Friday, November 16, 2018

Bryan, Sock lose but reach doubles semis in ATP Finals

   Mike Bryan and Jack Sock didn't exactly end the round-robin phase of the Nitto ATP Finals on a high note.
   But the fifth seeds reached Saturday's doubles semifinals anyway.
   Eighth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut dominated Bryan (Stanford, 2017-18) and Sock 6-2, 6-2 in 53 minutes today in London to win Group Knowles Nestor. Both teams finished 2-1. Top-seeded Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic (1-2) and third-seeded Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo (1-2) were eliminated.
   Fourth-seeded Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares (3-0) and second-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (2-1) advanced in Group Llodra Santoro on Thursday. Sixth-seeded Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus (1-2), seventh-seeded Nikola Mektic and Alexander Peya (0-2), and ninth-seeded Henri Kontinen and John Peers (0-1) were ousted.
   Kontinen and Peers, the two-time defending champions, replaced Mektic and Peya after the 37-year-old Peya suffered an elbow injury.
   In singles today, top seed and five-time champion Novak Djokovic beat fifth-seeded Marin Cilic 7-6 (7), 6-2 to improve to 34-2 since the start of Wimbledon. Also, third-seeded Alexander Zverev downed eighth-seeded John Isner 7-6 (5), 6-3. Isner replaced two-time runner-up Rafael Nadal, who withdrew on Nov. 5 with ankle and abdominal injuries.
   Djokovic (3-0) and Zverev (2-1) advanced to the semifinals in Group Guga Kuerten, while Cilic (1-2) and Isner (0-3) were eliminated. Second seed and six-time champion Roger Federer (2-1) and fourth-seeded Kevin Anderson (2-1) moved into the semis in Group Lleyton Hewitt, while sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem (1-2) and seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori (1-2) fell short.
   In Saturday's semis on Tennis Channel, Bryan and Sock are scheduled to face Murray and Soares at 4 a.m. PST, followed by Federer against Zverev not before 6 a.m., Cabal and Farah versus Herbert and Mahut not before 10 a.m., and Djokovic against Anderson not before noon.
   Federer, 37, is 3-2 against the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev, 21. Federer won their last meeting, 7-6 (6), 5-7, 6-1 in the round-robin portion of last year's ATP Finals.
   Djokovic defeated the 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (3) to win his fourth Wimbledon singles title in July. Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 7-1 and owns a seven-match winning streak against Anderson.
   WTA tour -- Third-seeded Desirae Krawczyk and Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area, will play unseeded Maegan Manasse (Cal, 2014-17) and Jessica Pegula for the doubles title in the $150,000 Oracle Challenger Series -- Houston.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Federer beats Anderson; both advance in ATP Finals

Roger Federer, playing in a March exhibition in San Jose, reached the semifinals
of the ATP Finals for the 15th time. Photo by Mal Taam
   Roger Federer avenged a loss to Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon, defeating the 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) South African 6-4, 6-3 today in the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
   Both the second-seeded Federer, who made his Northern California debut in a March exhibition in San Jose, and the fourth-seeded Anderson, a quarterfinalist in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose in 2012, finished 2-1 in Group Lleyton Hewitt to reach Saturday's semifinals. Sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem and seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori were eliminated with 1-2 records.
   Federer, who has won a record six titles in the ATP Finals, advanced to the semis for the 15th time. Anderson, who rallied from two sets down and saved a match point to stun Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in July, became the first South African to move into the semis of the elite tournament since it began in 1970.
   Federer will face the second-place finisher in Group Guga Kuerten, and Anderson will meet the group winner. In Friday's round-robin finales, third-seeded Alexander Zverev (1-1) is scheduled to meet eighth-seeded John Isner (0-2) not before 6 a.m. PST, and top-seeded Novak Djokovic (2-0) will play fifth-seeded Marin Cilic (1-1) not before noon.
   In a doubles round-robin finale, fifth-seeded Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) and Jack Sock (2-0) will meet eighth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (1-1) not before 9:45 a.m.
