Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Arevalo, from troubled nation, rallies to beat No. 2 seed

Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador ousted
No. 2 seed Jordan Thompson of Australia
2-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) today in the first round
of the $100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon (Calif.)
Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   TIBURON, Calif. -- Jordan Thompson appeared to be on his way to an easy victory.
   The Australian, seeded second, led Marcelo Arevalo of troubled El Salvador 6-2, 4-1 today in the first round of the $100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger.
   Suddenly, though, Thompson began to make errors, and the 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) Arevalo found the range on his powerful serve and forehand.
   Arevalo finally prevailed 2-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) in 2 hours, 32 minutes on a sunny, 68-degree (20 Celsius) day at the Tiburon Peninsula Club, nestled in the hills across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
   "I was not feeling (comfortable on the court), to be honest," Arevalo, 27, said of the first half of the match. "I was not hitting the ball clean, but I knew that I need an opportunity to break back and come back. I did when I was 4-2 down (in the second set). I played a better game on his serve and broke at zero. That gave me the confidence to come back. After that, my level went up a lot. I think he started to realize he had the match. It could (have been) like 6-2, 6-1 in 45 minutes."
   Thompson, 24, said he was not physically or mentally tired after reaching the final of last week's $75,000 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger as the top seed.
   "Not at all. I wouldn't have lost 7-6 in the third if I was tired. It was cold (today), not very tough outside. I lost by two points. It had nothing to do with (anything) physical," muttered Thompson, ranked No. 106 after reaching a career-high No. 63 in February 2017.
   Also falling today were No. 4 seed Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland and No. 7 Marc Polmans of Australia, leaving No. 5 Michael Mmoh of Bradenton, Fla., as the only remaining seed in the bottom half of the draw after the first round.
   Tommy Paul, a 21-year-old wild card from Greenville, N.C., defeated Laaksonen 6-4, 6-3. Paul, who won the French Open boys singles title in 2015, is scheduled to face another wild card, Brandon Holt, on Thursday for a berth in the quarterfinals.
Jordan Thompson said he was not tired after reaching the
final of last week's $75,000 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger
as the top seed. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Holt, a USC junior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, beat qualifier Steven Diez of Canada 6-3, 7-6 (4).
   Alexei Popyrin, a 19-year-old Aussie who won the 2017 French Open boys singles crown, defeated Polmans 6-4, 6-4.
   Canada's Peter Polansky, the third seed and 2013 Tiburon champion, topped 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) wild card Tom Fawcett, who completed his eligibility at Stanford in May, 6-4, 6-4. Polansky, 30, served at 1-4, 15-40 in the second set.
   "That could have easily been the set right there," said the 120th-ranked Polansky. "I went for a couple bigger shots there and just tried to let loose and won that game, which gave me a bit of momentum, and I was surprised to get the break back the next game, but that's how it is sometimes with sports."
   The 20-year-old Mmoh, coming off the Columbus title, outplayed Darian King of Barbados 6-2, 6-4 in a rematch of the 2016 Tiburon final. King wore down Mmoh, then a qualifier, 7-6 (2), 6-2 in that encounter.
   Arevalo, ranked No. 192 in singles and No. 59 in doubles, is the best professional player ever from El Salvador. Then again, the Central American nation about the size of New Jersey with a population of 6.1 million has produced only three of them.
   Miguel Merz -- who moved with his family from Germany to El Salvador, according to Arevalo -- peaked at No. 254 in singles in 1992. Arevalo's older brother, Rafael, retired at 22 because of insufficient financial support and is now the president of the Salvadoran Tennis Federation.
Canada's Peter Polansky, the third seed and 2013 Tiburon
champion, beat wild card Tom Fawcett, who starred at
Stanford, 6-4, 6-4. Polansky served at 1-4, 15-40 in the
second set. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Marcelo, also lacking enough money, played at the University of Tulsa (Okla.) for two years before turning pro in 2012.
   "Then I found my way," Arevalo said.
   Meanwhile, bedlam reigns in parts of El Salvador. The nation's murder rate of 83 per 100,000 people in 2016 was the highest in the world, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday in a cover story on the epidemic of homicides in Latin America.
   "Of course, I don't feel proud of that, but I feel like I can't do anything about it right now because what I do is play professional tennis," Arevalo said. "I just go (to El Salvador) a couple of weeks a year to visit my family. I live with my girlfriend in Florida. That's where I spend all the time practicing, and the rest of the time, I'm traveling playing tournaments.
   "I know it's not a great situation (in El Salvador). There's a war between two gangs, and all the murders you see in the newspaper and on TV, it's all about them killing each other. If you don't go to their places, nothing is going to happen to you."
   Without his brother, Arevalo probably would still be in El Salvador.
   "I'm lucky that my brother wanted to play professionally before me, so he was always an inspiration for me," Arevalo said. "After that, it has not been easy, but I really like what I'm doing. I really love the sport. I have achieved a lot of goals, and I want to achieve many, many, many more. I just want to be better every day and hopefully one day become one of the best players in the world."
   Here are the Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Wednesday's schedule. Center Court matches are being streamed live.
   Admission is $20 through Thursday (free for club members), $25 on Friday, $30 on Saturday and $35 on Sunday ($55 for a Saturday-Sunday pass).

