Monday, February 20, 2017

Bellis, 17, claims another top-50 victim

CiCi Bellis, shown last July, upset 17th-seeded Yulia Putintseva in the first round
in Dubai. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Despite a late start this season, 17-year-old CiCi Bellis upset another top-50 player today.
   Bellis, a product of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, surprised 17th-seeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-1, 7-5 in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
   Bellis, the youngest player in the top 100 at No. 70, trailed 5-1 in the second set of the Premier Level tournament on the elite WTA Tour.
   "I think some players, when they are up by a lot like that, they relax a little bit," Bellis told reporters, "so I think that's a good time that you can take advantage of, like, a little bit of a level drop from them."
   Bellis, now based in Orlando, Fla., missed January with strained hamstring and gluteus muscles. She returned to the circuit last week in Doha, losing in the second round of qualifying.
   Putintseva, the runner-up in St. Petersburg three weeks ago, is ranked No. 27. The 5-foot-4 (1.63-meter) Moscow native is the sixth top-50 player Bellis has beaten. Three of them -- Dominika Cibulkova, Shelby Rogers and Zhang Shuai -- have reached the quarterfinals or better in a Grand Slam tournament. Cibulkova and Zhang also were ranked in the top 30 at No. 13 and No. 23, respectively.
   Bellis is scheduled to play Germany's Laura Siegemund, ranked No. 41, for the first time on Tuesday at midnight (California time). Siegemund, who will turn 29 on March 4, edged qualifier Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (3) in 2 hours, 57 minutes on Sunday.
   College -- Virginia finally lost a point in the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships.
   No matter. The top-ranked Cavaliers, with junior Collin Altamirano of Sacramento playing No. 1 singles, defeated third-ranked Ohio State 4-1 at home in Charlottesville, Va., for their sixth title in the tournament.
   Virginia (9-0), which appears headed to its third consecutive NCAA title in May, had won its first three dual matches in the National Indoors 4-0.
   The unranked Altamirano lost to second-ranked Mikael Torpegaard, a junior from Denmark, 6-3, 7-6 (3). Torpegaard, who won the $50,000 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger on his home courts in September, is ranked No. 342 in the world. Altamirano, the runner-up in last month's $25,000 Long Beach Futures, is No. 813.
   Today's dual match was closer than the score indicated. Ohio State (12-1) was on the verge of closing out matches and No. 3 and No. 5 singles when Virginia's J.C. Aragone edged Herkko Pollanen 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) at No. 4 to clinch the overall victory.

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