   Tennis Channel will televise all four of Friday's matches live beginning at 4 a.m.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Radwanska retires at 29; Bryan wins in ATP Finals

Agnieszka Radwanska reached the
final at Wimbledon in 2012 and Stan-
ford in 2013. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Agnieszka Radwanska, the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2012 and the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2013, announced her retirement today at age 29.
   "Unfortunately, I am no longer able to train and play the way I used to, and recently my body can't live up to my expectations," Radwanska, a petite 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters), said in a statement. "Taking into consideration my health and the heavy burdens of professional tennis, I have to concede that I'm not able to push my body to the limits required."
   Radwanska became the first Pole to reach a Grand Slam singles final in the Open era, catapulting her to a career-high No. 2, and the first to win the WTA Finals (2015 in Singapore). She reached two Australian Open semifinals and one French Open quarterfinal, won 20 WTA singles titles and earned more than $27.6 million in prize money, seventh all time.
   Known as "the Magician" for her crafty play, Radwanska was voted the WTA Fan Favorite for six consecutive years.
   Radwanska lost to Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the 2013 Bank of the West final after thrashing the Slovakian 6-0, 6-0 in the Sydney final six months earlier. Radwanska also reached the Stanford semifinals in 2010 and the quarterfinals in 2011 and 2015, the last of her six appearances in the tournament.
   The Bank of the West Classic moved to San Jose this year as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic after a 21-year run at Stanford.
   ATP Finals -- Fifth-seeded Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) and Jack Sock of the United States beat top-seeded Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia 6-4, 7-6 (4) in London to improve to 2-0 in Group Knowles Nestor.
   Bryan and Sock, this year's Wimbledon and U.S. Open champions, are scheduled to play Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (1-1) on Friday in a round-robin finale.
   In singles, top-seeded Novak Djokovic outplayed third-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-1 and clinched a semifinal berth as he seeks a record-tying sixth title in the ATP Finals.
   Fifth-seeded Marin Cilic topped eighth-seeded John Isner 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4 to improve to 1-1 in Group Guga Kuerten. Isner fell to 0-2.
   Isner won his first pro title in the Shingle Springs Futures in the Sacramento area in 2007 and reach the Chico Futures final in 2006. Ten years ago, he advanced to the singles quarterfinals of the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose and the doubles final of the $50,000 Sacramento Challenger with countryman Rajeev Ram.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Federer bounces back; Mayo loses Challenger debut

Roger Federer, playing in a March exhibition in San Jose,
remains alive in his quest for a seventh title in the ATP
Finals. Photo by Mal Taam
   Second-seeded Roger Federer rebounded from a straight-sets loss to Kei Nishikori on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem today in the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
   Federer, who made his Northern California debut in a March exhibition in San Jose, stayed alive in his quest for a seventh ATP Finals title with a 1-1 record.
   Federer is scheduled to play fourth-seeded Kevin Anderson, who demolished the seventh-seeded Nishikori 6-0, 6-1 in 64 minutes to improve to 2-0, on Thursday in a round-robin finale.
   Anderson, 6-foot-8 (2.03 meters), saved a match point and stunned eight-time champion Federer 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in July en route to the final. Federer had won all eight sets in four previous matches against Anderson, never even needing a tiebreaker.
   Anderson won a $15,000 Futures tournament in the Sacramento suburb of Loomis in 2007. He also reached the quarterfinals of the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose and played part-time for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2012.
   Nishikori lost in the second round in all three of his appearances in the SAP Open (2008, 2009 and 2011). Brad Gilbert of San Rafael in the San Francisco Bay Area coached Nishikori in 2011.
   USTA Pro Circuit -- Keenan Mayo, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Illinois freshman who grew up in Roseville in the Sacramento area, lost to fellow qualifier Ryan Shane, the 2015 NCAA singles champion from Virginia, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the $75,000 JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana (Ill.). Mayo, playing on his home courts, made his Challenger main-draw debut.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Bryan, Sock win ATP Finals opener; Mayo to debut

   Fifth-seeded Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) and Jack Sock of the United States beat third seeds and 2017 runners-up Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 6-3, 7-6 (5) today in a round-robin opener at the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
   Bryan and Sock, this year's Wimbledon and U.S. Open champions, saved a set point with Sock serving at 4-5 in the second set. Kubot double-faulted on match point.
