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.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Third-seeded Giron withdraws from Fairfield Challenger

Marcos Giron, right, poses with Novak Djokovic last year
in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Brener Zwikel & Assoc.
   Third-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles area withdrew today from the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif.
   Giron, 26, was diagnosed with cellulitis (a bacterial skin infection), according to USTA supervisor Keith Crossland. Further details were not available.
   Giron, the 2014 NCAA singles champion from UCLA, has soared from No. 308 at the end of last year to No. 126. He reached the third round of the prestigious BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March, beating then-No. 24 Alex de Minaur and then-No. 37 Jeremy Chardy.
   Giron, only 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters) and 170 pounds (77 kilograms), also made his first two appearances in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament this year. He lost in the opening round at Wimbledon as a qualifier and the U.S. Open as a wild card.
   Donald Young, a 30-year-old left-hander who has won four Challenger singles titles in Northern California, took Giron's place in the Fairfield draw as the 17th seed. Young has tumbled from a career-high No. 38 in 2012 to No. 233.
   Strong Kirchheimer, a 24-year-old former Northwestern star from Cary, N.C., moved into Young's former spot as an alternate.
   In the first match of the main draw on Monday at 11 a.m., Collin Altamirano of Sacramento is scheduled to play wild card Brandon Holt, a USC senior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin. Holt has not lost a set to Altamirano in two career meetings, although one went to a tiebreaker.
   Another wild card, 16-year-old Zachary Svajda of San Diego, will meet 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Michael Redlicki, a 25-year-old Chicago native. Svajda won the USTA boys 18 singles title in August to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open and extended Paolo Lorenzi, a 37-year-old Italian, to five sets in the opening round.
   In a final-round qualifying match, Dennis Novikov, a 25-year-old San Jose product, will face Sem Verbeek, a former University of the Pacific star from the Netherlands, at 10 a.m.
   Here are the Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Monday's schedule. Live streaming is available.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Sock, formerly No. 8, set to play in Fairfield Challenger

Jack Sock reacts during an exhibition against Roger Federer last year in San Jose.
Photo by Mal Taam
   Jack Sock, a former top-10 singles player and a three-time Grand Slam men's doubles champion, is scheduled to play in his first Challenger in more than five years next week in Fairfield, Calif.
   Sock, who has plunged from a career-high No. 8 in singles in November 2017 to No. 210, is seeded 14th in the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship at Solano Community College.
   Steve Johnson, who won his second Aptos (Calif.) Challenger singles title in August, is seeded first at No. 98. Johnson and Sock, U.S. Davis Cup teammates, won the bronze medal in men's doubles in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
   All 16 seeds in Fairfield, 41 miles (66 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, received first-round byes. Johnson and Sock will open in singles on Tuesday or Wednesday. Defending champion Bjorn Fratangelo, a 26-year-old Pittsburgh native, withdrew with an undisclosed injury.
   Sock, 27, of Kansas City, Kan., will play in a Challenger for the first time since losing to Nick Kyrgios in the final of a $50,000 clay-court tournament in Savannah, Ga., in April 2014. Sock won the 2012 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger and reached the singles quarterfinals and doubles final (with compatriot Nicholas Monroe) in the 2011 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger at age 19.
   Sock went 9-22 in singles in 2018, underwent surgery for torn ligaments in a finger on his right (playing) hand last February and missed six months. He is 1-5 in singles this year.
   Collin Altamirano, 23, of Sacramento is scheduled to play wild card Brandon Holt, a USC senior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, in the first round. Holt has not lost a set to Altamirano in two career meetings, although one set went to a tiebreaker.
   Altamirano, who in 2013 became the first unseeded player to win the USTA boys 18 singles championship, lost eventual runner-up Alex Bolt of Australia in the second round in the best match of last year's tournament.
   Zachary Svajda, a 16-year-old wild card from San Diego, is set to play 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Michael Redlicki, a 25-year-old Chicago native, in the opening round.
   Svajda won the USTA boys 18 singles title in August to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open and extended Paolo Lorenzi, a 37-year-old Italian, to five sets in the first round.
   Here's the Fairfield singles main draw.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Ma, 16, leads U.S. to title; Tursunov, Sabalenka reunite

Connie Ma, playing in the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.)
Challenger in July, led the United States to its third
consecutive Junior Fed Cup title on Sunday. Photo
by Paul Bauman  
   Connie Ma, 16, of Dublin in the San Francisco Bay Area led the United States to a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in the Junior Fed Cup final on Sunday in Lake Nona, Fla.
   In the deciding match on clay at the USTA National Campus, Ma and Robin Montgomery, 15, defeated 14-year-old Linda Noskova, replacing injured Darja Vidmanova, and 15-year-old Barbora Palicova 6-2, 7-5.
   Ma gave the United States a 1-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Palicova at No. 2 singles. Noskova evened the match by defeating 15-year-old Katrina Scott 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
   "So solid in singles," U.S. captain Jamea Jackson told ZooTennis regarding Ma's performance during the week. "(She allowed) nothing for free. And when things came down to the wire in doubles, she stepped it up to a whole other level. That's what great competitors do. I was so proud of her. This is her second year doing this, and just to see her grow up and blossom before my eyes, it's one of the rewarding parts of what we do."
   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.
   Tursunov returns – Two days after Aryna Sabalenka fired coach Dmitry Tursunov in late August, the 21-year-old star from Belarus rehired him, according to Tursunov.
   Sabalenka, the San Jose runner-up in August, won her fourth career WTA singles title last week in Wuhan, China, surprising top-ranked Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals.
   Also, Sabalenka won her first Grand Slam title in the U.S. Open last month, teaming with Elise Mertens of Belgium in women's doubles.
   Sabalenka is ranked No. 14 in singles and No. 5 in doubles.
   Tursunov, a 36-year-old Moscow native, trained in Northern California as a junior and professional. He reached a career-high No. 20 and played on Russia's Davis Cup championship team in 2016.
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