Friday, June 15, 2018

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.

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