Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Blake encouraged by protests, charges against officers

James Blake beat his childhood idol, John McEnroe, to win
the 2014 Champions Shootout in Sacramento, Calif. Both
players grew up in the New York area. Photo by Paul Bauman
   James Blake said he's been on "a pretty big roller coaster of emotions" since George Floyd's death.
   "That night, I went to bed so discouraged, just thinking how sad it was," the former world No. 4 said on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on June 10. "But (then) I was so encouraged by the fact that people cared. People in this country have not become totally desensitized. They haven't become numb to this. The protests happened so quickly, so genuinely, and they got results. I don't know if those four officers would have been charged if it wasn't for the protests."
   Blake, who's half African American, endured a frightening incident with the police in 2015 in New York. Retired by then, he was waiting outside his hotel for a ride to the U.S. Open to make some corporate appearances when a plainclothes New York City Police officer ran up, slammed him against a wall, threw him to the ground and handcuffed him. After 10 or 15 minutes, Blake was released.
   "They said I looked like a suspect," recalled the 40-year-old Blake, who won the doubles title in the 2004 SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., on the ATP Tour and the singles crown in the 2012 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger. "Turns out the suspect was for a credit card scam, nothing violent. No reason, in my opinion, to tackle someone."
   Blake, who turned pro after two years at Harvard, sued but withdrew his claim, saying he wasn't looking for financial compensation "on the condition that the city establish a legal fellowship to investigate police misconduct and advocate for victims of brutality."
   "In terms of trying to get justice, I tried so hard," Blake, who's now the Miami Open tournament director, told Fallon. "This is why I'm so encouraged by today's events. I screamed and yelled for two years to get an internal trial against this police officer. All he lost was five vacation days, and it was his fifth incident. The other four were against African American men, one when he broke the guy's jaw, and they said he couldn't be fired. That's what needs to be changed, and that's why I'm so encouraged by the fact that more and more people are realizing that this (lack of) accountability is a joke."

Monday, June 29, 2020

Fed Cup, Davis Cup Finals postponed until 2021

   The Fed Cup and Davis Cup Finals have been postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Tennis Federation announced Friday.
   The 12-team Fed Cup Finals, originally scheduled for April, were pushed back to April 13-18, 2021, in Budapest, Hungary.
   The 18-team Davis Cup Finals, which had been set for Nov. 23-29, were postponed until Nov. 22-28, 2021, in Madrid.
   Combined ATP and WTA events are scheduled for Madrid (Sept. 14-20) and Rome (Sept. 21-27) before the French Open (Sept. 27-Oct. 11).
   "I was really looking forward to (the Davis Cup Finals)," tweeted 22-year-old Taylor Fritz, ranked 24th in the world and second in the United States behind No. 21 John Isner. "I don't really understand how we are playing in Madrid after US Open but can't play in Madrid at the same venue 2 months later ... "
   All Fed Cup and Davis Cup playoff and group competitions also were postponed until 2021, the ITF said.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Cal men add Matta, doubles star Ram to coaching staff

