with injuries this year.       
   Smith developed a sore shoulder after playing tournaments in seven of eight weeks over the summer.
   "Traveling and playing takes a toll on your body," he said. "Those are the lessons you learn. This period here, I'm going to play for three weeks (in Napa, Sacramento and Tiburon) and then take a little break."
   Klahn, a Sacramento quarterfinalist last year, missed two months in the spring when his back flared up and five weeks over the summer with a foot sprain.
   "Physically, I feel very good," said Klahn, who has tumbled from a career-high No. 63 in the world in March to No. 118. "To be brutally honest, this has been a difficult year with injuries for me, but that's part of the tour. That's what you have to accept and deal with."
   Smith was clearly the sharper player today. He saved seven of nine break points (77 percent) to Klahn's 12 of 16 (75 percent) and had one double fault to Klahn's four.
   "I came out of the blocks pretty good," said Smith, who will face 16-year-old sensation Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., on Wednesday at 11 a.m. "I served pretty well, I thought. In the second set, he hit an unbelievable passing shot when I had break point. In the third set, I had break points in (almost) every game, so I was pretty happy with that."
   Smith recorded the only breaks of the third set in the third and final games. Both times, Klahn double-faulted for 0-40.
   Smith is ranked No. 230 in singles and No. 77 in doubles. He won the Sacramento doubles crown last year with countryman Matt Reid, but they are playing with different partners this year.
   Klahn lost to Smith for the first time in three matches.
   "He's a difficult player to play just because he doesn't give you any rhythm, and I feel like I'm still finding my rhythm again," Klahn said. "He kept me off-balance pretty well. I just didn't feel like I was able to find my range and my game today.
   "It's a tricky match. He serves well, he comes in a lot, and he has great hands around the net. I thought I did a good job finding my game and adjusting in the second set. A couple sloppy games on my serve in the third set, and that was it."
At Natomas Racquet Club
First-round singles
   John Millman, Australia, def. Tennys Sandgren, United States, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3).
   Bjorn Fratangelo, United States, def. Frank Dancevic (8), Canada, 6-4, 6-4.
   Elias Ymer, Sweden, def. Eric Quigley, United States, 3-6, 6-0, 7-6 (2).
   John-Patrick Smith, Australia, def. Bradley Klahn (3), United States, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
   Daniel Nguyen, United States, def. Alex Kuznetsov, United States, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
   Marcos Giron, United States, def. Alex Bolt, Australia, 6-4, 6-4.
   Tim Smyczek (2), United States, def. Jordan Thompson, Australia, 6-1, 6-2.
   Wayne Odesnik, United States, def. Peter Polansky (6), Canada, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (5).
   Luca Vanni, Italy, def. Liam Broady, Great Britain, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-0.
   Dimitar Kutrovsky, Bulgaria, def. Michael Russell (4), United States, 3-2, retired.
   Jared Donaldson, United States, def. Thiemo de Bakker, Netherlands, 6-2, 3-0, retired.
   Sam Querrey (1), United States, def. Kyle Edmund, Great Britain, 7-6 (3), 6-4.
First-round doubles
   Matt Reid, Australia, and Jose (Rubin) Statham, New Zealand, def. James Cluskey and James McGee, Ireland, 3-6, 6-4 [10-8].
Wednesday's schedule
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
Court 1
   Stefan Kozlov, United States, vs. John-Patrick Smith, Australia.
   Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak (1), New Zealand, vs. Rik de Voest, South Africa, and Matt Seeberger, Los Altos (not before 12:30 p.m.).
   Tim Smyczek (2), United States, vs. James McGee, Ireland.
   Adam Hubble and John-Patrick Smith, Australia, vs. Thiemo de Bakker and Wesley Koolhof, Netherlands.
   Bradley Klahn and Tim Smyczek (3), United States, vs. Daniel Nguyen and Eric Quigley, United States (not before 4:30 p.m.)
Court 7
   Denis Kudla (5), United States, vs. Elias Ymer, Sweden.
   Wayne Odesnik, United States, vs. Rhyne Williams.
   Liam Broady, Great Britain, and Jordan Thompson, Australia, vs. Alex Bolt, Australia, and Frank Dancevic, Canada.
   Peter Polansky and Adil Shamasdin (2), Canada, vs. Denis Kudla and Rhyne Williams, United States.

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