   Mike Bryan's 40-year-old twin, Bob, is recovering from hip surgery in August. They have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles championships and captured four ATP Finals titles (2003, 2004, 2009 and 2014).
   The ATP Finals consists of the top eight singles players and best eight doubles teams of 2018. The four singles players and four doubles teams with the best records after three round-robin matches each advance to Saturday's semifinals.
   Also in Group Knowles/Nestor, top-seeded Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia downed eighth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France 6-4, 7-6 (3). Bryan and Sock are scheduled to play Marach and Pavic on Wednesday at 4 a.m. PST (Tennis Channel).
   In Group Llodra/Santoro, second-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia are 1-0 with fourth-seeded Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil. Sixth-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand are 0-1 with seventh-seeded Nikola Mektic of Croatia and Alexander Peya of Austria.
   USTA Pro Circuit -- Keenan Mayo, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Illinois freshman who grew up in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, is scheduled to make his Challenger main-draw debut on his home courts in Champaign, Ill., on Tuesday.
   Mayo, 18, will play fellow qualifier Ryan Shane, the 2015 NCAA singles champion from Virginia, in the first round of the $75,000 JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana.
   Mayo defeated Sem Verbeek, a 24-year-old Dutch left-hander who starred at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) on Sunday in the final round of qualifying.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Kenin loses Fed Cup epic; Gibbs falls in $80K Vegas final

American Sofia Kenin, shown en route to the Berkeley title in July,
lost to Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 in 3
 hours, 44 minutes today in the clinching match of the Fed Cup final
in Prague. Photo by Paul Bauman
   For a player who lost both of her matches, Sofia Kenin had an impressive Fed Cup debut.
   The 19-year-old American's fighting spirit was on full display in the defending champion United States' 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic this weekend on an indoor hardcourt in Prague.
   "I've always had that," said Kenin, who held two match points in a 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 loss to Katerina Siniakova, 22, that lasted 3 hours, 44 minutes today. "Captain Kathy (Rinaldi) knows me, that I'll fight to the end no matter what. It doesn't matter how long I have to stay there, as long as I'm fighting."
   Kenin, who will turn 20 on Wednesday, battled back from 4-5 on Siniakova's serve in the second set and 1-4 in the third set in her first match against Siniakova. On Saturday, Kenin fell to 32-year-old Barbora Strycova 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4 in 2 hours, 43 minutes.
   Kenin has won a Northern California Challenger in each of the past three years, including the inaugural $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge in July.
   The Czechs were missing their top two singles players, No. 7 Petra Kvitova (fever) and No. 8 Karolina Pliskova (calf, wrist), but won their fourth Fed Cup title in five years and sixth in eight years.
   The United States, meanwhile, competed without four of its top five singles players. Absent were No. 6 Sloane Stephens, No. 16 Serena Williams, No. 17 Madison Keys and No. 40 Venus Williams. No. 36 Danielle Collins made the trip but was scheduled to play only doubles.
   USTA Pro Circuit -- Top-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland beat eighth-seeded Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) 7-5, 6-1 to win the $80,000 Red Rock Pro Open in Las Vegas.
   Bencic, 21, reached a career-high No. 7 in February 2016. Gibbs, 25, lost to Kenin in the Berkeley final.
   In the doubles final, second-seeded Asia Muhammad of Las Vegas and Maria Sanchez, a Modesto product, outclassed unseeded Americans Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller 6-3, 6-4.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

U.S. trails 2-0 in Fed Cup; Gibbs reaches Las Vegas final

Sofia Kenin, shown in July, narrowly lost in her Fed
Cup debut today. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The Czech Republic almost certainly will win the Fed Cup title for the fourth time in five years and sixth time in eight years on Sunday.
   The Czechs' "B" team leads the defending champion United States' "C" team 2-0 in the best-of-five competition in Prague.
