Saturday, June 30, 2018

Players to watch at Wimbledon

   Wimbledon begins Monday at 4 a.m. PDT on ESPN and continues through July 15. Here are six men and six women to watch (seeding in parentheses):
ROGER FEDERER
Photo by Paul Bauman
MEN
   Roger Federer (1) -- Favored to win record-extending ninth Wimbledon title before turning 37 on Aug. 8. Northern California connection: Made NorCal debut in March, beating Jack Sock in exhibition before sellout crowd of 17,496 at SAP Arena in San Jose.
   Rafael Nadal (2) -- Won Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010 but hasn't survived fourth round there since 2011. NorCal connection: None.
   Marin Cilic (3) -- U.S. Open champion in 2014 has lost to Federer in two of past four Grand Slam finals, including 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 last year at Wimbledon while hobbled by foot blister. NorCal connection: None.
   Novak Djokovic (12) -- Three-time Wimbledon champion (2011, 2014, 2015) held match point in loss to Cilic in Queen's Club (London) final last Sunday as he rebounds from right elbow problems. NorCal connection: None.
   Milos Raonic (13) -- Runner-up to Andy Murray in 2016 lost to Federer 6-4, 7-6 (3) in Stuttgart final on grass two weeks ago, then withdrew from second-round match at Queen's Club with right pectoral strain. NorCal connection: Never lost a set in 13 career matches in SAP Open in San Jose, winning last three titles (2011-13) before tournament was discontinued.
   Borna Coric (17) -- Ended Federer's grass-court winning streak at 20 matches to win Halle (Germany) last Sunday, but Wimbledon is best-of-five sets. NorCal connection: None.
SIMONA HALEP
Photo by Paul Bauman
WOMEN
   Simona Halep (1) -- After winning first Grand Slam title in French Open, withdrew from Eastbourne this week with Achilles' injury. NorCal connection: Lost in first round of 2011 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in only San Francisco Bay Area appearance.
   Garbine Muguruza (3) -- Wimbledon defending champion was upset by Barbora Strycova in second round on grass in Birmingham last week. NorCal connection: Reached singles semifinals last year and quarterfinals in 2014 and won doubles title in 2014 with fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro in only two Stanford appearances.
   Sloane Stephens (4) -- After never playing in Grand Slam final, 25-year-old has reached two of last three, winning U.S. Open. NorCal connection: Grew up in Fresno. Lost in first round at Stanford in 2012 in only Bay Area appearance as pro.
   Petra Kvitova (8) -- Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014 won Birmingham last week, then withdrew from Eastbourne with hamstring injury. NorCal connection: Lost 6-2, 6-0 to local favorite CiCi Bellis, then 18, in Stanford quarterfinals last year in Bay Area debut.
   Venus Williams (9) -- Five-time Wimbledon champion (2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008) and four-time runner-up (2002, 2003, 2009, 2017) has lost in first round of last two Grand Slam tournaments. NorCal connection: Eight-time Bank of the West finalist, winning in 2000 and 2002 and losing in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2016. Made pro debut in tournament at 14 in 1994, when it was held indoors in Oakland.
   Serena Williams (25) -- New mother can tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. NorCal connection: Won Stanford in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Scheduled to play in inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, July 30-Aug. 5 at San Jose State.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Querrey could face Federer in Wimbledon quarters

Sam Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2017,
will face Jordan Thompson of Australia in the first
round of this year's tournament. Play begins Mon-
day. 2014 photo by Paul Bauman 
   Sam Querrey will be hard-pressed to match his semifinal showing last year at Wimbledon.
   And Sloane Stephens has a tough opener as she tries to reach the final for the third time in the last four Grand Slam tournaments.
   Querrey, seeded 11th, could face Kevin Anderson, seeded eighth, in the fourth round at Wimbledon for the second consecutive year and nine-time champion Roger Federer, seeded first, in the quarterfinals.
   Stephens, seeded and ranked fourth, will meet 54th-ranked Donna Vekic of Croatia in the first round. Vekic, 5-foot-10 (1.79 meters), won one of her two WTA titles on grass last year at Nottingham.
   The Wimbledon draw was held today, and play will begin on Monday. The women's and men's singles finals are scheduled for July 14-15.
   Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native now based in Las Vegas, is 9-8 against Anderson, 32, and 0-3 against Federer, 36.
   Querrey won the first meeting against Anderson 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the opening round of the 2007 Sacramento Challenger and has lost all eight sets against Federer.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey defeated the 6-foot-8 (1.98-meter) Anderson 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (11), 6-3 in 3 hours, 7 minutes last year at Wimbledon as each player slugged 31 aces. Anderson, however, has won all three encounters since then, including a four-set battle in the quarterfinals of last year's U.S. Open en route to the final.
   Querrey, ranked No. 13, will open against No. 99 Jordan Thompson, a 24-year-old Australian, at Wimbledon. In their only previous meeting, Querrey triumphed 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3 on grass in the second round at Queen's Club in London last year.
   Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product now living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is 1-0 against Vekic with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory on clay in the first round at Strasbourg in 2016.
   Stephens could play No. 7 seed Karolina Pliskova or No. 9 Venus Williams in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki or No. 25 Serena Williams in the semis.
   Stephens reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals five years ago for her best performance at the All England Club. She launched her comeback from foot surgery last year at Wimbledon, losing in the first round to compatriot Alison Riske, won the U.S. Open two months later and lost to Simona Halep in the recent French Open after leading by a set and a service break.
   CiCi Bellis, a 19-year-old San Francisco native who was named last year's WTA Newcomer of the Year, is out indefinitely with an arm injury. She reached the Wimbledon doubles quarterfinals last year with Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. Vondrousova turned 19 on Thursday.
   In other Wimbledon men's openers, San Francisco Bay Area product Mackenzie McDonald will face Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania in a matchup of diminutive players, and qualifier Bradley Klahn (Stanford, 2009-12) will meet Yuichi Sugita of Japan.
   Berankis and Sugita are both 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters) with 2014 victories in their only previous matches against their first-round opponents.
   The winner of the McDonald-Berankis match could play No. 28 seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia in the second round and No. 3 Marin Cilic, last year's runner-up to Federer, in the third round. The Klahn-Sugita survivor likely will take on No. 21 seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain in the second round.
   McDonald, 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms), gained direct entry into a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. The 23-year-old former UCLA standout reached his first ATP quarterfinal two weeks ago on grass at s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, and advanced to the second round of the Australian Open as a qualifier in January, losing to third-ranked Grigor Dimitrov 8-6 in the fifth set.
   Klahn, a 27-year-old left-hander from Poway in the San Diego area, is rebounding from his second operation for a herniated disc in his back. Ranked a career-high No. 63 in March 2014, he dropped out of the rankings in February 2016 but has fought back to No. 170.
   Sugita, ranked No. 45 at age 29, lists grass as his favorite surface and has impressive results on it. Last year in Antalya, Turkey, he joined Kei Nishikori as the only Japanese players to win an ATP title since Shuzo Matsuoka in 1992. Sugita also reached the quarterfinals in Halle, Germany, last week, upending third-ranked Dominic Thiem in the second round. Thiem was coming off a runner-up finish to Rafael Nadal in the French Open

