Monday, December 30, 2019

Serena's losses in major finals highlight top stories of '19

Serena Williams, playing at Indian Wells in March, lost two more Grand Slam
finals in straight sets to remain one major title short of Margaret Court's record
of 24. Photo by Harjanto Sumali
   The wait continues for Serena Williams.
   The part-time Silicon Valley resident, who turned 38 in September, went 0-2 in Grand Slam singles finals in 2019 to remain one major singles title short of Margaret Court's record of 24.
   Williams, who won eight consecutive Grand Slam finals from 2012 to 2015, is 0-4 in them since capturing the Australian Open title in January 2017. Each loss has been in straight sets.
   Williams had her first child on Sept. 1, 2017, and suffered life-threatening complications. Since then, injuries – and nerves – have slowed Williams.
   Here are the top 10 stories in Northern California tennis in 2019 and 10 honorable mentions:
   1. Andreescu upsets Serena for U.S. Open title – One year after 20-year-old Naomi Osaka stunned Williams in a tumultuous final in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu triumphed 6-3, 7-5 in front of a staunchly pro-Williams crowd at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.
   The hart-hitting Andreescu, seeded 15th, showed no sign of nerves in her first major final until trying to close out the match. The daughter of Romanian immigrants, she became the first Canadian, male or female, to win a Grand Slam singles title.
   2. Halep routs Serena for first Wimbledon crown – Playing the match of her life, Simona Halep routed a nervous Williams 6-2, 6-2 in 56 minutes for her second major singles title and first at Wimbledon.
   Halep, playing great defense, committed only three unforced errors to Williams' 26 and won 83 percent of the points on her first serve (29 of 35) to Williams' 59 percent (19 of 32).
   3. Serena voted AP Female Athlete of Decade – Williams, who won a dozen Grand Slam singles titles in the 2010s, was voted The Associated Press Female Athlete of the Decade. No other woman won more than three Slams during that time.
   Williams was ranked No. 1 for 3 1/2 years in a row, equaling Steffi Graf's record for most consecutive weeks atop the rankings.
As an 18-year-old wild card in qualifying, Jenson Brooksby
shocked Tomas Berdych, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2010,
in the first round of the U.S. Open. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   4. Brooksby stuns Berdych in U.S. Open – Jenson Brooksby, an 18-year-old qualifier from the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael, shocked 33-year-old Tomas Berdych, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2010, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the U.S. Open.
   Brooksby became only the second qualifying wild card to win a men's main-draw match in the U.S. Open, joining Stanford graduate Bradley Klahn.
   5. Bellis returns from 19-month layoff – Qualifier CiCi Bellis reached the third round of the $162,480 Houston Challenger in her first tournament in 19 months.
   The 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product rebounded from three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow. She was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2017 after climbing as high as No. 35.
   6. Gibbs reaches final in return from cancer surgery – Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) advanced to the final of the $60,000 Honolulu Challenger only two months after having surgery for a rare cancer in the roof of her mouth.
   Gibbs lost to fellow American Usue Arconada 6-0, 6-2 one day after topping Caroline Dolehide 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-4 in 2 hours, 41 minutes.
   7. Bryans to retire after 2020 U.S. Open – Former Stanford stars Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, generally considered the greatest doubles team in history, announced that they will retire after the 2020 U.S. Open.
   The 41-year-old identical twins have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, an Open Era-record 118 trophies (including four in the ATP Finals) and an Olympic gold medal (2012 London). They also helped the United States win its last Davis Cup championship, in 2007.
   8. Ma leads U.S. to Junior Fed Cup title – Connie Ma, 16, of Dublin in the Bay Area led the United States to a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in the Junior Fed Cup final in Orlando, Fla.
   It was the third consecutive Junior Fed Cup title for the Americans and second straight for Ma. She played on last year's team, but not in the final against Ukraine.
   9. Stanford women rout Georgia for 20th NCAA crown – The No. 3 Cardinal routed No. 1 Georgia 4-0 in Orlando for its second consecutive NCAA crown, third in four years and 20th overall.
   Stanford coach Lele Forood matched her predecessor, Frank Brennan, with 10 NCAA titles. No other school approaches the Cardinal's total. Florida ranks second with seven titles, and Georgia is tied for third with three other schools at two.
Katie Volynets poses after winning the girls 18 singles
title in the USTA National Championships in San Diego.
Photo courtesy of JFS Communications
   10. Volynets wins USTA Girls 18 Nationals – Second-seeded Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the Bay Area beat third-seeded Emma Navarro of Charleston, S.C., 6-2, 6-4 to win the girls 18 singles title in the USTA Billie Jean King Girls National Championships in San Diego.
   Volynets became the third Northern Californian to win a USTA 18 hardcourt national singles title in six years, joining Collin Altamirano (2013) of Sacramento and Brooksby (2018). All train under Joseph Gilbert at the Arden Hills Athletic & Social Club in Sacramento.
   Honorable mention – Kristie Ahn, a 27-year-old Stanford graduate, defeated 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 7-5 to reach the round of 16 in the U.S. Open. Ahn had never won a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament before that week.
   –Unseeded Zheng Saisai of China knocked off four consecutive seeds in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., and won her first WTA singles title. In the final, she toppled Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka, ranked 10th and seeded second, 6-3, 7-6 (3).
   –After trailing 6-1, 5-2, seventh seed and 2018 runner-up Maria Sakkari of Greece saved four match points in a 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory over top-seeded Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals of the Silicon Valley Classic.
   –Saving seven championship points, second-seeded Luke Casper of Santa Cruz, Calif., outlasted top-seeded Samir Banerjee of Basking Ridge, N.J., 3-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (6) to win the USTA Boys 16 National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla.
Pam Shriver speaks at the Sutter Lawn Tennis
Club's 100th-anniversary celebration in Sacra-
mento, Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   –In the doubles semifinals of the $108,320 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, Alex Lawson was defaulted for swatting a ball into the seats during a match tiebreaker. The ball struck a middle-aged man in the back, but he was not hurt.
   –Ahn, seeded sixth, flung her racket high into crowd during her 6-1, 6-3 loss to top-seeded Madison Brengle in the semifinals of the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Tennis Club Women's Challenge. No one was injured, but Ahn later was fined an undisclosed amount of up to $500.
   –Bob Bryan returned from hip surgery in the Brisbane International at the beginning of the year, losing in the first round with Mike Bryan to Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Milos Raonic of Canada 3-6, 6-4 (10-7).
   –Pam Shriver, an International Tennis Hall of Famer and ESPN commentator, emceed the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club's 100th-anniversary celebration in Sacramento, Calif.
   –Volynets, who will celebrate her 18th birthday on Tuesday, turned pro.
   –Top-seeded Vivian Ovrootsky of San Jose and Sarah Hamner of Fort Collins, Colo., won the girls 16 doubles title in the Eddie Herr International in Bradenton, Fla.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Serena voted AP Female Athlete of Decade

   Serena Williams, a part-time Silicon Valley resident, was selected as the Female Athlete of the Decade by The Associated Press on Saturday.
   Williams, 38, won a dozen Grand Slam singles titles during the decade – no other woman won more than three – and was ranked No. 1 for 3 1/2 years in a row, equaling Steffi Graf's record for most consecutive weeks atop the rankings.
   Finishing second in voting by sports editors and beat writers was gymnast Simone Biles, the 2019 AP Female Athlete of the Year. Following Biles were swimmer Katie Ledecky and skiers Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin.
  NBA star LeBron James was chosen as the AP Male Athlete of the Decade today, easily beating out runner-up Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. Trailing Brady were sprinter Usain Bolt, soccer star Lionel Messi and swimmer Michael Phelps.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Volynets turns pro; Brooksby to enroll at Baylor