   The University of California, Berkeley men lost a highly regarded assistant coach but added two coaches with impressive credentials.
   Two weeks after announcing that longtime Cal assistant Tyler Browne was leaving to become the director of racquet sports at the nearby Orinda Country Club, Bears director of men's tennis Peter Wright recently replaced Browne with accomplished Horacio Matta and named pro doubles star Rajeev Ram as a volunteer assistant coach.
   Matta has worked with Chile's Davis Cup team and coached at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. He coached Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu, both former top-10 players in the world, and current world No. 18 Cristian Garin. All four men are from Chile.
   Massu, who now coaches world No. 3 Dominic Thiem, swept the singles and doubles gold medals, teaming with Gonzalez, in the 2014 Olympics in Athens. Gonzalez earned the singles silver medal in the 2018 Games in Beijing, falling to Rafael Nadal.
   Matta also worked with San Francisco Bay Area products CiCi Bellis, the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2017, and Michaela Gordon, a Stanford senior who plays No. 1 singles for the two-time defending NCAA champion Cardinal.
   Matta, the father of former Cal player Gunther Matta, served as a volunteer assistant coach at Stanford in 2019-20.
   "Horacio's Davis Cup coaching experience coupled with having coached former top-10 players Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu – and most recently ATP top-20 player Cristian Garin – give him a unique player-development perspective not found on any other college campus in America," Wright said in a news release.
   Ram, 36, is ranked ninth in the world in doubles after winning the Australian Open with Joe Salisbury of Great Britain in January and climbing to a career-high of No. 5 the following month.
   It was Ram's 58th Grand Slam tournament in doubles, breaking the Open Era (since-1968) record for most attempts before winning a major men's doubles title. He also won the mixed doubles crown in the 2019 Australian Open with Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic.
   Ram owns 20 titles in doubles, including San Jose, Calif., in 2011 with ex-Stanford All-American Scott Lipsky, and two in singles, in Newport, R.I., on grass in 2009 and 2015, on the ATP Tour.
   Ram peaked at No. 56 in singles in 2016 before switching to doubles full-time the following year. He reached the singles final in the 2006 Sacramento, Calif., Challenger, losing to Paul Goldstein, now the men's head coach at Stanford.
   In the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Ram teamed with Venus Williams to claim the silver medal in mixed doubles. As an Illinois freshman in 2003, he led the Illini to the NCAA team championship and paired with Brian Wilson to win the NCAA doubles crown before turning pro.
   Ram was born in Denver, grew up in Carmel, Ind., and owns a home in the Bay Area. After taking online classes, he earned a bachelor's degree in general studies with a concentration in social and behavioral sciences in 2017, according to tennisrecruiting.net. He told the website that has no plans to retire.
   "Rajeev's experience as an NCAA champion, Olympic medalist and Grand Slam champion gives him unparalleled insight into what it takes to be a tennis champion," Wright said. "I'm excited for our players to be working with these incredible coaches, both of whom share a passion for teaching and for building a championship culture."

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Venus to return for her 15th WTT season

Venus Williams, who turned 40 on June 17, will play for the Washington Kastles
in World TeamTennis this summer. 2018 photo by Mal Taam 
   Venus Williams – who has won 23 Grand Slam titles and four Olympic gold medals and played on five World TeamTennis championship teams – will play for the Washington Kastles in her 15th WTT season, the league announced today.
   The season is scheduled for July 12-Aug. 2 at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
   Of Williams' Grand Slam titles, seven have come in singles (five at Wimbledon and two at the U.S. Open), 14 in women's doubles and two in mixed doubles. 
   In the Olympics, Williams won gold medals in singles in 2000 (Sydney) and doubles with younger sister Serena in 2000, 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London).
   Venus Williams, who turned 40 on June 17, made her professional debut indoors in Oakland at 14 years old in 1994. She reached the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford eight times, winning in 2000 and 2002. The tournament moved to San Jose State University as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in 2018.
   In 2011, Williams was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an incurable energy-sapping disease.
   Williams will join Frances Tiafoe, Marcelo Arevalo, Bernarda Pera, Nick Monroe and Arina Rodionova on the Kastles.
   Williams led Washington to the King Trophy in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. She won her first King Trophy as a member of the Philadelphia Freedoms in 2006.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Kiick's father, former Miami Dolphins star, dies at 73