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Klahn advances to Wimbledon main draw; Gibbs falls

Bradley Klahn, shown in the $150,000 Newport Beach (Calif.) Challenger
in January, beat Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) today in the final
round of Wimbledon qualifying. Photo courtesy of JFS Communications 
   Bradley Klahn, continuing his comeback from a second back operation, will play in the main draw at Wimbledon for the first time in four years.
   But another ex-Stanford player, Nicole Gibbs, fell short against an 18-year-old fellow Southern Californian.
   Klahn, a 27-year-old left-hander from Poway in the San Diego region, defeated Simone Bolelli, 32, of Italy 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the final round of qualifying today at Roehampton in the London area.
   The 6-foot (1.83-meter) Klahn hammered 18 aces, committed only two double faults and won 77 percent of the points on his first serve (54 of 70) against Bolelli, who won the 2015 Australian Open doubles title with compatriot Fabio Fognini.
   Klahn's first-round opponent will be determined Friday, when the men's and women's draws are conducted. Main-draw play will begin Monday and end on July 15.
   In his only main-draw match at Wimbledon, Klahn lost to unseeded Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native, in four sets in 2014. Klahn underwent his second operation for a herniated disc in February 2015 and missed 21 months. Ranked a career-high No. 63 in March 2014, he dropped out of the rankings in February 2016 but has fought back to No. 170.
   The fifth-seeded Gibbs, 25, lost to Claire Liu 6-4, 6-3. Last year, Liu became the first American girl to win the Wimbledon junior singles title since Chanda Rubin in 1992.
   Gibbs, ranked No. 111, fell to 1-1 against Liu, ranked No. 238. In their first encounter, Gibbs prevailed 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5) in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last summer.
   Gibbs was seeking her third main-draw berth at Wimbledon. She lost in the opening round in 2015 and 2016.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Stephens seeded fourth, Querrey 11th at Wimbledon

Sloane Stephens began her comeback from foot surgery at Wim-
bledon last year. File photo by Paul Bauman
   For Sloane Stephens and Sam Querrey, Wimbledon marked milestones last year.
   In her first tournament after undergoing foot surgery in January 2017, Stephens lost in the first round to fellow American Alison Riske. Two months later, Stephens won the U.S. Open for her first Grand Slam title.
   Stephens reached her second major final this month, losing to Simona Halep in the French Open on June 9 after leading by a set and a service break.
   Querrey, meanwhile, advanced to the 2017 Wimbledon semifinals, which remains his best showing in a major tournament.
   Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product, will return to Wimbledon as the fourth seed and Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, as the 11th seed.
   The seedings for the tournament, Monday through July 15, were announced today, and the draw will be held Friday.
   Stephens heads five seeded American women. The others are No. 9 Venus Williams, No. 10 Madison Keys, No. 16 CoCo Vandeweghe and No. 25 Serena Williams. The only other seeded U.S. men are No. 9 John Isner and No. 19 Jack Sock.
   Nine of the 32 women's seeds have entered the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, July 30-Aug. 5 at San Jose State. Keys tops the list (see below).
   Here are all the women's and men's seeds:
Women
   1. Simona Halep, Romania
   2. Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark
   3. Garbine Muguruza, Spain
   4. Sloane Stephens, United States
   5. Elina Svitolina, Ukraine
   6. Caroline Garcia, France
   7. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic
   8. Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic
   9. Venus Williams, United States
   10. Madison Keys, United States (Mubadala)
   11. Angelique Kerber, Germany
   12. Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia
   13. Julia Goerges, Germany
   14. Daria Kasatkina, Russia
   15. Elise Mertens, Belgium (Mubadala)
   16. CoCo Vandeweghe, United States (Mubadala)
   17. Ashleigh Barty, Australia
   18. Naomi Osaka, Japan
   19. Magdalena Rybarikova, Slovakia
   20. Kiki Bertens, Netherlands
   21. Anastasija Sevastova, Latvia
   22. Johanna Konta, Great Britain (Mubadala)
   23. Barbora Strycova, Czech Republic
   24. Maria Sharapova, Russia (Mubadala)
   25. Serena Williams, United States (Mubadala)
   26. Daria Gavrilova, Australia
   27. Carla Suarez Navarro, Spain
   28. Anett Kontaveit, Estonia
   29. Mihaela Buzarnescu, Romania (Mubadala)
   30. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia (Mubadala)
   31. Zhang Shuai, China (Mubadala)
   32. Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland

Men
   1. Roger Federer, Switzerland
   2. Rafael Nadal, Spain
   3. Marin Cilic, Croatia
   4. Alexander Zverev, Germany
   5. Juan Martin Del Potro, Argentina
   6. Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria
   7. Dominic Thiem, Austria
   8. Kevin Anderson, South Africa
   9. John Isner, United States
   10. David Goffin, Belgium
   11. Sam Querrey, United States
   12. Novak Djokovic, Serbia
   13. Milos Raonic, Canada
   14.  Roberto Bautista Agut, Spain
   15. Diego Schwartzman, Argentina
   16. Nick Kyrgios, Australia
   17. Borna Coric, Croatia
   18. Lucas Pouille, France
   19. Jack Sock, United States
   20. Fabio Fognini, Italy
   21. Pablo Carreno Busta, Spain
   22. Kyle Edmund, Great Britain
   23. Adrian Mannarino, France
   24. Richard Gasquet, France
   25. Kei Nishikori, Japan
   26. Chung Hyeon, South Korea
   27. Philipp Kohlschreiber, Germany
   28. Denis Shapovalov, Canada
   29. Damir Dzumhur, Bosnia and Herzogovina
   30. Filip Krajinovic, Serbia
   31. Marco Cecchinato, Italy
   32. Fernando Verdasco, Spain