   It's very unlikely that the Americans will win both reverse singles matches to tie the final, and even if they do, the Czechs will send the No. 1 doubles team in the world against two players debuting in the Fed Cup in the deciding match.
   Barbora Stycova, ranked 33rd, topped 52nd-ranked Sofia Kenin 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4 in the opening rubber today on an indoor hardcourt. Kenin, who will turn 20 on Wednesday, also debuted in the Fed Cup.
   "It's funny because it's her first tie and my last one," the 32-year-old Strycova, who improved to 11-7 in Fed Cup singles (she's 11-4 in doubles), told reporters. "On one hand it's sad, but on the other, I experienced so many amazing moments with this team. I played with so many different players, both opponents and teammates. I will never forget this, because it was really special."
   Katerina Siniakova, ranked 31st, then defeated 63rd-ranked Alison Riske 6-3, 7-6 (2). Siniakova, 22, is now 2-1 in Fed Cup singles (she's 1-2 in doubles).
   Eighth-ranked Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic withdrew from the final with calf and wrist injuries. Seventh-ranked Petra Kvitova sat out today with a fever but could play on Sunday. The left-hander won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014 before suffering severe injuries to her left hand in a December 2016 knife attack,
   Kenin and Riske are ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, in singles in the United States. Absent are No. 6 Sloane Stephens, No. 16 Serena Williams, No. 17 Madison Keys and No. 40 Venus Williams. No. 36 Danielle Collins is scheduled to play doubles only.
   Siniakova and Kenin will meet for the first time on Sunday at 3 a.m. PST (Tennis Channel), followed by Strycova against Riske. Strycova leads the head-to-head series 2-0. Then Barbora Krejcikova and Siniakova are set to play Collins and Nicole Melichar, a Czech native.
   Pliskova reached the final of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, losing to Angelique Kerber, and Siniakova was the doubles runner-up at Stanford in 2014 with Paula Kania of Poland. The tournament moved to San Jose this year under a new sponsor.
   Riske advanced to the 2016 semifinals and 2015 quarterfinals at Stanford.
   Collins, who won the 2014 and 2016 NCAA singles titles while attending Virginia, reached the semifinals of the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose in August.
   Kenin has won a Northern California Challenger in each of the past three years, including the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge in July.
   The United States and the Czech Republic lead all nations with 18 and 10 Fed Cup titles, respectively.
   USTA Pro Circuit -- Eighth-seeded Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) of Venice in the Los Angeles area beat qualifier Giuliana Olmos, a San Francisco Bay Area product who plays for Mexico, 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals of the $80,000 Red Rock Pro Open in Las Vegas.
   Gibbs, 25, will face top-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland for the title. The 21-year-old Bencic, who reached a career-high No. 7 in February 2016, outplayed unseeded Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-1, 6-4.
   In the doubles final, second-seeded Asia Muhammad of Las Vegas and Maria Sanchez, a Modesto product, will play unseeded Americans Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller.
   College -- Bjorn Thomson and Parker Wynn of Texas Tech defeated Yuta Kikuchi and Jacob Brumm of Cal 6-3, 6-4 in a matchup of unseeded teams in the semifinals of the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Surprise, Ariz.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Roundup: Fed Cup, $80K Las Vegas, ITA Fall Nationals

Petra Kvitova will miss the opening day of the
Fed Cup with a fever. File photo by Paul Bauman
   The Czech Republic, which already had lost No. 8 Karolina Pliskova, also will be without No. 7 Petra Kvitova on Saturday in the Fed Cup final against the defending champion United States in Prague.
   Two days after Pliskova withdrew with calf and wrist injuries, the Czechs announced that Kvitova will miss at least the first day with a fever.
   Kvitova, 28, hopes to play in Sunday's reverse singles. The left-hander won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014 before suffering severe injuries to her left hand in a December 2016 knife attack and undergoing surgery.
   The Czechs remain heavy favorites against the United States, which is missing four of its top five singles players. Absent are No. 6 Sloane Stephens, No. 16 Serena Williams, No. 17 Madison Keys and No. 40 Venus Williams.