   Jim Kiick, a star running back on the legendary Miami Dolphins teams of the early 1970s and the father of professional tennis player Allie Kiick, died Saturday in Wilton Manors, Fla., at 73.
   Kiick had Alzheimer's disease and was living in an assisted living facility.
   "I'd like everyone to know that I have read every single comment about my dad," Allie Kiick, who will turn 25 on Tuesday, tweeted Sunday. "Please continue sharing all your stories and pictures. Brings tears of joy. Thank you all so much. Happy Father's Day to the best Dad in the world. I love & miss you so much #21."
   With formidable runners Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris and Kiick, Miami reached three consecutive Super Bowls (1971-73) and won the last two. The 1972 Dolphins remain the only NFL team to go undefeated in the regular season and playoffs (17-0).
   Kiick scored on one-yard touchdown runs in both of Miami's Super Bowl victories. In the three Super Bowls combined, he rushed for 88 yards on 29 carries (3.0 average).
   The Dolphins drafted Kiick, a New Jersey native, in the fifth round in 1968 out of the University of Wyoming. He rushed for at least 500 yards in each of his first five seasons, all with Miami, and topped 1,000 yards combined rushing and receiving in each of his first four years.
   Kiick led the American Football League with nine rushing touchdowns in 1969 and ran for a career-high 738 yards (4.6 average) in 1971. The AFL merged with the NFL in 1970 and became the American Football Conference.
   Kiick missed only one game in his seven years with the Dolphins, when the regular season lasted 14 games rather than today's 16. He ranks fifth in Dolphins history with 3,644 rushing yards.
   Allie Kiick, 5-foot-7 (1.70 meters), climbed to a career-high No. 126 last June after missing two years (2015-17) with mononucleosis, a rare skin cancer on her back and four knee surgeries. During her layoff, she taught tennis in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and took biology classes at Broward College there.
   "My back is like a road map, scars everywhere," Kiick, currently ranked No. 160, told wtatennis.com in 2017. "I've matured a ton. I think that came with working a regular job, going to school, seeing things from a normal person's perspective.
   "The job I had was like $25 an hour, and it was hard work. They were, like 5-year-olds, and it was hard. I can honestly say I do not want to ever be a coach. Ever."

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Djokovic tests positive following exhibition series

Novak Djokovic, who has not shown symptoms of COVID-19, said
he will isolate himself for 14 days. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Novak Djokovic announced today that he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 after he played in a series of exhibition matches in Serbia and Croatia last week.
   The world No. 1, who has not shown symptoms of COVID-19, said he will isolate himself for 14 days. Others who played in the exhibitions and tested positive were No. 19 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 33 Borna Coric and former No. 12 Viktor Troicki.
   Social distancing was not observed at the Adria Tour, which Djokovic had organized to raise money for those affected by the pandemic. Fans packed the stands, and players mingled with fans and each other off the court. Players hugged each other and partied at nightclubs and restaurants, the Associated Press reported.
   Serbia has 13,092 cases and 263 deaths from COVID-19, and Croatia has 2,366 and 107, respectively.
   "We organized the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the tour had been met," Djokovic, who revealed in April that he opposes vaccinations, said in a statement. "I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone's health situation and that everyone will be fine."
   Djokovic said his two children, Stefan, 5, and Tara, 2, tested negative.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Dimitrov, Coric test positive after exhibitions

   This is not encouraging.
   Within a week of the announcements that the professional tours will resume in August and the U.S. Open will be played Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 as scheduled but without fans, top-35 players Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Borna Coric of Croatia said they tested positive for the coronavirus.
   Dimitrov, ranked 19th, and Coric, ranked 33rd, played in last week's Adria Tour, an exhibition series organized by top-ranked Novak Djokovic, in Serbia and Croatia.
   "I want to make sure anyone who has been in contact with me during the last few days gets tested and takes the necessary precautions," Dimitrov, a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist, revealed Sunday on Instagram. "I am so sorry for any harm I might have caused. I am back home now and recovering."
  Coric – who has beaten Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray twice each – expressed similar sentiments today in a tweet and added that he has no symptoms.
   Djokovic's fitness coach, Marco Panichi, also tested positive, Serbian daily Sportski Zurnal reported.
   "We are really sorry," event director Djordje Djokovic, Novak's younger brother, told reporters regarding the positive tests. "We tried our best to respect all measures, and we did respect all measures imposed by the governments of Serbia and Croatia."
   Both countries, however, have eased have lockdown measures in recent weeks. Fans packed the stands for the Adria Tour, and players hugged at the net, posed for pictures together and danced at clubs, ESPN reported.
   Sunday's final between Novak Djokovic and 14th-ranked Andrey Rublev of Russia was canceled. Djokovic, who said in April that he opposes vaccinations, has no symptoms but will be tested for the coronavirus, according to his media team.
   Rublev and top-10 players Dominic Thiem of Austria and Alexander Zverev of Germany, both of whom also played in the Adria Tour, said they would self-isolate despite negative tests.
   Nick Kyrgios of Australia blasted the series.
   "Boneheaded decision to go ahead with the 'exhibition' speedy recovery fellas, but that's what happens when you disregard all protocols," Kyrgios tweeted today. "This IS NOT A JOKE."

