Monday, September 30, 2019

Paul tops Kokkinakis for $108K Tiburon title

Tommy Paul, right, beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-4 on Sunday to win
the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger. Photo by Natalie Kim
   Tommy Paul overcame a determined opponent, the wind and a sore shoulder on Sunday to win his third Challenger singles title of the year.
   The top-seeded Paul, from Greenville, N.C., outlasted eighth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-4 in the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon Challenger.
   Paul broke the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Kokkinakis' serve at love in the final game of the 2-hour, 46-minute match at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. Kokkinakis double-faulted for 0-30 and missed his first serve on the next two points. It was the only break of the third set.
   For the second consecutive day, USTA supervisor Keith Crossland was called onto Center Court. Crossland assessed Kokkinakis a game penalty for taking too long of a bathroom break after the second set. Kokkinakis then uttered an audible obscenity while arguing with chair umpire Roger Pennington but was not penalized.
   On Saturday, Crossland defaulted doubles player Alex Lawson, a 25-year-old left-hander from Tempe, Ariz., for swatting a ball into the VIP seats.
   Paul, 22, earned $14,400 and rose six places to a career-high No. 81.
   Kokkinakis, 23, received $8,480 and improved 22 spots to No. 161. He was playing in only his ninth tournament, and first final, of the year because of a nagging pectoral injury.
   Kokkinakis climbed as high as No. 69 at age 18 in 2015 before injuries derailed his career. Last year, he shocked Roger Federer in the second round in Miami and won a $100,000 Challenger in Aptos, Calif., 98 miles (157 kilometers) south of Tiburon. 
   Here are the complete Tiburon singles and doubles draws.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Doubles player defaulted; Paul, Aussie reach singles final

Thanasi Kokkinakis, shown en route to the title in Aptos, Calif.,
last year, will try to win another Northern California Challenger
on Sunday. Photo by Paul Bauman
   After a scary moment in the doubles semifinals, Tommy Paul and Thanasi Kokkinakis reached the singles final in the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger.
   Alex Lawson, seeded second with fellow American Jackson Withrow, was defaulted for swatting a ball into the seats today during a match tiebreaker against third-seeded Robert Galloway of Greenville, S.C., and Roberto Maytin of Venezuela.
   After Lawson sailed a moonball long on his serve for a 1-3 deficit, a ballboy tossed a ball to him to serve again. Lawson swung at the ball, apparently intending to bash it high in the air.
   Instead, the ball zoomed into the VIP seats, striking a middle-aged man in the back. The man, who was not injured, was standing at a banquet table behind the seats with his back to the court.
   Lawson immediately dropped his racket, put his head in his hands in dismay and ran to the stands. USTA supervisor Keith Crossland, who was watching the match, promptly defaulted the 25-year-old former Notre Dame All-American, who's ranked No. 139 in doubles.
   The top-seeded Paul, 22, of Greenville, N.C., beat fourth-seeded Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-1, 7-5 on a windy day to tie their head-to-head series 1-1. Gomez, the son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, defeated Paul, the 2015 French Open boys singles champion, 6-2, 6-2 on clay in the final of the $54,160 Tallahassee (Fla.) Challenger in April.
   The eighth-seeded Kokkinakis, a 23-year-old Australian who has battled a pectoral injury all year, topped 14th-seeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Charlottesville, Va., 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.
   Last year, Kokkinakis stunned Roger Federer in the second round in Miami and won a $100,000 Challenger in Aptos, Calif., 98 miles (157 kilometers) south of Tiburon.
   Kwiatkowski won the 2017 NCAA singles title as a University of Virginia senior.
   Paul, the only top-100 player in the singles draw at No. 87, and Kokkinakis, ranked No. 183, will meet for the first time on Sunday not before 2 p.m. Kokkinakis climbed as high as No. 69 at 18 in 2015 before injuries derailed his career.
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Sunday's schedule.

For top seed Paul, narrow win in Tiburon tastes good

Tommy Paul, playing in Tiburon last year, took a swig
of beer after edging Gonzalo Escobar in Friday's quar-
terfinals. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Tommy Paul didn't wait long to celebrate his narrow victory over Gonzalo Escobar.
   After shaking hands with Escobar, Paul walked to the side of the court opposite the chair umpire and took a swig of beer from an unattended pitcher sitting on the first row of the stands.
   The top-seeded Paul, from Greenville, N.C., edged the unseeded Escobar, from Ecuador, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (2) on Friday in the quarterfinals of the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Paul, the only top-100 player in the field at No. 87, is scheduled to meet another Ecuadorian, fourth-seeded Emilio Gomez, today at about 4:30 p.m. Gomez, ranked No. 158, beat unseeded Sekou Bangoura of Bradenton, Fla., 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
   Gomez, the son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, defeated Paul, the 2015 French Open boys singles champion, 6-2, 6-2 on clay in the final of the $54,160 Tallahassee (Fla.) Challenger in April in their only previous meeting.
   In today's first semifinal at 2:30 p.m., eighth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia will play 14th-seeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Charlottesville, Va., for the first time.
   Kokkinakis, ranked No. 183, dispatched 16th-seeded Maxime Cressy, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Paris native who plays for the United States, 6-4, 6-2.
   Kokkinakis reached a career-high No. 69 at age 18 in 2015 before injuries derailed his career. He shocked Roger Federer in the second round in Miami and won the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger last year.
   Cressy and Keegan Smith of UCLA won the NCAA doubles title in May.
   Kwiatkowski, the 2017 NCAA singles champion from the University of Virginia, nipped wild card Brandon Nakashima, a Virginia sophomore from San Diego, 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (6).
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Kwiatkowski tops third-seeded Giron in $108K Tiburon

   In a matchup of former NCAA singles champions, 14th-seeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Charlottesville, Va., outlasted third-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles area 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 today to reach the quarterfinals of the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Kwiatkowski (University of Virginia) and Giron (UCLA) won the NCAA singles crown in 2017 and 2014, respectively.
   Kwiatkowski improved to 2-0 against Giron, also winning 6-4 in the third set in the first round of qualifying in Fairfield, Calif., last October.
   Also losing today were fifth-seeded Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark, seventh seed and 2016 Tiburon champion Darian King of Barbados and 10th-seeded Christopher Eubanks of Atlanta.
   Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador toppled Torpegaard, a former Ohio State All-American, 6-4, 7-6 (9). Torpegaard reached the 2018 NCAA singles quarterfinals and doubles final with Martin Joyce.
   Sekou Bangoura of Bradenton, Fla., eliminated King 1-6, 6-4, 6-0 after knocking off 12th seed and 2013 Tiburon champion Peter Polansky of Canada on Wednesday. Polansky, 31, won last week's $54,160 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger on an indoor hard court.
   Wild card Brandon Nakashima, a Virginia sophomore from San Diego, surprised the 6-foot-7 (2.01-meter) Eubanks 7-6 (5), 7-5 one day after ousting sixth seed and defending champion Michael Mmoh.
   Only three of the top 13 seeds reached Friday's quarterfinals. Advancing were top-seeded Tommy Paul of Greenville, N.C., fourth-seeded Emilio Gomez of Ecuador and eighth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia.
   Gomez's father, Andres Gomez, won the 1990 French Open. Kokkinakis stunned Roger Federer last year in Miami.
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Friday's schedule.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Defending champ, 2013 winner fall in Tiburon openers

