Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Smoke suspends play in 100K Fairfield Challenger

Smoke from a nearby wildfire shrouds the hills as players leave Solano Com-
munity College after play was canceled for the day. Photo by Paul Bauman
   FAIRFIELD, Calif. -- For the first time in his 28-year career, USTA on-site supervisor Keith Crossland suspended play because of poor air quality.
   Three matches, one in singles and two in doubles, were completed this morning in the $100,000 Northbay Healthcare Men's Pro Championships before smoke from a nearby wildfire shrouded Solano Community College, the tournament site.
   No. 8 seed Nikola Milojevic, 22, of Serbia beat 19-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals.
   By noon, the air quality dropped from "moderate" to "unhealthy" on airnow.gov, the website used by Crossland, and stayed there all afternoon. Crossland finally canceled play for the day at 3:30 p.m.
   By then, the wildfire had approached within two miles of Solano Community College and was headed that way, co-tournament director Phil Cello said, as high winds returned to Northern California.
James Harden lookalike Evan King celebrates
during a pickup basketball game with other
tennis players in the Solano Community
College gym while tournament play was
suspended because of poor air quality.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   "The forecast is for more north wind peaking at 6 p.m.," Cello said. "That's the big variable. If the wind isn't as bad, they probably can stop it, and everybody's happy. If not, it could come through here."
   Cello and his wife evacuated from neighboring Green Valley early Tuesday morning and were still awaiting word about their house.
   Officials said 22 wildfires across California have claimed 21 lives, scorched 170,000 acres and destroyed up to 3,500 homes and businesses, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
   Tournament play is scheduled to resume on Thursday at 10 a.m. (top seed Ernesto Escobedo vs. former Stanford star Bradley Klahn) at Solano but could move to the Marya Welch Tennis Center at the University of California, Davis, the Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center at the University of the Pacific in Stockton or the Taube Tennis Center at Stanford University for one or more days, Crossland said.
   "All indications are UC Davis can make room for us," Crossland said. "That would be the most ideal spot. It's the closest (33 miles or 53 kilometers away). Players don't have to change their housing. We can pretty much commute back and forth."
   Crossland said he will check the air quality at Solano on Thursday morning and decide between 9:30 and 10 a.m. whether the matches will stay there or move.
   Crossland has dealt with fires before.
   "There was a tournament in Calabasas (in the Los Angeles area) three or four years ago," he recalled. "It was pretty smoky (because of wildfires), and there were big globs of ash around, but we continued to play. ...
   "I remember one situation in Waco (Texas) in the old days, the Satellite Tour days, where a house literally across the street from the courts burned. I think they stopped for a while because there were fire trucks around."
   Here are the Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule. The tournament is being streamed live.

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