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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