   Two Tiburon champions lost their opening matches in this year's Challenger, and a third nearly joined them.
   Wild card Brandon Nakashima, a University of Virginia sophomore from San Diego, ousted sixth seed and defending champion Michael Mmoh of Bradenton, Fla., 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 today in the second round at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. All 16 singles seeds received first-round byes.
   Mmoh, also the Tiburon runner-up in 2016, cracked the top 100 for the first time at No. 96 by winning last year's tournament for his second title in two weeks. But the 21-year-old son of former pro player Tony Mmoh will plummet 79 places to No. 287 on Monday. Michael Mmoh sat out for four months early this year because of injuries.
   Also today, Sekou Bangoura of Bradenton beat 12th seed and 2013 Tiburon champion Peter Polansky of Canada 6-1, 6-4. Polansky, 31, won last week's $54,160 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger on an indoor hard court.
   Bangoura also surprised fourth-seeded Dustin Brown, a German who's 2-0 against Rafael Nadal, in the first round at Tiburon in 2015 as a qualifier before losing to Mackenzie McDonald of nearby Piedmont in the second round.
   Seventh-seeded Darian King, the 2016 Tiburon champion from Barbados, topped another 21-year-old American, Ulises Blanch, 2-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5.
   Meanwhile, Ecuador's Roberto Quiroz, a Columbus semifinalist last week, dispatched second-seeded Denis Kudla, a 27-year-old American who lost a thriller in the 2015 Tiburon final, 6-3, 6-2 in 61 minutes.
   Top-seeded Tommy Paul of Greenville, N.C., beat wild card Brandon Holt, a USC senior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. Paul also defeated Holt in the second round in Tiburon last year, 5-0, retired (shoulder).
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Legends share compelling stories, including opioid battle

Left to right, International Tennis Hall of Famers Rosemary Casals, Charlie
Pasarell and Dennis Ralston answer questions during the Sutter Lawn Tennis
Club's 100th-anniversary celebration on Saturday night in Sacramento. Photo
by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Dennis Ralston overcame an opioid addiction.
   Rosemary Casals and Charlie Pasarell played key roles in the astronomical growth of professional tennis over the past 50 years.
   The three International Tennis Hall of Famers, who played in the Central California Championships early in their careers, returned to the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club on Saturday night to help celebrate its 100th anniversary. Sutter Lawn is one of 10 clubs in the United States and 77 in the world that are at least that old.
   Ralston, Casals and Pasarell told several poignant stories during a Q&A with emcee Pam Shriver, another Hall of Famer.
   Ralston, a 77-year-old native of Bakersfield in Southern California, was dubbed "Dennis the Menace" during his playing days. He won five Grand Slam men's doubles titles, reached the 1966 Wimbledon singles final, played on one Davis Cup championship team and served as the captain (coach) on another.
   But Ralston paid a heavy price for his success. He underwent eight operations on each knee, and his left leg was amputated below the knee in 2010 because of an infection after foot surgery.
   After retiring in 1977, Ralston coached Hall of Famers Chris Evert, Gabriela Sabatini and Yannick Noah and the Southern Methodist University men.
   Casals, a 71-year-old San Francisco native, helped launch the first women's pro circuit in 1970. She amassed 112 doubles titles, second in the Open era (since 1968) behind Martina Navratilova's 177.
   Casals won 12 Grand Slam crowns (nine in women's doubles and three in mixed doubles). They include five at Wimbledon and two in the U.S. championships with Billie Jean King.
   In singles, Casals reached two U.S. Open finals and climbed as high as No. 3 in 1970.
   Shriver called the 5-foot-2 (1.57-meter) Casals "pound-for-pound the greatest player in women's tennis history."
   Pasarell, 75, from Puerto Rico was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a contributor. He helped found the Association of Tennis Professionals in 1972 and built the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells into what is considered "the fifth Grand Slam."
   Also an outstanding player, Pasarell was ranked No. 1 in the United States in 1967 and No. 11 in the world in 1966.
   In 1969, Pasarell and Pancho Gonzales played the longest match in Wimbledon history until John Isner and Nicolas Mahut broke the record in 2010. Gonzales, then 41, outlasted Pasarell, 25 at the time, 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 in 5 hours, 12 minutes.
   Following are highlights from Saturday night's Q&A.
   Ralston: I came up here in 1964 because I was kicked off the Davis Cup team for a match in Bakersfield. The captain had scheduled a match against Canada at my home club, which is very much like Sutter Lawn – a real family club with nice people. The reason I got kicked off was I got married in 1964, and I went on the six-week Caribbean circuit with Linda, who's still my wife – lucky for me ... 56 years, that's a long time ... poor girl ... I've been blessed. She got very sick in Baranquilla, Colombia, so she came home, but I had to play a few more tournaments.
   The last tournament I had to play was in River Oaks in Houston. George MacCall, the Davis Cup captain, could tell you who you had to play with. He told me I had to play doubles with a gentleman named Ham Richardson, who was a good player.
   I said, "George, I don't really want to play doubles in River Oaks. If I lose (in singles), I want to go home." He said, "You have to play doubles with Richardson. We're thinking you guys might be the (Davis Cup doubles) team for this year. I said, "Well, I don't want to play doubles."
   He didn't listen to me, and I lost my singles. He entered me in the doubles with Richardson, and I went to the tournament director and said, "If I play, I'm going to tank." I had tanked a match in Australia in 1962. It was embarrassing; I was such a baby and such an idiot. The guy would serve, and I'd hit the ball over the fence. There were about 5,000 people watching and booing me. That's why I made No. 10 in the Bad Boys of the Game.
   I vowed I would never tank a match again, and I knew if I played this doubles match, I wasn't going to try. So I went to the airport in Houston. In those days, they had that white phone. You could call people and say, "Please, Pam Shriver, the white phone is for you – answer it." I knew it was George MacCall. He had tracked me down at the airport, and I didn't answer it.
   I flew home to Bakersfield. When I got home, George said, "You're off the team" for the match at my home club. And I said, "Well, that's nice." I got a call from Bill Demas (the tournament director of the Central California Championships), and I came up here. I had a great week at Sutter Lawn, winning the singles and doubles. They would call Bakersfield during the Davis Cup match and tell the people at the stadium the score over the loudspeaker.
   So Bakersfield was pretty happy. Originally, they weren't going to have the match because I didn't play, but I said, "You've got to have the Davis Cup," which is a real honor.
   Shriver: Charlie, I assume since you're from Puerto Rico that, like me from Baltimore, you hadn't heard of this club as a junior. Was your first recollection of this club when you were a college player at UCLA?
   Pasarell: No, I used to read World Tennis magazine. Sutter Lawn was much talked about in World Tennis. I used to read all the results when I was 8, 9, 10 years old. I knew about this club and California. I had to come to California all the way from Puerto Rico if I wanted to become a good tennis player.
   Unfortunately, I only got to play (at Sutter Lawn) one year. That was in 1968. (Former UCLA teammate) Arthur (Ashe) and I were in the U.S. Army, and we were part of the U.S. Davis Cup team. We could get some leave to go play Davis Cup matches. We played this tournament to prepare for a match against Colombia in Charlotte, North Carolina.
   We finished the tournament and went to the train station because Robert F. Kennedy was running for president. He would have won the Democratic nomination. Bobby was a good friend of ours, and we went to the station to meet the train and listen to his speech. We were in the caboose while he was giving the speech at the station. Afterward, he came and talked to us for about 45 minutes or an hour. He was feeling very up.
   We got on a plane and flew to Charlotte to play the Davis Cup match. Dennis was our Davis Cup coach, and he met us there. The next night, we heard on the television that he had been shot, so we were with him in the last 24 hours. Maybe it's not a nice way to remember Sutter Lawn, but it certainly was a meaningful time in our lives.
   Shriver: Rosie, when you reflect on the Original 9 (women's tennis pioneers) and the recent U.S. Open, what stands out to you about how our sport has grown?
   Casals: It's definitely evolved from the '60s and'70s, the Open era coming in with prize money. (Bianca) Andreescu won $3.85 million ... wow! I think it took Billie Jean a whole year to win $100,000. When we started, we were playing for $10,000 total prize money (in tournaments), so it took a long time to make $100,000.
   I'm proud to be one of the Original 9 who took that risk (to sign $1 contracts) with Gladys Heldman to start the women's tour. We were very fortunate to get Virginia Slims on board. They knew how to market, and they had the dollars to put women's tennis on the map.
   Even further, the "Battle of the Sexes" in 1973 really put women's tennis on the map. God knows what would happened if Billie Jean had lost that match (against 55-year-old Bobby Riggs). We know what happened when Margaret Court lost her match (to Riggs). That meant (King) had to play.
   I remember coming back from Japan (with King) and stopping in Hawaii. They had those little TV sets at the airport where you put your quarter in to see what was going on. We saw that (Court) was down a set and 5-2, and I said, "I can't believe she's going to lose." Billie Jean said, "If she loses, damn it, I've going to have to play him." That's what happened.
   Tennis is in pretty good shape, and I'm very proud to be a part of all that.
   Shriver: Tell us what happened this morning because you've done quite the doubleheader, speaking of Billie Jean King.
   Casals: They named the Long Beach library the Billie Jean King Library. It was a great moment obviously for her to come back to (her hometown of) Long Beach and a great honor. It's a beautiful building. ... It wasn't a long flight (from Long Beach to Sacramento).
   Shriver: Dennis, when you watch a match – maybe the U.S. Open final between (Daniil) Medvedev and (Rafael) Nadal that had plenty of tactics or the Wimbledon final – put your coaching hat on and share with us what you might say to a player you were coaching in today's game.
   Ralston: The gal from Canada, (Bianca) Andreescu, played really well in the U.S. Open. I think Serena (Williams) has made a remarkable comeback, but it's really tough when you're out for a period of time. Whether she continues to try to get that (24th Grand Slam singles title to tie Court's record), that's up to her and her team. I think she has to get in better shape because physically she hasn't played a lot of matdches.
   I thought the men's final was going to be boring. For the first two sets, it was. I happened to come in at 3-all in the third set. I've watched a lot of tennis in my 70-plus years in the game, and I was on the edge of my seat. That Medvedev guy, he's (6-foot-6, 1.98 meters), he moves like a cat, and he's as smart as a whip. He played unbelievable. You could never tell that the guy was down. He changed tactics. He was the first guy I've seen to do something other than try to beat Nadal from the baseline. Nadal was lucky to win that match.
   You asked Rosie about (tennis' growth). When I won Wimbledon (doubles) in 1960, I got a £5 – $7.50 – voucher for a sweater at Lillywhites. Now, I think you get £50,000 if you lose in the first round, plus your hotel. I kind of think the money has gone crazy, but all sports have gone crazy. Guys that hit .250 are making $50 million in baseball. It's just the way it is.
   People say, "Don't you feel bad that you didn't make a lot of money?" I say, "No, I played at a great time. I've had a great life, and I'm very blessed to have the memories that this great game has given me. ... I wouldn't change anything."
   Shriver: I think most of us feel that way. You play when you play. I played when Chris Evert was winning 18 singles majors and Martina Navratilova was winning 18 singles majors. Then Steffi Graf came along and won 22 singles majors. Monica Seles was probably on her way to winning 20 singles majors when the tragic thing happened in Hamburg.
   It's tough if you're on the men's tour right now. Charlie, how frustrating would it be if you were a top-10 player for as long as people like (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga or (David) Ferrer, and you played in the era of Nadal, (Roger) Federer, (Novak) Djokovic, and then throw (Andy) Murray and (Stan) Wawrinka in there.
   Pasarell: It's very frustrating. I want to talk first about women's tennis. I think women's tennis is wide open today. There are 50 girls that could win any tournament at any given time, including the majors. That's very exciting, in my opinion.
   Men's tennis is an interesting thing. Since 2005, only seven players have won the majors (in singles): Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Murray, (Marin) Cilic and  (Juan Martin) del Potro. So think about how frustrating it would be all those young players who have been trying to come up the last 15 years or so. It'll change.
   I grew up in a generation of players that I am so fortunate and so proud to be among: Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Rosie, Dennis and Cliff Drysdale. They had a huge impact on the game. We were in our prime when (pros weren't allowed in the major tournaments). The first year of Open tennis was 1968. It didn't happen accidentally. It happened because all of us felt we needed to make this game bigger and better. To Rosie's point, (the pioneers) said, "Someday we'll be playing for a million dollars." Well, a million dollars now is nothing in some of these big tournaments.
   Billie Jean and Arthur went outside of the tennis court and had a huge impact on society. Those are the people I grew up with. I really consider myself to be very fortunate to have been part of that generation.
   Ralston: This is way off the mark from tennis, but you've probably all read about the pharmaceutical mess that the world's going through. I was one of those victims of the pills. I took stuff for 10 years, and I can tell you it is absolutely insidious and horrible.
   I had knee problems all my life, and two doctors told me, "You'll take these for the rest of your life. You'll be fine; it's OK." That was when the pendulum swung toward chronic pain was not good for you. I went to (the) Betty Ford (Center) for one month to get off this stuff, and I vowed if I made it out of Betty Ford, any chance I had to talk to an audience, I would say this: One out of four of you could be around somebody who's taking this stuff from Purdue Pharma, basically OxyContin and Vicodin, and you don't know how dangerous it is.
   The last prescription they gave me – if you can believe this; some of you are doctors here – was for 12-a-day, 80-milligram OxyContin pills. And they were giving me Adderall to stay awake during the day and sleeping pills at night. That was 2010 when I went to Betty Ford, and thanks to Charlie and a lot of other people, my family – I had intervention – I got off this stuff, and it was not easy. I could have been dead; some scary stuff happened.
   If you know someone that's dealing with that, help them. Don't let them say, "I don't need your help," because it's a worldwide epidemic, especially in the United States. It's bigger than you think.
   Rehab is not a lot of fun. I used to live in Palm Desert, and I'd go by Betty Ford and say, "Oh, those poor people." I learned so much. I was there with Lindsay Lohan. She had to listen to a couple of my talks. They asked you to get up and say, "I'm an addict," and all this stuff. I met a guy there who was in charge of Asian medicine, and he really helped me. He said, "You're not an addict – you're addicted." I never took the stuff illegally; I took it prescribed, but I was addicted to the stuff.
   Shriver: In 2010, it sounds like you had one of your great matches, and you had a win, so congratulations, Dennis, and thanks for sharing.

