Thursday, July 18, 2019

Top seed Brengle rallies to beat qualifier in Berkeley

Madison Brengle has altered her serve because of what she
says is incurable hand and arm pain caused by a reaction to
an anti-doping blood test at the 2016 U.S. Open. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   BERKELEY, Calif. – Madison Brengle had a simple explanation for how she beat the French Open runner-up at Wimbledon two weeks ago and almost lost to a qualifier ranked No. 526 today.
   "Everybody's good," Brengle observed. "That's all there is to it."
   After ousting 16th-seeded Marketa Vondrousova in the first round at Wimbledon two weeks ago, the top-seeded Brengle gutted out a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over 18-year-old fellow American Alycia Parks in the second round of the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Women's Challenge.
   Serving at 0-2 in the second set, Brengle saved eight break points and held.
   "'Concerned' is the wrong word," Brengle, ranked No. 83 after reaching a career-high No. 35 in 2015, said after her second consecutive match against a U.S. teenage qualifier. "I will go out and compete and give it my best, and whatever happens happens. This is not the be all, end all."
   Why so many break points? That, too, is simple. Brengle, 29, has altered her serve because of what she says is incurable hand and arm pain caused by a reaction to an anti-doping blood test at the 2016 U.S. Open. She sued the Women's Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation in April 2018. The WTA and ITF have not publicly commented on the case.
   Throughout today's match, the explosive Parks jumped all over Brengle's soft, stiff-armed deliveries and rifled returns. Ultimately, though, unforced errors doomed Parks.
   "I kind of lost focus, I guess," said Parks, who easily got discouraged and continually asked her father, Michael Parks, sitting at one end of the court not to comment during the match. "If I (had) stayed focused, I would have (gotten) through that match, for sure."
Alycia Parks, 18, has often been compared to the Williams sisters.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Alycia Parks took the loss philosophically.
   "I'm not disappointed," she insisted. "I never lose; I learn."
   Parks turned pro at 16. In a Palm Beach (Fla.) Post story last December, Michael Parks said his daughter's game was "too good for college. She's a freak-of-nature athlete."
   Parks has often been compared to Venus and Serena Williams. Like the Williams sisters, Parks is an African-American who skipped the juniors to let her body develop. Like Venus, she's tall (5-foot-11 or 1.80 meters) and slender. They even look alike facially. Like Serena, Parks has a booming serve.
   "Serena called me when I was 7 or 8," Alycia Parks recalled in the Palm Beach Post story. "She was saying positive things and telling me to stick with it. Now that I'm here, I'm sure she's proud. ... "
   Brengle suffered a toe injury during the match but said it didn't bother her.
   "I think I just lost a toenail, but that's fine," she said. "Who needs 'em, right? Just paint them and make believe."
   Brengle is scheduled to play unseeded American Gail Brodsky, a 28-year-old mother of two who quit tennis in 2012 and returned early last year, on Friday at noon. They have split four matches, the last one in 2012.
   Also in the top half of the draw, sixth-seeded Kristie Ahn, a 27-year-old Stanford graduate from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., will face unseeded Arina Rodionova, a 29-year-old Australian from Russia, for the first time at about 2 p.m. Both players qualified for Wimbledon this month and lost in the first round.
Kristie Ahn, a 27-year-old Stanford graduate, serves during
her 7-5, 6-2 victory over Usue Arconada, whose winning
streak ended at 11 matches. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Ahn, ranked No. 180, ended Usue (pronounced OO-sway) Arconada's winning streak at 11 matches, beating the 20-year-old American 7-5, 6-2 to reach the Berkeley quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.
   Ahn, a 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) right-hander, played with her right arm heavily taped to protect a hyperextended elbow. The arm, she said, is "much better than it looks."
   Rodionova, ranked No. 206, outlasted Jovana Jaksic, a 25-year-old Serb living in Sacramento, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-3 in 2 hours, 56 minutes despite committing 10 double faults.
   In the bottom half of the draw, second-seeded Sachia (pronounced Sa-sha) Vickery will play unseeded but powerful fellow American Caroline Dolehide for the first time at about noon.
   Also, fifth-seeded Na-Lae Han of South Korea will take on unseeded Mayo Hibi, who grew up in Irvine in the Los Angeles region but plays for her native Japan, at 10 a.m. Hibi, who also advanced to the Berkeley quarterfinals for the second straight year, is 3-1 against Han.
   Here are the Berkeley singles and doubles draws and Friday's schedule. Live streaming is available. 

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