Katie Volynets poses after winning the USTA Girls 18
National Championships in San Diego in August. Photo
courtesy of JFS Communications
   Katie Volynets and Jenson Brooksby are Northern California teenagers who have won the USTA 18 National Championships.
   Both played in the singles main draw of the U.S. Open this year, with Brooksby reaching the second round.
   Both train under Joseph Gilbert at the Arden Hills Athletic & Social Club in Sacramento, Calif., although Volynets lives 80 miles (128.8 kilometers) away in Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   However, Volynets has turned pro, while Brooksby will enroll at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, next month as planned.
   Volynets, who will turn 18 on Tuesday, won the USTA national title in August in San Diego to earn an automatic wild card into the U.S. Open. She lost to eventual champion Bianca Andreescu 6-2, 6-4 in the first round.
   In Volynets' last two tournaments of the year, she reached the final and semifinals of $25,000 events in the United States in November to propel her to No. 394 in the world.
Jenson Brooksby reached the second round
of the U.S. Open. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Brooksby, a 19-year-old resident of Carmichael
in the Sacramento area, took the USTA national crown in 2018.
   This year, Brooksby won three qualifying matches to advance to the main draw of the U.S. Open. He shocked former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych in the opening round before losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili, seeded 17th and ranked 18th, in four sets. Brooksby came within a tiebreaker of leading Basilashvili two sets to none.
   Earlier in the summer, Brooksby won singles titles in $25,000 U.S. tournaments in two consecutive weeks. He is ranked No. 269.
   The match against Brooksby turned out to be the last of Berdych's career, in which he peaked at No. 4 and amassed almost $30 million in prize money. The Czech announced his retirement at age 34 in November after missing most of the previous 16 months because of a back injury.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Murray voted ATP Comeback Player of Year

Andy Murray rebounded from his second hip operation to win
a doubles title in his first tournament back and a singles crown
in October. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Andy Murray, who won the first two of his 46 tour-level singles titles in San Jose, Calif., was voted by fellow players as the ATP Comeback Player of the Year.
   Other award winners announced Thursday were Rafael Nadal (year-end No. 1 singles player), Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (year-end No. 1 doubles team), Matteo Berrettini (Most Improved Player) and Jannik Sinner (Newcomer of the Year).
   Murray announced on Jan. 10 that he would retire after Wimbledon at the latest because of chronic hip pain. He had surgery on his right hip for the second time on Jan. 28 but returned to the tour in doubles in June, one month after his 32nd birthday.
   In Murray's first tournament back, he won the doubles title with Feliciano Lopez in the Fever-Tree Championships in London. Murray also won the singles crown in the European Open in Antwerp in October.
   Murray went 10-0 in singles the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, winning the crown in 2006 at 18 years old and the following year. He also won the Challenger in Aptos, Calif., a 45-minute drive south of San Jose, in 2005 at 18.
   Nadal, 33, became the oldest player to finish as the year-end No. 1 in the history of the ATP rankings. He took home four singles trophies this year, including his 12th in the French Open and fourth in the U.S. Open.
   With his Roland Garros crown, Nadal broke Margaret Court's record of 11 Australian Open singles titles, seven of which came when only amateurs were allowed to play.
   By winning the U.S. Open, Nadal pulled within one of Roger Federer's record of 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles.
   Cabal, 33, and Farah, 32, of Colombia won their first two Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. They became the second all-South American team to finish as the year-end No. 1 doubles team, following Hans Gildemeister of Chile and Andres Gomez of Ecuador in 1986.
   Farah reached the singles final in the 2012 Aptos Challenger, losing to former USC teammate Steve Johnson.
   Berrettini, a 23-year-old Italian, climbed from No. 54 to No. 8 in the 2018 and 2019 year-end rankings, respectively. He advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal in the U.S. Open.
   Berrettini's countryman, 18-year-old Sinner, skyrocketed from No. 763 at the end of 2018 to No. 78 currently. He is the youngest player in the year-end top 80 since Nadal finished No. 47 at age 17 in 2003.
   Sinner lost in the second round of the $81,240 Aptos Challenger in August the week after winning the $54,160 Lexington (Ky.) Challenger.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Mayo, Hashimoto fall in Orange Bowl doubles finals

   Northern California came up empty in two Orange Bowl finals today in Plantation, Fla.
   In boys 18 doubles, third-seeded Mikolaj Lorens of Poland and Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan beat unseeded Lorenzo Claverie of Venezuela and Aidan Mayo of Roseville in the Sacramento, Calif., area 6-4, 6-4.
   In boys 16 doubles, top-seeded Daniel Rincon of Spain and Abedallah Shelbayh of Jordan dominated fifth-seeded Ozan Colak of Okemos, Mich., and Hugo Hashimoto of San Jose, Calif., 6-1, 6-2.
   Earlier today, Claverie and Mayo, 16, edged top-seeded Dali Blanch of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Thiago Augustin Tirante of Argentina 2-6, 6-4 [12-10] in the semifinals.
  The Orange Bowl was founded by Eddie Herr in 1947. It was played on clay until 1998, then on hardcourts until 2011. It has been contested on clay again since then.
   Past winners of the Orange Bowl 18s include International Tennis Hall of Famers Chris Evert (1969-70), Bjorn Borg (1972), John McEnroe (1976), Ivan Lendl (1977), Gabriela Sabatini (1984) and Jim Courier (1987).
   Winners of the tournament on hardcourts include Roger Federer (1998), Andy Roddick (1999), Marcos Baghdatis (2003) and Caroline Wozniacki (2005).

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Hashimoto reaches Orange Bowl boys 16 doubles final

   Fifth-seeded Ozan Colak of Okemos, Mich., and Hugo Hashimoto of San Jose, Calif., trounced unseeded Marc Othman Ktiri of Spain and Brayden Michna of Taylor, Texas, 6-2, 6-1 today to reach the Orange Bowl boys 16 doubles final in Plantation, Fla.
   Colak and Hashimoto will face top-seeded Daniel Rincon of Spain and Abedallah Shelbayh of Jordan.
   Meanwhile, unseeded Lorenzo Claverie of Venezuela and Aidan Mayo of Roseville in the Sacramento, Calif., area edged fifth-seeded Arthur Fery and Felix Gill of Great Britain 6-4, 2-6 [12-10] in the boys 18 quarterfinals.
   Claverie and Mayo, 16, will meet top-seeded Dali Blanch of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Thiago Augustin Tirante of Argentina.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Ovrootsky loses in Orange Bowl girls 16 quarters

   No. 10 seed Victoria Mboko of Canada outlasted No. 13 seed Vivian Ovrootsky of San Jose, Calif., 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 today in the girls 16 quarterfinals of the Orange Bowl in Plantation, Fla.
   Ovrootsky also fell in the quarters of last week's Eddie Herr International in Bradenton, Fla. She won the doubles title with Sarah Hamner of Fort Collins, Colo.
   Meanwhile, Northern Californians Aidan Mayo and Hugo Hashimoto advanced in boys doubles in the Orange Bowl.
   Unseeded Lorenzo Claverie of Venezuela and Mayo, 16, of Roseville in the Sacramento area, upended fourth-seeded Eliakim Coulibaly of the Ivory Coast and Lukas Neumayer of Austria 6-4, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals in the 18s.
   Fifth-seeded Ozan Colak of Okemos, Mich., and Hashimoto edged fourth-seeded Gonzalo Bueno of Peru and Francisco Lamas Villarroel of Venezuela 7-5, 4-6 [10-4] in the quarters of the 16s.
   The Orange Bowl was founded by Eddie Herr in 1947. It was played on clay until 1998, then on hardcourts until 2011. It has been contested on clay again since then.
   Past winners of the Orange Bowl 18s include Chris Evert (1969-70), Bjorn Borg (1972), John McEnroe (1976), Ivan Lendl (1977), Gabriela Sabatini (1984), Mary Joe Fernandez (1985), Jim Courier (1987) and Anna Kournikova (1995).
   Winners of the tournament on hardcourts include Roger Federer (1998), Elena Dementieva (1998), Andy Roddick (1999), Vera Zvonareva (2000-01), Marcos Baghdatis (2003) and Caroline Wozniacki (2005).