Monday, September 24, 2018

Tiburon players divided on new Davis Cup format

Liam Broady, 24, of Great Britain said making his
Davis Cup debut in February at Spain "was prob-
ably one of the best experiences of my life."
Photo by Paul Bauman
   TIBURON, Calif. -- Liam Broady has played on Centre Court at Wimbledon in his home country.
   But making his Davis Cup debut for Great Britain in February meant more to him.
   "It was probably one of the best experiences of my life, to be honest, and I've played a fair few matches on a fair few big courts in my time," the top-seeded Broady said after losing to eighth-seeded Steven Diez of Canada 6-1, 6-3 today in the final round of qualifying for the $100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. "It's a different feeling to play for your country. I know each week obviously every player represents their country in a way. There's a 'GBR' next to my name on every drawsheet, but actually playing with 'Great Britain' on the scoreboard instead of your name gives you chills.
   "Players grow up wanting to play Davis Cup for their country, and that was certainly one of my dreams. I'll never have that experience again, I suppose, because it's changing now."
   In an effort to boost stars' participation in the Davis Cup and increase global interest and revenue, the International Tennis Federation voted last month to revamp the 118-year-old competition beginning next year.
   Teams will play during one week in November at one site instead of four weeks spread throughout the year at host nations, countries will play the best of three matches (two singles and one doubles) instead of the best of five (four singles and one doubles), and matches will be the best of three sets instead of the best of five.
   Kosmos, a European investment group led by Spanish soccer star Gerard Pique, will invest $3 billion over 25 years in the new Davis Cup. Oracle founder Larry Ellison, who owns the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, also has pledged financial support.
   When asked if he favors or opposes the new format, Broady said: "It's quite a tricky one, isn't it? I'm quite old-fashioned. I think the tradition and history behind the Davis Cup is something that probably needed protecting a little bit more. Quite a few players made that obvious, but obviously players didn't really get a say in it this time, which was a shame.
   "I saw (Roger) Federer kind of said, 'Obviously there's going to be more money with the new backers and new way it's going to be played, and hopefully that money will go to the players.' So if it does, I guess I've got to support that as well."
Sixth-seeded Noah Rubin serves during his 6-0, 6-0
victory over Thiemo de Bakker, a former top-40 player,
today in the first round of the $100,000 Wells Fargo
Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
    Two years ago at Wimbledon, Broady lost to countryman and eventual champion Andy Murray 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 on Centre Court in the first round.
   "Obviously, it's another dream for any player to play on Centre Court," said Broady, a 24-year-old left-hander whose older sister, Naomi, plays on the women's tour. "I can't take anything away from that, but my instant reaction is to play Davis Cup. Again, to represent your country in that way and to have your teammates by your side and on the side of the court, and to play for your captain with the badge on your chest, there's nothing like it because you're part of something bigger, which is an incredible experience."
   Broady got his chance when injuries knocked out Murray, a three-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world No. 1, and Kyle Edmund, who had reached the Australian Open semifinals the previous week. Broady fell to Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in the first rubber of host Spain's 3-1 victory on outdoor clay in Marbella. It was Broady's only match during the competition, which Rafael Nadal also missed.
   "I think there were two or three thousand Brits (in the crowd) because there are quite a few ex-pats in and around Marbella from the (United Kingdom), and we had the Stirling Barmy Army, which is a fantastic fan group," recalled Broady, the runner-up in last year's $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger as a qualifier. "We bring crazy fan support no matter where we play. It was amazing. The first day, the Spanish crowd didn't really turn out, but then the next day and the third day, they made a real effort to get more fans because I don't think they expected so many Brits.
   "Again, you never play in front of a crowd as passionate as a Davis Cup crowd, which I think is one of the reasons so many upsets happen."
   By losing to Spain, Great Britain was relegated to the World Group playoffs, in which it beat Uzbekistan 3-1 on Sept. 14-16 in Glasgow, Scotland.
   "Dan Evans (of Great Britain) won his tie on the first day against (Denis) Istomin, and he was crying," Broady marveled. "There was another guy playing for Hungary (Zsombor Piros) who beat (the Czech Republic's Jiri) Vesely, and he was on the floor after a (4-hour, 20-minute) match."
Top-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain cele-
brates his 6-2, 7-5 victory over Evan King
in the first round of the Tiburon Challenger.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Two seeds who won their first-round matches in the main draw of the Tiburon Challenger today agreed with the ITF that Davis Cup changes were necessary. But 22-year-old American Noah Rubin, a Davis Cup practice partner in 2014, was more supportive than 32-year-old Marcel Granollers, who played on Spain's Davis Cup championship teams in 2008 and 2011.
   "I think tennis needs some changes, and this is one of them," the sixth-seeded Rubin said after demolishing Thiemo de Bakker, a former top-40 player from the Netherlands, 6-0, 6-0 in 46 minutes in a matchup for former Wimbledon boys champions. "They're going in the right direction toward making it better for spectators. Obviously there's tradition involved in the old format that people are going to be upset about. With change comes rejection, and you have to deal with that and move forward."
   Playing Davis Cup, added the runner-up in the $100,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger in 2016, "is a tremendous dream of mine. The Olympics and Davis Cup have always been a dream of mine, seeing the incredible ties that have been played against the U.S. and the victories we've had. Hopefully soon."         
   Granollers, who reached career highs of No. 19 in singles in 2012 and No. 4 in doubles in 2013, has some reservations about the new Davis Cup format.
   "I think we need some changes in the Davis Cup," he conceded after defeating Evan King, a 26-year-old left-hander from Chicago, 6-2, 7-5. "I don't know if this is the right one or not, but I think we have to give at least one chance to see how it goes next year because with the old system, the best players are not playing."
   Under the current format, the four rounds of the Davis Cup immediately follow, in order, the Australian Open, the Miami Open, the U.S. Open and the ATP Finals, leaving many top players unwilling to play for their countries.
   Granollers likes golf's system of playing the Ryder Cup every other year.
   "The (current Davis Cup) system, you cannot play every year," Granollers maintained. "It's too much, too much traveling, and the best players are focusing on their (individual) careers. I think at least we have to play every two or three years."
   Granollers ranks his Davis Cup championships with his four ATP singles titles, especially Valencia on an indoor hardcourt in 2011, as the highlights of his career. He also owns 15 doubles crowns and doubles runner-up finishes with countryman Marc Lopez at the French Open and U.S. Open in 2014.
   "For sure, one of the top," Granollers said of the Davis Cup titles. "When you represent your country, it's one of the best feelings you can have -- more exciting feelings on the court. But also the titles I won in singles are one of my best memories. Same level.
   "Grand Slam finals in doubles is good, but I'm more proud of my singles titles. Valencia was in my country, 500 (level), so it was a big tournament for me and the best week in my life."
   Here are the Tiburon singles qualifying, singles main and doubles main draws and Tuesday's schedule. Center Court matches are being streamed live.
   Admission is $20 through Thursday (free for club members), $25 on Friday, $30 on Saturday and $35 on Sunday ($55 for a Saturday-Sunday pass).

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Brooksby, 17, narrowly loses in $100K Tiburon qualifying

Jenson Brooksby practices in May at the
Arden Hills Club & Spa in Sacramento.
Three months later, he won the USTA
boys 18 national title to earn a wild card
into the men's main draw of the U.S. Open.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Teenager Jenson Brooksby put up a fight but lost in the second round of qualifying for the $100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   The 17-year-old wild card from the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael fell to second-seeded Cem Ilkel of Turkey 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 today at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. Affluent Tiburon is located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
   Brooksby won the USTA boys 18 national title in Kalamazoo, Mich., last month to earn an automatic wild card in the men's main draw of the recent U.S. Open and lost to John Millman of Australia 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 in the first round. Millman later stunned Roger Federer in the fourth round before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the quarterfinals, and Brooksby reached the boys semifinals.
   The 23-year-old Ilkel, ranked No. 244, is scheduled to play Australia's Luke Saville, ranked No. 444 after reaching a career-high No. 152 in 2015, on Monday at 10 a.m. on Center Court for a berth in the main draw. 
   Saville, the boys champion at Wimbledon in 2011 and in the 2012 Australian Open, reached the quarterfinals of last week's $75,000 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger as a qualifier.
   In the first round of the main draw on Monday, No. 1 seed Marcel Granollers, 32, of Spain will meet Evan King, a 26-year-old left-hander from Chicago, for the first time not before 11:30 a.m. 
   Granollers attained career highs of No. 19 in singles in 2012 and No. 4 in doubles in 2013. He and countryman Marc Lopez reached the French Open and U.S. Open doubles finals in 2014.
   After the Granollers-King match, No. 8 seed Bjorn Fratangelo of Pittsburgh and Orlando, Fla., will play Pedja Krstin of Serbia.
   Fratangelo, who was named after Bjorn Borg, is one of only three Americans to win the French Open boys singles title in the Open era, which began 50 years ago. The others are John McEnroe (1977) and Tommy Paul (2015). Paul, a 21-year-old wild card, will take on No. 4 seed Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland on Tuesday in the first round in Tiburon.
   Following the Fratangelo-Krstin clash, No. 6 seed Noah Rubin of Long Island, N.Y., will face Thiemo de Bakker, a former top-40 player from the Netherlands, in a matchup of former Wimbledon boys singles champions. De Bakker won the crown in 2006, and Rubin, a product of McEnroe's academy in New York, triumphed in 2014.
   Here are the Tiburon singles qualifying and main draws and Monday's schedule. Matches will be streamed live.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Brooksby, 17, upsets veteran in $100K Tiburon qualifying

