Saturday, July 23, 2016

Solovyeva returns to 50K Gold River semis

Valeria Solovyeva, playing Monday in the final round of
qualifying, beat third-seeded An-Sophie Mestach to reach
the semifinals of the Gold River Challenger.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Four years ago, Valeria Solovyeva reached the semifinals of the inaugural FSP Gold River Challenger at 19 years old.
   The Russian qualifier, playing in the $50,000 tournament for the first time since then, returned to the semis on Friday with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over third-seeded An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento, Calif., area.
   Solovyeva took last year off to earn a master's degree in sports and health science, graduating with honors. Mestach, the world's top junior in 2011, was the runner-up in last year's back-to-back Stockton and Sacramento Challengers.
   Solovyeva, ranked No. 287, will play 17-year-old American Sofia Kenin, a Moscow native living in Pembroke Pines, Fla., for the first time in tonight's second semifinal at about 7:30 (live streaming at usta.com).
   Kenin ended the run of lucky loser Caroline Romeo of France, prevailing 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. The 434th-ranked Romeo stunned top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck, last week's Stockton Challenger and a French Open quarterfinalist in 2015, in the first round.
   Romeo had lost in the final round of qualifying but advanced to the main draw when Melanie Oudin, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist in 2009, pulled out with an undisclosed illness.
   Kenin, won the USTA Girls 18 National Hardcourt Championships in San Diego last August to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open. She then lost to Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia in the opening round.
   In the first semifinal at about 5:30 p.m., second-seeded Grace Min of Boca Raton, Fla., will meet eighth-seeded Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan for the first time.
   Min trounced her doubles partner, ex-Stanford star Kristie Ahn, 6-1, 6-2. Sharipova beat Elizaveta Ianchuk of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4.
   Here are links to the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

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