Thursday, December 12, 2019

American Kenin voted WTA Most Improved Player

Sofia Kenin, shown en route to the 2018 Berkeley (Calif.) title,
  ended this year at No. 14 in the world. Photo by Paul Bauman
  Sofia Kenin, who starred in Northern California Challengers, was voted the Most Improved Player of the Year, the WTA announced on Wednesday.
   The 21-year-old American jumped from No. 52 to No. 14 in the year-end rankings. She peaked at No. 12 on Oct. 21.
   The Moscow native won her first three WTA singles titles (Hobart, Mallorca and Guangzhao) and reached the round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, stunning Serena Williams in the third round of the French Open.
   Kenin also beat reigning No. 1 players in back-to-back weeks, ousting Ashleigh Barty in Toronto and Naomi Osaka in Cincinnati.
   Kenin won NorCal Challenger singles titles in three consecutive years – Sacramento in 2016 at age 17, Stockton and Berkeley.
   Other award winners, as voted on by international journalists, were Barty (Player of the Year), Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic (Doubles Team of the Year), Bianca Andreescu (Newcomer of the Year) and Belinda Bencic (Comeback Player of the Year).
   Barty, a 23-year-old Australian, claimed her first Grand Slam singles title in the French Open, also won the WTA Finals and ended the year at No. 1 for the first time.
   Babos and Mladenovic – 26-year-olds from Hungary and France, respectively – took the French Open crown and won the WTA Finals for the second straight year.
   Andreescu, 19, soared from No. 178 to No. 5 in the year-end rankings. She became the first Canadian, male or female, to win a major singles title, shocking Williams in the U.S. Open final.
   Bencic, a right-hander who underwent left wrist surgery in the spring of 2017 and plunged as low as No. 318, ended the year in the top 10 for the first time at No. 8. The 22-year-old Swiss matched her career high of No. 7 after winning the Moscow title in October.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Wozniacki, 29, to retire after Australian Open

Caroline Wozniacki, right, and Varvara Lepchenko shake hands after their match
in the second round of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Wozniacki,
the top seed who had received a first-round bye, lost in her only match in Northern
California. Photo by Mal Taam
   Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki announced Friday that she will retire after the Australian Open in January.
   Wozniacki won the 2018 Australian Open for her only Grand Slam title. The Denmark native also reached two U.S. Open finals (2009 and 2014), accumulated 30 WTA singles crowns (including the 2017 WTA Finals) and advanced to the singles quarterfinals in the 2012 Olympics in London.
   "In recent months, I've realized that there is a lot more in life that I'd like to accomplish off the court," tweeted the 29-year-old Wozniacki, who married former NBA standout David Lee in June. "Getting married to David was one of those goals, and starting a family with him while continuing to travel the world and helping raise awareness about rheumatoid arthritis (project upcoming) are all passions of mine moving forward."
   Wozniacki announced in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disorder. However, she tweeted that her decision to retire "has nothing to do with my health."
   Wozniacki played one match in Northern California. Seeded first in the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, she received a first-round bye and lost to Varvara Lepchenko in the second round.
   Currently ranked No. 37, Wozniacki fell in the third round of the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and the first round of the French Open this year.
   USTA National 40 Hard Court Championships – Francisco Clavet, who peaked at No. 18 in the world in 1992, dominated Samuel Schroerlucke of Memphis, Tenn., 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday to win the title in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla. Both players were seeded fifth.
   Clavet, a 51-year-old left-hander from Spain, beat second seed and three-time tournament champion Jeff Greenwald of San Anselmo in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals.
   Top-seeded Hiromi Sasano, 44, of San Diego title won the women's title for the fourth consecutive year. She routed second-seeded Amanda Parson Siegel of Santa Ana in the Los Angeles region 6-3, 6-0.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Ovrootsky wins girls 16 doubles title in Eddie Herr

   Two years after winning the girls 14 singles title in the prestigious Eddie Herr International, Vivian Ovrootsky claimed the doubles crown in the 16s.
   Top-seeded Sarah Hamner of Fort Collins, Colo., and Ovrootsky, a 15-year-old San Jose, Calif., resident, beat sixth-seeded Ava Krug of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and Qavia Lopez of Milwaukee 6-1, 6-4 today in Bradenton, Fla.
   Hamner and Ovrootsky surrendered no more than four games in a set in their four matches. They received a first-round bye.
   Ovrootsky, also seeded first in singles, lost to fifth-seeded Lan Mi of the United States 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in the quarterfinals. Mi then fell to Lopez, seeded seventh. Ashlyn Krueger of Flower Mound, Texas, won the title.
   Past competitors in the Eddie Herr International include eventual world No. 1s Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic.
   Herr, the father of international junior tennis, died in 2000 at 93.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Ovrootsky advances to Eddie Herr girls 16 doubles final

   Vivian Ovrootsky will play for another Eddie Herr title.
   The 15-year-old San Jose, Calif., resident, who won the singles crown in the 14s two years ago, reached Saturday's doubles final in the 16s with Sarah Hamner of Fort Collins, Colo.
   The top-seeded pair defeated eighth-seeded Kassandra Di Staulo of Weston, Fla., and Gavriella Smith of New Orleans 6-4, 6-2 today in the Eddie Herr International 2019 in Bradenton, Fla.
   Hamner and Ovrootsky are scheduled to play sixth-seeded Ava Krug of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and Qavia Lopez of Milwaukee.
   Krug and Lopez outclassed fourth-seeded Midori Castillo of Chula Vista, Calif., in the San Diego area and Tomi Main of Seaside, Calif., near Monterey, 6-3, 6-3.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Two NorCal girls reach Eddie Herr doubles semis in 16s

   Two Northern Californians separately reached the girls 16 doubles semifinals in the prestigious Eddie Herr International 2019 in Bradenton, Fla.
   In the top half of the draw, top-seeded Sarah Hamner of Fort Collins, Colo., and Vivian Ovrootsky of San Jose, Calif., outplayed fifth-seeded Ashlyn Krueger of Flower Mound, Texas, and Marcela Lopez of Frisco, Texas, 6-1, 6-4 today.
   In the bottom half, fourth-seeded Midori Castillo of Chula Vista, Calif., in the San Diego area and Tomi Main of Seaside, Calif., (near Monterey) topped Ann Guerry and Kate Sharabura, both of Atlanta, 6-4, 7-5.
   Hamner and Ovrootsky are scheduled to meet eighth-seeded Kassandra Di Staulo of Weston, Fla., and Gavriella Smith of New Orleans on Friday. Castillo and Main are set to face sixth-seeded Ava Krug of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and Qavia Lopez of Milwaukee.
   Ovrootsky, seeded first in singles, fell to fifth-seeded Lan Mi of the United States 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in the quarters. Ovrootsky won singles title in the 14s two years ago.
   Other NorCal players have been eliminated from the tournament. Esther Vyrlan of Sacramento lost in the girls 14 doubles quarterfinals, fourth-seeded Priya Nelson of Sacramento in the third round of the girls 14s and Aidan Mayo of Roseville in the Sacramento area in the second round of the boys 18s.
   Past competitors in the Eddie Herr tournament include eventual world No. 1s Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. Herr, the father of international junior tennis, died in 2000 at 93.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

