Monday, December 8, 2014

Bellis, Riffice win odd Orange Bowl openers

   CiCi Bellis and Sam Riffice, Northern California 15-year-olds who are seeded second in their age groups, won their Orange Bowl openers on clay in Plantation, Fla., today in unusual fashion.
   Bellis, from Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, demolished wild card Alisa Rudenko of Russia 6-0, 6-0 in the girls 18s.
   Riffice, a product of Roseville in the Sacramento region who trains at the USTA center in Boca Raton, Fla., rallied past Jesus Suarez Rivas of Mexico 0-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the boys 16s.
   Riffice played one day after winning the title in the Eddie Herr International Championships on hard courts in Bradenton, Fla.
   The Orange Bowl is the most prestigious non-Grand Slam junior tournament in the world. The Junior Orange Bowl, for boys and girls 14s and 12s, is scheduled for Dec. 17-23 at various sites in the Miami area.
   Also advancing in the girls 18s at the Orange Bowl was Michaela Gordon of Saratoga in the Bay Area. Gordon, another 15-year-old, topped Destanee Aiava of Australia 6-1, 7-5 to set up a match against fourth-seeded Anna Kalinskaya of Russia.
   Upset in the girls 18s were top-seeded Shilin Xu, the No. 1 junior in the world, of China and third-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.
   The 16-year-old Xu, who prefers hard courts, lost to 86th-ranked Katherine Sebov, a 15-year-old Canadian, 6-4, 6-2. Sebov defeated Bellis in the first round last year.
   Vondrousova fell to Katie Swan of Great Britain 6-4, 2-6, 6-1. 
   With Xu's loss, world No. 2 Bellis could regain the top spot to end the year. Bellis made international headlines in August by stunning Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of women's singles at the U.S. Open.
   Second-seeded Stefan Kozlov, playing near his home in Pembroke Pines, Fla., defeated Chien Hsun Lo of Taiwan 6-1, 6-4 in a boys 18 opener.
   Kozlov, 16, turned pro two years ago. He broke through at the $100,000 Sacramento Challenger in October, reaching the final as a wild card before losing to U.S. Davis Cup veteran Sam Querrey.
   Kozlov, the 464th-ranked man in the world, is the youngest player in the top 500.
   Lucky loser Paul Barretto of Bel Tiburon in the Bay Area lost to Chase Wood of Heath, Texas, 7-5, 6-4 in the boys 16s. However, Barretto and his brother Dominic knocked off seventh-seeded Jorge Ortegon of Mexico and Suarez Rivas 6-2, 6-4 in the first round of doubles.
   Second-seeded Vasil Kirkov of Tampa, Fla., and Riffice, coming off the boys 16 doubles title in the Eddie Herr, overwhelmed Canadians Jack Davis and Kiran Phaterpekar 6-0, 6-1 in the same age division.
   Past Orange Bowl champions on clay include Chris Evert (1969-70), Bjorn Borg (1972), John McEnroe (1976), Ivan Lendl (1977), Gabriela Sabatini (1984), Mary Joe Fernandez (1985), Jim Courier (1987) and Anna Kournikova (1995).
   Former winners on hard courts include Roger Federer (1998), Elena Dementieva (1998), Andy Roddick (1999), Vera Zvonareva (2000-01), Marcos Baghdatis (2003), Nicole Vaidisova (2003) and Caroline Wozniacki (2005).

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