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

U.S. Open to be held as scheduled; tours will resume

Arthur Ashe Stadium will be eerie without fans. File photo by Paul Bauman
   The U.S. Open will be held Aug. 31-Sept. 13 as scheduled but without fans, organizers confirmed today.
   Also, the men's and women's pro tours plan to resume in August with modified schedules, subject to approval by governments and health organizations, after a five-month hiatus.
   The tours were suspended the night before the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif., was scheduled to begin on March 9 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
   The Western & Southern Open will move from Cincinnati to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., the site of the U.S. Open, and will be held the preceding week.
   The United States has 119,935 deaths from COVID-19, more than 2.5 times the number of any other country, according to Worldometer. Meanwhile, New York has 30,939 deaths, almost 2.5 times the number of any other state, according to CNN.
   The U.S. Open brings in more than $400 million annually, more than 80% of the USTA's revenue, according to CNBC. ESPN pays the USTA more than $70 million annually to televise the tournament in the United States.
   Rafael Nadal, who won his fourth U.S. Open title last year, told The New York Times in a June 4 story that, as of then, he would not play in the tournament because of the health risk.
   Outspoken Australian Nick Kyrgios said the USTA was "selfish" to hold the U.S. Open.
   "I'll get my hazmat suit ready for when I travel from Australia and then have to quarantine for 2 weeks on my return," he tweeted Monday.
   In addition to excluding fans, the USTA plans to limit the number of support staff that players may take to New York, possibly only one team member each, The Times reported. Top players typically travel with large entourages including family members, a coach, trainer and physical therapist.
   Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who has won three U.S. Open titles, has criticized the restrictions as "extreme."
   Roger Federer, a five-time U.S. Open champion, will miss the rest of the year after recently having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee for the second time in 2020.
   Several top women, including No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia and No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania, expressed reservations about playing in the U.S. Open.
   "Not only because we're in the middle of a global pandemic," Halep told The Times. "But also because of the risk of travel, potential quarantine and then the changes around the tournament."
   However, Serena Williams plans to renew her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title in the U.S. Open.
   "I really cannot wait to return to New York and play the U.S. Open in 2020," Williams, a six-time U.S. Open champion, said in a video message on usopen.org. "I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring that everything is amazing, perfect, and that everyone is safe. It's going to be exciting. It's been over six months since a lot of us have played professional tennis."
   Williams has lost her last four Grand Slam finals, including the 2018 U.S. Open debacle in which she clashed with chair umpire Carlos Ramos and received three code violations.
   The women's tour is set to resume Aug. 3 in Palermo, Italy.
   "It is currently anticipated that tournaments will be held without fans and each tournament will have a limited footprint, with players and essential personnel only," the WTA said in a news release. "WTA tournaments will be available for viewing on broadcast."
   The Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State, which had been scheduled for Aug. 3-9, is not on the new schedule.
   The men plan to return Aug. 17 in Washington, D.C.
   "All events will be held under strict guidelines related to health and safety, social distancing and reduced or no fans on-site," according to an ATP Tour news release.
   However, Australian John Millman tweeted: "Why are we going into a bubble for Cinci/US when we have a lead in tournament in Washington DC? We may as well have played Cinci in Cinci if we are no longer doing the bubble isolation tennis thing."
   After the U.S. Open, the men and women are scheduled to play in Madrid (Sept. 14-20) and Rome (Sept. 21-27) before the French Open (Sept. 27-Oct. 11).
   The women then will compete in Asia through November. The men's schedule after the French Open is scheduled to be released in mid-July.
   The ATP Challenger Tour and ITF World Tennis Tours will resume the week of Aug. 17.