Escobedo advances as Young quits in $108K Tiburon

Ernesto Escobedo, playing in Aptos, Calif., last month,
is ranked No. 218 after reaching a career-high No. 67
in 2017. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   In a clash of American former top-100 players, 15th-seeded Ernesto Escobedo beat Donald Young 6-1, 4-2, retired today in the second round of the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Escobedo, 23, is ranked No. 218 after reaching a career-high No. 67 in 2017. He won the title in Granby, Quebec, and advanced to the semis in Aptos, Calif., in consecutive Challengers over the summer.
   Young, a 30-year-old left-hander, has tumbled from a career-high No. 38 in 2012 to No. 242. He has reached the third round of a tournament only once since April.
   Escobedo is scheduled to play fourth-seeded Emilio Gomez of Ecuador on Thursday. Gomez, the 27-year-old son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez and a semifinalist last week in Columbus, Ohio, outlasted Michael Pervolarakis of Greece 5-7, 6-0, 6-4.
   Fifth-seeded Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark beat Ryan Peniston of Great Britain 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Torpegaard, 25, reached the quarterfinals in Columbus, where he starred at Ohio State. Torpegaard advanced to the NCAA singles quarterfinals and doubles final with Martin Joyce last year.
   Another former Buckeyes standout, 20-year-old J.J. Wolf, topped American Alexander Sarkissian, the 2014 NCAA runner-up from Pepperdine, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-4 in 2 hours, 39 minutes. Wolf reached the Columbus final, losing to Peter Polansky of Canada.
   Polansky, the 2013 Tiburon champion, is set to play American Sekou Bangoura on Wednesday in the second round. All 16 singles seeds received first-round byes.
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Wednesday's schedule.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Shriver says Serena era could be over