Kostyuk, 15, tops Ahn in Wimbledon qualies marathon

Kristie Ahn (Stanford 2011, 14) lost to Marta Kostyuk, 15,
of Ukraine 6-7 (1), 6-3, 9-7 today in the second round of
Wimbledon qualifying. 2017 photo by Rob Vomund 
   Marta Kostyuk not only is a talented tennis player, she's a pretty good gymnast.
   The Ukrainian sensation, who will turn 16 on Thursday, celebrated her 6-7 (1), 6-3, 9-7 victory over Kristie Ahn (Stanford, 2011-14) in the second round of Wimbledon qualifying today with a backflip.
   Kostyuk, seeded 23rd, pounded 19 aces and committed 13 double faults in the 2-hour, 41-minute match. The 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) Ahn, who served for the match twice, had one ace and five double faults.
   Kostyuk reached the third round of the Australian Open as a qualifier in January in her Grand Slam women's debut. She became the youngest woman to win a match in Melbourne since Martina Hingis in 1996 and the youngest to advance to the third round of a major since Mirjana Lucic Baroni reached the same stage in the 1997 U.S. Open.
   Fifth-seeded Nicole Gibbs, who played on Stanford's 2013 NCAA championship team with Ahn, advanced to the final round of Wimbledon qualifying with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Martina Trevisan of Italy. Gibbs, ranked No. 111, won 72 percent of the points on her second serve (13 of 18) and did not face a break point.
   Gibbs, 25, is scheduled to face fellow Southern Californian Claire Liu, 18, on Thursday. Liu, who last year became the first American girl to win the Wimbledon junior singles title since Chanda Rubin in 1992, eliminated Lizette Cabrera of Australia 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
   Gibbs edged Liu 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5) in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last summer in their only meeting.
   Also Thursday, 27-year-old left-hander Bradley Klahn (Stanford, 2009-12) is scheduled to play Simone Bolelli, 32, of Italy for the first time in the final round of men's qualifying. Both players had today off. Bolelli won the 2015 Australian Open doubles title with compatriot Fabio Fognini.
   Gibbs seeks her third main-draw berth at Wimbledon and Klahn his second. Neither has won a main-draw match at the All England Club.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Gibbs beats teen with disability in Wimbledon qualies

Nicole Gibs (Stanford, 2011-13) beat 17-year-old Francesca Jones of Great Britain
6-4, 6-2 in the first round of Wimbledon qualifying. 2016 photo by Mal Taam
   Fifth-seeded Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) beat Francesca Jones, a 17-year-old wild card from Great Britain, 6-4, 6-2 today in the first round of Wimbledon qualifying.
   Jones, ranked No. 547 in the world, has just a thumb and three fingers on each hand and seven toes. She was born with Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EED).
   Gibbs, a 25-year-old American ranked No. 111, is scheduled to play Italy's Martina Trevisan, a 24-year-old Italian ranked No. 169, for the first time on Wednesday. Trevisan defeated Maryna Zanevska, a Ukraine native who plays for Belgium, 6-2, 6-3.
   Kristie Ahn, who played with Gibbs on Stanford's 2013 NCAA championship team, outclassed Daniela Seguel of Chile 6-1, 6-3.
   Ahn, a 26-year-old American, will take on No. 23 seed Marta Kostyuk, a Ukrainian phenom who will turn 16 on Thursday, in their first meeting. Kostyuk reached the third round of the Australian Open in January as a qualifier.
   No. 20 seed Carol Zhao (Stanford 2011-14) of Canada lost to Deborah Chiesa of Italy 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.
   On the men's side, Bradley Klahn (Stanford, 2009-12) of Poway in the San Diego region advanced to the last round of qualifying with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Antoine Hoang of France.
   Klahn, a 27-year-old left-hander ranked No. 170, will face 32-year-old Simone Bolelli of Italy for the first time on Thursday. Bolelli, ranked No. 153, eliminated Viktor Galovic of Croatia 7-6 (4), 6-3.
   Dennis Novikov, a 24-year-old San Jose product now living in Los Angeles, fell to countryman Christian Harrison, the younger brother of No. 58 Ryan Harrison, 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-3.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Teen with disability to face Gibbs in Wimbledon qualies

   The most remarkable player at Wimbledon this year won't be Roger Federer or Serena Williams.
   Francesca Jones, who has just a thumb and three fingers on each hand and seven toes, is scheduled to face fifth-seeded Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) on Tuesday in the first round of qualifying.
   Jones, a 17-year-old wild card from Great Britain ranked No. 547 in the world, was born with Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EED). At 9, she moved without her family to a tennis academy in Barcelona and had lived there alone for the past 6 1/2 years, The Daily Telegraph of Great Britain reported in 2016.
   Jones has lost count of the number of operations she has endured but said she needed three on her wrist in the 12 months before the Daily Telegraph story because a bone started to tear through a tendon.
   Rather than feel sorry for herself, Jones remains upbeat.
   "My syndrome is something that has really helped me become the person I am today," Jones told The Daily Telegraph after losing in the second round of girls singles at Wimbledon in 2016. "To a certain extent, I am happy that I have it because it has made me who I am. Hopefully it is going to help me achieve a successful future."
   Although her level is higher, Jones is reminiscent of former NCAA Division I players Roger Crawford and Thomas Hunt, both of whom have Northern California connections. Crawford, who has a more severe case of EED, grew up in Danville in the San Francisco Bay Area and lives in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay. Hunt, a New Zealander who was born without half of his left arm, played at Saint Mary's in Moraga in the Bay Area.
   The Jones-Gibbs match will be one of three involving a former Stanford All-American in women's qualifying on Tuesday. No. 20 seed Carol Zhao (2014-16) of Canada will meet Deborah Chiesa of Italy, and American Kristie Ahn (2011-14) will play Daniela Seguel of Chile.
   On the men's side, ex-Stanford star Bradley Klahn and San Jose product Dennis Novikov today reached the second round of qualifying.
   Klahn, a 27-year-old left-hander from Poway in the San Diego area, outclassed Ricardo Ojeda Lara of Spain 6-3, 6-2. Novikov, a 24-year-old Los Angeles resident, beat 18th-seeded Calvin Hemery of France 5-1, retired.
   Klahn will play Antoine Hoang of France, and Novikov will take on countryman Christian Harrison, the younger brother of 58th-ranked Ryan Harrison.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Kudla falls to Federer; milestone also eludes Kenin

   American qualifiers Denis Kudla and Sofia Kenin, who have starred in Northern California Challengers, lost today on grass in bids for their first finals in tennis' major leagues.
   Top-seeded Roger Federer beat Kudla 7-6 (1), 7-5 in the semifinals of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany.
   Kudla, 25, had not faced a seed as he reached his second semifinal on the ATP World Tour. He also advanced to the Tiburon final in 2015 and the semis in Tiburon in 2013 and Sacramento in 2015.
   Federer, seeking his 10th Halle singles title, extended his grass-court winning streak to 20 matches. He slugged 12 aces, won 84 percent of the points on his first serve (42 of 50) and saved six of seven break points against him.
   Unseeded Tatjana Maria, a 30-year-old Germany living in Palm Beach, Fla., outlasted Kenin, who won titles in Sacramento in 2016 and Stockton last summer, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in the semis of the Mallorca (Spain) Open.
   Maria slugged nine aces, won 81 percent of the points on her first serve (34 of 42) and converted five of seven break-point opportunities.
   Kenin, 19, appeared in her first semifinal on the WTA tour. She had ousted Caroline Garcia, seeded first and ranked sixth, in the quarterfinals for her first victory over a top-10 player.
   Kudla and Kenin were born in Ukraine and Russia, respectively, and moved to the United States as infants.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Kenin shocks No. 6 Garcia; Kudla to face Federer