USTA Boys 18 Nationals suddenly moved to Orlando

   The USTA announced Monday that the Boys 18 National Championships would be held at the traditional location in Kalamazoo, Mich.
   Not so fast.
   "Due to health and safety concerns for athletes, guests, volunteers and the Kalamazoo community at large, Kalamazoo College leadership has made the difficult decision not to host the Boys 18s event in 2020," the USTA said today in a news release.
   The tournament, scheduled for Aug. 7-16, will move to the USTA National Campus in the Orlando, Fla., suburb of Lake Nona.
   The Boys 16 Nationals, usually held in Kalamazoo, already had been moved to Mobile, Ala.
   The Girls 18 and 16 Nationals, normally held concurrently in San Diego, also will be split up, the USTA announced Monday. The 18s will remain in San Diego, but the 16s will move to Rome, Ga. Both are scheduled for Aug. 8-16.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

WTT Vegas bets on players with strong NorCal ties

Ex-Stanford stars Bob Bryan, right, and Mike Bryan will play for the Vegas
Rollers in World TeamTennis this season, July 12-Aug. 2 at The Greenbrier
resort in White Sulphur Springs, Va. File photo by Paul Bauman 
   The Vegas Rollers of World TeamTennis will have a distinct Northern California flair this season.
   The Rollers' roster includes former Stanford stars Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan and Kristie Ahn as well as San Francisco native Sam Querrey.
   Also on the team are Monica Puig, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in women's singles from Puerto Rico, and Las Vegas product Asia Muhammad.
   The 42-year-old Bryan twins, who were born in Camarillo in the Los Angeles area and now live in Florida, have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles.
   The Bryans played at Stanford in 1997 and 1998, helping the Cardinal win the NCAA title each year. Bob achieved a rare Triple Crown, capturing the NCAA singles, doubles (with Mike) and team titles in 1998.
   Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, reached the round of 16 at last year's U.S. Open. She was born two miles from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the site of the U.S. Open, and lives in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., a 30-minute drive from the center.
   Querrey, a 32-year-old Las Vegas resident, advanced to the Wimbledon semifinals in 2017.
   Another player with NorCal ties, Sloane Stephens, will play for the Chicago Smash. The 27-year-old Fresno product won the 2017 U.S. Open and reached the final of the 2018 French Open.
   WTT will play its entire season at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V. The regular-season is scheduled for July 12-30, and the four-team playoffs are set for Aug. 1-2.
   Play on the men's and women's pro tours has been suspended until at least Aug. 3.
   Here are this season's WTT rosters (future additions possible):
   Chicago Smash – Genie Bouchard, Evan King, Brandon Nakashima, Rajeev Ram, Sloane Stephens. Coach: Kamau Murray.
   New York Empire – Kim Clijsters, Mardy Fish, Sabine Lisicki, Kveta Peschke, Neal Skupski, Jack Sock. Coach: Luke Jensen.
   Orange County Breakers – Luke Bambridge, Steve Johnson, Andreja Klepac, Milos Raonic. Coach: Rick Leach.
   Orlando Storm – Danielle Collins, Darija Jurak, Tennys Sandgren, Ken Skupski, James Ward. Coach: Jay Gooding.
   Philadelphia Freedoms – Caroline Dolehide, Sofia Kenin, Fabrice Martin, Taylor Townsend, Donald Young. Coach: Craig Kardon.
   San Diego Aviators – Ryan Harrison, Christina McHale, Nicole Melichar, Jonny O'Mara, Coco Vandeweghe. Coach: John Lloyd.
   Springfield (Mo.) Lasers – Hayley Carter, Olga Govortsova, Mitchell Krueger, Robert Lindstedt, Caty McNally, Jean-Julien Rojer. Coach: John-Laffnie de Jager.
   Vegas Rollers – Kristie Ahn, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Asia Muhammad, Monica Puig, Sam Querrey. Coach: Tim Blenkiron.
   Washington (D.C.) Kastles – Marcelo Arevalo, Nick Monroe, Bernarda Pera, Arina Rodionova, Frances Tiafoe. Coach: Robby Ginepri.

