Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Embree pulls off incredible comeback in Redding

Lauren Embree, the fourth seed and 2014 runner-up in Red-
ding, beat 17-year-old Nicole Frenkel after trailing by a set
and 1-5. Photo by Paul Bauman
   REDDING, Calif. -- It's hard to say what was more shocking today, Lauren Embree's comeback or the mercifully cool weather.
   Embree, last year's singles runner-up and a two-time defending doubles champion, wore down Nicole Frenkel, a 17-year-old left-hander with a lethal forehand and deft volley, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (3), 6-1 in the first round of The Ascension Project Women's $25,000 Challenger.
   Frenkel served for the match at 5-1 in the second set at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness. Embree, a 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) counterpuncher, then became more aggressive and broke Frenkel at love.
   "At that point, I knew I had nothing to lose," the fourth-seeded Embree said. "I just wanted to make her close out the match and make it as tough on her as possible."
   Until then, Embree spent much of the match watching passing shots whiz by her. After that, she spent much of it watching Frenkel, playing with tendinitis in her left shoulder, commit unforced errors.
   Frenkel, from Winchester, Mass., politely declined an interview request as she hurriedly left the site.  
   A blatantly bad line call almost derailed Embree's comeback. With Embree serving at 4-5, 30-15 in the second set, Frenkel slugged a ball that landed clearly long. Embree did not play it, but the chair umpire called it good.
   "Are you serious?" Embree, a 24-year-old former University of Florida All-American living in Santa Monica, said incredulously. "How long does it have to be for you to call it out?"
   Embree, however, quickly regained her composure and won the next two points to hold serve.
   "I freaked out a little bit, but I tried not to let it get to me," she said. "I couldn't do anything about it at that point, so I just tried to get the next point."
Frenkel overcame two set points against
her to win the first set. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   Frenkel pulled off an impressive comeback of her own to steal the first set. Embree had two set points at 6-4, but Frenkel reeled off the next four points for the set.
   "I was just rushing and not really thinking about what I wanted to do, and it got away from me," Embree said.
   Even with a one-sided third set, the late-afternoon match lasted 3 hours, 10 minutes. Fortunately for the players, the temperature reached only 69 degrees (20.6 Celsius). The average for Sept. 15 in this city of 92,000 people is 90 degrees (32.2 Celsius).
   "I like this weather. It's a good change of (pace) for me," Embree, who grew up in Florida's heat and humidity, said with a laugh.
   The weather is expected to get even stranger on Wednesday. Rain is forecast, but Sun Oaks has indoor courts.
   Embree, ranked No. 247, will meet No. 583 Anna Zaja of Germany on Thursday. Zaja, 24, defeated qualifier Klara Fabikova, a Cal senior from the Czech Republic, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
   Fabikova was one of three Cal All-American qualifiers in action.
   Maegan Manasse, a junior from Redondo Beach, routed qualifier Ashley Kratzer, a 16-year-old left-hander from Newport Beach, 6-3, 6-1. Manasse then pulled out of her second-round match on Thursday against fifth-seeded Sherazad Reix of France.
   The reason for Manasse's withdrawal was not disclosed. She is scheduled to play singles and doubles in the inaugural Oracle/ITA Masters, a college tournament Friday through Sunday in Malibu.
   Denise Starr, a junior from Brooklyn, lost to Piia Suomalainen, 31, of Finland 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
   Meanwhile, Lauren Albanese defeated fellow American Robin Anderson 7-5, 6-3. Anderson, the 2013 singles runner-up to Adriana Perez of Venezuela and doubles champion with Embree, graduated from UCLA this year.
   Petra Rampre, 35, of Slovenia outlasted UCLA-bound Ena Shibahara, 17, of Rancho Palos Verdes 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Rampre wears a bandana because she lost all the hair on her body eight years ago. She has a rare disorder called alopecia universalis.
   In doubles, Anderson and Vania King crushed fourth-seeded Kaitlyn Christian and Reix 6-1, 6-0. King, a two-time Grand Slam champion in women's doubles, is playing in her fifth tournament after missing one year with a herniated disc in her neck.
   Christian won the 2013 NCAA doubles title as a USC junior with Sabrina Santamaria. 
At Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness in Redding, Calif.
First-round singles
   Anna Zaja, Germany, def. Klara Fabikova, Czech Republic,4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
   Caitlin Whoriskey (6), United States, def. Ema Burgic Bucko, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
   Petra Rampre, Slovenia, def. Ena Shibahara, United States, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.  
   Julia Jones, United States, def. Lisa Whybourn, Great Britain, 6-3, 6-1.
   Sherazad Reix (5), France, def. Laura Schaeder, Germany, 6-4, 6-3.
   Maegan Manasse, United States, def. Ashley Kratzer, United States, 6-3, 6-1.
   Piia Suomalainen, Finland, def. Denise Starr, United States, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
   Lauren Albanese, United States, def. Robin Anderson, United States, 7-5, 6-3.
   Lauren Embree (4), United States, def. Nicole Frenkel, United States, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (3), 6-1.
First-round doubles
   Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey (1), United States, def. Lauren Albanese and Sophie Chang, United States, 6-4, 7-5.
   Varatchaya Wongteanchai, Thailand, and Michelle Sammons (2), South Africa, def. Tory Parravi and Karina Kristina Vyrlan, United States, 6-4, 1-6 [10-7]..
   Robin Anderson and Vania King, United States, def. Kaitlyn Christian, United States, and Sherazad Reix (4), France, 6-1, 6-0.
   Darya Possokhova and Seriana Saltzen, United States, def. Hanna Chang and Carolyn Xie, United States, walkover.
Wednesday's schedule
Court 2
(Starting at 10 a.m.)
   Jovana Jaksic (3), Serbia, vs. Chiara Scholl, United States.
(Not before 11 a.m.)
   Jennifer Brady (1), United States, vs. Vania King, United States.
(Not before 12:30 p.m.)
   Varatchaya Wongteanchai, Thailand, vs. Ashley Weinhold, United States.
  (Not before 2 p.m.)
   Jennifer Brady and Caroline Doyle, United States, vs. Brynn Boren and Nadja Gilchrist, United States.
Court 1
(Starting at 10 a.m.)
   Paula Cristina Goncalves, Brazil, vs. Megan McCray, United States.
(Not before 11 a.m.)
   Nadja Gilchrist, United States, vs. Sophie Chang, United States.
(Not before 12:30 p.m.)
   Ema Burgic Bucko, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Lauren Embree, United States, vs. Paula Cristina Goncalves, Brazil, and Jovana Jaksic (3), Serbia.
(Not before 2 p.m.)
   Laura Schaeder and Anna Zaja, Germany, vs. Lorraine Guillermo and Julia Jones, United States.
Court 3
(Starting at 10 a.m.)
   Amy Zhu, United States, vs. Klaartje Liebens, Belgium.
(Not before 11 a.m.)
   Heidi El Tabakh (8), Canada, vs. Alexandra Stevenson, United States.
(Not before 12:30 p.m.)
   Alexandra Facey and Kat Facey, United States, vs. Megan McCray and Morgan McCray, United States.

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