Sofia Kenin, 19, beat a top-10 player for the first time to reach
her first WTA semifinal. 2017 photo by Rob Vomund
   Two American qualifiers who have excelled in Northern California Challengers are making big splashes on grass in the major leagues of tennis this week.
   Sofia Kenin, 19, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., stunned France's Caroline Garcia, seeded first and ranked sixth, 6-3, 6-3 today in the Mallorca (Spain) Open to reach her first WTA semifinal.
   It was the first victory over a top-10 player for Kenin, who won Challengers in Sacramento in 2016 and Stockton last year. She lost to then-No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki in the Auckland quarterfinals in January and to then-No. 9 Petra Kvitova in the third round at Miami in March.
   Denis Kudla, 25, of Arlington, Va., and Tampa, Fla., defeated Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-2, 7-5 in Halle, Germany, to advance to his second ATP semifinal. Kudla fell to John Isner in the Atlanta semis in 2015 and later that year lost to his close friend and training partner Tim Smyczek 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7) in the Tiburon Challenger. Kudla held four match points against Smyczek and saved one.
   Kudla, ranked No. 109 after climbing to a career-high No. 53 in 2016, trailed 2-5 in the second set against Sugita and survived one set point.
   The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Kudla, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2015, will face nine-time Halle champion Roger Federer, who extended his grass-court winning streak to 19 matches with a 7-6 (2), 7-5 victory over Matthew Ebden of Australia.
Denis Kudla, 25, advanced to his second ATP semi-
final. File photo by Paul Bauman
   One day after saving two match points against Benoit Paire, Federer rallied from a 3-5 deficit in the second set against Ebden.
   Federer beat Kudla 6-4, 6-1 in the second round at Indian Wells in 2012 in their only meeting.
   Kenin, playing in her first tournament since going 0-4 on European clay, double-faulted twice in a row in the last game against Garcia.
   "I started getting a little nervous closing the match, but I was able to win, so that's important," Kenin, ranked No. 91, said on wtatennis.com. "I love grass a lot, so I know this is my surface. I got a lot of match play (coming out of qualifying) ... but it's good match play, and I won a lot of good matches."
   The 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Kenin will meet unseeded Tatjana Maria, a 30-year-old German who lives in Palm Beach, Fla. Maria topped seventh-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 in 2 hours, 34 minutes.
   Kenin and Maria have split two career meetings, both in the first round of U.S. Challengers last year. This will be their first encounter on grass.
   Kudla and Kenin were born in Ukraine and Russia, respectively, and moved to the United States as infants.
   In the quarterfinals of the Fever-Tree Championships in London, top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia beat fifth-seeded Sam Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, 7-6 (3), 6-2 in a matchup of 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) former tournament champions. Cilic, who won the title in 2012, pounded 10 aces and won 91 percent of the points on his first serve (30 of 33) against Querrey, the 2010 champ.
   Cilic defeated Querrey in four close sets in the first Wimbledon semifinal for both players last year. Cilic then lost to Federer 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ex-Bank of the West champ, Belgian star enter San Jose

Johanna Konta plays in the 2016 U.S. Open one
month after winning the Bank of the West Classic
at Stanford. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Johanna Konta, who won the 2016 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, and Elise Mertens, an Australian Open semifinalist in January, have entered the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State this summer.
   The acceptance list for the July 30-Aug. 5 tournament, which replaces the Bank of the West Classic, was announced today.
   Konta, 27, of Great Britain, and Mertens, 22, of Belgium join former world No. 1s Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka in the 28-player singles field. Mertens, who will make her San Francisco Bay Area debut, is ranked 17th, and Konta is 22nd.
   Also entered are Americans Madison Keys, CoCo Vandeweghe, Danielle Collins, Alison Riske, CiCi Bellis and Sachia Vickery.
   Keys defeated Vandeweghe in the Bank of the West final last August and reached the U.S. Open final the following month.
   Bellis, a 19-year-old San Francisco native who grew up in nearby Atherton, has missed the last three months with an arm injury. It's uncertain when she will return.
   Williams won the Bank of the West Classic in 2011, 2012 and 2014, and Azarenka took the 2010 crown at Stanford. Each is fighting her way back up the rankings after having her first child. Sharapova also is trying to rebound after serving a 15-month doping suspension that ended in April last year.
   Three more wild cards (in addition to Azarenka), to be announced in the next two weeks, and four qualifiers will complete the field.
   To purchase tickets to the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, go to MubadalaSVC.com or call (866) 982-8497.
MUBADALA SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC
July 30-Aug. 5 at San Jose State
Acceptance list (with rankings)
Serena Williams, United States, 1 (special ranking)
Madison Keys, United States, 10
CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, 15
Elise Mertens, Belgium, 17
Johanna Konta, Great Britain, 22
Maria Sharapova, Russia, 23
Anastasia Pavlyunchenkova, Russia, 28
Zhang Shuai, China, 29
Mihaela Buzarnescu, Romania, 30
Maria Sakkari, Greece, 35
Timea Babos, Hungary, 36
Danielle Collins, United States, 42
Kristina Mladenovic, France, 56
Alison Riske, United States, 61
Polona Hercog, Slovenia, 64
CiCi Bellis, United States, 67
Wang Qiang, China, 68
Ajla Tomljanovic, Australia, 72
Sachia Vickery, United States, 82
Vera Lapko, Belarus, 84
Victoria Azarenka (wild card), 85