Monday, June 15, 2020

USTA 18, 16 Nationals to be held as scheduled

Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco
Bay Area poses after winning the USTA Girls 18 Nat-
ional Championships last August in San Diego. Photo
courtesy of JFS Communications
   The USTA Boys and Girls 18 and 16 National Championships will be held Aug. 7-16 as scheduled, the organization announced today.
   However, the boys and girls 14s and 12s have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
   The boys and girls 18s will be held at their traditional locations of Kalamazoo, Mich., and San Diego, respectively. But the boys 16s will move from Kalamazoo to Mobile, Ala., and the girls 16s will switch from San Diego to Rome, Ga.
   The singles draws for each tournament will be reduced from 224 players to 128. Information regarding the doubles competitions will be announced later.
   Face masks will be required for everyone except on-court players and officials, according to the USTA. Players will be limited to one guest, and there will be no additional spectators.
   College coaches will not be permitted to attend the tournaments, but the USTA is "working on making additional resources available" for remote recruiting, a spokesman said.
   Four Northern Californians have won the 18 singles title in the past seven years. Boys champions include Collin Altamirano (2013) of Sacramento and Jenson Brooksby (2018) of Carmichael in the Sacramento region. Among the girls winners are CiCi Bellis (2014) of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area and Katie Volynets (2019) of Walnut Creek in the Bay Area.
   All except Brooksby, a freshman at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, play professionally. All except Bellis, who's based at the USTA National Campus in the Orlando, Fla., area, train at the JMG Tennis Academy in Sacramento.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Stanford men's recruiting class ranked first in nation

   Paul Goldstein recently took another big step in his efforts to rebuild the Stanford men's program.
   The sixth-year Cardinal head coach has compiled the nation's top recruiting class for 2020, according to tennisrecruiting.net.
   Headed to Stanford, which ended the shortened 2020 season ranked eighth, are Great Britain's Arthur Fery, the 12th-ranked junior in the world; blue chippers Alex Lee of Oak Brook, Ill., and Aryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay Area; and Tristan Boyer of Altadena, Calif., in the Los Angeles region.
   Chaudhary is ranked 11th nationally in the 18s, and Boyer was the runner-up to Jenson Brooksby of Carmichael in the Sacramento region in the 2018 Easter Bowl at Indian Wells, Calif.
   The Stanford men have not won the NCAA team championship since Dick Gould won the last of his 17 titles in 2000. Goldstein, playing for Gould, became the first player to compete on four NCAA championship teams (1995-98), a feat also accomplished by USC's Steve Johnson (2009-12).
   The University of California men, ranked 36th, were not ranked among the top 25 recruiting classes.
   In women's recruiting, the Cal and Stanford classes rank third and seventh, respectively. Texas is No. 1 and Georgia Tech No. 2.
   Cal, ranked 38th, added Jada Bui of Ajax, Ontario, Hannah Viller Møller of Denmark and Cami Brown of Irvine, Calif.
   Bui has a world junior ranking of No. 76. Viller Møller was ranked No. 1 in the 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s in Denmark. Brown is the 68th-ranked recruit by tennisrecruiting.net.
   Sixth-ranked Stanford, which has won the last two NCAA team titles and three of the last four, snagged India Houghton of Belvedere Tiburon in the Bay Area and Ana Geller of Argentina.
   Houghton is No. 3 on tennisrecruiting.net's list of recruits. Geller, the sister of Stanford senior Axel Geller, has a world junior ranking of No. 43.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Zamarripa twins surprisingly choose Texas