Pam Shriver emcees the Sutter Lawn Tennis
Club's 100th-anniversary celebration on Satur-
day night in Sacramento. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. – She formed half of perhaps the greatest women's doubles team in history.
   Pam Shriver teamed with Martina Navratilova to win 20 Grand Slam doubles titles, tied for the record with Louise Brough and Margaret Osborne duPont. Venus and Serena Williams are tied for third place at 14 with Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva.
   Shriver also won one Grand Slam doubles title with Zvereva, a major mixed doubles crown with Spain's Emilio Sanchez and the Olympic gold medal in women's doubles with Zina Garrison at Seoul in 1988.
   In singles, Shriver reached one Grand Slam final, at 16 in the 1978 U.S. Open, and a career-high No. 3 in 1984. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002.
   Now an ESPN commentator, Shriver emceed the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club's 100th-anniversary celebration on Saturday night. Sutter Lawn is one of 10 clubs in the United States and 77 in the world that are at least that old.
   After dinner, Shriver conducted a Q&A with Hall of Famers Rosemary Casals, a San Francisco native; Dennis Ralston, a native of Bakersfield in Southern California; and Charlie Pasarell, who was inducted in the contributor category. All but Shriver, 57, played in the Central California Championships at Sutter Lawn. The tournament ended after the 1972 edition.
   Shriver lives in Brentwood in West Los Angeles with her three children – George Jr., 15, and twins Kate and Sam, 13 – all with her ex-husband, Australian actor George Lazenby.
   Shriver's first husband, former Walt Disney Company lawyer Joe Shapiro, died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma 20 years ago today. One of her two siblings, Marion, died of cancer at 37 in 1997.
   Shriver, a Baltimore native and minority owner of the Orioles, spoke insightfully and candidly to a reporter during Saturday night's festivities.
   Q: Have you been to Sacramento before?
   A: Yes, I have. A couple of momentous occasions – when my twins came up here from L.A. three and a half years ago for an overnight gold-panning camp in Old Sacramento, so I went on a field trip, and our beloved golden retriever came from a nearby mom-and-pop breeder. They do one litter a year, and I got the last pup. The last time I was at the airport before today was three years ago when I picked up our beautiful Bo. It's short for Lamborghini because that's my oldest child's idea of a great car to have at some point in his life.
   Q: How surprised were you by Bianca Andreescu's victory over Serena in the U.S. Open final?
   A: Before the tournament, she was my outside pick based on winning Indian Wells and in her home country of Canada. She was injured a lot in between, but I just thought this kid can win the big ones and she seemed to have something special. She showed that in New York. She didn't play her best, a little like when (Naomi) Osaka won the Australian Open this year. (Andreescu) was able to win without playing her best, but she played a great final, even when Serena made the charge.
   Q: What makes Andreescu special?
   A: Her forehand is maybe the best groundstroke in women's tennis right now. She's an athletic, powerful mover. She's only 19. You can kind of see where she got the bad shoulder because her serve is a weapon. She has a pretty live arm. She's going to have to watch that and take care of it.
   To me, the most impressive thing was the intangibles, her belief under great pressure. And there was no greater pressure than when Serena got back to 5-all because (Andreescu) already had a set and 5-1 to win her first major. She was still able to win it from there.
   Q: Serena will turn 38 on Thursday. How much longer do you think she'll play, and how many Grand Slam singles titles will she end up with?
   A: It's really been a huge setback to lose four straight major finals, not winning a set. She has to work hard physically and emotionally to get over that. One of the things I don't know is her commitment to truly working not for just a month or two but for a full 12 months. I think she can win one or two more, but it's gotten a lot harder. The surface and conditions at the Australian Open are tough – even though she's won it (seven) times – whether it's a heat wave or the hardcourts being tough on her knee.
   You look at women's tennis, and even though there hasn't been a great champion step up besides Serena in this era, the depth one through 20 is crazy. Sometimes you can look at players ranked 10 through 18, and they look almost the same as two through 10. It's who finds their game at the right time, like Sloane (Stephens) two years ago at the (U.S.) Open or (Jelena) Ostapenko at the French two and a half years ago – I mean some crazy results.
   Going back to Serena, I thought she would have won either the Wimbledon final or the U.S. Open final. Now I'm a little concerned. It may be a lot harder even getting to a final. But nothing she does will surprise me. I'm just saying there have been a lot of emotional scars the last two years. 
   Q: You wouldn't be surprised if she didn't win any more Slams?
   A: No, I wouldn't be surprised at all. And I wouldn't be surprised if she passed Margaret Court. She could end up just tying her, maybe eke out one more at Wimbledon next year. Even in six or nine months, her serve can still be the best in women's tennis. (But) her serve hasn't been as consistent. Her movement is not as good, and she can't play defense like she did. In my mind, she's a good step down from her peak.
Charlie Pasarell, second from left, an International Tennis Hall of Famer in the
contributor category, toasts Sutter Lawn's 100th anniversary. Also shown, left to
right, are Hall of Famers Rosemary Casals, Dennis Ralston and Pam Shriver.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Q: Is Coco Gauff the real deal?
   A: She looks like it. It's way too early to tell for sure. I think she has some flaws with her forehand and second serve. She needs to not get on the full-time professional training mentality. She still needs to develop her game. (She has) world-class movement. She could be one of the top two of three movers in the women's game right now. I saw her close some gaps – where the ball was and from courtside where she was – and I was astounded by how quickly she covered the court. She has great power for 15.
   She looks like the real deal, but there's so many things that can happen – injuries, you get sidetracked, you don't develop your game ... you never know.
   Q: Do you see her winning multiple Slams?
   A: Based on what we saw this summer – if she loves it and stays healthy, she should have a 20-year career – yes. But it's never a sure thing. You're talking to someone who got to the (singles) final of the U.S. Open in my second major. I never got back. Everybody said, 'You're going to win many of 'em.' I didn't. I'm maybe more skeptical than some, (but) it's not an automatic.
   Q: Roger Federer turned 38 last month. How much longer do you think he'll play, and will he win any more Slams?
   A: I think he'll play one more (calendar) year, then he'll play his last tournament in 2021, maybe Wimbledon. That's almost two years. That's just a hunch. If he's still enjoying it, he might see if he can stay in the top 10 after 40.
   Some of his lackluster play at the U.S. Open (losing to Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals) was because of the leftover sadness from not closing out Wimbledon. To have (almost) gotten to 21 (Slams) against (Novak) Djokovic, that was a big match for history, and he came up short on the (two championship) points. He says he gets over things quickly, but no one gets over that loss, not even Federer.
   If he stays healthy, he's still dangerous. He's gotten tactically smarter as a player. So has Serena, actually. As you get older, sometimes you lose a little bit of your physical gifts, but you can get smarter as a player, and I think he's done that.
   Q: Who will end up with the most Slams – Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic?
   A: Right now, most people would bet on Djokovic because of his age (32). The shoulder thing I think is a bit of a fluke – the left shoulder. It could be Djokovic at the end of the day. I don't think it'll be Federer, which is going to upset a lot of Fed fans, but there are two guys who are considerably younger, and Nadal is only one behind him. And Nadal (33) is going to still be a favorite to win two of the next three French Opens. I think he'll lose at least one of the next three. Nadal is always this close to having another serious knee injury, but he seems to have figured out how to manage it. (Platelet-rich plasma therapy) seems to have really helped.
Left to right, ex-pro doubles specialist Christina Hinds (formerly Fusano),
current pro doubles star Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) and Sacramento
Mayor Darrell Steinberg appear on the stage at Sutter Lawn on Saturday night.
Hinds and Atawo won the 2003 NCAA doubles title while playing for Cal. Both
live in Sacramento. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Q: No U.S. man has won a Grand Slam singles title since Andy Roddick in the 2003 U.S. Open. How much longer will the drought last, and who will end it?
   A: First off, from when I played (1979-97) and everything that happened before me and everything that happened after I finished, if you had told me we'd go 16 years between U.S. men's major champions, I would never have believed it. I could only believe it if I had seen what happened in the last 16 years.
   As soon as the Big Three are no longer grabbing hold of virtually every one, a lot of them will be up for grabs, just like in the women's game. That'll be the time when they have a better chance. Someone might sneak in there and win one. But honestly, I still don't see anybody where I'd say they're going to win one. You can look at (Dominic) Thiem and say eventually he'll win a French Open. The way (Daniil) Medvedev tactically plays the game, you sort of see him winning a few.
   (Frances) Tiafoe? Is he going to decide he's going to train and be a professional tennis player year-round, or is he going to dip in and out with his dedication?
   I'll just take a guess – (the drought will end) in the next five years. I think it'll be right around the 20-year mark. It would be a great story if (34-year-old John) Isner could sneak in before he retires, but he's going to have a harder and harder time staying healthy through a two-week run at a major, three-out-of-five sets.
   Q: Any guesses as to who will end the drought?
   A: I'd like to see Frances – he's from my home state – step up and be consistent, be really hungry and really, really want to be a major champion. You see what Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, even Stan Wawrinka go through. Look what Andy Murray went through to win his three. Frances has the background to be that hungry – his family came from nothing. To be a major champion, you have to be determined to leave no stone unturned.
   Q: You haven't seen that commitment from Tiafoe?
   A: Not yet, but guys mature later. It's not to say he won't, but you kind of look at people's patterns. People develop patterns pretty early. I like him a lot. He's fun.
   Q: Can you see Taylor Fritz or Reilly Opelka ending the drought?
   A: Fritz's improvement since he became a dad has been a little bit surprising in that he's taken that distraction and channeled it into being more professional. He's a great ball-striker but not a great mover. He's become a better mover and all-around such a steady player.
   Opelka is an interesting one. He's a wild card because of his athleticism for his size (6-foot-11 or 2.11 meters). He could be the one if he keeps improving. You've got to look for trends. You mentioned two guys who have improved a lot in the last 12 months. If they can improve the same amount in the next 12 months, it doesn't take much (so that) all of a sudden, you're knocking on the door of the top 10.
   Just look at what Opelka's serve can be at 7 feet tall. It's (tremendous) now; I think it can get even better with hitting his spots. It's just crazy how much of an advantage that is for Isner and Opelka. It's like a volleyball spike every single serve.
   Q: Does Opelka move well enough to win a Slam someday?
   A: Most people say among (Ivo) Karlovic, Isner and Opelka – the ones between 6-11 and 7 feet – Opelka is the best mover. And he's at an age (22) where he's only going to get better with his movement. When I see him rally at the back of the court, I don't feel the unease that I've felt sometimes with Isner or Karlovic through the years. I actually feel like he can hang in there.
   Q: One more question: How tough is it to root for the Orioles?
   A: (Roars with laughter) It's pretty hard right now, but living in L.A. helps because it's not right there in front of my face the way it would be if I lived in Baltimore. They have a new general manager and a new manager. You just have to give it time. They're playing some exciting baseball; they have some good athletes. I'm patient ... I'm patient.

