Monday, December 30, 2019

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

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

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