   Allura and Maribella Zamarripa surprised even themselves by verbally committing to enroll at the University of Texas in 2021.
    The identical twins from Saint Helena in the Napa area are "total California girls," Allura said in the May/June issue of Inside Tennis. "We wanted to stay in California. SoCal, NorCal ... it didn't matter. We just wanted to be in California close to our family. Our initial schools were Stanford, UCLA, Pepperdine, USC. Texas wasn't even on the radar."
   The Zamarripas changed their minds after visiting the University of Texas in Austin.
   "We decided to do a last-minute visit in February," Maribella said, "and we were pleasantly surprised. We chose Texas because we wanted to go pro after college, and Texas had the best opportunities. They play the most pro tournaments, and the resources there are unbelievable."
   In the class of 2020, Aryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara and India Houghton of Belvedere Tiburon will head to nearby Stanford, Katherine Duong of Cupertino will play at Illinois, and Dean Babb of Roseville will attend Columbia.
   Santa Clara, Belvedere Tiburon and Cupertino are in the San Francisco Bay Area. Roseville is a suburb of Sacramento.
   Assuming the Zamarripas follow through on their commitment, they will follow Jenson Brooksby as top Northern California juniors to choose a Texas school. Brooksby, the 2018 USTA boys 18 national champion from Carmichael in the Sacramento region, originally committed to Texas Christian in Fort Worth for 2020 before following renowned coach Brian Boland to Baylor in Waco. Boland won four NCAA team titles in five years (2013-17) at Virginia.
   The Zamarripas almost stunned eventual champions Madison Brengle and Sachia Vickery in the first round of the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Women's Challenge last July, falling 6-7 (5), 6-2 [10-5]. Brengle also won the singles title.
   In 2018, the Zamarripas swept the girls 16 doubles titles in the Easter Bowl at Indian Wells, Calif., and the USTA International Spring Championships in Carson, Calif., in consecutive weeks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Federer has knee surgery again, plans to return in 2021

Roger Federer slugs a forehand during his 2018 exhibition in San Jose, Calif,
Photo by Mal Taam
   Remember when Roger Federer avoided injuries and there was a men's pro tour?
   Both seem like distant memories.
   The injuries are mounting for Federer. He recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery for the second time this year and third time in four years. Federer also suffered a groin injury in his epic victory over Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January.
   Yet Federer, who will turn 39 on Aug. 8, has no plans to retire. He said he will return in 2021.
   "A few weeks ago, having experienced a setback during my initial rehabilitation, I had to have an additional quick arthroscopic procedure on my right knee," Federer, whose only Northern California appearance came in a 2018 exhibition in San Jose, tweeted today. "Now, much like I did leading up to the 2017 season, I plan to take the necessary time to be 100% ready to play at my highest level.
   "I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly, but I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season."
   Federer suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee in February 2016 while running a bath for his twin daughters. He also had surgery on his right knee this past February and had planned to return for the grass-court season before the tour was suspended indefinitely in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
   In Federer's only tournament of the year, he saved seven match points against Sandgren in the Australian Open before losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-3.
   At Wimbledon last year, Federer held two championship points before falling to Djokovic 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3). It was the longest Wimbledon final ever, lasting 4 hours, 57 minutes.
   Federer has won a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, one ahead of Rafael Nadal and three in front of third-place Djokovic.
   However, the men's and women's pro tours have been suspended until at least July 31 and July 12, respectively.
   The U.S. Open remains scheduled for Aug. 31 to Sept. 13, and the French Open was postponed from May 24-June 7 to Sept. 20-Oct. 4.
   Wimbledon, which had been scheduled for June 29 to July 12, was canceled for the first time in 75 years on April 1. The Summer Olympics in Tokyo were pushed back from July 24-Aug. 9 to July 23-Aug. 8, 2021.
   Federer tops Forbes' annual list of highest-earning athletes, the magazine announced last month.  With $100 million in endorsements and $6.3 million in prize money, Federer became the first tennis player to head the list since it debuted in 1990.
   Trailing Federer in the top five are soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo ($105 million total), Lionel Messi ($104 million) and Neymar ($95.5 million) and basketball star LeBron James ($88.2 million).
   Federer is one of five tennis players in the top 100. The others are No. 23 Novak Djokovic ($44.6 million), No. 27 Rafael Nadal ($40 million), No. 29 Naomi Osaka (the highest-earning female athlete at $37.4 million), No. 33 Serena Williams ($36 million) and No. 40 Kei Nishikori ($32.1 million).