Aragone beats ex-teammate Altamirano in Tiburon

JC Aragone, playing in Aptos, Calif., last year, and Collin
Altamirano helped Virginia win three NCAA titles. Photo
by Paul Bauman
   In a matchup of former University of Virginia teammates, JC Aragone of Yorba Linda in the Los Angeles area defeated Collin Altamirano of Sacramento 6-2, 7-6 (3) today in the first round of the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Aragone, 24, improved to 2-0 against Altamirano, 23. They played on three NCAA championship teams at Virginia (2015-17).
   Donald Young of Atlanta dismissed another member of Virginia's 2015 NCAA title team, Ryan Shane, 6-1, 6-1 in 46 minutes.
   Young, a 30-year-old left-hander, is ranked No. 242 after reaching a career-high No. 38 in 2012. Shane won the 2015 NCAA singles championship.
   Wild card Brandon Holt, a USC senior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, topped former Trojans All-American Raymond Sarmiento, who gained entry with a protected ranking, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3.
   Holt earned a second-round rematch against top-seeded Tommy Paul of Greenville, N.C., on Wednesday. Paul led 5-0 when Holt retired with a shoulder injury last year in Tiburon.
   Here are the Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Tuesday's schedule.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

American Paul heads field in $108K Tiburon Challenger

Tommy Paul plays fellow U.S. prospect
Michael Mmoh in last year's Tiburon (Calif.)
quarterfinals. Mmoh, who went on to win
the title, called it the highest-quality match
in which he had ever played. Photo by
Paul Bauman 
   Top-seeded Tommy Paul of Greenville, N.C., is scheduled to play either wild card Brandon Holt, the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, or Raymond Sarmiento of Los Angeles in the second round of the First Republic Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger.
   All 16 seeds received first-round byes in the $108,320 tournament, which will begin Monday at the Tiburon Peninsula Club in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   The 22-year-old Paul, the only top-100 player in the draw at a career-high No. 88, won his third Challenger singles title, all since last November, three weeks ago in New Haven, Conn.
   Paul, the 2015 French Open boys singles champion, reached the Tiburon quarterfinals last year as a wild card ranked No. 343. He defeated Holt 5-0, retired (shoulder), in the second round before losing to Michael Mmoh, a top U.S. prospect like Paul, 7-6 (7), 2-6, 6-3. Mmoh, who went on to win the title, called it the highest-quality match in which he had ever played.
   Mmoh, 21, is one of three former Tiburon singles champions in the field. Darian King (2016) of Barbados is seeded seventh, and Peter Polansky (2013) of Canada is seeded 12th. Polansky, 31, won the singles title in the $54,160 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger today on an indoor hard court. He will jump 33 places to No. 167 on Monday.
   American Denis Kudla, who lost a thriller in the 2015 Tiburon final, is seeded second in this year's tournament.
   Collin Altamirano, a 23-year-old Sacramentan, is set to play former University of Virginia teammate JC Aragone of Yorba Linda in the Los Angeles area on Monday at about 2 p.m.
   It will be Altamirano's first appearance in the main draw in Tiburon, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, and first in five years there. He lost in the second round of qualifying in 2014.
   Here are the Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Monday's schedule.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Shriver, other legends set for club's 100th-birthday gala

   International Tennis Hall of Famer and ESPN commentator Pam Shriver will emcee the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club's 100th-anniversary celebration on Saturday night in Sacramento.
   Shriver will moderate a Q&A with Hall of Famers Rosemary Casals, Dennis Ralston, Nancy Richey (master player category) and Charlie Pasarell (contributor category) and former doubles star Bob Lutz after the 7 p.m. dinner, which is sold out at $150 to $250 per person.
   All except Shriver, a 57-year-old Baltimore native, played in the Central California Championships at Sutter Lawn, according to Centennial Committee member John Rodrigues. The last edition of the tournament was held in 1972.
   Organizers expect 350 guests at the formal affair on Saturday night. The attire is tuxedos or suits for men and gowns for women. All will wear tennis shoes to avoid damaging Sutter Lawn's hard courts, on which the dinner will be held.
   Shriver won 21 Grand Slam women's doubles titles (all but one with Martina Navratilova), one major mixed doubles crown (the French Open with Spain's Emilio Sanchez) and one Olympic gold medal (women's doubles with Zina Garrison at Seoul in 1988).
   The public is invited to attend two exhibition matches on Saturday and two on Sunday.
   A celebrity doubles match featuring Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, former California State Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides, professional doubles star Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) and ex-doubles standout Christina Fusano Hinds is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. The Sacramento State men will face UC Davis at noon.
   Atawo, a 36-year-old Fresno native, has won 18 WTA doubles titles and been ranked as high as No. 10 in the world in that category (2015). She reached the doubles semifinals in the Australian Open in 2014 and at Wimbledon in 2015 and 2016, all with compatriot Abigail Spears.
   Fusano Hinds, a 38-year-old Sacramento native, climbed to a career-high No. 84 in doubles in 2008. She and Atawo won the 2003 NCAA doubles title as Cal teammates.
   On Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Fusano Hinds and Atawo will play local teaching pros Brian Martinez and Whit Livingston in a "Battle of the Sexes" match. The Cal and Stanford men will meet at 3 p.m.
   Tickets, which will be available at the door starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday, cost $20 for both days and $15 for one day. Admission for youths under 16 is $5. Proceeds go to Sacramento State.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Romanian routs ailing U.S. teen for $25K Redding title