   No. 33 Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic will face No. 52 Sofia Kenin in the opening rubber, followed by No. 31 Katerina Siniakova against No. 63 Alison Riske, a member of last year's team that beat host Belarus in the Fed Cup final.
   The top-ranked player on the U.S. team, No. 36 Danielle Collins, apparently will sit out Saturday. Three of the United States' four players -- Kenin, Collins and doubles No. 15 Nicole Melichar, a Czech native -- have never competed in the Fed Cup.
   Pliskova reached the final of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, losing to Angelique Kerber, and Siniakova was the doubles runner-up at Stanford in 2014 at age 18 with Paula Kania of Poland. The tournament moved to San Jose under a new sponsor this year.
   Collins advanced to the semifinals of the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose in August.
   Kenin, who will turn 20 on Wednesday, has won a Northern California Challenger in each of the past three years, including the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge in July.
   Riske reached the 2016 semifinals and 2015 quarterfinals at Stanford.
   The United States leads all nations with 18 Fed Cup titles. The Czech Republic is next with 10, including five in the last seven years.
   Tennis Channel will televise the best-of-five-match series on an indoor hardcourt beginning at 5 a.m. PST on Saturday.
   USTA Pro Circuit -- Nicole Gibbs and Giuliana Olmos, 25-year-old former Pacific-12 Conference stars with strong Northern California ties, are scheduled to meet for the first time in the semifinals of the $80,000 Red Rock Pro Open in Las Vegas.
   The eighth-seeded Gibbs, who won three NCAA titles (two in singles and one in doubles) at Stanford, beat fellow Los Angeles-area resident Danielle Lao 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-3.
   Olmos, a qualifier and former USC All-American, was born in Austria, grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area and plays for Mexico. She eliminated third-seeded Fanni Stollar of Hungary 6-4, 6-2 to reach her first semifinal in a tournament larger than $15,000.
   In the other semifinal, top seed and former world No. 7 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland will meet sixth-seeded Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.
   Second-seeded Asia Muhammad of Las Vegas and Maria Sanchez, a Modesto product, will play unseeded Americans Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller in Sunday's doubles final.
   College -- Jacob Brumm and Yuta Kikuchi of Cal defeated Brian Berdusco and Johannes Ingildsen of Florida 7-5, 6-4 in a matchup of unseeded teams in the quarterfinals of the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Surprise, Ariz.
   In the women's doubles quarterfinals, second-seeded Makenna Jones and Cameron Morra of North Carolina beat Cal's Anna Bright and Jasie Dunk 6-1, 6-4.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Volynets, 16, falls in quarters of $25K Kansas tourney

Katie Volynets, playing in last month's Stockton Wom-
en's 60K, squandered a big lead and lost to Catherine
Harrison today in the quarterfinals of a $25,000 tour-
nament in Lawrence, Kan. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Lucky loser Catherine Harrison from Germantown, Tenn., overcame a big deficit to defeat Katie Volynets, a 16-year-old qualifier from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 today in the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Harold A. Miller Women's Tennis Tournament in Lawrence, Kan.
   Volynets, an amateur playing in her fifth professional tournament, led 6-1, 4-1. She reached the semifinals of her previous tourney, a $25,000 event in Florence, S.C., last month.
   Harrison, a 24-year-old former UCLA All-American, will play qualifier Ena Shibahara, a UCLA junior who's taking the fall off to play on the USTA Pro Circuit, on Friday.
   Shibahara, who won the doubles title in the Stockton (Calif.) Women's 60K last month with former North Carolina All-American Hayler Carter, beat Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei 6-4, 6-2.
   In the doubles semifinals, Vladica Babic of Montenegro and Shibahara crushed Allura and Maribella Zamarripa, 16-year-old twins from Saint Helena in the Napa area, 6-0, 6-1 in 42 minutes.
   Babic advanced to the NCAA doubles final in May as an Oklahoma State senior with Sofia Blanco. They fell to LSU's Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson.
