Saturday, September 13, 2014

Brady knocks off top seed in Redding Challenger

Unseeded Jennifer Brady toppled No. 1 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan
7-5, 6-4 to reach the semifinals of the Redding Challenger.
Photo by Stephen Campbell
   Unseeded Jennifer Brady of Boca Raton, Fla., reached her first semifinal of a professional tournament, toppling No. 1 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan 7-5, 6-4 on Friday in The Ascension Project $25,000 Women's Challenger in Redding, Calif.
   The 18-year-old Hibi, who won last year's Sacramento Challenger, wore kinesiotape crisscrossing both knees in her second-round victory over Felicity Maltby of Sunnyvale in the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday.
   The hard-hitting Brady, who played No. 2 singles as a freshman on UCLA's national championship team in the spring, will meet third-seeded Zuzana Zlochova of Slovakia for the first time in today's second semifinal.
   Zlochova (pronounced ZLOCK-ova) advanced when injury-prone Kristie Ahn withdrew with a shoulder problem. Ahn reached the Redding semifinals in 2012 as a qualifier and played No. 2 singles as a junior on Stanford's national championship team in 2013.
   Hibi, a native of Japan who lives in Irvine, signed a letter of intent last November to attend nearby UCLA but changed her mind and turned pro. The Bruins are coached by Stella Sampras Webster, Pete Sampras' older sister.   
   In today's first semifinal, Alexandra Stevenson will face Lauren Embree in a matchup of unseeded Southern California residents.
   Stevenson, the second-oldest player in the draw at 33, edged Michaela Gordon, the youngest at 15 years and 1 month, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) in 100-degree (37.8 Celsius) heat. Gordon lives in Saratoga, near San Jose, and Stevenson in the San Diego area.
   Fifteen years ago, Stevenson became the first female qualifier to reach the Wimbledon semifinals. The 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) daughter of basketball legend Julius Erving, she climbed to a career-high No. 18 in 2002 before shoulder problems derailed her career. Stevenson is now ranked No. 515 and Embree No. 527.
   Embree, who helped Florida win NCAA titles in 2011 and 2012, eliminated a seed for the second straight day. The 23-year-old Santa Monica resident took out No. 7 Klaartje Liebens of Belgium, 7-6 (4), 7-5 after beating No. 2 Tara Moore of Great Britain.
   Embree is 1-0 against Stevenson, winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 on clay in the first round of the $25,000 Innisbrook (Fla.) Challenger in 2012.
   In today's doubles final, Alexandra and Kat Facey, 21-year-old fraternal twins from Cameron Park in the Sacramento region, will play Brady and Embree. Both teams are unseeded.  
THE ASCENSION PROJECT $25,000 WOMEN'S CHALLENGER
At Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness
In Redding, Calif.
Singles quarterfinals
   Lauren Embree, United States, def. Klaartje Liebens (3), Belgium, 7-6 (4), 7-5.
   Jennifer Brady, United States, def. Mayo Hibi (1), Japan, 7-5, 6-4.
   Zuzana Zlochova (3), Slovakia, def. Kristie Ahn, United States, walkover.
   Alexandra Stevenson, United States, def. Michaela Gordon, Saratoga, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3).
Doubles semifinals
   Jennifer Brady and Lauren Embree, United States, def. Sabastiani Leon, Mexico, and Mara Schmidt, United States, 6-1, 6-1.
   Alexandra Facey and Kat Facey, Cameron Park, def. Leila Hodzic and Anne-Liz Jeukeng, United States, 6-4, 6-3.
Today's schedule
(Starting at noon)
Court 2
   Alexandra Stevenson, United States, vs. Lauren Embree, United States.
   Zuzana Zlochova (3), Slovakia, vs. Jennifer Brady, United States.
   Jennifer Brady and Lauren Embree, United States, vs. Alexandra Facey and Kat Facey, Cameron Park.

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