Monday, May 8, 2017

Xiao bounces back from injury for RDO boys 18 title

Andre Xiao, left, defeated Stevie Gould 7-5, 6-4 to win the boys 18
title in the Rio del Oro Junior Championships. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- For Vivian Ovrootsky and Andre Xiao, the Rio del Oro 18s, 16s & 14s Junior Championships was a tournament of firsts.
   Playing her first tournament in the 18s, the 12-year-old Ovrootsky swept the singles and doubles titles at the Rio del Oro Racquet Club. The San Jose resident, ranked second nationally in the 12s, beat 17-year-old Shirley Hall of Chico in Saturday's singles final.
   Xiao, playing his first tournament after a nine-month injury layoff, defeated Stevie Gould 7-5, 6-4 on Sunday for the boys 18 championship.
   "I'm really happy to be back and just playing in general," said the fourth-seeded Xiao, 17, of Saratoga. "It was a great tournament for me."
   It was a great tournament for Priya Nelson, too. The 11-year-old Sacramentan, who won the Easter Bowl girls 12 title in March, beat top-seeded Gabriela Tevez of San Jose 7-6 (1), 6-2 for the 16s crown.
   The Nelson family almost swept the 16s singles titles. Fifteen-year-old Ravi Nelson, seeded fifth, lost to top-seeded Milad Shafaie of San Carlos 6-2, 6-4 in the boys final.
   Priya Nelson is scheduled to leave Wednesday for a national training camp at the USTA's new 64-acre, 100-court headquarters in Orlando, Fla. It will be the first of undoubtedly many trips to Florida for Nelson.
Xaio, who was named after Andre Agassi, played in his
first tournament after a nine-month injury layoff.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Xiao developed tendinitis in his right (playing) wrist last summer, took six months and began training in February.
   "I played a lot during the summer," Xiao explained. "I played four big national tournaments in two months. At the end, (the wrist) was really sore. I just needed a few months. In February, it was still bothering me a little bit, but it's been getting better since then."
   Xiao, a senior at Saratoga High School, will play for Middlebury College in Vermont in the fall. The Panthers, ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division III, are coached by former longtime UC Santa Cruz coach Bob Hansen.
   Sunday's final had an old-school feel, as both players have been heavily influenced by their fathers.
   Peter Xiao, an information technology consultant, named his son after Andre Agassi.
   "My dad was really into tennis," said Xiao, who was turning 7 when Agassi retired after the 2006 U.S. Open. "He actually taught himself tennis and watched a lot of tennis. I'm actually pretty happy to be named after Andre Agassi, one of the all-time greats."
   Gould, a 16-year-old left-hander from Corte Madera, has a beautiful one-handed backhand and can finish points with a stylish volley. He learned the game from his father, Steve Gould, a bartender and the general manager at Vasco, an Italian restaurant in Mill Valley, and a 4.5 player.
Gould rips the one-handed backhand he learned
from his father. Photo by Paul Bauman
   "I always watched my dad playing, and he had a one-hander," said the outgoing, exuberant Stevie, who's not related to legendary Stanford men's coach Dick Gould. "I went with it and kept going with it. He started playing really late, when he was 35. I hit with him for the first four years of my tennis career because it was fun, and he taught me to love the game."
   In the final, Xiao served for the first set at 5-4 but was broken. Xiao broke back for 6-5 when Gould netted a backhand and held with a service winner for the set.
   Xiao recorded the only break of the second set to lead 2-1 and barely held on from there. Gould saved two break points to hold for 3-4 and escaped two match points serving at 3-5.
   After Gould held serve, Xiao served for the match at 5-4 but fell behind 15-40 when he netted a forehand. He got back to deuce with a service winner and deep forehand winner.
   Then came a stroke of luck for Xiao. He hit a backhand net-cord winner down the line with Gould at the net to earn a third match point. This time, Xiao converted with another service winner.
   "At 15-40, I still thought I could win this game," Xiao asserted. "I had confidence in my serve, so I was like, All right, go for your serve and play the points, and you have a good chance to come back."
   Gould rued "a couple sloppy forehand errors" when he was broken early in the second set.
   "That kind of was what changed the match today, was a couple service games of mine where I let him back in with forehand errors," Gould said. "That's my best shot, so when I'm making errors like that, it's definitely downhill from there."
RIO DEL ORO 18s, 16s & 14s JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Rio del Oro Racquet Club
In Sacramento, Calif.
Finals
Boys singles
18-and-under
   Andre Xiao (4), Saratoga, def. Stevie Gould (3), Corte Madera, 7-5, 6-4.
16-and-under
   Milad Shafaie (1), San Carlos, def. Ravi Nelson (5), Sacramento, 6-2, 6-4.
14-and-under
   Ryan Torres (1), Pleasanton, def. Lucca Liu, Palo Alto, 6-0, 7-5.
Boys doubles 
18-and-under
   Nitzan Ricklis, Sunnyvale, and Issa Yoshida (2), Campbell, def. Thomas Reznik, Belmont, and Ethan Smith, San Mateo, 8-4.
16-and-under
   Sheldon On and Justin Pau (1), San Francisco, def. Manroop Saini, San Jose, and Milad Shafaie (2), San Carlos, 8-6.
14-and-under
   Jason Lew, Pleasant Hill, and Ryan Torres (1), Pleasanton, def. Derek Babb and Dean Babb (4), Roseville, 8-1.
Girls singles
18-and-under
   Vivian Ovrootsky, San Jose, def. Shirley Hall (5), Chico, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
16-and-under
   Priya Nelson, Sacramento, def. Gabriela Tevez (1), San Jose, 7-6 (1), 6-2.
14-and-under
   Madison Weekley (5), Alamo, def. Isabel Santiago (5), Hayward, 6-0, 6-1.
Girls doubles
18-and-under
   Vivian Ovrootsky, San Jose, and Monica Stratakos (2), Saratoga, def. Stephanie Ren, Saratoga, and Meichen Zhu, San Ramon, 8-6.
16-and-under
   Elena Lottich, Castro Valley, and Trinity Zhang, Alameda, def. Annissa Mu, Saratoga, and Priya Nelson, Sacramento, 8-4.
14-and-under
   Georgia Beard, Santa Rosa, and Madison Weekley (2), Alamo, def. Sophie Evans, Pleasanton, and Isabel Santiago (1), Hayward, 8-6.

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