   College -- Two Cal doubles teams, one men's and one women's, reached the quarterfinals of the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Surprise, Ariz.
   On the men's side, Yuta Kikuchi and Jacob Brumm downed identical twins Igor and Ivan Saveljic of North Carolina State 7-6 (2), 6-3. Also, Anna Bright and Jasie Dunk beat Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze of North Texas 7-5, 6-3.
   However, third-seeded Caroline Lampl and Kimberly Yee of Stanford lost to Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova of Pepperdine 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Roundup: Fed Cup, Volynets, Zamarripas, ITA tourney

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic withdrew from
this weekend's Fed Cup final against the United States
with calf and wrist injuries. 2015 photo by Mal Taam
   World No. 8 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic will miss this weekend's Fed Cup final with calf and wrist injuries, and No. 7 Petra Kvitova sat out of practice today with a fever.
   Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, is expected to play against the United States on Saturday and Sunday on an indoor hardcourt in Prague. But even if she doesn't, the Czechs will be strong favorites at home with No. 31 Katerina Siniakova and No. 33 Barbora Strycova in singles and the No. 1 doubles team of Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova.
   Pliskova reached the final of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, losing to Angelique Kerber, and Siniakova was the doubles runner-up at Stanford in 2014 at age 18 with Paula Kania of Poland. The tournament moved to San Jose under a new sponsor this year.
   The defending champion United States will be missing four of its top five singles players against the Czechs: No. 6 Sloane Stephens, No. 16 Serena Williams, No. 17 Madison Keys and No. 40 Venus Williams.
   Three of the four Americans on the team will make their Fed Cup debuts: No. 36 Danielle Collins, No. 52 Sofia Kenin and doubles No. 15 Nicole Melichar, a Czech native. Joining them will be Alison Riske, a member of last year's team that beat host Belarus in the final. She is ranked 63rd in singles.
   Collins reached the semifinals of the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose in August. Kenin, who will turn 20 next Wednesday, has won a Northern California Challenger in each of the past three years, including the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge in July. Riske advanced to the 2016 semifinals and 2015 quarterfinals at Stanford.
   The United States leads all nations with 18 Fed Cup titles. The Czech Republic is next with 10, including five in the last seven years.
   Tennis Channel will televise the best-of-five-match series beginning at 5 a.m. PST on Saturday.
    USTA Pro Circuit -- Katie Volynets, a 16-year-old qualifier from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, demolished sixth-seeded Anna Danilina, a 23-year-old Moscow native who plays for Kazakhstan, 6-1, 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Harold A. Miller Women's Tennis Tournament in Lawrence, Kan.
   Volynets is scheduled to play Catherine Harrison, a 24-year-old lucky loser from Germantown, Tenn., on Thursday. Harrison, a former UCLA All-American, defeated Italy's Bianca Turati, a Texas junior ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division I, 6-3, 6-3.
   In the doubles quarterfinals, wild cards Allura and Maribella Zamarripa, 16-year-old twins from Saint Helena in the Napa area, surprised second-seeded Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei and Romy Koelzer of Germany 3-6, 6-1 [10-4].
   College -- All eight Stanford and Cal singles players, six women and two men, lost in the first round of the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Surprise, Ariz.
   Falling were eighth-seeded Melissa Lord, 14th-seeded Michaela Gordon, Emily Arbuthnott and Caroline Lampl of the NCAA defending champion Stanford, Olivia Hauger and Julia Rosenqvist of Cal, and William Genesen and Sameer Kumar of the Cardinal.
   Also bowing out in the opening round was South Carolina's Paige Cline, from Kentfield in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   Three teams from Stanford or Cal won in the first round of doubles. Advancing were third-seeded Kimberly Yee and Lampl of Stanford, Anna Bright and Jasie Dunk of Cal, and Yuta Kikuchi and Jacob Brumm of the Bears.