McDaniel loses by walkover in National Indoors final

   Unseeded Williams Cooksey of Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., beat third-seeded Marcus McDaniel of Vacaville by walkover (illness) on Monday in the final of the USTA Boys 18 National Indoor Championships in Overland Park, Kan.
   Vacaville is located between San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif.
   McDaniel, a high school senior headed to Georgia Tech, won the doubles title with Keshav Chopra of Marietta, Ga. Unseeded, they outplayed third-seeded Michael Andre and Blake Kasday of Las Vegas 8-5 in the final.
   In the boys 16s in Wayland, Mass., fifth-seeded Kurt Miller of Los Gatos in the San Francisco Bay Area reached the semifinals. He lost to seventh seed and eventual champion Michael Zheng of Montville, N.J., 6-3, 6-1.
   Dylan Tsoi of El Dorado Hills in the Sacramento area won the boys 14 doubles title in Chicago with Dylan Charlap of Palos Verdes Estates in the Los Angeles region. Seeded second, they topped sixth-seeded Cole Stelse of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Adam Sun of Glendale, Ariz., 9-7 in the final.
  Mirabelle Brettkelly of San Francisco reached the girls 18 singles quarterfinals in Indianapolis. She edged fourth-seeded Rachel Arbitman of Hewlett, N.Y., 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the second round.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

U.S. eliminated from Davis Cup despite victory

Sam Querrey, a 32-year-old San Francisco native, and Jack
Sock gave the United States a dramatic win over Italy on Wed-
nesday in the Davis Cup Finals. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Despite a dramatic win over Italy, the United States was eliminated from the Davis Cup Finals on Wednesday.
   Twice coming within a tiebreaker of losing, the U.S. rallied for a 2-1 victory in Madrid.
   Sam Querrey, a 32-year-old San Francisco native, and Jack Sock won the decisive doubles match 7-6 (4), 6-7 (2), 6-4 over Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini.
   The contest ended at 4:04 a.m. Madrid time, the latest finish in Davis Cup history and second-latest in tennis history. Lleyton Hewitt's victory over Marcos Baghdatis in the third round of the 2008 Australian Open ended at 4:30 a.m.
   "I don't even know where we are, what time it is, what day it is," U.S. captain Mardy Fish told reporters. "That was pretty special from these guys, for sure."
   Taylor Fritz, ranked 32nd, had pulled the United States even at 1-1 by beating eighth-ranked Matteo Berrettini, a U.S. Open semifinalist in September, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-2.
   "I'm excited for Taylor," Fish said. "That's one of the biggest wins of his life. I'm just happy to be part of it."
   In the opener, 12th-ranked Fabio Fognini defeated 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Reilly Opelka, ranked 36th, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3.
  Fritz and Opelka, both 22, made their Davis Cup debuts on Tuesday in the United States' 2-1 loss to Canada. Querrey and Sock were credited with a victory even though the doubles match wasn't played.
  The winners of the six three-team groups advance to Friday's quarterfinals, along with the two best second-place finishers.
  Canada won Group F with a 2-0 record. The United States finished 1-1, and Italy went 0-2. The Americans needed to beat Italy decisively, surrendering few sets or games, to advance in the new format.
   The United States leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles, but its last one came in 2007. The Americans' 12-year title drought is their longest in the 119-year competition, breaking their previous mark of 11 (1996-2006).

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Canada defeats U.S. in Davis Cup for first time

   New format, more frustration for the United States.
   Canada defeated the Americans for the first time today, winning 2-1 in Group F in the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid. It was Canada's maiden victory in 16 meetings against the United States and the first between the nations since 1965.
   Vasek Pospisil topped 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Reilly Opelka 7-6 (5), 7-6 (7), and Denis Shapovalov beat Taylor Fritz 7-6 (6), 6-3.
   Shapovalov is ranked No. 15 at age 20. Pospisil, 29, had back surgery in January and returned at Wimbledon. He is No. 150 after reaching a career-high No. 25 in 2014.
   Fritz and Opelka, both 22, made their Davis Cup debuts. They are ranked No. 32 and No. 36, respectively.
   The scheduled doubles match was not played, but Sam Querrey, a 32-year-old San Francisco native, and Jack Sock were credited with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Pospisil and Shapovalov.
   Canada, which beat Italy 2-1 on Monday, became the first team to reach the quarterfinals. The United States (0-1) must beat Italy on Wednesday to have a chance of advancing.
   For the first time in the 119-year history of the Davis Cup, nations are competing at one site in the same week instead of going head-to-head at host countries over four weekends throughout the year.
   Competitions between nations have been shortened from the best-of-five matches to the best-of-three. The six group winners and two best second-place finishers advance.
   The United States leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles, but the last one came in 2007. If the Americans fall short again, they will break their drought record.
   In Group A, France defeated Japan 2-1. In the deciding match, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut outlasted Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Bellis, Klahn, Brooksby lose in Houston Challenger

Qualifier CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, lost to third-
 seeded Kirsten Flipkens, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2013, 6-4, 6-4 today in the
third round of the Oracle Challenger Series in Houston. 2018 photo by Mal Taam
   All three players with Northern California connections lost today in the third round of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco native who grew up in nearby Atherton, fell to third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens, a 33-year-old Belgian, 6-4, 6-4 after Thursday's matches were rained out.
   Flipkens, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2013, then topped sixth-seeded Caty McNally, 17, of Cincinnati 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
   Bellis played in her first tournament since undergoing three surgeries on her right wrist and one operation on her right elbow and missing 19 months. She was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2017 after reaching a career-high No. 35.
   Second seed and defending champion Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, lost to 14th-seeded Michael Mmoh of Bradenton, Fla., 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).
   Klahn, a left-hander who reached the second round of the U.S. Open in August, pounded 16 aces, won 80 percent of the points on his first serve (59 of 74) and faced only one break point, which he lost.
   Mmoh subsequently fell to sixth-seeded Christopher O'Connell of Australia 5-0, retired, ending the American's winning streak at eight matches. O'Connell won last month's $108,320 Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger.
   Thirteenth-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 19, of Carmichael in the Sacramento area succumbed to fourth-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles region 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
   Giron then beat Jason Jung, a native of Torrance in the Los Angeles area who plays for Chinese Taipei, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
   Brooksby shocked Tomas Berdych, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2010, in the first round of the U.S. Open. Berdych had missed most of the previous 14 months because of a back injury.
   That apparently will be the last match of Berdych's career. He has not played since then and reportedly will announce his retirement on Saturday at 34.
   Giron, the 2014 NCAA singles champion from UCLA, has soared from No. 308 at the end of last year to No. 123. He reached the third round of the prestigious BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March as a qualifier, beating then-No. 24 Alex de Minaur and then-No. 37 Jeremy Chardy.
   College signingAryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara has signed a letter of intent to attend nearby Stanford.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

All matches rained out in Houston Challenger

   Today's scheduled matches in the $162,480 Houston Challenger were postponed by rain.
   The third round and quarterfinals are set for Friday, when the forecast calls for sunny weather with a high of 61 degrees (16.1 Celsius).
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, will face third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens, a 33-year-old Belgian, at 8 a.m. PST (live stream).
   Bellis is playing in her first tournament in 19 months. During her layoff, the right-hander underwent three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow.
   Flipkens, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2013, outlasted Bellis 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the first round at Indian Wells in 2017 in their only previous meeting.
   Second seed and defending champion Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, will meet 14th-seeded Michael Mmoh, 21, of Bradenton, Fla., at about 10 a.m. Klahn leads the head-to-head series 2-0, both three-setters in 2017.
   Mmoh has won seven consecutive matches, including the title in last week's $54,160 Knoxville Challenger, since being defaulted from his second-round match in Charlottesville for throwing his racket and hitting a line judge.
   Thirteenth-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 19, of Carmichael in the Sacramento area will take on fourth-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles region for the first time at about noon.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Roundup: Bryans to retire after 2020 U.S. Open

