Wednesday, October 5, 2016

McDonald scores the latest upset in 100K Stockton

Mackenzie McDonald, shown in Tiburon last week, upset
No. 2 seed Tim Smyczek today in the second round of the
$100,000 Stockton Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   STOCKTON, Calif. -- Barring injury, Mackenzie McDonald almost certainly is headed to the top 100 in the world and perhaps the top 50.
   The 21-year-old native of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area staged the latest upset in the $100,000 Stockton Challenger, beating No. 2 seed Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., 6-4, 6-4 in gusty wind today to reach the quarterfinals.
   McDonald, who turned pro in June after sweeping the NCAA singles and doubles titles as a UCLA junior, took his victory in stride.
   "I'm a pro now," McDonald, who played in his first professional tournament as a 14-year-old amateur in the Sacramento area, said at the new Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center at the University of the Pacific. "I'm supposed to win matches. That's my job."
   Later, No. 5 seed Denis Kudla and No. 6 Alessandro Giannessi narrowly avoided upsets.
   Kudla, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, saved two match points in a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 victory over wild card and fellow American Brian Baker that lasted 2 hours, 40 minutes.
   Baker, 31, has come back from -- brace yourself -- 11 operations (both hips, right elbow, back, sports hernia and four repairs of his right knee).
   Giannessi, an Italian who advanced to the second round of the recent U.S. Open as a qualifier, outlasted Daniel Nguyen of Oxnard in Southern California 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in 2 hours, 54 minutes.
   In Friday's quarterfinals in the bottom half of the draw, McDonald will face Kudla, and Giannessi will take on No. 3 seed Frances Tiafoe, a 7-6 (6), 6-3 winner over qualifier Dennis Nevolo in an all-American matchup.
   No seeds remain in the top half, with the second round scheduled for Thursday. Still alive, however, are last week's finalists in the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger. Champion Darian King of Barbados and 18-year-old Michael Mmoh of Bradenton, Fla., could meet in the quarters.
Tim Smyczek, playing in Tiburon last week, fell
to 0-2 against Mackenzie McDonald with today's
loss. Photo by Paul Bauman
   McDonald, ranked No. 371 after reaching the Tiburon semifinals for the second consecutive year, improved to 2-0 against the 28-year-old Smyczek, who has dropped from a career-high No. 68 in April last year to No. 134.
   Both players are undersized, McDonald at 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and only 145 pounds (66 kilograms) and Smyczek at 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters) and 160 pounds (72 kilograms).
  Smyczek bolted to a 4-1 lead (one service break) in the first set, but McDonald reeled off the next five games and earned the only break of the second set to lead 3-2.
   "I came out and was playing pretty well," said Smyczek, who will turn 29 in December. "Mackie definitely started a little slow. I just benefited from him making a few errors, but he really picked it up.
   "I was struggling with my serve a little bit all day," added Smyczek, who put in only 45 percent of his first serves, "and he's the type of player that if you give him a chance to start on offense, he's going to make it tough on you. I just didn't do a good enough job of making first serves and keeping him from taking the first strike. It was a long day for me in that sense."
   In the first round of doubles, wild cards Sem Verbeek and Jose Chamba Gomez thrilled the local fans by stunning top-seeded Andres Molteni of Argentina and Hans Podlipnik-Castillo of Chile 7-6 (4), 2-6 [10-5].
   Verbeek, from the Netherlands, and Chamba Gomez, from Ecuador, were Pacific teammates last season. Verbeek completed his eligibility in May; Chamba Gomez is a junior.
   Here are:
   --The Stockton singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule.
   --The Redding women's singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule. The $25,000 tournament is being held at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.  

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