Jenson Brooksby practices at the Arden Hills Club
& Spa in Sacramento in May. Three months later,
he won the USTA boys 18 national title to earn a
wild card into the men's main draw of the U.S. Open.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby, a 17-year-old wild card from Carmichael in the Sacramento area, defeated Joao Souza, a former top-70 player from Brazil, 7-5, 6-1 today in the first round of qualifying for the $100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   Brooksby won the USTA boys 18 national title in Kalamazoo, Mich., last month to earn an automatic wild card in the men's main draw of the recent U.S. Open and lost to John Millman of Australia 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 in the first round. Millman later stunned Roger Federer in the fourth round before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the quarterfinals, and Brooksby reached the boys semifinals.
   The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Souza, 30, has plunged from a career-high No. 69 in 2015 to No. 410. He played in the longest singles match in Davis Cup history in 2015, losing to Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 5-7, 15-13 in 6 hours, 42 minutes.
   Brooksby will face second-seeded Cem Ilkel of Turkey on Sunday not before 1 p.m. on Court 1. The 23-year-old Ilkel, ranked No. 243, beat Sebastian Korda, 18, of Bradenton, Fla., 7-6 (3), 6-2.
   Korda, 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) and only 165 pounds (75 kilograms), is ranked third in the world among juniors. He won the Australian Open boys title in January, 20 years after his Czech father, Petr, captured the men's title in Melbourne.
   Brooksby was the only one of the six wild cards in qualifying to win today. Top-seeded Liam Broady of Great Britain outplayed Florian Lakat, a 23-year-old former Cal star from France, 6-4, 6-4.
   Broady, a 24-year-old left-hander, reached the final of last year's $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger as a qualifier and advanced to the quarterfinals in Aptos, 98 miles (158 kilometers) south of Tiburon, last month. Lakat won last year's Tiburon doubles title with ex-Cal teammate Andre Goransson of Sweden.
   Fourth-seeded Jan Choinski of Germany dominated Ryder Jackson of Nicasio 6-0, 6-3 in 58 minutes, and Alejandro Gomez of Colombia overwhelmed Stevie Gould of Corte Madera 6-0, 6-1 in 48 minutes. Tiburon, Nicasio and Corte Madera are located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
   Brooksby, Jackson and Gould are high school seniors who have verbally committed to universities. Brooksby is headed to Texas Christian, Jackson to USC and Gould to Washington.
   Alexander Sarkissian, 28, of Glendale in the Los Angeles area held off 2012 Wimbledon doubles champion Frederik Nielsen, 35, of Denmark 6-4, 7-5. 
   Sarkissian advanced to the 2014 NCAA final as a Pepperdine senior, losing to Marcos Giron of UCLA. Giron, from Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles region, defeated Marc-Andrea Huesler, a 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) left-hander from Switzerland, 6-2, 7-6 (1) today.
   Third-seeded Mitchell Krueger, 24, of Orlando, Fla., beat Laurent Lokoli of France 7-6 (2), 6-1. Krueger, a Tiburon quarterfinalist in 2015 and 2016, qualified for a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in 13 attempts in this year's U.S. Open and lost to Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in the opening round.
   Lokoli made news in last year's French Open by refusing to shake Martin Klizan's hand after losing to the Slovakian 6-4 in the fifth set in the first round. Klizan had celebrated and pointed to his head after a double fault by Lokoli. Lokoli also accused Klizan of faking a leg injury.
   Here are the Tiburon singles qualifying draw and Sunday's schedule

Friday, September 21, 2018

Brooksby, 17, to play in $100K Tiburon qualifying

Jenson Brooksby practices at the Arden Hills Club
& Spa in Sacramento in May, three months before
he won the USTA Boys 18 National Championships
to earn a wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open.
Photo by Paul Bauman
  Three teenage wild cards from Northern California, including USTA boys 18 national champion Jenson Brooksby, are scheduled to play in Saturday's first round of qualifying in the $100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Brooksby, a 17-year-old resident of Carmichael in the Sacramento area, will meet 30-year-old Brazilian Joao Souza, who reached a career-high No. 69 in 2015, on Court 4 at about 4 p.m.
   Brooksby earned an automatic wild card into the main draw of the recent U.S. Open by winning the USTA title in Kalamazoo, Mich. He lost to John Millman of Australia 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 in the first round at Flushing Meadows. Millman later stunned Roger Federer in the fourth round before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the quarterfinals, and Brooksby reached the boys semifinals.
   The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Souza played in the longest singles match in Davis Cup history in 2015, losing to Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 5-7, 15-13 in 6 hours, 42 minutes.
   On Saturday at 10 a.m., Stevie Gould of Corte Madera in the San Francisco Bay Area will play Alejandro Gomez of Colombia, on Center Court and Ryder Jackson of Nicasio in the Bay Area will take on No. 4 seed Jan Choinski of Germany on Court 4.
   Brooksby, Gould and Jackson are high school seniors who have verbally committed to universities. Brooksby is headed to Texas Christian, Gould to Washington and Jackson to USC.
   Also Saturday, top-seeded Liam Broady of Great Britain will meet wild card Florian Lakat, a 23-year-old former Cal star from France, on Center Court not before 1 p.m.
   Broady, a 24-year-old left-hander, reached the final of last year's $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger as a qualifier and advanced to the quarterfinals there last month. Lakat won last year's Tiburon doubles title with ex-Cal teammate Andre Goransson of Sweden.
   Sebastian Korda, 18, of Bradenton, Fla., will take on No. 2 seed Cem Ilkel of Turkey. Korda, 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) and only 165 pounds (75 kilograms), won the Australian Open boys title in January, 20 years after his father, Petr, captured the men's title in Melbourne. Sebastian is ranked third in the world among juniors.
   Frederik Nielsen, 35, of Denmark will meet Alexander Sarkissian, 28, of Glendale in the Los Angeles area on Court 4 after the Choinski-Jackson match.
   In 2012, Nielsen and Jonathan Marray of Great Britain became the first wild cards to win the Wimbledon men's doubles title. Nielsen's grandfather Kurt reached the Wimbledon singles final in 1953 and 1955.
   Sarkissian advanced to the 2014 NCAA final as a Pepperdine senior, losing to Marcos Giron of UCLA. Giron, from Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles region, will play Marc-Andrea Huesler, a 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) left-hander from Switzerland, on Court 1 at 10 a.m.
   American Mitchell Krueger, a Tiburon quarterfinalist in 2015 and 2016, will face Laurent Lokoli of France on Center Court after the Gould-Gomez encounter.
   Krueger, 24, qualified for a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in 13 attempts in this year's U.S. Open and lost to Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in the opening round.
   Lokoli made news in last year's French Open when he refused to shake Martin Klizan's hand after losing to the Slovakian 6-4 in the fifth set in the first round. Klizan had celebrated and pointed to his head after a double fault by Lokoli, violating one of tennis' unwritten rules. Lokoli also accused Klizan of faking a leg injury.
   Here are the Tiburon singles qualifying draw and Saturday's schedule. The singles main draw will be conducted Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and play will begin on Monday not before 11:30 a.m. The finals are scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 30, at a time to be determined.