Monday, June 18, 2018

Despite soft serve, Rai claims Sectional girls 14 title

Rhea Rai, left, defeated Gayathri Krishnan to win the girls 14
title in the NorCal Junior Sectionals. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Give Rhea Rai credit for honesty.
   When asked after winning the NorCal 14s Junior Sectional Championships if she likes to mix up her serve, Rai said, "No, I just don't have a really good serve that goes in a lot, and the sun was in my eyes all the time over there, so I had to just (toss the ball low and softly slice it).
   "I've practiced that serve a lot, which is why it goes in. Otherwise, my serve isn't that good."
   Compensating with strong groundstrokes, the top-seeded Rai beat fifth-seeded Gayathri Krishnan 6-2, 6-2 today at the Arden Hills Resort Club & Spa in a matchup of left-handers from Cupertino (near San Jose). It was Rai's first sectional title.
   "I'm really happy because I (rarely) get first place," gushed Rai, ranked No. 8 in Northern California and No. 189 nationally in the 14s. "I usually get second or third place.
   "I've been training a lot recently. Last week, I did more than I usually do (to prepare for the Sectionals). And because summer (vacation) started, I want to start training more."
   Top-seeded Nicholas Chen of Oakland won the boys 14 title, outplaying third-seeded Dylan Tsoi of El Dorado Hills in the Sacramento area 6-3, 6-3. Chen also won the fall sectional crown two years ago in the 12s in Stockton.
Nicholas Chen, right, beat Dylan Tsoi for the
 boys 14 title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   In both of today's finals, the older, bigger, more powerful player won. Rai and Chen will be freshmen in high school in the fall, and Krishnan and Tsoi will be eight-graders.
   Like Rai, Tsoi was candid afterward.
   "(Chen) has a way bigger server than me, so breaking him is a lot harder and he can easily break me by just hitting my second serves," conceded Tsoi, ranked No. 14 in NorCal and No. 208 nationally in the 14s.
   Both champions said their final was closer than the score indicated.
  "I wouldn't call it easy," Rai said. "A lot of games went to deuce. I guess I was able to convert them. She's a really good player, though."
   The boys final featured many long, athletic rallies.
   "We had a ton of deuce games, so it could have gone either way," said Chen, ranked No. 3 in NorCal and No. 56 nationally in the 14s. "Even though it was 6-3, 6-3, it was pretty tight. Just a couple of games (made the difference)."
   The final was Chen's closest match in the tournament. Rai lost one set en route to the final.
   Rai said she does not know Krishnan well, "but she goes to the same school as my friend, and I played her once or twice (before). I've never practiced with her."
   Rai is getting to know Krishnan better, though. And working on her serve.
Boys 14
At Arden Hills Resort Club & Spa in Sacramento
Singles final
   Nicholas Chen (1), Oakland, def. Dylan Tsoi (3), El Dorado Hills, 6-3, 6-3.
Doubles final
   Nicholas Chen, Oakland, and Emon van Loben Sels (1), Sacramento, def. Jason Lew and Patrick Toman (2), Pleasant Hill, 6-4, 6-2.
Girls 14
At Arden Hills Resort Club & Spa in Sacramento
Singles final
   Rhea Rai (1), Cupertino, def. Gayathri Krishnan (5), Cupertino, 6-2, 6-2.
Doubles final
   Maryia Hrynashka (1), Rancho Cordova, and Lauren Joyce (1), Lodi, def. Ava Martin, Menlo Park, and Natasha Rajaram (4), Cupertino, 6-1, 6-4.
Boys 12
At University of the Pacific in Stockton
Singles final
   Kosei Ogata (1), Saratoga, def. Min Htun (5), Sacramento, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Doubles semifinals
   Nav Dayal, Roseville, and Karthikeya Gannavarapu (1), Pleasanton, def. Ted Nguyen, Elk Grove, and Daniel Wu (3), El Dorado Hills, 6-0, 6-2.
   Min Htun, Sacramento, and Luke Stratakos (2), Saratoga, def. Kosei Ogata and Somei Ogata (5), Saratoga, 7-5, 6-4.
Doubles final
   Min Htun, Sacramento, and Luke Stratakos (2), Saratoga, def. Nav Dayal, Roseville, and Karthikeya Gannavarapu (1), Pleasanton, 3-6, 6-1 [14-12].
Girls 12
At University of the Pacific in Stockton
Singles final
   Aspen Schuman (1), Menlo Park, def. Penelope Wong (9), Mountain View, 6-0, 6-0.
Doubles final
   Anushka Jaiswal, Fremont, and Aspen Schuman (1), Menlo Park, def. Varsha Jawadi, San Mateo, and Mila Mulready, Burlingame, 1-6, 7-6 (2) [10-6].

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Chaudhary channels Nadal for Sectional boys 18 title