Champion Gabriela Talaba, right, and Alycia Parks, clutching her sore right
arm, hold their checks during the awards ceremony. Photo by Paul Bauman
   REDDING, Calif. – It doesn't exactly compare to Simona Halep's Wimbledon crown two months ago, but fellow Romanian Gabriela Talaba's title today was special all the same.
   The third-seeded Talaba routed ailing Alycia Parks, 18, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., 6-1, 6-1 in 62 minutes to win the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open on a breezy day at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   It was the 24-year-old Talaba's fourth singles title in a professional tournament but first on a hardcourt.
Gabriela Talaba of Romania celebrates after
converting her first championship point.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   "I wanted to win it so bad, and it happened," gushed Talaba, who graduated from Texas Tech in sports management last year. "I'm fortunate to be in this situation right now."
   Halep played the match of her life to dismantle Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in July for her second Grand Slam singles title and first at Wimbledon. After ending 2017 and 2018 ranked No. 1, Halep is now No. 6.
   "Everyone (in Romania) appreciates what she's doing," said Talaba, a 5-foot-8 (1.73-meter) left-hander with a beautiful one-handed backhand. "For her being No. 1 in the world and coming from such a small country (with a population of 19.4 million), it brings so much pride to the people.
   "Of course, it's not only her. There are so many others after her – top 100, top 200. There are probably 10 girls ahead of me, and I'm pretty high-ranked right now."
   Actually, Talaba is ranked 13th in Romania at No. 307. No. 125 Mihaela Buzarnescu, another left-hander, won last year's inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose on the WTA Tour.
   Talaba has crossed paths with Halep once, at a fitness camp in 2014 before enrolling at Texas Tech. Talaba has never hit with the 27-year-old star.
   "I barely got to talk to her," Talaba cracked.
Alycia Parks serves during the final. Gabriela
Talaba praised Parks' serve and said the 18-
year-old American has top-100 potential.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Parks, who turned pro at 16, fell to 0-2 in singles finals. The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) right-hander, who ousted top-seeded Katherine Sebov 6-4, 7-5 in Saturday night's second semifinal, often grabbed her right forearm and shook her right arm during the final. She also iced her right biceps on changeovers.
   "I had this problem a month ago," the unseeded Parks said. "It started bothering me in the quarterfinals. If I play a tougher match, it starts bothering me the next day. It affected me a lot (today) because I couldn't serve."
  Parks had only one ace and committed seven double faults. The wind didn't help, especially considering Parks has a high service toss.
   "Some of my tosses were too far in front," lamented Parks, who also made numerous unforced errors. "Today just wasn't my day."
   Parks said she will play in a $15,000 tournament in windy Lubbock, the home of Texas Tech, next week as planned.
   Talaba, who played all week with a bandage on her left hand to protect a blister on her palm, formulated her strategy against the explosive Parks after watching the American's semifinal.
   "I thought she made more mistakes on the backhand side," said Talaba, who collected $3,935 and improved to 2-0 against Parks, who earned $2,107. "Today, I tried to mix it up because yesterday from what I watched, they were just playing a flat ball all the time back and forth.
   "I tried to slice the return pretty much all the time, then be aggressive on other shots, mixing spin with slice and coming in sometimes. She (plays very well) if I hit flat balls to her, but she doesn't (play) that well when I mix it up. I tried to switch sides, (hitting) not only (to her) backhand or forehand. I think that helped."
Gabriela Talaba prepares to slug her one-handed
backhand. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Talaba was Parks' second left-handed opponent in the tournament. Parks edged American Sanaz Marand, who won the Redding doubles title in 2012 with compatriot Jacqueline Cako, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 6 minutes on Tuesday in the first round and did not play singles on Wednesday.
   "She doesn't usually get to play lefties, so that was a little bit of an advantage for me," said Talaba, who saved all six break points against her, twice overcoming 0-40 deficits, had one ace and committed no double faults.
   The 522nd-ranked Parks has top-100 potential, according to Talaba.
   "She has a really good serve," observed Talaba. "If she stays a little bit more positive throughout her matches, I think she has a bright future."
   Talaba, who's based in Dallas, will skip the Lubbock tournament and play a $60,000 event in Templeton, Calif., the following week.
   "I want to go farther and farther in the rankings and play in the bigger tournaments, but I miss the place. Probably what I don't miss about it is the wind," Talaba said with a laugh. "But I miss the people, the place. It just brings me really good memories."
   Kunal Patel San Francisco (KPSF) ChampionshipsSteve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area defeated Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region 6-4, 6-2 to win the unsanctioned tournament at the Berkeley Tennis Club.
   Johnson, 29, is ranked No. 95, and Kozlov, 21, is No. 546.

Parks, 18, stuns top seed to reach $25K Redding final

Alycia Parks, playing in Berkeley, Calif., in July, beat top-seeded
Katherine Sebov of Canada 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday night to reach the
final of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding,
Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   REDDING, Calif. – It's easy to see why Alycia Parks has 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, Parks is tall (5-foot-11 or 1.80 meters) and slender. They even look alike facially.
   Like Serena, Parks has a booming serve.
   The unseeded Parks, 18, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., used her serve and laser groundstrokes to overpower top-seeded Katherine Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian ranked 200th, 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday night to reach the final of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open.
   Parks, ranked No. 522, earned her first victory over a top-200 player and advanced to the second and biggest final of her career. She lost to Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei in the final of a $15,000 clay-court tournament in Shreveport, La., in late June.
   Parks, who turned pro at 16, is scheduled to play third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a 24-year-old left-hander from Romania, today at noon at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Talaba, who graduated from Texas Tech in sports management last year, outsteadied Jada Hart, a 21-year-old wild card from Colton, Calif., in the San Bernardino area, 6-3, 6-2.
   Hart reached the NCAA singles quarterfinals as a UCLA junior in May and won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with fellow Bruin Ena Shibahara.
   Talaba, ranked No. 307, reached the first hard-court final of her career. She won clay-court titles in Charleston ($25,000) and Marbella ($15,000) last year and Bucharest ($15,000) in 2017.
   Talaba and Parks will meet for the second time. Talaba triumphed 7-5, 6-0 in the final round of qualifying in a $25,000 clay-court tournament in Bethany Beach, Del., last summer.
   Parks reeled off the last five games against Sebov.
   "I'm known for coming back when I'm down," said Parks, who pounded nine aces and won 83 percent of the points on her first serve (30 of 36). "I just had to re-focus."
   Talaba raced to a 3-0 lead (one service break) against the unranked Hart, who recovered for 3-3.
   "I started being a little bit less aggressive and making a little bit more mistakes, so I changed that and said, 'Well, you have to be more aggressive. You can't just wait for the points to come to you,'" said Talaba, who won nine of the last 11 games. "I tried to force errors, and she made some."
   Talaba broke Hart's serve four consecutive times to lead 5-3 in the first set and 4-1 in the second set. Hart finished with six double faults, including two in a row to trail 3-5 in the first set.
   Talaba, one of the few women with a one-handed backhand, has played all week with a bandage on her left hand to protect a blister on her palm.
   In Saturday's doubles final, second-seeded Emina Bektas of Indianapolis and Tara Moore of Great Britain beat third-seeded Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis area and Paige Hourigan of New Zealand 6-3, 6-1.
   All except Moore starred in college – Bektas at Michigan, Harrison at UCLA and Hourigan at Georgia Tech.
   In the first round of singles in a $25,000 tournament at Sunderland, Great Britain, last April, Moore trailed 0-6, 0-5 and faced match point against Jessika Ponchet of France before prevailing 0-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
   Kunal Patel San Francisco (KPSF) ChampionshipsSteve Johnson is set to play Stefan Kozlov in the final of the non-sanctioned tournament today at 1:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Tennis Club.
   Johnson defeated Bradley Klahn, a Stanford graduate, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in a matchup of 29-year-old Americans. Kozlov, a 21-year-old American, beat Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, 6-4, 7-5.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Wild card Hart reaches semifinals of $25K Redding