Why I'm requesting donations to NorCal Tennis Czar

Dear readers,
   Seven years ago, I launched NorCal Tennis Czar because newspaper and internet coverage of regional tennis was almost nonexistent. Since then, I have written over 2,400 stories -- all requiring extensive research, many entailing multiple interviews, and most accompanied by photos -- for free. I have paid my own expenses to cover out-of-town tournaments, bought two cameras and a laptop, and hired two web designers.
   In short, I have put my heart and soul into covering Northern California professional, collegiate and junior tennis.
   Now I need your help. Please donate by inserting an amount on my homepage, clicking on "Donate" and paying by credit card. It's fast, easy and secure.
   The more support I receive, the more in-depth coverage I can provide that is unavailable anywhere else. I can cover additional tournaments, stay at them longer and write more player profiles, feature stories, opinion columns and book reviews.
   Let me use my 40 years of newspaper experience to take NorCal Tennis Czar to another level. Time is no longer an issue, but funding is.
   If you enjoy stories such as those below, including the profiles of San Francisco Bay Area products CiCi Bellis and Mackenzie McDonald before they became stars, please donate to NorCal Tennis Czar. You'll be supporting not only my work but the sport we love.
   Thank you for reading NorCal Tennis Czar, and please comment with any suggestions.
Sincerely,
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Humor
   Why tennis is better than golf (April 3, 2012)
   U.S. Open TV commercials: The good, bad and ugly (Sept. 7, 2014)
   On crummy motels, heat, Vika, etc. in Indian Wells (March 25, 2016)
   French Open preview: Ugly shorts, Louis XIV, dog food (May 22, 2016)
Professionals
   Tursunov no longer thinks his father committed fault (Sept. 23, 2011)
   Sac State coach: Azarenka wasn't kidding around (March 5, 2012)
   John McEnroe Q&A: U.S. tennis needs athletes (April 13, 2014)
   Aussie Millman makes Aptos history with title (Aug. 17, 2015)
   Wave of U.S. men's prospects could make big splash (Dec. 4, 2015)
   Help! It's on the way for American men (Oct. 8, 2016)
   Scary good: Bellis, 17, compared to Capriati (Jan. 21, 2017)
   Friendly foes: Keys tops CoCo for Stanford title (Aug. 6, 2017)
   Aussie O'Connell overcomes harrowing evacuation (Oct. 11, 2017)
   Federer pal McDonald wins first Challenger title (Oct. 15, 2017)
Colleges
   No Djoke -- Stanford coach has beaten Serb star (May 20, 2016)
   Altamirano, UVA three-peat; Stanford women fall in final (May 23, 2017)
   Good Lord! Stanford women win another title (May 22, 2018)
Juniors
   Little Bellis gets big results (June 24, 2012)
   Academy makes waves with two national champs (Sept. 8, 2013)
   Chaudhary channels Nadal for Sectional boys 18 title (June 17, 2018)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

U.S. rally falls short; Sanchez wins WTA doubles title

Sam Querrey, a late pick by U.S. captain Jim Courier, upset
Marin Cilic of host Croatia today in the Davis Cup semi-
finals. Croatia, however, defeated the United States 3-2.
File photo by Paul Bauman
   The United States, receiving an unexpected boost from Sam Querrey, almost pulled off an amazing comeback today in the Davis Cup semifinals.
   The U.S. came within one set of stunning host Croatia after trailing 2-0 on outdoor clay in Zadar on the Adriatic Sea. However, Borna Coric defeated Frances Tiafoe 6-7 (0), 6-1, 6-7 (11), 6-1, 6-3 in 4 hours, 6 minutes to give Croatia a 3-2 victory. 
   Tiafoe, ranked No. 40, trailed 4-0 and 5-1 in the third set. against Coric, ranked No. 18.
   Coric, 21, was playing in his 16th Davis Cup singles match and Tiafoe, 20, his second after debuting on Friday with a loss to 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Marin Cilic. Coric shocked Roger Federer to win Halle (Germany) on grass in June.
   U.S. captain Jim Courier chose Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native who has struggled this year, over Steve Johnson at the last minute to face Marin Cilic in today's first singles match. Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion and a two-time Grand Slam runner-up, was 6-0 against Querrey and 5-0 against Johnson.
   Querrey, who has plummeted from a career-high No. 11 in February to No. 61, responded with a 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-4 victory. He trailed 6-1 in the second-set tiebreaker.
   The United States was missing its top two players. Six-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner, ranked No. 10, is awaiting the birth of his first child. Jack Sock, ranked No. 17 in singles and No. 2 in doubles, withdrew with a hip injury after winning his second consecutive Grand Slam men's doubles title with Mike Bryan in the U.S. Open.
   Bryan and Ryan Harrison began the United States' comeback on Saturday by edging Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic 7-5, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5) in 4 hours, 41 minutes. Bryan and Harrison came within two points of losing at 5-6 in the fifth set.
   Croatia, slightly smaller than West Virginia with a population (4.2 million) comparable to metropolitan Detroit's, improved to 5-0 against the United States. In the teams' previous meeting, Croatia stunned the U.S. 3-2 after trailing 2-0 in Portland, Ore., in the 2006 quarterfinals.
   Only once in the 118-year history of the Davis Cup has the United States overcome a 2-0 deficit, accomplishing the feat in 1934 against Australia in London. 
   The U.S. has failed to reach the Davis Cup final since winning its record 32nd Davis Cup championship in 2007. Australia is next with 28.
   Croatia, which won its only Davis Cup title in 2005, reached the final for the second time in three years. It will play at defending champion France on Nov. 23-25 in a rematch of the World Cup soccer final in July won by France in Moscow.  
Asia Muhammad, left, and Maria Sanchez won
the doubles title in Quebec City on the WTA
tour. File photo by Paul Bauman
   WTA tour -- Unseeded Americans Asia Muhammad and Maria Sanchez, a 28-year-old product of Modesto, Calif., surprised second-seeded Darija Jurak of Croatia and Xenia Knoll of Switzerland 6-4, 6-3 to win the doubles title in Quebec City. It was Muhammad's third WTA doubles crown and Sanchez's second.
   Sanchez claimed the singles title in the inaugural Sacramento Challenger in 2012. Muhammad won the doubles crown in Sacramento in 2012 with local product Yasmin Schnack, who retired the following year at 25, and in Berkeley in July with former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs.
   Also today, two U.S. qualifiers who excelled in Sacramento singles lost in their first career WTA finals to 32-year-olds.
   Amanda Anisimova, 17, fell to second-seeded Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei 6-2, 6-2 in Hiroshima. Anisimova, who won her first professional title in last year's Sacramento Challenger at 15 before the tournament moved to Berkeley, became the first player born in 2001 to crack the top 100. She zoomed 39 places to No. 95.
   Jessica Pegula, 24, lost to eighth-seeded Pauline Parmentier of France 7-5, 6-2 in Quebec City. Pegula, the daughter of Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Terrence and Kim Pegula, fell to Sanchez in the 2012 Sacramento final.
   Pegula soared 86 spots to No. 141, 18 notches below her career high of No. 123 in 2013 before injuries derailed her career.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Opinion: Serena, crowd embarrassed themselves, USA