Aryan Chaudhary, left, beat Eric Hadigian 6-4, 6-0 for the
NorCal Boys 18 Junior Sectional singles title at the Natomas
Racquet Club in Sacramento. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- He's neither Spanish nor left-handed, and he doesn't have a corkscrew forehand.
   But Aryan Chaudhary (pronounced AH-ree-un CHOD-uh-ree) has some Rafael Nadal in him.
   Like Nadal, Chaudhary is tenacious.
   "I don't give up on any balls," Chaudhary asserted.
   Largely for that reason, the second-seeded Chaudhary dismantled top-seeded Eric Hadigian 6-4, 6-0 today to win the NorCal Boys 18 Junior Sectional singles title at the Natomas Racquet Club.
   Chaudhary, a 15-year-old resident of Santa Clara in the San Francisco Bay Area, won the last eight games.
   "It was pretty tough," insisted Chaudhary, adding that he has not lost a set in three matches against Hadigian (pronounced HAD-i-gun). "The guy hits the ball really deep. I just told myself I had to grind for every single ball, get every single ball back and do my best to put him under pressure. I just didn't give up on any ball. I think that worked out pretty well in the end."
   Another 15-year-old, Luke Casper of Santa Cruz, won the boys 16 title at Natomas. The top-seeded Casper overpowered fifth-seeded Mason Fung of San Francisco 6-2, 6-2.
   Hadigian, 6-foot-2 (1.88 meters) and 175 pounds (79.4 kilograms), repeatedly ripped flat groundstrokes into the corners during the final. And Chaudhary, 6 feet (1.83 meters) and 155 pounds (70.3 kilograms), repeatedly kept the ball in play until Hadigian made an error.
Aryan Chaudhary, playing great defense, won the last
 eight games of the final. Photo by Paul Bauman
   "He's a great side-to-side mover and made me hit a lot of balls," said Hadigian, an 18-year-old Sacramentan who's headed to the University of Arizona in the fall of 2019. "Looking back, it would have been nice when he was on defense if I closed the net a little better. Yeah, his defense is great."
   Hadigian, ranked first in Northern California and 65th nationally in the 18s, broke serve for the only time in the match to even the first set at 4-4. But Chaudhary, ranked second in the NorCal 18s and 16s and 22nd nationally in the 16s, broke right back when Hadigian netted a low backhand.
   Serving for the first set, Chaudhary trailed 0-40 but won the next five points.
   "I just told myself, I'm going to put a couple of first serves in and make him play; I'm not going to give him any easy errors," Chaudhary, the runner-up in last year's Easter Bowl 14s, said of the pivotal game. "Then I just ended up running for every single ball. I got a couple of unforced errors from his side, took control of the game and won the set."
   Hadigian lamented that he was "upset with myself for being undisciplined on a couple of those points at 0-40. On the 0-40 point, I went for a return I shouldn't have. That was tough. It would have been nice to get a break there."
   Chaudhary, who did not lose a set in six tournament matches, recorded his second service break of the second set to lead 3-0 on a point that typified the match. After he made a series of great gets, Hadigian slugged an overhead wide.
Luke Casper, left, defeated Mason Fung 6-2, 6-2 for the
boys 16 singles title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   On Chaudhary's first match point, Hadigian mis-hit a forehand that struck the opposite fence.
   "I was a little frustated with how I was playing (in the second set) and some of the errors I was making, but I gave it my all," Hadigian said. "He was playing too well and lifted his game as well, so this is a tough situation."
   Attending the match were Arizona coach Clancy Shields and his brother, Fresno State coach Luke Shields.
   Chaudhary, who will be a junior at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, eventually could face Hadigian, a senior who takes online classes, in the Pacific-12 Conference.
   "If I could get in, I would love to go to Stanford," Chaudhary said of the university located only 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Santa Clara. "That's always been my dream."
   Casper, playing aggressively, won the last four games of each set against Fung.
   "It seemed to work when I hit extremely hard and moved him around," said Casper, ranked fourth in NorCal and 72nd nationally in the 16s. "Then he gave me weak balls to put away."
   Whereas Casper did not lose more than three games in a set in his six tournament matches, Fung survived long three-set battles in the third round and quarterfinals. He overcame a 2-5 deficit in the third set and saved three match points in a 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (8) victory over third-seeded Hugo Hashimoto of San Jose in the quarters.
Luke Casper, playing aggressively, won the last four
games of each set in the final. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Fung, ranked 10th in NorCal and 224th nationally in the 16s, said those marathons took a toll on him in the final but weren't "the main factor. He just played really well."
   Casper, who will be a sophomore at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, is the fourth of seven children. The oldest, Caroline, represented the family at today's final.
   Caroline reached the NCAA Division III semifinals as a sophomore at Pomona College last year and the NCAA quarterfinals this year. Their father Mark, a lawyer, played tennis at Santa Clara University.
   Fung, 16, will be a senior at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco. He said he has not received any college scholarship offers and is looking at schools.
   Fung's brother Jayson plays at D-III Amherst in Massachusetts, but Mason said he could stay near home and play for one of his two coaches, Pablo Pires De Almeida, at the University of San Francisco or at Santa Clara.
NORCAL JUNIOR SECTIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sunday's results
Boys 18
At Natomas Racquet Club in Sacramento
Singles semifinals
   Eric Hadigian (1), Sacramento, def. Andrei Volgin (4), Fremont, 6-0, 7-5.
   Aryan Chaudhary (2), Santa Clara, def. Daniel Baturyn (3), San Leandro, 6-4, 6-2.
Singles final
   Chaudhary def. Hadigian, 6-4, 6-0.
Doubles final
    James Bell, Fremont, and Aryan Chaudhary (5), Santa Clara, def. Zachery Lim, Fairfield, and Daniel Papacica (1), Carmel, 7-5, 3-6 [10-7].
Boys 16
At Natomas Racquet Club in Sacramento
Singles semifinals
   Luke Casper (1), Santa Cruz, def. Philip Martin (9), Los Altos, 6-1, 6-2.
   Mason Fung (5), San Francisco, def. Theodore Dean (2), Livermore, 6-4, 6-1.
Singles final
   Casper def. Fung, 6-2, 6-2.
Doubles final
   Theodore Dean, Livermore, and Joseph Teh (4), San Jose, def. Luke Casper, Santa Cruz, and Philip Martin (2), Los Altos, 1-6, 6-1 [10-5].
Girls 18
At Copper River Country Club in Fresno
Singles final
   Anna Campana (3), Hillsborough, def. Muskan Mahajan, San Ramon, 6-4, 6-1.
Doubles semifinals
   Anna Campana, Hillsborough, and Jennamarie Gordon (1), Saratoga, def. Klara Kosan, Carmichael, and Jozephine Yen, Los Altos, walkover.
   Katherine Duong, Cupertino, and Stephanie Nguyen (2), Fremont, def. Taylor Gould, Los Altos, and Anna Yu, Palo Alto, walkover.
Doubles final
   Duong and Nguyen (2) def. Campana and Gordon, 6-3, 7-5.
Girls 16
At Copper River Country Club in Fresno
Singles final
   Allura Zamarripa (2), Saint Helena, def. Tomi Main (1), Seaside, 6-4, 7-6 (0).
Doubles semifinals
   Allura Zamarripa and Maribella Zamarripa (1), Saint Helena, def. Mirabelle Brettkelly and Claire Galerkin, San Francisco, walkover.
   Tomi Main, Seaside, and Makenna Thiel (2), Piedmont, def. Madison Weekley, Alamo, and Sophia Zaprianov, Concord, 6-2, 6-1.
Doubles final
   Zamarripa and Zamarripa (1) def. Main and Thiel (2), 6-0, 6-2.
Boys 14
At Arden Hills Club & Spa in Sacramento
Singles semifinals
   Nicholas Chen (1), Oakland, def. Luke Bollinger (9), Napa, 6-1, 6-2.
   Dylan Tsoi (3), El Dorado Hills, def. Ryan Hoang (5), San Rafael, 6-3, 6-4.
Girls 14
At Arden Hills Club & Spa in Sacramento
Singles semifinals
   Rhea Rai (1), Cupertino, def. Emily Novikov (5), Campbell, 6-3, 6-3.
   Gayathri Krishnan (5), Cupertino, def. Emily Zhao (2), Cupertino, 6-3, 6-2.
Doubles semifinals
   Maryia Hrynashka (1), Rancho Cordova, and Lauren Joyce (1), Lodi, def. Gayathri Krishnan, Cupertino, and Kamila Wong, Palo Alto, 6-2, 7-5.
   Ava Martin, Menlo Park, and Natasha Rajaram (4), Cupertino, def. Sofia Daryaie, Los Gatos, and Emma Pell (2), San Rafael, 6-3, 4-6 [18-16].
Boys 12
At University of the Pacific in Stockton
Singles semifinals
   Kosei Ogata (1), Saratoga, def. Sterling Davies (3), El Dorado Hills, 6-3, 6-2.
   Min Htun (5), Sacramento, def. Karthikeya Gannavarapu (4), Pleasanton, 6-3, 6-3.
Doubles quarterfinals
   Nav Dayal, Roseville, and Karthikeya Gannavarapu (1), Pleasanton, def. Arnav Bhandari, San Ramon, and Jack Satterfield (5), Lafayette, 8-6.
   Ted Nguyen, Elk Grove, and Daniel Wu (3), El Dorado Hills, def. Ajay Ravichandran, Union City, and Elbert Said (5), San Ramon, 8-4.
   Kosei Ogata and Somei Ogata (5), Saratoga, def. Arin Pallegar, Granite Bay, and Tej Patil (4), San Jose, 8-6.
   Min Htun, Sacramento, and Luke Stratakos (2), Saratoga, def. Dhyey Patel, Napa, and Aryan Yenni (5), Fremont, 8-6.
Girls 12
At University of the Pacific in Stockton
Singles semifinals
   Aspen Schuman (1), Menlo Park, def. Clarissa Sutami (9), Folsom, 6-2, 6-2.
   Penelope Wong (9), Mountain View, def. Aoi Kunimoto (2), Palo Alto, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Doubles semifinals
   Anushka Jaiswal, Fremont, and Aspen Schuman (1), Menlo Park, def. Clarissa Sutami, Folsom, and Penelope Wong, Mountain View, 7-5, 6-3.
   Varsha Jawadi, San Mateo, and Mila Mulready, Burlingame, def. Rachel Hernandez and Sophie Hernandez (2), Los Gatos, 7-5, 6-1.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Hadigian tops fellow academy player in Sectionals