   However, top-seeded Arbuthnott and Gordon lost to Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart of UCLA 6-4, 6-2.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Ma subdued, Jackson 'excited' after winning Sectionals

Second-seeded Connie Ma, left, beat fifth-seeded Katherine
Duong 6-2, 6-4 for the girls 18 title in the NorCal Junior Fall
Singles Sectional Championships. Photo by Paul Bauman
   FOLSOM, Calif. -- Connie Ma didn't so much as pump a fist after winning the girls 18 title in the NorCal Junior Fall Singles Sectional Championships.
   The tiny 15-year-old's subdued reaction today was understandable, considering that she excelled in low-level professional tournaments over the summer and helped the United States win the Junior Fed Cup in Budapest, Hungary, in late September.
   In comparison, Ma's march to the NorCal title was easy.
   "Maybe, but the competition was still pretty good from the quarters until the final," the second-seeded Ma, only 5-foot-3 (1.60 meters) and 95 pounds (43.1 kilograms), said diplomatically after beating fifth-seeded Katherine Duong 6-2, 6-4 in a matchup of San Francisco Bay Area players at the Broadstone Racquet Club. "The last set of the final was pretty tight."
   That was the only time in the tournament that Ma lost as many as four games in a set. She dismissed fifth-seeded Vivian Ovrootsky, ranked fifth nationally in the 14s, 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals and fourth-seeded Amber Marie Lee 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.
   In contrast to Ma, winning the Sectional boys 18 title for the fourth consecutive time (in the summer and fall) was a big deal for Ryder Jackson. The second-seeded Jackson, a 17-year-old resident of Nicasio in the Bay Area, downed ninth-seeded Luke Casper, 15, of Santa Cruz 6-2, 6-4 in the final.
   "I think this is my last one, so I'm real excited to go out on top and play as well as I could," said Jackson, who will head to USC next year. "It's a lot of pressure to deal with because everybody wants to beat you. To handle the pressure and play as well as I did, I'm really happy about that."
   Casper, ranked 16th nationally in the 16s, sprained his left ankle when Jackson wrong-footed him while serving at 3-4, 30-15 in the second set. Casper favored the ankle the rest of the way.
Second-seeded Ryder Jackson, left, downed ninth-seeded
Luke Casper 6-2, 6-4 for his fourth consecutive NorCal
Sectional boys 18 title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Ma, from Dublin, reached the quarterfinals of a $25,000 hardcourt tournament in Baton Rouge, La., as a qualifier in June, stunning then-No. 373 Emiliana Arango of Colombia in the first round of the main draw.
   Ma then qualified for the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge before losing in the first round to eighth-seeded Mayo Hibi, then ranked No. 187, advanced to the final of a $15,000 event in Evansville, Ind., and won the Evansville doubles title.
   So why play in the NorCal Sectionals?
   "To keep playing tournaments," Ma explained. "I need to work on match play and get a feel for competing still."
   Duong, from Cupertino, almost had to hit a perfect shot to win a point against Ma. Sometimes, even that wasn't enough. Ma generally kept the ball in play until Duong, ranked third in the 16s and fifth in the 18s in Northern California, made a mistake.
   "Connie is probably one of the best movers out there, so it's really hard to hit winners against her," said the 16-year-old Duong, who eliminated top-seeded Ashley Yeah in the quarterfinals and third-seeded Klara Kosan in the semifinals. "She's also really consistent, so you have to out-rally her, which is one of the hardest things to do as a tennis player. That's what makes her one of the best players in the nation."
   Jackson also did not lose a set in the tournament, although third-seeded Daniel Baturyn of San Leandro extended him to a tiebreaker in the semifinals.
   The 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) Jackson overpowered the 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Casper in the first set, but Casper worked his way back into the match in the second set before his injury.
   "His serve was way more consistent than mine, and he got more balls back," lamented Casper, who demolished top-seeded Aryan Chaudhary 6-0, 6-1 in the round of 16.
   Third-seeded Brian Chong and fifth-seeded Rhea Rai, both of Cupertino, won the boys and girls 16 titles, respectively.