   These days, it's almost impossible to make the United States look any worse.
   But Serena Williams and the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium managed to pull it off in the recent U.S. Open women's final, embarrassing themselves and their country.
   The soon-to-be-37-year-old Williams acted like a spoiled brat, throwing a tantrum because she was being beaten at her own game by 20-year-old Naomi Osaka. Williams was manipulative and hypocritical in her diatribe with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who has been widely criticized for -- gasp -- enforcing the rules.
   Equally disturbing were Williams' condescending, entitled, chip-on-her-shoulder attitude, the rudeness of the crowd during the awards ceremony, and the mild reaction, even support, by the fawning media and public.
   Williams committed three code violations in the match, which according to the rules mandate a warning, then a point penalty and then a game penalty. (Had there been a fourth violation, Williams would have been defaulted.)
   Williams was penalized and later fined a total of $17,000 for receiving coaching from Patrick Mouratoglou in the second game of the second set, smashing her racket against the court after losing her serve for 3-2 in the second set and, with Osaka leading 4-3 in the second set, calling Ramos a "liar" and "thief."
   After being warned for receiving coaching, the imperious Williams gave Ramos lecture No. 1.
   "One thing I've never done is cheat, ever," proclaimed Williams, who has residences in Florida, Southern California and Silicon Valley. "If he gives me a thumbs-up, he's telling me to, 'Come on.' I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose. I'm just letting you know."
   This was Williams playing the victim card. Ramos ruled that Mouratoglou, not Williams, was cheating. Coaching is allowed on the WTA tour but not in Grand Slam tournaments.
   Furthermore, Mouratoglou didn't give Williams a thumbs-up. He moved both of his hands forward, clearly urging Williams to go to the net. To his credit, he later admitted he had been coaching. To his discredit, he justified it by saying that everybody does. Patrick, if you get stopped for speeding, try telling that to the officer and see how far it gets you.
   Finally, as The New York Times reported, Ramos is widely known for being strict and fair. Players and coaches might want to act accordingly.
   After the point penalty for racket abuse, Williams gave Ramos lecture No. 2: "You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter, and I stand for what's right for her, and I have never cheated. You owe me an apology."
   This was Williams playing the celebrity card -- Do you know who I am, officer? -- and, like a politician kissing babies, the family card. Yes, Serena, smashing your racket in anger sets a great example for your 1-year-old daughter to watch someday on YouTube.
   Martina Navratilova characteristically put it best when she wrote in the Times: "There have been many times when I was playing that I wanted to break my racket into a thousand pieces. Then I thought about the kids watching. And I grudgingly held on to that racket."
   After Osaka broke serve again for 4-3, Williams gave Ramos lecture No. 3: "For you to attack my character, then something is wrong. It's wrong. You are attacking my character. ... You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live.
   "You are a liar. When are you going to give me my apology? Say it! Say you're sorry. ... How dare you insinuate that I was cheating."
   As Williams got up from her chair to return to the court, she told Ramos, "And you stole a point from me; you're a thief, too." So it's OK to attack his character.
   Williams still wasn't done. Then she played the gender and Trump cards.
   "Do you know how many other men do things that are ... much worse than that?" Williams told Grand Slam supervisor Donna Kelso. "This is not fair. There's a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things, but if they're men, that doesn't happen to them."
   Like that tremendous leader in the White House, Williams was trying to distract everyone from the real issue, in this case sportsmanship. Verbal abuse doesn't have to include profanity. Some would say impugning a chair umpire's integrity is worse.
   Most men and women actually make it through a match, especially a Grand Slam final, without incurring even a warning. But if they do get one, almost all have the good sense to mind their manners subsequently to avoid being penalized a point and then a game.
   At the beginning of the awards ceremony, the crowd -- apparently believing Williams had been wronged -- booed. Osaka, promptly lowered her visor and cried after clearly outplaying Williams to become the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title.
   Nice job, fans. Williams may be a poor sport, but she's our poor sport.
   Williams promptly sprang into damage control and lectured the fans, telling them to stop booing. She can't control herself, but she can tell Ramos and the crowd how to behave.
   True, a robbery occurred last Saturday, meriting an apology. Williams, who fancies herself as an honorable role model for her daughter, made a mockery of the final and should have apologized in front of the crowd for stealing Osaka's moment of glory, for which she worked incredibly hard virtually her whole life and can never regain. As the Times' outstanding tennis writer, Christopher Clarey, noted, "You only win your first Grand Slam title once."
   Ironically, Osaka and her older sister Mari took up tennis because of the Williams sisters. Naomi and Mari's Haitian father, Leonard Francois, had moved to Japan, where he met the girls' mother. Francois was inspired after watching Venus and Serena in the 1999 French Open.
   None of Serena Williams' behavior is surprising. She was fined a record $82,500 and placed on two years' probation for threatening a lineswoman in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals and $2,000 for berating a chair umpire in the 2011 final at Flushing Meadows.
   After the lineswoman called a foot fault on Williams, the player fumed at the official, "I swear to God I'll ----ing take the ball and shove it down your ----ing throat." After the chair umpire ruled that Williams had hindered Samantha Stosur by yelling "Come on," during play, Williams snarled to the official: "You're totally out of control. You're a hater, and you're just ... unattractive inside." Williams lost both matches.
   The underlying problem is that celebrities, especially Williams, are generally treated like royalty. After a while, many start to believe they are.
   Need proof?
   The cover of Sports Illustrated's 2015 Sportsperson of the Year issue depicted Williams draped across a throne (Novak Djokovic deserved the award more, but that's another issue).
   Williams' outfits during this year's U.S. Open were part of Nike's new "Queen Collection," and "Queen" was printed on her gear bag.
   In a music video-style television ad for a headphones company during the tournament, Williams was portrayed as the "Queen of Queens." At the end of the ad, she wears a regal blue gown, a massive crown is placed on her head, and Nicki Minaj bellows, "Now watch the queen conquer!"
   Williams, in fact, has been catered to her entire life. Once, she all but admitted being a spoiled brat.
   "I'm the baby (of the family), the youngest," she said. "I do have a temper tantrum sometimes. But I think it shows my passion. Sometimes getting angry really works for me."
   See how this works for you, Serena: Read the recently published biography of Ashe, if you haven't already, and learn how to conduct yourself with class and dignity.