   Eric Hadigian and Zachery Lim know each other well.
   The players from the JMG Tennis Academy in Sacramento met today in the quarterfinals of the NorCal Boys 18 & 16 Junior Sectional Championships. The top-seeded Hadigian beat the fifth-seeded Lim 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 at the Natomas Racquet Club in Sacramento.
   Hadigian, a rising senior who has verbally committed to Arizona, is scheduled to face No. 4 Andrei Volgin of Fremont on Sunday at 10 a.m. Volgin outlasted unseeded Sam Gibson of Chico 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4.
   In the other semifinal at 10 a.m., No. 2 seed Aryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara will meet No. 3 Daniel Baturyn of San Leandro. The final is set for 2 p.m.
NORCAL JUNIOR SECTIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sunday's schedule
Boys 18
At Natomas Racquet Club in Sacramento
Singles semifinals
   Eric Hadigian (1), Sacramento, vs. Andrei Volgin (4), Fremont, 10 a.m.
   Aryan Chaudhary (2), Santa Clara, vs. Daniel Baturyn (3), San Leandro, 10 a.m.
Singles final
   Players TBD, 2 p.m.
Doubles final
   Zachery Lim, Fairfield, and Daniel Papacica (1), Carmel, vs. James Bell, Fremont, and Aryan Chaudhary (5), Santa Clara, 5 p.m.
Boys 16
At Natomas Racquet Club in Sacramento
Singles semifinals
   Luke Casper (1), Santa Cruz, vs. Philip Martin (9), Los Altos, 8 a.m.
   Theodore Dean (2), Livermore, vs. Mason Fung (5), San Francisco, 9 a.m.
Singles final
   Players TBD, noon.
Doubles final
   Luke Casper, Santa Cruz, and Philip Martin (2), Los Altos, vs. Theodore Dean, Livermore, and Joseph Teh (4), San Jose, 3:30 p.m.
Girls 18
At Copper River Country Club in Fresno
Singles final
   Anna Campana (3), Hillsborough, vs. Muskan Mahajan, San Ramon, 8 a.m.
Doubles semifinals
   Anna Campana, Hillsborough, and Jennamarie Gordon (1), Saratoga, vs. Klara Kosan, Carmichael, and Jozephine Yen, Los Altos, 11 a.m.
   Katherine Duong, Cupertino, and Stephanie Nguyen (2), Fremont, vs. Taylor Gould, Los Altos, and Anna Yu, Palo Alto, 11 a.m.
Doubles final
   Teams TBD, 2 p.m.
Girls 16
At Copper River Country Club in Fresno
Singles final
   Tomi Main (1), Seaside, vs. Allura Zamarripa (2), Saint Helena, 8 a.m.
Doubles semifinals
   Allura Zamarripa and Maribella Zamarripa (1), Saint Helena, vs. Mirabelle Brettkelly and Claire Galerkin, San Francisco, 1 p.m.
   Tomi Main, Seaside, and Makenna Thiel (2), Piedmont, vs. Madison Weekley, Alamo, and Sophia Zaprianov, Concord, 1 p.m.
Doubles final
   Teams TBD, 3:30 p.m.
Boys 14
At Arden Hills Club & Spa in Sacramento
Singles semifinals
   Nicholas Chen (1), Oakland, vs. Luke Bollinger (9), Napa, 12:30 p.m.
   Dylan Tsoi (3), El Dorado Hills, vs. Ryan Hoang (5), San Rafael, 12:30 p.m.
Girls 14
At Arden Hills Club & Spa in Sacramento
Singles semifinals
   Rhea Rai (1), Cupertino, vs. Emily Novikov (5), Campbell, 11:30 a.m.
   Emily Zhao (2), Cupertino, vs. Gayathri Krishnan (5), Cupertino, 11:30 a.m.
Doubles semifinals
   Maryia Hrynashka (1), Rancho Cordova, and Lauren Joyce (1), Lodi, vs. Gayathri Krishnan, Cupertino, and Kamila Wong, Palo Alto, 3:30 p.m.
   Sofia Daryaie, Los Gatos, and Emma Pell (2), San Rafael, vs. Ava Martin, Menlo Park, and Natasha Rajaram (4), Cupertino, 3:30 p.m.
Boys 12
At University of the Pacific in Stockton
Singles semifinals
   Kosei Ogata (1), Saratoga, vs. Sterling Davies (3), El Dorado Hills, 9 a.m.
   Karthikeya Gannavarapu (4), Pleasanton, vs. Min Htun (5), Sacramento, 9 a.m.
Doubles quarterfinals
   Nav Dayal, Roseville, and Karthikeya Gannavarapu (1), Pleasanton, vs. Arnav Bhandari, San Ramon, and Jack Satterfield (5), Lafayette, 1:30 p.m.
   Ted Nguyen, Elk Grove, and Daniel Wu (3), El Dorado Hills, vs. Ajay Ravichandran, Union City, and Elbert Said (5), San Ramon, 1:30 p.m.
   Kosei Ogata and Somei Ogata (5), Saratoga, vs. Arin Pallegar, Granite Bay, and Tej Patil (4), San Jose, 1:30 p.m.
   Min Htun, Sacramento, and Luke Stratakos (2), Saratoga, vs. Dhyey Patel, Napa, and Aryan Yenni (5), Fremont, 1:30 p.m.
Girls 12
At University of the Pacific in Stockton
Singles semifinals
   Aspen Schuman (1), Menlo Park, vs. Clarissa Sutami (9), Folsom, 9 a.m.
   Aoi Kunimoto (2), Palo Alto, vs. Penelope Wong (9), Mountain View, 9 a.m.
Doubles semifinals
   Anushka Jaiswal, Fremont, and Aspen Schuman (1), Menlo Park, vs. Clarissa Sutami, Folsom, and Penelope Wong, Mountain View, 1:30 p.m.
   Rachel Hernandez and Sophie Hernandez (2), Los Gatos, vs. Varsha Jawadi, San Mateo, and Mila Mulready, Burlingame, 1:30 p.m.

Friday, June 15, 2018

McDonald falls in first ATP quarterfinal, nears top 100

Mackenzie McDonald, playing in the San Francisco
Challenger in February, will rise to about No. 103
in the world after reaching his first ATP World Tour
quarterfinal. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Playing in his first ATP World Tour quarterfinal, wild card Mackenzie McDonald lost to Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) today on grass in the Libema Open in s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.
   McDonald, a 23-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, led 4-2 in the third-set tiebreaker.
   The 31-year-old Chardy, ranked
No. 72, won the $147,000 Surbiton (Great Britain) Challenger on grass last week.
   McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms), stunned eighth-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-4, 6-2 in the first round and beat qualifier Alex Bolt, a 25-year-old left-hander from Australia, 6-4, 7-5 in the second round.
   Seppi, at No. 49, is the highest-ranked player McDonald has defeated. McDonald has beaten six other top-100 players.
   Two years after sweeping the NCAA singles and doubles titles as a UCLA junior and then turning pro, McDonald is on the verge of cracking the top 100 in the world. The protege of former world No. 6 Wayne Ferreira will rise from No. 110 to No. 101 in Monday's updated rankings.
   McDonald was 0-6 in ATP main-draw matches before s-Hertogenbosch but reached the second round of the Australian Open in January as a qualifier for his first Grand Slam main-draw victory. After beating qualifier Elias Ymer of Sweden in the first round of the main draw, McDonald lost to third-ranked Grigor Dimitov 8-6 in the fifth set.
   McDonald has won two Challenger singles titles: $100,000 tournaments in Fairfield, a 40-minute drive north of Piedmont, last October and Seoul last month.