Bob Bryan, left, and Mike Bryan have won a record 16 Grand
Slam men's doubles titles. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Former Stanford stars Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, generally considered the greatest doubles team in history, announced today that they will retire after the 2020 U.S. Open.
   The 41-year-old identical twins have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, an Open Era-record 118 trophies (including four in the ATP Finals) and an Olympic gold medal (2012 London). They also helped the United States win the Davis Cup championship in 2007.
   The Bryans spent 438 weeks and ended 10 seasons as the No. 1 team (2003, 2005-07, 2009-14). Mike Bryan became the oldest No. 1 at age 40 on July 16, 2018, and holds the record of 506 weeks at the top of the rankings.
   Overall, the Bryans have a 1,102-358 (.755) match record.
   "Mike and I chose to finish our 2019 season after the U.S. Open, even knowing there was a strong chance we'd qualify for the ATP Finals," Bob Bryan said on atptour.com. "After much discussion, we decided that it would be best to rest our minds and strengthen our bodies in preparation for 2020, which will be our final season on the ATP Tour.
   "For the last 21 years, we have been so grateful for the opportunity to live out our dreams of playing professional tennis. It has truly been a magical ride. However, we want to end this great ride while we're healthy and we can still compete for titles."
   Mike Bryan said: "We are currently extremely motivated and excited going into our last season. We will enjoy and appreciate each moment we have while saying our goodbyes and giving thanks to the fans who have given us so much joy."
   Bob Bryan underwent right hip surgery in August 2018 and returned at the beginning of 2019. The brothers won two titles this year, in Delray Beach and Miami. After reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, they lost in the third round of the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
   The Bryans played at Stanford in 1997 and 1998, helping the Cardinal win the NCAA team championship each year. Bob Bryan achieved a rare Triple Crown in 1998, sweeping the NCAA singles, doubles (with Mike) and team titles.
   Stanford students are not allowed to choose roommates. The Bryans were given rooms on opposite sides of campus, but Bob brought a mattress to Mike's dorm and slept on the floor.
   The Bryans' father, Wayne Bryan, coached the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis for 12 years (2002-13). He led Sacramento to two WTT titles (2002 and 2007) and was named the league's Coach of the Year three times (2004-06).
   Oracle Challenger Series in Houston – Second seed and defending champion Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, and 13th-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 19, of Carmichael in the Sacramento area won their second-round matches.
   Klahn, a left-hander who won the 2010 NCAA singles title, defeated Filip Cristian Jianu, 18, of Romania 7-5, 6-3. Brooksby outclassed Gonzalo Villanueva of Argentina 6-2, 6-2.
   Klahn is set to face 14th-seeded Michael Mmoh, 21, of Bradenton, Fla., on Thursday at about 3 p.m. PST (live stream). Klahn leads the head-to-head series 2-0, both three-set matches in 2017.
   Mmoh won last week's $54,160 Knoxville Challenger after being defaulted from his second-round match in the $54,160 Charlottesville Challenger the previous week for throwing his racket and hitting a line judge.
   Brooksby will meet fourth-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles region for the first time at about 5 p.m.
   Giron, the 2014 NCAA singles champion from UCLA, topped Brandon Holt, the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (7), 6-2. Holt, a USC senior, trailed 5-0 in the second set and saved 11 match points.
   Collin Altamirano, 23, of Sacramento lost to 11th-seeded Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain 6-4, 6-0. Both Brooksby and Altamirano train at the JMG Tennis Academy in Sacramento.
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, will take on third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium at 1 p.m.
   Bellis is playing in her first tournament in 19 months. During her layoff, the right-hander underwent three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow.
   College signing – Stefan Leustian of Mather in the Sacramento area signed with UCLA.
   "I have seen all the things Billy (Martin) and (assistant coach) Rikus (de Villiers) have done in the past and seen improvements from all the players," Leustian said on tennisrecruiting.net. "I've been a really big UCLA fan since I was young, and I love the location. Nothing beats L.A. It was kind of like the best of every world."

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bellis survives Houston test; Cibulkova retires at 30

Qualifier CiCi Bellis, shown in 2017, edged 16th-seeded Varvara Lepchenko
6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) today in the second round of the Oracle Challenger Series in
Houston. Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, is playing in
her first tournament in 19 months. Photo by Mal Taam
   CiCi Bellis survived the first big test of her comeback.
   The 20-year-old qualifier, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Atherton, edged 16th-seeded Varvara Lepchenko, a 33-year-old American from Uzbekistan, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) in 2 hours, 25 minutes today in the second round of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
   Bellis reached a career-high No. 35 in 2017. The right-hander is playing in her first tournament since undergoing three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow and sitting out for 19 months.
   Lepchenko, a left-hander, is ranked No. 167 after climbing as high as No. 19 in 2012.
   Bellis will take on another 33-year-old former top-20 player, third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, on Thursday. Live streaming is available.
   Flipkens, ranked No. 94, nipped 17-year-old Hailey Baptiste of Washington, D.C., 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in 2:04.
   Flipkens reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2013, catapulting her to a career-high No. 13. In her only match against Bellis, Flipkens prevailed 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the first round at Indian Wells in 2017.
   Meanwhile, 14th-seeded Caroline Dolehide, a 20-year-old native of Hinsdale, Ill., now based in Orlando, Fla., beat Giuliana Olmos of Mexico 7-5, 6-4.
   Dolehide reached the quarterfinals of the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Tennis Club Challenge in July.  Olmos, 26, was born in Austria and grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   In the completion of a men's match suspended by rain, Collin Altamirano of Sacramento defeated Gage Brymer of Irvine in the Los Angeles area 6-2, 7-6 (5) in the opening round.
   The 23-year-old Altamirano, ranked No. 390, will face 11th-seeded Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, a 34-year-old Spaniard ranked No. 236, for the first time.
   Cibulkova retires – Dominika Cibulkova, who won the 2013 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, announced her retirement at 30.
   The 5-foot-3 (1.61-meter) Cibulkova peaked at No. 4, the highest ranking by a Slovakian woman, in 2017 and became the first woman from her country to reach a Grand Slam final, losing to Li Na in the 2014 Australian Open.
   Cibulkova also advanced to the French Open semifinals in 2009, the Wimbledon quarterfinals three times (2011, 2016 and 2018) and the U.S. Open quarters in 2010. She won eight WTA singles titles, including the 2016 WTA Finals.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Bellis breezes in second match of comeback

CiCi Bellis, serving in 2017, has not lost a set in two matches in the first tournament
of her comeback. Photo by Mal Taam
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis, playing in her first tournament after a 19-month layoff, dismissed Ellen Perez of Australia 6-3, 6-2 in 55 minutes today in the first round of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
   Bellis, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Atherton, has not lost a set in two matches in the hardcourt tournament. The 20-year-old right-hander is returning from three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow.
   "I knew (Perez) was going to come out firing," Bellis said on oraclechallengerseries.com. "She's such a great player. I've known her forever. I just had to counteract her pace, move really well and move her around really well."
   Perez, a 24-year-old left-hander ranked No. 238 in singles and No. 66 in doubles, was impressed with Bellis' performance in their first meeting.
   "Welcome back to the tour @cicibellis your game looked like you never left!" Perez tweeted. "Big things are coming for you again."
   Bellis, who reached a career-high No. 35 in 2017, is scheduled to face another left-hander, 16th-seeded Varvara Lepchenko, on Tuesday at about noon PST. Live streaming is available.
   Lepchenko, a 33-year-old American citizen from Uzbekistan, received a first-round bye.
   Ranked No. 167 after climbing as high as No. 19 in 2012, Lepchenko is 1-0 against Bellis. Lepchenko won 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals on clay in Rabat, Morocco, in 2017.
   In the Houston men's draw, Collin Altamirano of Sacramento leads Gage Brymer of Irvine in the Los Angeles area 6-2, 1-4 in a first-round match suspended by rain.
   Second seed and defending champion Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, and 13th-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 19, of Carmichael in the Sacramento region received first-round byes.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Bellis beats Glatch in Houston after 19-month layoff

CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, defeated Alexa Glatch
6-4, 6-3 today to reach the main draw of the Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
Bellis returned to competition after undergoing four operations during a 19-month
layoff. 2017 photo by Mal Taam
  In her first match in 19 months, CiCi Bellis defeated fellow California native Alexa Glatch 6-4, 6-3 today to advance to the main draw of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series on hardcourts in Houston.
   Bellis, a right-hander, underwent three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow during her layoff.
   The 20-year-old San Francisco native, who grew up in nearby Atherton, told reporters after today's match that nerves and rust "are going to be here for the next few tournaments. Today was pretty ugly tennis, but I'm glad I got through it. Everything is going to go up from here."
   Glatch has had an even more star-crossed career than Bellis. The 30-year-old Newport Beach native, who climbed as high as No. 102 in 2009, has had four hip operations, two knee surgeries and one wrist procedure.
   Bellis, who reached a career-high No. 35 in 2017, is scheduled to play Ellen Perez of Australia for the first time on Monday at 8 a.m. PST. Live streaming is available.
  Perez, a 24-year-old left-hander, is ranked No. 241 in singles and No. 65 in doubles. She won the biggest singles title of her career in a $60,000 tournament in Ashland, Ky., in July. But the highest-ranked player she beat was No. 200 Zoe Hives of Australia in the final, and that was by retirement.
   Perez also won her first WTA doubles title in May, teaming with Daria Gavrilova of Australia in Strasbourg, and reached the doubles round of 16 at the U.S. Open in September with Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg, Fla.
   Collins, 25, is seeded first in singles in Houston at No. 31 in the world.
   ITA National Fall Championships in Newport Beach –  Top-seeded Yuya Ito of the University of Texas beat unseeded Damon Kesaris of Saint Mary's 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in the men's final.
   Ito won the clinching match over Petros Chrysochos in the Longhorns' 4-1 victory over Wake Forest in the NCAA final in Orlando, Fla., last May. Both Chrysochos and the Demon Deacons were defending champions. It was Texas' first NCAA team title in men's tennis.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Clijsters postpones comeback because of knee injury

   International Tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters has postponed her comeback because of a knee injury.
   "I've had to make the decision that I will not be able to compete in January," the 36-year-old mother of three tweeted Monday. "I am undergoing rehab and treatment for a knee injury. It's a setback but I'm determined as ever to get back to the game I love. I really appreciate all your support and encouragement."
   Clijsters did not disclose the nature of the injury, how it occurred or when she hopes to return. She reportedly was hurt while playing padel, a different racket sport.
   Clijsters, who left the circuit for the second time in 2012, won four Grand Slam titles in singles (three in the U.S. Open) and two in doubles. With 41 overall singles crowns, she ranks third among active players, behind Serena Williams (72) and Venus Williams (49), and 14th in the Open era (since 1968).
   Four of Clijsters' titles came in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006). The tournament moved to San Jose as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic last year.
   Clijsters also played on Belgium's Fed Cup championship team in 2001 and won the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award, voted on by players, a record eight times.
   As a former world No. 1, Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wild cards in WTA tournaments.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bellis plans to return soon; U.S. Davis Cup team named

CiCi Bellis hopes to play in her first tournament in 19 months in November. The
20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product will try to rebound from three surgeries
on her right wrist and one operation on her right elbow. 2018 photo by Mal Taam
   After four operations and 19 months, former world No. 35 CiCi Bellis plans to return to competition in November.
   The 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product hopes to play in the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series, Nov. 10-17 on hardcourts in Houston, usta.com reported today.
   "Everything's going really well," Bellis, who has been sidelined since the Miami Open in March 2018, said in the story. "I've gotten to the point where I'm practicing normally, and obviously I've done a lot of rehab in the past year or more. Everything has really strengthened and (is) looking pretty positive.
   "I love tennis so much, and it's been my life for so long. I would miss it so much if I wasn't playing. It's been so amazing for me to be back to my normal practice routine, and that's really what motivated me from Day One when I had to get my first surgery, knowing that I'd be able to get back to playing full time. If everything goes well and I'm feeling good, hopefully I'll be able to play my first tournament in about three weeks, then the Australian swing."
   Bellis was born in San Francisco and grew up in Atherton, near Stanford. She reached a career-high No. 35 in August 2017 and was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
   The petite 5-foot-7 (1.68-meter) right-hander had surgery on her right wrist to repair three tears, shave a bone in her right elbow, shorten a bone in her right wrist and insert a plate, and remove the plate.
   U.S. Davis Cup team – Taylor Fritz, 21, and Reilly Opelka, 22, were named to the U.S. Davis Cup team for the first time on Monday.
   Joining Fritz and the 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Opelka will be 32-year-old Sam Querrey, 21-year-old Frances Tiafoe and 27-year-old Jack Sock in the revamped Davis Cup Finals, Nov. 18-24 in Madrid.
   All except Opelka have won Challenger singles titles in Northern California. Querrey, in fact, was born in San Francisco.
   With No. 31 Fritz, No. 37 Opelka, No. 47 Querrey and No. 48 Tiafoe, new captain Mardy Fish has four of the top five Americans in singles. No. 16 John Isner declined to play because of family commitments.
   Sock has slumped from a career-high No. 8 in 2017 to No. 251 in singles, but he has won three Grand Slam men's doubles titles, including two last year.
   Eighteen nations, divided into six groups, will compete for the Davis Cup. The winner of each group and the top two second-place teams after the round-robin stage will advance to the quarterfinals, when single-elimination play begins. Each "tie" will consist of two singles matches and one doubles match, all the best-of-three tiebreak sets.
   The United States, seeded sixth, will play in Group F with Italy and Canada. The winner will play the winner of Group F (Belgium, Colombia and Australia) in the quarters.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Aussie O'Connell defeats top seed for Fairfield title

   Once again, live-stream commentator Ken Thomas put it best.
   "Christopher O'Connell may be the best player you've never heard of," Thomas said during today's broadcast.
   The 12th-seeded O'Connell completed a spectacular week with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over top-seeded Steve Johnson in the final of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship in Fairfield, Calif.
   O'Connell, a 25-year-old Australian, did not lose a set en route to the biggest title of his career. All week at Solano Community College, the 6-foot (1.83-meter) right-hander served brilliantly and displayed a devastating one-handed backhand along with a punishing forehand.
   "I love playing in California," O'Connell, a Fairfield semifinalist as a qualifier in 2017, said during the awards ceremony. "It feels a lot like home."
   Unseeded Darian King of Barbados and Peter Polansky of Canada won the doubles title, beating fourth-seeded Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., 2013-16) of the Netherlands 6-4, 3-6 [12-10].
   Polansky, 31, was severely injured in a three-story fall from his hotel room in Mexico in 2007. He needed 550 stitches in his legs and back after having a night terror and trying to escape through the window.
   Doctors initially suggested amputating one of Polansky's legs. Four months later, he reached the boys singles final in the U.S. Open.
   O'Connell won his fifth title of the year in 13 finals, including five in a row in $15,000 tournaments in Australia and Turkey in March and April. Two other finals came in $15Ks, three in $25Ks and three in $50,000-plus tournaments.
   O'Connell missed several months with pneumonia in 2017 and six months early last year with knee tendinitis. Unranked at the beginning of 2019, he will soar 43 places to a career-high No. 149 on Monday.
   Johnson, a 29-year-old resident of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area, will rise 13 notches to No. 86. The United States Davis Cup veteran climbed to a career-high No. 21 in 2016.
   In today's final, O'Connell pounded 13 aces, committed only two double faults and did not face a break point. He won 30 of 32 points (94 percent) on his first serve and 12 of 18 (67 percent) on his second delivery.
   O'Connell broke Johnson's serve in the last game of the match. Johnson lost the first two points but hammered a service winner for 15-30. O'Connell then ripped two forehand passing shots, the last one on Johnson's first serve, for the title.
   O'Connell earned $14,400, and Johnson collected $8,480.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Obscure O'Connell to face top seed in Fairfield final