Friday, June 5, 2020

Cobra, Fresno State women's coach, to resign

   Mariana Cobra's stint at Fresno State didn't last long.
   Cobra will resign as the head coach of the Bulldog women effective June 12 after one shortened season, school officials announced Wednesday.
   "After over 10 years of living and breathing for my passion of coaching, I have decided that 2019-20 was my last season as a head coach," Cobra, who plans to move to Oklahoma but did not elaborate, said on gobulldogs.com. "Collegiate coaching has provided me many, many opportunities.
   "Thank you to all of the players and colleagues who have made me a better leader and person over the last few years. Special thanks to (athletic director) Terry Tumey, (associate athletic director) Frank Pucher and the Fresno State athletic family for the support and wonderful experience in my final year of collegiate coaching."
   Cobra, a Brazil native, went 7-7 at Fresno State before the season ended because of the coronavirus pandemic. She had served as the head coach at Division I North Florida (2016-19), Idaho (2014-16) and Northern Iowa (2012-13).
   During her seven years as a Division I head coach, Cobra guided players to 30 all-conference selections and three conference Player of the Year awards.
   "We thank coach Cobra for bringing stability and positive momentum to our women's tennis program during her time on campus," Tumey said. "Her efforts helped elevate Bulldog tennis on the court, in the classroom and in our community. We wish her the best as she moves on to the next chapter of her personal life."
   Fresno State has not named Cobra's successor.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Longtime Cal men's assistant accepts position at club

   Tyler Browne, the associate head coach of the California men's team and a former Bears standout, will become the director of racquet sports at the nearby Orinda Country Club, Cal head coach Peter Wright announced Wednesday.
   Browne recently completed his 13th season on the Cal coaching staff, highlighted by the Bears' semifinal run in the 2016 NCAA Championship in Tulsa, Okla.
   "It's bittersweet to be leaving a place that has been so special to me over my 17-year career – being a student-athlete first from 2003 to 2008, then immediately jumping onto the coaching staff in 2008," Browne said in a news release. "To turn that page has been very difficult for me.
   "I can't speak highly enough of the people that I've been surrounded with here at Cal. To be working with Peter Wright for as many years as I have and then to be mentored by him has been an invaluable experience for which I will always be grateful.
   "Working with administrators and with all the colleagues that I consider my friends over the years has been completely enriching. The relationships that I've built with student-athletes, former teammates and alums has really made Cal special. I wouldn't be the person I am today without those friendships."
   Browne was named the ITA Northwest Regional Assistant Coach of the Year four times (2012, 2015, 2017 and 2019). Cal reached the postseason every year during Browne's tenure and had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation in 2017. Since 2008, Browne has worked with seven Cal All-Americans, including professional players Ben McLachlan, Andre Goransson, Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi.
   As a Cal player, Browne went 72-59 in singles and added 46 doubles victories in four years. A product of nearby Walnut Creek, he was ranked as high as No. 56 in singles and No. 12 in doubles. Browne was named to the All-Pac-10 second team as a junior in 2006 and received honorable mention in 2007.
   "Tyler's legacy as a player and coach at Cal is nothing short of remarkable," Wright said. "On a daily basis, he shared his passion for tennis, as well as his fierce loyalty and dedication to our players, team and university.
   "It's been my absolute pleasure to watch Tyler grow from a high-level junior player to an outstanding college player to becoming one of the finest college coaches in the country, earning many titles and coaching awards along the way."
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