U.S. barely survives; Anisimova, 17, gains first WTA final

Ryan Harrison, playing in Sacramento in 2014, and Mike Bryan
won a fifth-set tiebreaker today to keep the United States alive
at Croatia in the Davis Cup semifinals. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The United States still has a chance.
   Not much of one, but a chance nonetheless.
   The U.S. barely avoided elimination today as Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) and Ryan Harrison edged Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic of host Croatia 7-5, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5) in 4 hours, 41 minutes in the Davis Cup semifinals. Bryan has won a record 18 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, and the other three players have earned one each. 
   Croatia leads the best-of-five series, on outdoor clay in Zadar on the Adriatic Sea, 2-1. The winner will face defending champion France on Nov. 23-25 at a site to be determined.
   In Sunday's reverse singles matches, No. 6-ranked Marin Cilic of Croatia will face No. 30 Steve Johnson, and No. 18 Borna Coric of Croatia will meet No. 40 Frances Tiafoe.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Cilic, who will turn 30 on Sept. 28, won the 2014 U.S. Open and reached the final of Wimbledon last year and the Australian Open this year. Coric, 21, shocked Roger Federer to win Halle (Germany) on grass in June.
   Johnson, 28, is 1-3 in Davis Cup singles. Tiafoe, who won the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger, made his Davis Cup debut at age 20 on Friday and lost to Cilic 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (5).
   The United States is missing its top two players, not that they necessarily would make a difference. Six-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner, ranked No. 10, is awaiting the birth of his first child. Jack Sock, ranked No. 17 in singles and No. 2 in doubles, has a hip injury after winning his second consecutive Grand Slam men's doubles title with Bryan in the U.S. Open.
   The United States has failed to reach the Davis Cup final since winning the 2007 championship in Portland, Ore. Croatia, which won its only Davis Cup title in 2005, is trying to advance to the final for the second time in three years. The team lost to Argentina 3-2 in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2016.
   Croatia, slightly smaller than West Virginia with a population (4.2 million) comparable to metropolitan Detroit's, is 4-0 against the United States in the Davis Cup. In the most recent meeting, Croatia stunned the U.S. 3-2 after trailing 2-0 in Portland in the 2016 quarterfinals.
   WTA tour -- Two U.S. qualifiers who excelled in the now-defunct Sacramento Challenger reached their first WTA finals today. Both will play 32-year-olds.
   Amanda Anisimova, who won her first professional title last year in Sacramento at 15 years old, knocked off top-seeded Zhang Shuai of China 7-6 (4), 7-5 in Hiroshima.
   Jessica Pegula, the runner-up to Modesto product Maria Sanchez in the inaugural Sacramento Challenger six years ago, outlasted 19-year-old compatriot Sofia Kenin 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in Quebec City.
   Kenin has won Northern California Challengers in each of the past three years (Sacramento in 2016Stockton last year and Berkeley in July). The Sacramento tournament lost its primary sponsor and moved to Berkeley this year.
   Anisimova, who turned 17 two weeks ago, became the youngest player to reach a WTA final since Donna Vekic of Croatia lost in Tashkent in 2012 and Birmingham in 2013 as a 16-year-old. Anisimova, ranked No. 134, also will become the first player born in 2001 to crack the top 100 on Monday.
   A potential star, Anisimova improved to 12-3 since returning from a four-month injury layoff in San Jose in July and 24-6 overall this season, including 11-4 in WTA main draws. She broke a foot in Miami in March.
   Anisimova is scheduled to face second-seeded Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei on Sunday. The 40th-ranked Hsieh, playing her second match of the day, beat Wang Qiang of China 6-4, 6-4.
   Earlier, Hsieh topped fifth-seeded Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 in a rain-postponed quarterfinal. Tomljanovic, a Croatia native, withdrew from the final of the 2017 Sacramento Challenger with a shoulder injury.
   Hsieh upset top-ranked Simona Halep in the third round at Wimbledon in July before losing to Dominika Cibulkova.
  Pegula, the 24-year-old daughter of Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Terrence and Kim Pegula, has been plagued by injuries during her career. Ranked No. 227, she will meet eighth-seeded Pauline Parmentier of France. Parmentier, ranked No. 69, nipped Heather Watson of Great Britain 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (5).
   In the Quebec City doubles semifinals, unseeded Asia Muhammad and Sanchez topped third-seeded Desirae Krawczyk and Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3 [10-7] in an all-American encounter.
   Krawczyk and Olmos, who's from Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area, won last year's Sacramento Challenger.
   Muhammad took the Sacramento crown in 2012 with local product Yasmin Schnack, who retired the following year at 25, and in Berkeley in July with former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs.
   Muhammad and Sanchez, who reached the second round of the 2015 U.S. Open together, will play second-seeded Darija Jurak of Croatia and Xenia Knoll of Switzerland for the title.
   Muhammad seeks her third career WTA doubles title and Sanchez her second.

Friday, September 14, 2018

U.S. trails 2-0; ex-Sacramento stars reach WTA semis

Frances Tiafoe, playing in Newport Beach, Calif., in January,
made his Davis Cup debut today and lost to No. 6-ranked
Marin Cilic of Croatia. Photo courtesy of JFS Communications  
   At least the United States extended two sets to tiebreakers today.
   So much for the Americans' highlights as host Croatia swept all six sets on outdoor clay to take a 2-0 lead in Zadar on the Adriatic Sea in the Davis Cup semifinals.
   Borna Coric defeated Steve Johnson 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-3, and Marin Cilic beat Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (5). Tiafoe, who won the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger, was making his Davis Cup debut at 20.
   The United States must win Saturday's doubles match to stay alive in the best-of-five competition. Americans Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) and Ryan Harrison are scheduled to oppose Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic. Bryan has captured a record 18 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, and the other three players have won one each.
    The United States has not reached the Davis Cup final since winning the 2007 crown in Portland, Ore. Croatia, the 2005 champion, is trying to reach the final for the second time in three years.
   Croatia's commanding lead over the United States is hardly surprising:
   --The nation, slightly smaller than West Virginia with a population (4.2 million) comparable to metropolitan Detroit, is 4-0 against the United States. In the most recent meeting, Croatia stunned the U.S. 3-2 after trailing 2-0 in Portland in the 2016 quarterfinals.
   --As the host, Croatia chose the United States' weakest surface.
   --Croatia has a formidable team. The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion and a two-time Grand Slam runner-up, is ranked No. 6 in singles. Coric, who upset Roger Federer to win the Halle (Germany) title on grass in June, is No. 18. Pavic and Dodig are No. 4 and No. 24, respectively, in doubles.
   --The United States is missing its top two players, not that they necessarily would have made a difference. Six-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner, ranked No. 10, is at home in the United States awaiting the birth of his first child. Jack Sock, ranked No. 17 in singles and No. 2 in doubles, is out with a hip injury. Bryan and Sock have won the last two Grand Slam men's doubles titles.
   WTA tour -- Two ex-champions and one former runner-up in the Sacramento Challenger reached the semifinals in Quebec City or Hiroshima.
   No. 5 seed Sofia Kenin, a 19-year-old American, dismissed No. 3 Monica Puig 6-3, 6-1 in 55 minutes in Quebec City to reach her second WTA semifinal.
   Kenin has won Northern California Challengers in each of the past three years (Sacramento in 2016, Stockton last year and Berkeley in July). The Sacramento tournament lost its sponsor and moved to Berkeley this year.
   Puig claimed Puerto Rico's first Olympic gold medal in any sport in 2016 singles in Rio de Janeiro.
   Kenin, ranked No. 67, will play compatriot Jessica Pegula, a qualifier ranked No. 227 and the runner-up to Modesto product Maria Sanchez six years ago in the inaugural Sacramento Challenger.
   Pegula, the 24-year-old daughter of Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Terrence and Kim Pegula, surprised No. 2 seed Petra Martic of Croatia 6-3, 7-5. Martic won last week's inaugural Chicago Challenger.
   In the doubles semifinals on Saturday, No. 3 seeds Desirae Krawczyk and Giuliana Olmos will play unseeded Asia Muhammad and Sanchez in an all-American matchup.
   Krawczyk and Olmos, from Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area, won last year's Sacramento Challenger. Muhammad took the crown in Sacramento in 2012 with local product Yasmin Schnack, who retired the following year at 25, and in Berkeley in July with former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs.
   Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old U.S. qualifier, gained her first WTA semifinal with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 2 seed Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia in Hiroshima.
   The 134th-ranked Anisimova, who won her first professional title in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger, will face China's Zhang Shuai, seeded first and ranked No. 41.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Six Stanford women earn preseason singles rankings