   Jada Hart, who had never won a main-draw singles match in a professional tournament before this week, has reached the semifinals of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Hart, a 21-year-old wild card from Colton, Calif. (east of Los Angeles), beat Pamela Montez, a 28-year-old former UCLA All-American from La Quinta in the Palm Springs area, 6-4, 7-5 today at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness. The temperature peaked at 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius).
   Hart advanced to the NCAA singles quarterfinals as a UCLA junior in May and won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with fellow Bruin Ena Shibahara.
   Hart, who's unranked in singles, will face third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a 24-year-old Romanian left-hander ranked No. 307, for the first time on Saturday not before 6 p.m.
   Talaba, who starred at Texas Tech, downed Emina Bektas, a 26-year-old former Michigan All-American from Indianapolis, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the semifinals for the third consecutive tournament.
   In the other semifinal not before 8 p.m., top-seeded Katherine Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian ranked No. 200, will meet Alycia Parks, an 18-year-old professional from Port St. Lucie, Fla., ranked No. 522, for the first time.
   Sebov, the runner-up in two consecutive $25,000 tournaments during the summer, eliminated lucky loser Ellie Douglas, a Texas Christian sophomore from McKinney, Texas, 6-2, 7-5.
   Parks, a finalist in a $15,000 clay-court tournament in Shreveport, La., in June, defeated qualifier Elysia Bolton, the Pacific-12 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year last spring from UCLA, 6-3, 7-5.
   Here are the updated Redding singles and doubles draws and Saturday's schedule.

Top seed survives as upsets continue in $25K Redding

   Only two seeds reached the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open on another blistering day in Redding, Calif.
   Joining top-seeded Katherine Sebov and third-seeded Gabriela Talaba in the quarters were qualifier Elysia Bolton, wild card Jada Hart and lucky loser Ellie Douglas.
   Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian, prevailed in three sets for the second consecutive match, beating Paige Hourigan, a former Georgia Tech All-American from New Zealand, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 on Thursday in 2 hours, 15 minutes on a 100-degree (37.8 Celsius) day at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Talaba, a 24-year-old Romanian left-hander who starred at Texas Tech, dispatched qualifier Peyton Stearns, a high school senior from Mason, Ohio, 6-2, 6-2.
   Bolton, the Pacific-12 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year last spring from UCLA, eliminated fourth-seeded Hanna Chang of Fontana in the Los Angeles area 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-0 in 2 hours, 35 minutes.
   Hart, a 21-year-old resident of Colton (east of Los Angeles), routed fifth-seeded Bianca Turati of Italy 6-2, 6-1.
   Hart won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with UCLA teammate Ena Shibahara. Turati, a senior at the University of Texas, is ranked No. 1 nationally in singles by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
   Pamela Montez, a 28-year-old former UCLA All-American from La Quinta in the Palm Springs area, outlasted Ashley Kratzer of Newport Beach, Calif., 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in 3 hours, 2 minutes.
   Kratzer, a 20-year-old left-hander, knocked off second-seeded Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis region in the first round.
   Here are the Redding singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Clijsters, 36, plans return to WTA Tour

   International Tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters, a 36-year-old mother of three, announced today that she plans to return to the WTA Tour in January 2020.
   "I don't really feel like I want to prove something," Clijsters said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "For me, it's a challenge. ... I still love to play tennis."
   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. She ranks third among active players, behind Serena and Venus Williams, and 14th in the Open era (since 1968) with 41 singles titles.
   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, September 11, 2019

Kratzer ousts No. 2 seed Harrison in $25K Redding

Ashley Kratzer, playing in Berkeley, Calif., last year,
ousted second-seeded Catherine Harrison today in the
first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's
Open in Redding, Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Ashley Kratzer, a 20-year-old left-hander from Newport Beach, Calif., toppled second-seeded Catherine Harrison from Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis area 7-6 (4), 6-3 today in the first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Kratzer won the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in 2017, reached the final of the $60,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger in 2017 and advanced to the semifinals of the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger last year. But she has tumbled from a career-high No. 200 last summer to No. 439.
   After defeating Kratzer in Berkeley, Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) predicted that Kratzer would climb to the "top 50 for sure, if not top 20, soon."
   Also losing today at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness were sixth-seeded Grace Min of Lake Nona, Fla., seventh-seeded Quinn Gleason from Mendon, N.Y., and eighth-seeded Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei.
   Qualifier Maria Mateas, a 20-year-old American, outlasted Min, the runner-up in the 2016 Sacramento Challenger, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours, 54 minutes. Min, 25, has plunged from a career-high No. 97 in 2015 to No. 366.
   Lucky loser Ellie Douglas, a Texas Christian sophomore from McKinney, Texas, defeated Gleason, a 24-year-old former Notre Dame star, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1. Also, qualifier Kimmi Hance, a high school junior from Torrance in the Los Angeles area, topped Hsu 6-4, 0-6, 6-3.
   The only singles seed in action today who won was No. 5 Bianca Turati of Italy. A University of Texas senior ranked No. 1 nationally, Turati beat qualifier Lauren Proctor of Bradenton, Fla., 6-4, 6-4. Proctor completed her eligibility at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., in the spring.
   Here are the Redding singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule.
   ATP Challenger Tour – Second-seeded Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Sem Verbeek (Pacific, 2013-16),  a Dutch left-hander, edged top-seeded Sander Arends and David Pel of the Netherlands 7-6 (6), 4-6 [11-9] last weekend to win the doubles title in the $51,311 Cassis (France) Open Provence.
   Goransson, 25, earned his third Challenger doubles title of the year and fifth overall. Verbeek, also 25, won his second Challenger doubles crown of 2019, both with Goransson, and third overall. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Top seed, others survive marathons in $25K Redding

   So much for easing into the tournament.
   Top-seeded Katherine Sebov needed almost three hours to win her first-round match in the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian, wore down Tara Moore of Great Britain 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-0 in 2 hours, 55 minutes at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Moore, 27, put in only 48 percent of her first serves (48 of 99) and committed 11 double faults.
   In the first round of a $25,000 tournament in Sunderland, Great Britain, in April, Moore trailed 0-6, 0-5 and faced match point against Jessika Ponchet of France before prevailing 0-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
   The Sebov-Moore match was not the longest of the day. Alycia Parks, 18, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., edged Sanaz Marand, a 31-year-old American left-hander, 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 6 minutes. Marand won the Redding doubles title in 2012 with compatriot Jacqueline Cako.
   Also, third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a Romanian left-hander, needed 2 hours, 32 minutes to subdue Lorraine Guillermo of Walnut in the Los Angeles area 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a battle of former collegiate All-Americans. Talaba, 24, starred at Texas Tech and Guillermo, 26, at Pepperdine.
   Wild card Jada Hart, a 21-year-old resident of Colton (east of Los Angeles), outlasted Luisa Stefani of Brazil 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in 2 hours, 26 minutes.
   Hart won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with UCLA teammate Ena Shibahara, and Stefani reached the doubles final in last year's $60,000 Stockton, Calif.,  Challenger with American Quinn Gleason.
   Fourth-seeded Hanna Chang of Fontana in the Los Angeles region had an easier time than the others, defeating wild card Haley Giavara, a Cal freshman from San Diego, 6-0, 7-5.
   Alexa Glatch, a Newport Beach, Calif., native playing on her 30th birthday, beat 18-year-old American Elizabeth Mandlik, the daughter of International Tennis Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova, 7-5, 6-1.
   Here are the Redding qualifying draw, singles and doubles main draws and Wednesday's schedule.