   At least twice during today's first semifinal in the Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger, commentator Ken Thomas asked on the live stream, "Who is this guy? Who is Christopher O'Connell?"
   It's a good question.
   O'Connell, a 25-year-old Australian, seems to come out of nowhere to excel in Fairfield. A semifinalist at Solano Community College as a qualifier in 2017, he reached the final of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over unseeded Kevin King of Atlanta.
   O'Connell, seeded 12th at a career-high No. 192, is scheduled to meet Steve Johnson, seeded first at No. 99, for the first time on Sunday at 11 a.m. O'Connell will jump to at least No. 160 in Monday's updated rankings.
   Johnson, a 29-year-old resident of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area, beat Brandon Nakashima, an 18-year-old wild card from San Diego, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
   O'Connell, a 6-foot (1.83-meter) right-hander with a one-handed backhand, hasn't lost a set in the tournament. He will play in his second consecutive singles final and – brace yourself – 13th of the year. But seven have come in $15,000 tournaments, three in $25Ks and two in $50,000-plus tourneys in remote outposts around the world.
   O'Connell is 4-8 in those finals, including a loss on clay in Sibiu, Romania, three weeks ago in his last tournament.
   It hasn't helped O'Connell's career that he missed several months in 2017 with pneumonia and six months last year with knee tendinitis.
   Johnson, meanwhile, is trying to regain the form that took him to a career-high No. 21 in 2016.
   Sunday's doubles final, which follows the singles title match, will feature two adopted Northern Californians. Fourth-seeded Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific in Stockton, 2013-16) of the Netherlands will play unseeded Darian King of Bardados and Peter Polansky of Canada.
   Here are the updated Fairfield singles and doubles draws. Live streaming is available.

Nakashima, 18, reaches first Challenger semifinal

   Brandon Nakashima, an 18-year-old wild card from San Diego, beat fourth-seeded Taro Daniel of Japan 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) on Friday in the quarterfinals of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif.
   Nakashima became the youngest American man to reach a Challenger semifinal since Taylor Fritz won the 2015 Fairfield Challenger at 17. Fritz is now ranked No. 29 at age 21.
   Nakashima, a University of Virginia sophomore, is playing in only his fifth professional tournament of the year. He advanced to the quarterfinals in the $108,320 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger two weeks ago, losing to Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in a third-set tiebreaker. Kwiatkowski won the 2017 NCAA singles title as a University of Virginia senior.
   Daniel reached the quarterfinals in Tokyo on the ATP World Tour last week, upsetting then-No. 14 Borna Coric in the first round, to rise 16 spots to No. 111. He is 1-0 against Novak Djokovic and has been ranked as high as No. 64 in August last year.
   Nakashima will skyrocket at least 222 places to No. 487 in Monday's updated rankings. He is scheduled to face top-seeded Steve Johnson for the first time today not before noon in a matchup of Southern Californians.
   Johnson, a Los Angeles-area resident who has slumped from a career-high No. 21 in 2016 to No. 99, trounced ninth-seeded Darian King of Barbados 6-1, 6-1 in 62 minutes.
   In today's first semifinal at 11 a.m., unseeded Kevin King, an Atlanta native and resident ranked No. 399, will meet 12th-seeded Christopher O'Connell, an Australian ranked a career-high No. 192, for the first time.
   Kevin King, a 28-year-old former Georgia Tech All-American, eliminated eighth-seeded Peter Polansky of Canada, 6-3, 7-6 (10) after knocking off former top-70 players Ernesto Escobedo, seeded 15th, in the second round and Denis Kudla, seeded second, in the third round.
   Kevin King, a 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) left-hander, slugged 12 aces, had six double faults and put in 69 percent of his first serves. He won 75 percent of the points (43 of 57) on his first serve and 58 percent (15 of 26) on his second delivery.
   Kevin King has been ranked as high as No. 162 in May last year. He reached the second round in Atlanta on the ATP World Tour in July as a qualifier, shocking former world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in the first round. Later in the summer, Dimitrov ousted Roger Federer in the U.S. Open to reach his third Grand Slam semifinal.
   O'Connell dispatched Jack Draper 6-2, 6-3 to reach the Fairfield semifinals for the second time in three years and end the 17-year-old Briton's winning streak at eight matches.
   The 25-year-old O'Connell, only 6 feet (1.83 meters), served even better than King. O'Connell blasted 17 aces, committed only one double fault and put in 70 percent of his first serves. He won 89 percent of the points (33 of 37) on his first serve and 50 percent (eight of 16) on his second.
   O'Connell has played in a whopping 12 singles finals this year (two in $50,000-plus tournaments, three in $25Ks and seven in $15Ks), winning four.
   None of the Fairfield semifinalists has lost a set in the tournament. O'Connell, in fact, hasn't lost more than four games in a set.
   Here are the updated Fairfield singles and doubles draws and today's schedule. Live streaming is available.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Kevin King takes out second-seeded Kudla in Fairfield

Second-seeded Denis Kudla lost to fellow American
Kevin King 6-2, 6-3 today in the Fairfield (Calif.)
Challenger. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Unseeded Kevin King of Atlanta dispatched second-seeded Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va., 6-2, 6-3 today to reach the quarterfinals of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif.
   King, a 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) left-hander ranked No. 399, evened his career record against Kudla, ranked No. 107, at 1-1.
   King, a 28-year-old former Georgia Tech All-American, reached the second round in Atlanta on the ATP World Tour in July as a qualifier, shocking former world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in the first round. Later in the summer, Dimitrov ousted Roger Federer in the U.S. Open to reach his third Grand Slam semifinal.
   Kudla, 27, advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open this past summer, losing to defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
   King is scheduled to face eighth-seeded Peter Polansky of Canada for the first time on Friday. The 31-year-old Polansky, ranked No. 163, beat 10th-seeded Nicola Kuhn of Spain 6-4, 6-4.
   Brandon Nakashima, an 18-year-old wild card from San Diego, eliminated sixth-seeded James Duckworth of Australia 7-6 (5), 7-5.
   Nakashima, a sophomore at the University of Virginia, also reached the quarterfinals of the $108,320 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger two weeks ago. He will meet Japan's Taro Daniel, seeded fourth and ranked No. 111, for the first time.
   Daniel, 26, escaped with a 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory over 16th-seeded Maxime Cressy, a Paris native who plays for the United States. Daniel is 1-0 against Novak Djokovic. UCLA's Cressy and Keegan Smith, both 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), won the NCAA doubles title in May in Orlando, Fla.
   In Friday's other quarterfinals, top-seeded Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area will face ninth-seeded Darian King of Barbados, and 12th-seeded Christopher O'Connell of Australia will play Jack Draper, 17, of Great Britain.
   The 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) Draper extended his winning streak to eight matches with a 6-3, 7-6 (1) victory over 30-year-old Donald Young in a matchup of left-handers. Young, 30, has tumbled from a career-high No. 38 in 2012 to No. 233.
   Draper won a $25,000 tournament on an indoor hardcourt in Shrewsbury, Great Britain, two weeks ago and upset 14th-seeded Jack Sock on Wednesday night. Sock has plunged a high of No. 8 in 2017 to No. 210.
   The 29-year-old Johnson, ranked No. 99, has never lost more than three games in a set in two career matches against the 27-year-old King, ranked No. 171.
   The 192nd-ranked O'Connell, a Fairfield semifinalist as a qualifier in 2017, and Draper, ranked No. 340, will meet for the first time. 
   Here are the updated Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Friday's schedule. Live streaming is available.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