Stanford sophomore Michaela Gordon, playing in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger,
is 10th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division I preseason singles rankings.
The Cardinal returns all of its starting singles and doubles players after winning its
second NCAA title in three years in May. Photo by Rob Vomund
   Barring injuries, the Stanford women won't sneak up on anyone in 2018-19.
   The Cardinal returns all of its starting singles and doubles players after winning its second NCAA championship in three years in May. Stanford, which has played in the last three NCAA finals, matched its 2016 record as the lowest-seeded team (15th) to win the title.
   All six of Stanford's singles players and two of its doubles teams received Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division I preseason rankings on Tuesday. The ITA ranks 125 singles players and 60 doubles teams.
   Rated in singles are No. 10 Michaela Gordon, a sophomore from Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area; No. 13 Melissa Lord, a senior from Bloomfield, Conn.; No. 24 Emily Arbuthnott, a junior from England; No. 47 Caroline Lampl, a senior from Leesburg, Va.; No. 56 Janice Shin, a sophomore from Houston; and No. 63 Emma Higuchi, a junior from Los Angeles.
   In doubles, Arbuthnott and Gordon are No. 3, and Lampl and Kimberly Yee, a senior from Las Vegas, are No. 17.
   The Cal women have three singles players, all in the top 34, and one doubles team in the rankings. Listed in singles are No. 28 Julia Rosenqvist, a sophomore from Sweden; No. 29 Anna Bright, a sophomore from Boca Raton, Fla.; and No. 34 Olivia Hauger, a senior from Tulsa, Okla. Hauger and Rosenqvist are No. 33 in doubles.
   Three other women with Bay Area ties are ranked in singles and doubles. Texas Tech's Felicity Maltby, a senior from Sunnyvale in the Bay Area, is No. 37 in singles and No. 53 in doubles; Mariia Kozyreva, a Saint Mary's sophomore from Russia, is No. 85 in singles and No. 23 in doubles (with sophomore Hind Abdelouahid of Manteca); and UCLA's Alaina Miller, a senior from Saratoga, is No. 86 in singles and No. 47 in doubles.
   Santa Clara's Maddie Pothoff, a junior from Tucson, Ariz., is ranked No. 110 in singles, and South Carolina's Paige Cline, a senior from Kentfield in the Bay Area, is No. 39 in doubles.
   Vanderbilt's Cameron Klinger, a senior from San Jose, is rated No. 7 in men's singles and No. 4 in doubles. Columbia's Victor Pham, a senior from Saratoga, is No. 13 in singles and No. 18 in doubles.
   The Stanford and Cal men each have two ranked singles players. The Cardinal's Axel Geller, a sophomore from Argentina who finished 2017 as the No. 1 junior in the world, is No. 48, and Sameer Kumar, a senior from Carmel, Ind., is No. 63. The Bears' Jacob Brumm, a sophomore from Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego region, is No. 102, and Jack Molloy, a sophomore from England, is No. 113. Also, Cal sophomore Can Kaya and junior Mert Zincirli, both from Turkey, are No. 59 in doubles.
   Florida's Sam Riffice, from Roseville in the Sacramento area, and Cal's Yuta Kikuchi of Japan are rated the No. 1 and No. 8 freshmen/newcomers, respectively. Both are freshmen. Riffice also is No. 38 in doubles.
   The ITA Women's All-American Championships are scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 7 at Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif. The ITA Men's All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla., are set to begin the same day and end Oct. 8.
   The first team rankings of the season will be released on Jan. 2.
INTERCOLLEGIATE TENNIS ASSOCIATION
DIVISION I PRESEASON RANKINGS
Top 10
Women's singles
1. Bianca Turati, Texas
2. Makenna Jones, North Carolina
3. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
4. Ashley Lahey, Pepperdine
5. Gabriela Knutson, Syracuse
6. Anastasia Rychagova, Kansas
7. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt
8. Katarina Jokic, Georgia
9. Stacey Fung, Washington
10. Michael Gordon, Stanford
Women's doubles
1. Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy, Duke
2. Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham, North Carolina
3. Emily Arbuthnott and Michaela Gordon, Stanford
4. Gabriela Knutson and Miranda Ramirez, Syracuse
5. Chandler Carter and Emma Davis, Wake Forest
6. Elena Christofi and Morgan Coppoc, Georgia
7. Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson, LSU
8. Lauryn John-Baptiste and Ilze Hattingh, Arizona State
9. Megan Kauffman and Lauren Proctor, Winthrop
10. Sara Daavettila and Alle Sanford, North Carolina
Men's singles
1. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest
2. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State
3. Mazen Osama, Alabama
4. Brandon Holt, USC
5. Giovanni Oradini, Mississippi State
6. Timo Stodder, Tennessee
7. Cameron Klinger, Vanderbilt
8. Thomas Laurent, Oregon
9. Carl Soderlund, Virginia
10. Alex Rybakov, TCU
Men's doubles
1. Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic, Mississippi State
2. Brandon Holt and Riley Smith, USC
3. Jack Jaede and Laurens Verboven, USC
4. Carmeron Klinger and Billy Rowe, Vanderbilt
5. Johannes Schretter and Will Little, Baylor
6. Loic Cloes and Clement Marzol, South Alabama
7. Niclas Braun and Giovanni Oradini, Mississippi State
8. Jack Mingjie Lin and William Matheson, Columbia
9. Mazen Osama and Edson Ortiz, Alabama
10. Guilherme Osorio and Nico Borter, San Diego

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Redding pro tournament canceled because of wildfires

Ana Veselinovic of Montenegro ousted
top-seeded Sofya Zhuk of Russia in the
first round of last year's $25,000 tourna-
ment in Redding, Calif. Photo by
Paul Bauman 
   The $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open, scheduled for this week at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness in Redding, Calif., was canceled because of wildfires that have ravaged the area.
   The Carr Fire, the sixth-most destructive in California history, began on July 23 and was 100 percent contained on Aug. 30. Caused by a flat tire that ignited sparks, it killed eight people and injured three, burned 229,651 acres, destroyed 1,079 residences and 525 other structures, and cost more than $1.659 billion.
   The Hirz Fire, which has scorched 46,150 acres since it began on Aug. 9, has been 97 percent contained. But the Delta Fire, which began on Wednesday and has burned 49,874 acres, has been only 5 percent contained.
   "We have three kids in our competitive program, as well as countless members, who lost their homes," Ascension Project tournament director Toby Osborn said Monday. "It's just been a tough time for the community, and we felt it was better to fundraise for those people in need rather than to fundraise to host and support a tournament."
   The fires have raged west and north of Redding, which has a population of 90,000 and lies 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of San Francisco. Sun Oaks is east of downtown.
   The tournament was canceled in early August, Osborn said.
   "It's a very good thing we canceled it because we could not have played with the smoke that we're having from some of the other fires regardless," Osborn said.
   The tournament, which had been held in Redding for 15 consecutive years, is scheduled to return to Sun Oaks next September, Osborn added. Alumni include Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka.
   This is the second straight year that wildfires have affected a Northern California professional tournament. During the $100,000 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship in Fairfield last October, two players were evacuated from their hosts' homes, and Wednesday afternoon matches were canceled because of smoke.
   This year's Fairfield tournament is scheduled for Oct. 6-14 at Solano Community College.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Djokovic, Osaka head U.S. Open honor roll

NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Photo by Paul Bauman
NAOMI OSAKA
Photo by Paul Bauman
  Results of all U.S. Open finals:
   Men's singles -- Novak Djokovic (6), Serbia, def. Juan Martin del Potro (3), Argentina, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
   Women's singles -- Naomi Osaka (20), Japan, def. Serena Williams (17), United States, 6-2, 6-4.
   Men's doubles -- Mike Bryan and Jack Sock (3), United States, def. Lukasz Kubot, Poland, and Marcelo Melo (7), Brazil, 6-3, 6-1.
   Women's doubles -- Ashleigh Barty, Australia, and CoCo Vandeweghe (13), United States, def. Timea Babos, Hungary, and Kristina Mladenovic (2), France, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6).
   Mixed doubles -- Bethanie Mattek-Sands, United States, and Jamie Murray, Great Britain, def. Alicja Rosolska, Poland, and Nikola Mektic, Croatia, 2-6, 6-3 [11-9].
   Boys singles -- Thiago Seyboth Wild (6), Brazil, def. Lorenzo Musetti, Italy, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.
   Girls singles -- Wang Xiyu (3), China, def. Clara Burel (11), France, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
   Boys doubles -- Adrian Andreev, Bulgaria, and Anton Matusevich, Great Britain, def. Emilio Nava and Axel Nefve, United States, 6-4, 2-6 [10-8].
   Girls doubles -- Cori Gauff and Caty McNally (1), United States, def. Hailey Baptiste and Dalayna Hewitt, United States, 6-3, 6-2.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Djokovic ties Sampras with 14th major singles title

Novak Djokovic, playing at Indian Wells last year, defeated Juan Martin del
Potro in straight sets today for his third U.S. Open title. Photo by Mal Taam
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   For Juan Martin del Potro, reaching the U.S. Open final was a tremendous victory in itself.
   But for Novak Djokovic, all that matters is Grand Slam titles.
   The sixth-seeded Djokovic beat the third-seeded del Potro 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 today in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., for his second consecutive major crown and 14th overall, tying Pete Sampras for third place all-time. They trail Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (17).
   It was Djokovic's third U.S. Open title in his record-tying eighth final at Flushing Meadows.
   Djokovic, a 31-year-old Serb, improved to 15-4 against del Potro, an Argentine who will turn 30 on Sept. 23. Djokovic has won the last four meetings and seven of the last eight. At 6-foot-2 (1.88 meters), he moves better than the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) del Potro.
   Del Potro was playing in his second Grand Slam final. He shocked Nadal and Federer in the last two rounds of the 2009 U.S. Open.
   A right-hander with a two-handed backhand, del Potro considered retirement after undergoing four wrist operations (one right and three left) between 2010 and 2015.
   Djokovic has had his own injury issues. The right-hander missed last year's U.S. Open with a right elbow problem that subsequently required surgery.
   Williams fined -- Serena Williams was fined $17,000 for committing three code violations during her loss to Naomi Osaka, 20, in Saturday's women's final.
   Williams -- who has residences in Florida, Southern California and Silicon Valley -- was assessed $10,000 for verbal abuse of chair umpire Carlos Ramos, $4,000 for being coached and $3,000 for smashing her racket in anger.
   Williams won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in (20112012 and 2014). The tournament moved to San Jose this year under a new sponsor, Mubadala.
   Women's doubles final -- No. 13 seeds Ashleigh Barty of Australia and CoCo Vandeweghe of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area saved three match points in a 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6) victory over No. 2 seeds Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France.
   Vandeweghe reached two Bank of the West singles finals (2012 and 2017) and won the doubles title at Stanford last year with countrywoman Abigail Spears.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Osaka outclasses Serena in controversial U.S. Open final

Naomi Osaka recorded her first big win as a 16-year-old
qualifier in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford four
years ago. 2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   Note to readers: If you enjoy my coverage of Northern California tennis, please donate on my homepage. Here's why I need your support. Thank you.
   Today's U.S. Open women's final should be remembered for Naomi Osaka's outstanding performance and first Grand Slam title.
   Instead, it will be recalled for yet another tirade by Serena Williams.
   Osaka, 20, defeated her idol Williams 6-2, 6-4 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., to become the first Japanese player, male or female, to win a major singles crown.
   The 20th-seeded Osaka beat the 17th-seeded Williams at her own game, out-serving the part-time Silicon Valley resident, outslugging her from the baseline and playing better on the big points.
   Osaka had six aces and one double fault, put in 73 percent of her first serves and converted 4 of 5 break points. Williams finished with three aces and six double faults, put in 55 percent of her first deliveries and capitalized on only 1 of 6 break points.
   Williams was warned for receiving coaching from Patrick Mouratoglou in the second game of the second set, assessed a point penalty for smashing her racket after losing her serve for 3-2 in the second set and docked a game for 3-5 for telling chair umpire Carlos Ramos, "You stole a point from me. You're a thief, too."
   This was Williams' third major clash with an official in the U.S. Open, which she has won six times. She was fined a record $82,500 and placed on two years' probation for threatening a lineswoman ("I swear to God I'll ----ing take the ball and shove it down your ----ing throat.") in the 2009 semifinals and $2,000 for berating a chair umpire ("You're totally out of control. You're a hater and you're just ... unattractive inside.") in the 2011 final. Williams lost both matches.
   As ESPN commentator Tom Rinaldi began today's awards ceremony at 23,770-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, the pro-Williams crowd booed, causing tears to roll down Osaka's cheeks.
   Williams then told the crowd: "I know you guys were here rooting, and I was rooting, too, but let's make this the best moment we can. ... We're going to get through this, and let's be positive. So congratulations, Naomi. No more booing."
   After receiving her trophy, a subdued Osaka said: "I'm sorry. I know that everyone was cheering for her, and I'm sorry that it had to end like this. I just want to say thank you for watching the match.
   "It was always my dream to play Serena in the U.S. Open final, so I'm really glad that I was able to do that. I'm really grateful that I was about to play with you. Thank you."
   Osaka improved to 2-0 against Williams, having won 6-3, 6-2 in the first round at Miami in March. It was Williams' second tournament after giving birth to her first child and enduring life-threatening complications.
   Williams, who will turn 37 on Sept. 26, has lost meekly in the final of the last two Grand Slam tournaments in an attempt to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles titles. She fell to Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3 at Wimbledon.
   Osaka was born in Japan, has a Japanese mother and Haitian father, and lives in Boca Raton, Fla. She is coached by Williams' former hitting partner, Sascha Bajin.
   Williams won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford three times (20112012 and 2014). Osaka's first big win came in the 2014 tournament, which moved to San Jose this year under a new sponsor, Mubadala.
   As a 16-year-old qualifier playing her first main-draw match on the WTA tour, Osaka ousted 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur 4-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 in the opening round at Stanford. Osaka saved a match point in the tiebreaker and overcame a 3-5 deficit in the third set. She then fell to No. 8 seed Andrea Petkovic.
   Men's singles -- No. 3 seed Juan Martin del Potro is scheduled to face No. 6 Novak Djokovic for the title on Sunday at 1 p.m. PDT (ESPN).
   Djokovic, a two-time U.S. Open champion and five-time runner-up, is 14-4 with a three-match winning streak against Del Potro, who has undergone four wrist operations since stunning Roger Federer for the 2009 crown at Flushing Meadows.
  Mixed doubles -- Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Jamie Murray of Great Britain nipped Alicja Rosolska of Poland and Nikola Mektic of Croatia 2-6, 6-3 [11-9] for the title. Both teams were unseeded.
   It was the fourth Grand Slam mixed doubles title for Murray and third for Mattek-Sands but their first together. Mattek-Sands suffered a gruesome knee injury at Wimbledon last year and missed eight months.
  Boys singles -- Lorenzo Musetti, a 16-year-old Italian, beat Jenson Brooksby, 17, of Carmichael in the Sacramento area 6-3, 6-3 in a semifinal matchup of unseeded players.
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