Top seed Sebov set for $25K Redding opener

   Top-seeded Katherine Sebov of Canada is scheduled to play Tara Moore of Great Britain today not before noon in the first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness in Redding, Calif.
   Sebov, 20, is ranked No. 200, and Moore, 27, is No. 518.
   Last year's tournament was canceled because of wildfires that ravaged the area. The Carr Fire, the sixth-most destructive in California history, killed eight people and injured three, burned 229,651 acres, destroyed 1,079 residences and 525 other structures, and cost more than $1.659 billion.
   Redding tournament alumni include former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, ex-doubles world No. 1 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic and current top-70 singles players Lauren Davis (No. 62) and Jennifer Brady (No. 66), both of Boca Raton, Fla.
   The Redding-based Ascension project develops athletes into leaders.
   Here are the Redding qualifying drawsingles and doubles main draws, and today's schedule.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Nadal wins epic battle for title, nears Federer record

Rafael Nadal, shown in 2017, beat Daniil Medvedev in straight sets today for
his second Grand Slam title of the year and 19th overall. Photo by Mal Taam
   Look out, Roger. Rafa is gaining ground fast.
   Rafael Nadal moved within one of Roger Federer's record 20 Grand Slam singles titles today, holding off gutsy Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in the U.S. Open.
   The scintillating battle of wills lasted 4 hours, 50 minutes in front of a boisterous crowd at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. No matter how bleak the situation looked for Medvedev, he would not give up. Nadal, meanwhile, was as tenacious as ever.
   "It was an amazing final," Nadal, who collected $3.85 million, said during the awards ceremony. "I had more or less the match under control. Daniil had one of the best summers I ever saw. Tonight, everybody saw why he (will be) No. 4 in the world already at 23. The way he was able to fight and change the rhythm of the match was just incredible.
   "It's difficult to speak. It's one of the most emotional nights of my tennis career."
   Nadal, 33, is five years younger than Federer. Then there's Novak Djokovic, who ranks third with 16 major crowns at age 32.
   Nadal and Djokovic earned two major singles titles apiece this year. The last man other than Federer, Nadal or Djokovic to win a Grand Slam singles title was Stan Wawrinka in the 2016 U.S. Open.
   Nadal collected $3.85 million after winning his second U.S. Open title in three years and fourth overall. Seeded second, he ended Medvedev's winning streak at 12 matches.
   The fifth-seeded Medvedev fell to 20-3 since Wimbledon, including a 6-3, 6-0 loss to Nadal in the Montreal final in their only previous meeting. Medvedev won his first Masters 1000 title last month in Cincinnati, upsetting the top-ranked Djokovic in the semifinals.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.97-meter) Medvedev played in his first Grand Slam final. He became the first Russian to reach the U.S. Open title match since Marat Safin stunned Pete Sampras in 2000.
   Safin was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2016. His countryman, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, entered the Hall of Fame this year.
   Medvedev, who will rise one notch to No. 4 on Monday, is part of a long-awaited new wave of Russian men that also includes No. 9 Karen Khachanov, 23, and No. 43 Andrey Rublev, 21.
   Rublev reached the quarterfinals in Cincinnati as a qualifier, surprising Wawrinka and Federer before losing to Medvedev, and the fourth round of the U.S. Open, ousting eight-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round and 28th-seeded Nick Kyrgios in the third round.
   Nadal ran Medvedev from side to side with his punishing groundstrokes, many of which Medvedev retrieved, in the first 2 1/2 sets before Medvedev somehow summoned the energy to rebound.
   Medvedev, who was booed last week after snatching a towel from a ballperson and tossing his racket, was cheered by the crowd for his hustle, heart and perseverance.
   When Nadal broke serve to lead 3-2 in the third set, it appeared he was on his way to a straight-set victory.
   "To be honest, in my mind, I was already, 'OK, what do I say in the speech? It's going to be soon, in 20 minutes, losing in three sets in (my first major) final,'" said Medvedev, who earned $1.9 million. "So I was like, 'OK, I have to fight for every ball and see how it goes.' It went far, huh? Unfortunately, it didn't go my way."
   Medvedev broke right back and again in the last game of the set. He scored the only break of the fourth set, also in the final game, to level the match.
   Nadal saved two break points to hold for 1-1 in the fifth set. Medvedev served at 2-2, 40-0, but Nadal broke with a backhand cross-court passing shot off a backhand drop shot by Medvedev.
   Nadal broke again for 5-2, but Medvedev broke right back and saved two championship points to hold for 4-5. Nadal then held serve, converting his third championship point with a service winner.
   Earlier today, Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus won their first Grand Slam title, separately or together. Seeded fourth, they beat eighth-seeded Ashleigh Barty of Australia and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5, 7-5.
   Sabalenka, 21, recently split with coach Dmitry Tursunov, a 36-year-old Moscow native who trained in Northern California as a junior and professional, after 15 months.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Andreescu, 19, upsets Serena for U.S. Open title

   For the second consecutive year, a young upstart prevented Serena Williams from tying Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles in the U.S. Open final.
   At least Williams didn't melt down this time.
   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 today in front of a staunchly pro-Williams crowd at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.
   The hard-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 man or woman to win a Grand Slam singles title.
   Andreescu lost in the first round of qualifying in last year's U.S. Open and was ranked No. 152 at the end of 2018.
   "Last year wasn't an easy period in my life," Andreescu, who earned $3.85 million for the title and will rise 10 spots to No. 5 in the world on Monday, said during the awards ceremony. "I was going through a lot with injuries, but I persevered. I told myself to never give up. I had a really good preseason with my amazing team. I thank you guys so much for sticking by me every step of the way, so I have to dedicate this win to all of you.
   "I just kept believing in myself. I kept working hard, and I just kept that momentum and confidence throughout this whole year. Hopefully, I can keep going."
   The eighth-seeded Williams, a part-time Silicon Valley resident who will turn 38 on Sept. 26, fell to 0-4 in Grand Slam singles finals since having her first child on Sept. 1, 2017, and undergoing life-threatening complications. Each loss has been in straight sets.
   "My team has been so supportive through all the downs and downs and downs and downs, and hopefully we'll have some ups soon," Williams, who was on her best behavior throughout the tournament, said with a laugh.
   Nerves played a big role in today's final, especially for Williams, as they have in each of her four losses. She double-faulted on break point the first three times she lost her serve, and her footwork was poor for much of the match.
   Andreescu raced to a 5-1 lead in the second set, but Williams saved a championship point and reeled off the next four games. After Andreescu held for 6-5, she converted her third championship point with a forehand winner off a Williams second serve.
   Earlier, Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Jamie Murray of Great Britain won the mixed doubles title for the second straight year. Unseeded, they knocked off top-seeded Hao-Ching Chan of Chinese Taipei and Michael Venus of New Zealand 6-2, 6-3. Murray, Andy Murray's older brother, also won the 2017 crown with Martina Hingis.

Nadal to meet Medvedev in U.S. Open final

Rafael Nadal, shown in 2017, can pull within one of Roger Federer's record 20
Grand Slam singles titles. Photo by Mal Taam
   Daniil Medvedev is known as a fast learner, among other things.
   He had better be.
   The rising Russian star must figure out how to beat Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open final on Sunday at 1 p.m. PDT on ESPN. Good luck with that.
   Four weeks ago, Nadal drubbed Medvedev 6-3, 6-0 for the Montreal title in their only previous career meeting.
   Nadal, seeded second, and Medvedev, seeded fifth, reached the final in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., with victories by remarkably similar scores on Friday.
   Nadal, 33, eliminated 24th-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-1. The 6-foot-6 (1.97-meter) Medvedev, 23, downed unseeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first Grand Slam final.
   Nadal seeks his second U.S. Open title in three years and fourth overall. He can pull within one of Roger Federer's record 20 major singles crowns.
   Medvedev improved to 20-2 since Wimbledon with his 12th consecutive victory, including his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati.
   Earlier Friday, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia won their second consecutive Grand Slam title. The top seeds beat eighth-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-4, 7-5.
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