Monday, December 31, 2018

Serena -- who else? -- dominates top stories of 2018

Serena Williams, playing in San Jose near one of her homes, lost to Naomi Osaka
in a controversial U.S. Open final. Williams also reached the Wimbledon final after
giving birth and suffering life-threatening complications to earn the AP Female Ath-
lete of the Year award for the fifth time. Photo by Mal Taam 
   Serena Williams, a part-time Silicon Valley resident, took the No. 1 and 2 spots in the top 10 stories of the year in Northern California tennis.
   And don't be surprised if Williams tops the 2019 list. She needs one more Grand Slam singles title to tie Margaret Court's record of 24.
   When Williams isn't traveling, she spends most of her time at the South Florida residence that she shares with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and their 1-year-old daughter, Olympia. 
   The family also has residences in Silicon Valley and Southern California. Williams grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton. Unlike California, Florida has no state income tax.
   Williams was the world's highest-paid female athlete in 2018, according to Forbes magazine, with earnings of $18.1 million from June 1, 2017, to June 1, 2018. Her endorsement income of $18 million was almost double that of any other female athlete. She received only $62,000 in prize money during that time because of maternity leave.
   Here are what I consider the top 10 stories of 2018 with 10 honorable mentions:
   1. Serena loses controversial final — Williams accused chair umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism after being docked a game for her third code violation during her 6-2, 6-4 loss to 20-year-old Naomi Osaka of Japan in the U.S. Open final.
   Williams was warned for receiving coaching, assessed a point penalty for smashing her racket and handicapped a game for telling Ramos, "You stole a point from me. You're a thief, too."
   2. Serena voted AP Female Athlete of Year — Despite not winning a major title, Williams received the honor for the fifth time. She reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals after giving birth on Sept. 1, 2007, developing life-threatening blood clots and undergoing five operations.
   Williams also was named the WTA Comeback Player of the Year.
   3. Mike Bryan breaks records — The former Stanford star won the U.S. Open with Jack Sock for his 18th Grand Slam men's doubles title, breaking John Newcombe's record.
   Bryan, 40, also teamed with Sock to win Wimbledon and become the oldest champion in ATP Finals history. Bryan's twin and regular partner, Bob Bryan, underwent hip surgery on Aug. 2.
Roger Federer makes his Northern California debut in a
San Jose exhibition in March. Photo by Mal Taam
   4. Federer makes NorCal debut — Roger Federer defeated Sock 7-6 (9), 6-4 in a lighthearted exhibition before a sellout crowd of 17,496 at SAP Arena in San Jose.
   The Match for Africa 5 raised $2.5 million for Federer's foundation, which provides access to education for children in southern African countries. Federer's mother, Lynette, is South African.
   5. Quan has phenomenal year — Rudy Quan of Roseville in the Sacramento area won the boys 12 title in the Junior Orange Bowl in Coral Gables, Fla., to cap one of the greatest years in junior tennis history.
   Quan lost only once in 2018, sweeping the 12s in the USTA Winter Nationals, Easter Bowl, Clay courts and Hard Courts.
   6. Stephens reaches French Open final — No. 10 seed Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno and still has relatives there, lost to top-ranked Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 at Roland Garros.
   Stephens, seeking her second Grand Slam singles title, led by a service break in the second set. She won the 2017 U.S. Open in only her fifth tournament after having foot surgery.
   7. Stephens plays for title in WTA Finals — Stephens, seeded fifth, fell to Ukraine's Elina Svitolina, seeded sixth, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in Singapore.
   Stephens, 25, played in the tournament, featuring the top eight singles players of 2018, for the first time this year.
   8. Surgeries derail Bellis' career — CiCi Bellis, the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2017 after attaining a career-high ranking of No. 35, had two operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow.
   Bellis, a 19-year-old product of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, hopes to return to action next March in Indian Wells after a one-year absence. 
Jenson Brooksby, practicing in Sacramento, won the
USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo,
Mich., to earn a wild card in the U.S. Open. Brooksby
will play for renowned coach Brian Boland at Baylor.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   9. Brooksby follows Altamirano's path — Like fellow Sacramento native Collin Altamirano five years ago, Jenson Brooksby won the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., to earn a wild card in the U.S. Open and signed to play in college for Brian Boland.
   Both Altamirano and Brooksby grew up playing at Sacramento's JMG Tennis Academy and still train there. Altamirano helped Virginia win the NCAA team title in all three of his years there, and Brooksby will enroll at Baylor, which hired Boland in May after his one-year stint with the USTA.
   10. Stanford women win NCAA title — Melissa Lord, a junior All-American from Bloomfield, Conn., lifted the 15th-seeded Cardinal to a 4-3 victory over top-seeded Vanderbilt in the final of the NCAA Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C.
   Stanford won its second NCAA title in three years and record 19th overall. Florida ranks second with seven.
   The Cardinal was ranked 46th, its lowest position ever, at 4-3 without the injured Lord in early March but finished the season with 20 straight victories and matched its 2016 record as the lowest-seeded team to win the NCAA championship.
   Honorable mention — The $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding was canceled because of the Carr Fire, which killed eight people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.
   It was the second consecutive year that a wildfire affected a Northern California professional tournament. During the $100,000 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship in Fairfield, two players were evacuated from their hosts' homes, and Wednesday afternoon matches were canceled because of smoke.
   --Still robust at 80, Stanford legend Dick Gould retired after 57 years as a student, the men's coach and the director of tennis at the famed university.
   --Mackenzie McDonald, a 23-year-old product of Piedmont in the Bay Area, reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
   --Unseeded Ben McLachlan, a former Cal All-American, and Jan-Lennard Struff advanced to the Australian Open doubles semifinals, ousting top-seeded Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.
Dick Gould retired after 57 years as a student, the men's coach
and the director of tennis at Stanford. Photo courtesy of Stanford
Sports Information
   --Modesto product Maria Sanchez won her second doubles title on the WTA tour (the major leagues of women's tennis), teaming with Asia Muhammad in Quebec City. Sanchez has since turned 29.
   --Katie Volynets, an amateur from Walnut Creek in the Bay Area who turned 17 today, stunned reigning NCAA singles champion Arianne Hartono in the final round of qualifying en route to the semifinals of the $25,000 McLeod for Health Florence (S.C.) Open on hardcourts.
   --Connie Ma, a tiny 15-year-old amateur from the Bay Area suburb of Dublin, helped the United States win the Junior Davis Cup in Budapest, Hungary. Ma, only 5-foot-3 (1.60 meters) and 95 pounds (43.1 kilograms), also advanced to the singles final and won the doubles title in a $15,000 tournament in Evansville, Ind.
   --Unseeded India Houghton of Belvedere Tiburon in the Bay Area reached the girls 16 singles final in the Orange Bowl on clay in Plantation, Fla.
   --Brooksby and Volynets win three-setters to give Northern California a sweep of the Easter Bowl 18 singles titles in Indian Wells.
   --Allura Zamarripa of Saint Helena in the Napa region won the girls 16 singles title in the USTA National Clay Court Championships in Memphis, Tenn., and teamed with her twin sister, Maribella, to sweep the 16s doubles crowns in the Easter Bowl and USTA International Spring Championships in Carson in consecutive weeks. 

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