Sacramento women's pro tourney moves to Berkeley

Amanda Anisimova won the $60,000 FSP Gold River Women's
Challenger at age 15 last July. Photo by Rob Vomund
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Five years ago, California's capital had several marquee tennis events.
   The 27th-largest metropolitan area in the country with a population of 2.3 million, Sacramento offered the Capitals of World TeamTennis, a $100,000 men's Challenger, a $50,000 women's Challenger, the Big Sky Conference championships and the USTA National 30 Indoor Championships.
   Now they're all gone. Sacramento also lost a four-man legends tournament featuring Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier and James Blake after only one year in 2014.
   The $60,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger, the latest big event to leave Sacramento, ended a six-year run last summer.
   "We lost our headline sponsor," tournament director Michael Burchett explained this week, referring to Freight Solution Providers (FSP), "and we had difficulty trying to replace them. ...
   "Sacramento has a lot of companies, but they have their decision-making outside of the area. We're competing with the Kings (of the NBA), the River Cats (the San Francisco Giants' Triple-A affiliate) and the Republic (of the United Soccer League). Unfortunately, these (tennis) events don't attract a lot of people, so it's hard to get sponsorship."
   Lielani Steers, the CEO of the shipping company based in the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova, did not return a phone call for comment.
   Winning singles titles in the Gold River Women's Challenger were, in order, Modesto product Maria SanchezMayo Hibi of Japan, Olivia Rogowska of Australia, Anhelina Kalenina of Ukraine, Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., and Amanda Anisimova of Aventura, Fla. Hibi (17), Kenin (17) and Anisimova (15) were teenagers at the time.
   Fortunately for Northern California fans, the tournament will be replaced by the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge, July 16-22. Past members of the Berkeley Tennis Club, founded in 1906, include International Tennis Hall of Famers Don Budge, Helen Wills Moody, Helen Jacobs and Hazel Wightman.
   "The USTA is giving (the Berkeley tournament more) money, and it's on the cheap," said Burchett, who would not divulge figures. "They don't have to put up shade, which is some savings."
   Heat could be a factor in the move. Summer temperatures in Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area are about 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius) cooler than in Sacramento in the scorching San Joaquin Valley.
   USTA coordinator Milagros Sequera also did not return a phone call.
   Technically, Berkeley will replace Stockton during the week of July 16, and a new $60,000 women's tournament in Ashland, Ky., will replace Sacramento. The $60,000 Stockton women's Challenger will be held concurrently with the $100,000 Stockton men's Challenger on Oct. 1-7.
   Singles qualifying for the Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge will begin on Sunday, July 15, at noon, and the singles main draw will start on Tuesday, July 17, at noon. The doubles and singles finals are scheduled for Saturday, July 21, and Sunday, July 22, respectively, at times to be determined.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Brooksby, 17, falls in $25,000 Buffalo Futures

Jenson Brooksby follows through on a serve
during practice in Sacramento last month.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby, a 17-year-old qualifier from Carmichael in the Sacramento area, lost to Markos Kalovelonis 6-4, 6-4 today in the second round of the Sargent & Collins, LLP Men's $25,000 Futures in Buffalo, N.Y.
   Kalovelonis, a 24-year-old native of Greece who plays for Russia, pounded nine aces and committed one double fault. Brooksby, who ousted second-seeded Emilio Gomez of Ecuador in the first round, had no aces or double faults.
   Earlier in the week, Brooksby and Alexander Knight fell to Patrick Daciek and Maksim Tikhomirov 5-7, 7-5 [11-9] in a first-round, all-American battle.
   After winning the Easter Bowl boys 18 singles title at Indian Wells in April, Brooksby verbally committed to Texas Christian. The home-schooled senior-to-be plans to enroll at the small, private university in Fort Worth either in the fall of 2019 or in January 2020.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Brooksby, 17, ousts No. 2 seed in Buffalo Futures

Jenson Brooksby practices at the JMG Tennis Academy
in Sacramento last month. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby, a 17-year-old qualifier from Carmichael in the Sacramento area, knocked off second-seeded Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-1, 6-2 today in the first round of the Sargent & Collins, LLP Men's $25,000 Futures in Buffalo, N.Y.
   Gomez, at No. 525, is the fourth-highest-ranked player Brooksby has defeated. Last year, he beat No. 420 Takanyi Garanganga, No. 427 Garanganga and No. 457 Benjamin Lock. Both Garanganga and Lock are from Zimbabwe.
   Gomez, the 26-year-old son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, reached a career-high No. 215 in 2014.
   Brooksby, who has verbally committed to attend Texas Christian, is scheduled to meet No. 860 Markos Kalovelonis on Thursday at 8 a.m. PDT. Kalovelonis,  a 24-year-old native of Greece who plays for Russia, outclassed Collin Johns, from Columbus, Ohio, 6-4, 6-3.
   Brooksby lost in the first round of doubles with Alexander Knight, 5-7, 7-5 [11-9] to Patrick Daciek and Maksim Tikhomirov in an all-American encounter.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Azarenka enters Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose

Former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka is sched-
uled to play in the San Francisco Bay Area for
the first time in four years. 2014 photo
by Paul Bauman
   Maybe it should be called the Comeback Classic.
   Victoria Azarenka plans to join Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova in the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic this summer at San Jose State, tournament officials announced today.
   All three players have been ranked No. 1 in the world. But for various off-court reasons, Azarenka has fallen to No. 86, Williams to No. 183 and Sharapova to No. 23.
   Because of pregnancy, the birth of her first child and a subsequent custody battle, Azarenka played in only two tournaments from June 2016 through February this year. She reached the semifinals of the Miami Open in April, losing to eventual champion Sloane Stephens, but lost in the first round of the French Open to eventual doubles champion Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic.
   Williams, who had her first child last
Sept. 1, has played in only three tournaments this year. She withdrew from her fourth-round match against Sharapova in the French Open with a chest muscle injury, but her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said she should be ready for Wimbledon (July 2-15).
   Sharapova returned from a 15-month doping suspension in April last year. She had a strong clay-court season, advancing to the quarterfinals in Madrid, the semifinals in Rome and the quarterfinals of the French Open.
   Also entered in the Silicon Valley Classic, July 30-Aug. 5, are Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe, the champion and runner-up, respectively, in last year's Bank of the West Classic. The tournament is moving to San Jose with a new sponsor after 21 years at Stanford. The full field will be announced on June 19.
   Azarenka, 28, of Belarus will make her fifth appearance in the San Francisco Bay Area and first since 2014. She withdrew from last year's Bank of the West Classic with a viral illness. In addition to beating Sharapova for the 2010 singles title at Stanford, Azarenka won the 2011 doubles crown with Maria Kirilenko of Russia.
   Azarenka has won 20 career singles titles, including the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013. She spent 51 weeks at No. 1 in 2012 and 2013 sandwiched around Sharapova's fifth stint at the top, a four-week stay.
   To purchase tickets to the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, visit MubadalaSVC.com or call (866) 982-8497.
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