British teenager upsets Sock in Fairfield Challenger

Jack Sock, playing in Indian Wells in 2016, has plunged from a career-high No. 8
in singles in November 2017 to No. 210, partly because of surgery. The 27-year-
old Kansas City, Kan., resident has won three Grand Slam men's doubles titles.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Jack Sock's singles woes continued tonight.
   The former top-10 player, competing in his first Challenger in more than five years, lost to 17-year-old Jack Draper of Great Britain 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 in the second round of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship in Fairfield, Calif.
   Draper, a 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) left-hander, converted his sixth match point. He took a nasty fall in the tiebreaker while chasing a ball and scraped his knees and palms on the hardcourt at Solano Community College.
   Sock, seeded 14th at No. 210, fell to 1-6 in singles this year. After ascending to No. 8 in November 2017, he went 9-22 in singles in 2018. Then the 27-year-old Kansas City, Kan., resident, who has won three Grand Slam men's doubles titles, underwent surgery for torn finger ligaments last February and missed six months.
   Draper, ranked No. 340, extended his winning streak to seven matches. He has won three singles titles in $25,000 tournaments, all in Great Britain, since the beginning of August.
   Draper will meet another left-hander, 30-year-old Donald Young of Atlanta, in Thursday's featured night match not before 7. Young, ranked No. 233 after climbing as high as No. 38 in 2012, has won four Challenger singles crowns in Northern California.
   Two teenage wild cards from San Diego played earlier matches on the stadium court.
   Brandon Nakashima, an 18-year-old sophomore at the University of Virginia, defeated lucky loser Dennis Novikov, a 25-year-old San Jose product, 6-2, 6-4.
   Novikov replaced 11th-seeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, who withdrew because of a right wrist injury.  Kwiatkowski won the 2017 NCAA singles title as a University of Virginia senior and reached the semifinals of the Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger two weeks ago.
   Zachary Svajda, 16, lost to second-seeded Denis Kudla 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Kudla advanced to the third round of this year's U.S. Open, falling to defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
   Svajda won the USTA boys 18 singles title in Kalamazoo, Mich., in August to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open. He led 37-year-old Italian Paolo Lorenzi two sets to none in the opening round before suffering full-body cramps and losing in five sets.
   Also today, ninth-seeded Darian King of Barbados outlasted American Sebastian Korda, the 19-year-old son of former world No. 2 Petr Korda, 5-7, 6-0, 7-5.
   Three players named King, all unrelated, are set to play on Thursday in the third round.
   Darian King, 27, will meet fifth-seeded Blaz Rola, a former Ohio State star from Slovenia who won the 2013 NCAA singles crown, at 10 a.m. Kudla, 27, will face Kevin King, a 28-year-old left-hander from Atlanta, at about noon. And top-seeded Steve Johnson, 29, of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area will play Evan King, a 27-year-old left-hander from Chicago, not before 4 p.m.
   Here are the updated Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule. Live streaming is available.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Top-seeded Johnson downs prospect Mmoh in Fairfield

Steve Johnson serves during the Aptos (Calif.) final, in which
he beat Dominik Koepfer, in August. Photo by Paul Bauman
   In tonight's featured match, top-seeded Steve Johnson beat fellow American Michael Mmoh 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the second round of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif.
   Johnson pounded 10 aces and won 82 percent of the points on his first serve (31 of 38) in his first match against Mmoh, who was named after Michael Jordan. Johnson committed six double faults.
   Johnson, 29, and Mmoh, 21, have won three Northern California Challenger singles titles combined. Johnson captured his second Aptos crown in August, and Mmoh took last year's Tiburon title.
   Both players, however, have dropped in the rankings. Johnson, mourning the death of his father/mentor at 58 in 2017, has fallen from a career-high No. 21 in 2016 to No. 99. Mmoh, who sat out for four months early this year because of injuries, has plunged from a career-high No. 96 last October to No. 290.
   Johnson is scheduled to play unseeded Evan King, a 27-year-old left-hander from Chicago, on Thursday. King edged 13th-seeded Mitchell Krueger of Dallas 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (4) in 2 hours, 54 minutes after outlasting alternate Strong Kirchheimer of Cary, N.C., 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 in 2:18 on Monday.
   On Wednesday not before 7 p.m., 14th-seeded Jack Sock will meet Jack Draper of Great Britain in the second round. Sock, a former top-10 singles player and a three-time Grand Slam men's doubles champion, will make his first Challenger appearance in more than five years. All 16 singles seeds received first-round byes.
   Also advancing today were fourth-seeded Taro Daniel of Japan and unseeded Sebastian Korda of Bradenton, Fla.
   Daniel, 26, beat wild card Brandon Holt, the 21-year-old son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, 6-1, 6-4 in the second round.
   Korda, the 19-year-old son of former world No. 2 Petr Korda, topped Sebastian Fanselow, a 27-year-old former Pepperdine All-American from Germany, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the first round.
   Daniel reached the quarterfinals last week in Tokyo on the ATP Tour to rise 16 places to No. 111. He was born in New York to an American father, Paul, and Japanese mother, Yasue. The family moved to Japan when Taro was an infant and to Spain when he was 14.
   Paul Daniel grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., a two-hour drive south of Fairfield, on the Pacific Ocean, and Taro spent summers there until he was 15 or 16.
   Here are the updated Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Wednesday's schedule.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Austin's son routs Altamirano in Fairfield Challenger

Brandon Holt, the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer
Tracy Austin, dismissed Collin Altamirano of Sacramento 6-2,
6-2 today in the first round of the Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger.
2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Collin Altamirano's stay in the Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger didn't last long.
   Playing 56 miles (90 kilometers) from his home in Sacramento, the 23-year-old Altamirano lost to Brandon Holt, a 21-year-old wild card from Rolling Hills in the Los Angeles area, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship.
   The match at Solano Community College lasted only 58 minutes. Altamirano is not entered in doubles.
   Holt, a USC senior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, has never lost a set in three career matches against Altamirano. Aside from one tiebreaker, Holt hasn't dropped more than two games in a set against Altamirano.
   Holt is scheduled to play fourth-seeded Taro Daniel, who trains in Bradenton, Fla., but plays for Japan, for the first time on Tuesday at about 2 p.m. All 16 seeds received first-round byes.
   Daniel, 26, reached the quarterfinals last week in Tokyo on the ATP Tour to rise 16 notches to No. 111. He was born in New York to an American father, Paul, and Japanese mother, Yasue. The family moved to Japan when Taro was an infant and to Spain when he was 14.
   Paul Daniel grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., a two-hour drive south of Fairfield, and Taro spent summers there until he was 15 or 16.
   "It basically feels like home, my first home," Daniel told the Santa Cruz Sentinel during the $81,240 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in August.
   In Tuesday's featured night match, top-seeded Steve Johnson, 29, of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles region will play Michael Mmoh, 21, of Bradenton not before 7 p.m.
   Mmoh, the son of former journeyman pro Tony Mmoh of Nigeria, beat countryman Evan Zhu, an ex-UCLA star who won the 2018 NCAA doubles title with Martin Redlicki, 6-4, 6-3.
   Second-seeded Denis Kudla, 27, of Arlington, Va., will meet Zachary Svajda, a 16-year-old wild card from San Diego, on Wednesday at a time to be determined.
   Svajda, who won the USTA boys 18 singles title in August to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open, defeated 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Michael Redlicki, Martin's older brother, 7-6 (5), 6-2.
   Both Kudla and Svajda, made news in the U.S. Open. Kudla reached the third round, losing to defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets, and Svajda extended Paolo Lorenzi, a 37-year-old Italian, to five sets in the first round.
   In the first round at 10 a.m., Sebastian Fanselow of Germany will play Bradenton resident Sebastian Korda, the 19-year-old son of former world No. 2 Petr Korda. Fanselow, a 27-year-old former Pepperdine All-American, has reached the Fairfield quarterfinals as a qualifier in each of the past two years.
   In the final round of Fairfield qualifying, Sem Verbeek, a former University of the Pacific standout from the Netherlands, beat Dennis Novikov, a 25-year-old San Jose product, 6-2, 7-6 (0).
   Here are the Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Tuesday's schedule.
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