   Chong outlasted top-seeded Brian Bilsey of Belmont 1-6, 6-4, 7-5, and Rai beat unseeded Maryia Hrynashka of Rancho Cordova 6-4, 6-4.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Tiny 15-year-old reaches Fall Sectional girls 18 final

Connie Ma, playing in the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge
in July, will face Katherine Duong on Sunday in the NorCal Fall
Sectional girls 18 final. Photo by Paul Bauman
   FOLSOM, Calif. -- The most accomplished player in the NorCal 18s & 16s Fall Singles Sectional Championships is also one of the smallest.
   Fifteen-year-old Connie Ma, only 5-foot-3 (1.60 meters) and 95 pounds (43.1 kilograms), excelled in professional tournaments over the summer to earn a women's world ranking of No. 763.
   So it's no surprise that Ma, an amateur from Dublin in the San Francisco Bay Area, has coasted to the final in the NorCal 18s at the Broadstone Racquet Club. Seeded second, she dispatched fifth-seeded Vivian Ovrootsky of San Jose 6-3, 6-3 this afternoon in the quarterfinals and fourth-seeded Amber Marie Lee of Orinda 6-3, 6-2 this evening in the semifinals.
   Ovrootsky, 14, is ranked fifth nationally in the 14s. Lee, a high school sophomore ranked fourth in Northern California in the 16s and seventh in the 18s, played two hours after holding off fifth-seeded Stephanie Nguyen of Fremont 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a three-hour quarterfinal. Nguyen will play at Boston University next year.
   Ma reached the quarterfinals of a $25,000 hardcourt tournament in Baton Rouge, La., as a qualifier in June, stunning then-No. 373 Emiliana Arango of Colombia in the first round of the main draw.
   Ma then qualified for the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge before losing in the first round to eighth-seeded Mayo Hibi, then ranked No. 187, advanced to the final of a $15,000 event in Evansville, Ind., and won the Evansville doubles title.
  How does Ma do it?
  "Using my movement, trying to set up correctly for every single ball and then hitting my targets," she replied.
   Ma is scheduled to face fifth-seeded Katherine Duong of Cupertino on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Duong, a high school junior ranked third in the NorCal 16s and fifth in the 18s, ousted top seed and defending champion Ashley Yeah of Los Gatos 7-6 (4), 6-1 and third-seeded Klara Kosan of Carmichael 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Yeah will head to the University of Illinois next year.
   Ma said she has played Duong seven times, winning the last two encounters.
Defending champion Ryder Jackson, a USC
commit, eyes a backhand during his win over
Daniel Baturyn today. Photo by Paul Bauman
   In Sunday's boys 18 final, also at 1:30 p.m., top seed and defending champion Ryder Jackson of Nicasio will meet ninth-seeded Luke Casper of Santa Cruz for the first time.
   The 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) Jackson, who will play at USC, beat Rithik Sardana of Union City 6-4, 6-3 and third-seeded Daniel Baturyn, a Fresno State commit from San Leandro, 6-1, 7-6 (5).
   "I had a good game plan (against Baturyn) because I've seen him play many times," said Jackson, who always wears soccer jerseys for his matches. "It was definitely to play aggressive, come to the net and stay loose because I have a lot of pressure out here being a top-seeded player and having good results here in the past."
   The 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Casper, ranked 16th nationally in the 16s, dismissed ninth-seeded Marshall Leung of Tiburon 6-3, 6-0 and topped fourth-seeded Andrei Volgin of Fremont 6-3, 6-2.
   Casper, who demolished top-seeded Aryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara last weekend in the round of 16, cramped in both calves and his left quadriceps against Volgin, who's headed to UC Davis.
   "It was a grind," said the 15-year-old Casper, adding that he should be OK for the final. "We had super long points. I got super tired."
   In the girls 16 semifinals, fifth-seeded Rhea Rai of Cupertino dominated top-seeded Mirabelle Brettkelly of San Francisco 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.
   On Sunday at 10:30 a.m., Rai will play unseeded Maryia Hrynashka of Rancho Cordova, and top-seeded Brian Bilsey of Belmont will meet third-seeded Brian Chong of Cupertino for the boys 16 title.
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