Thursday, December 31, 2020

Pandemic — what else? — heads top stories of 2020

Sofia Kenin earned her first Grand Slam crown in the
Australian Open and reached the final of the delayed
French Open. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   This was a terrible year for Northern California tennis, as with everything else. Not all the news, however, was bad.
   Here are my picks for the top 10 stories of 2020 with 10 honorable mentions:
   1. Most of season lost — The COVID-19 pandemic shut down competition at all levels in NorCal for the last 9 1/2 months of the year. No WTA tournament in San Jose. No men's or women's Challengers. No NCAA Championships. No college or junior matches after mid-March.
   2. Kenin named WTA Player of the Year — Sofia Kenin was born in Moscow and has lived in Florida since she was a young child. But she won NorCal Challenger singles titles in 2016 at 17, 2017 and 2018. 
   Kenin, who turned 22 last month, earned her first Grand Slam crown in the Australian Open and reached the final of the delayed French Open.
   3. Bryan brothers retire — Former Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan, 42, ended their careers after 22 years and a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles.
   The Bryans won six Australian Open, five U.S. Open, three Wimbledon and two French Open championships. They captured an Open Era-record 119 tour titles (including four in the ATP Finals), earned a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics and helped the United States win its last Davis Cup championship in 2007.
Bob Bryan, left, and Mike Bryan retired after 22 years
and a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles. 2016
photo by Paul Bauman
   4. Cal coach loses doubles heartbreaker in ATP Finals — Seventh-seeded Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin saved a match point in their 6-7 (4), 6-3 [11-9] victory over second-seeded Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Joe Salisbury in the semifinals of the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
   Ram, 36, of Carmel, Ind., and Salisbury, a 28-year-old London native and resident, led 7-1 in the match tiebreaker before Melzer, a 39-year-old left-hander from Austria, and Roger-Vasselin, a Frenchman who was 36 at the time, reeled off seven consecutive points.
   5. Stevie Gould says coach sexually abused him — Stevie Gould of Corte Madera in the San Francisco Bay Area told The New York Times that a prominent Bay Area coach sexually abused him.
   Gould, a sophomore at the University of San Francisco, said Normandie Burgos repeatedly abused him for two years, including at hotels during tournaments in other states. Burgos is serving a 255-year prison sentence after being convicted of 60 counts of child molestation. 
   6. Brooksby turns pro after bizarre college career — Jenson Brooksby, a 20-year-old Sacramento-area resident, left Baylor University in Waco, Texas, as a redshirt freshman. He enrolled in January, never played a match for the Bears because of injuries and was on campus for only two months because of the pandemic.
Jenson Brooksby turned pro despite never having played
a match at Baylor University. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
  Brooksby won the 2018 USTA Boys 18 National Championship and reached the second round of the 2019 U.S. Open as a qualifier, stunning 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych.
   7. Stanford women sign nation's top two recruits — Connie Ma and Alexandra Yepifanova — ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, by tennisrecruiting.net among high school seniors — signed letters to join the two-time defending NCAA champion Cardinal in 2021-22.
   The tiny Ma, from Dublin in the Bay Area, reached the singles final of a $15,000 tournament in Evansville, Ind., at 15 in 2018 and won the doubles title with Gianna Pielet. Yepifanova, from Lake Worth, Fla., advanced to the girls singles final in last year's U.S. Open, becoming the first qualifier to reach that stage of a junior Grand Slam.
   8. Stanford men's recruiting class ranked first in nation — Coach Paul Goldstein compiled the nation's top recruiting class for 2020, according to tennisrecruiting.net.
   Joining Stanford in the fall were 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 in the Bay Area; and Tristan Boyer of Altadena, Calif., in the Los Angeles region. Boyer was the runner-up to Brooksby in the 2018 Easter Bowl at Indian Wells, Calif.
Connie Ma, the nation's top recruit, signed a letter of intent to stay
in the San Francisco Bay Area and join two-time defending cham-
pion Stanford in 2021-22. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   9. Stanford women's conference win streak ends at 38 — The No. 9 Cardinal suffered its first loss in a Pacific-12 Conference match in almost exactly four years, falling to No. 3 UCLA 4-1 at Taube Family Tennis Stadium. 
   Stanford hadn't lost to a Pac-12 opponent in the regular season since a 4-3 decision at Arizona State on March 5, 2016.
   10. NorCal's Quinn claims Orange Bowl 16s doubles title — Fourth-seeded Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., and Nicholas Godsick of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, beat third-seeded Lucas Brown of Plano, Texas, and John Kim of Sunnyvale in the Bay Area 7-6 (0), 6-4 on clay in Plantation, Fla.
   Quinn won the 16s singles title in the USTA Winter Nationals on clay in Orlando, Fla., at the beginnning of the year.
   Honorable mention — CiCi Bellis, who sat out for 19 months in 2018-19 while undergoing four operations, won the $80,000 Mercer Tennis Classic in Macon, Ga., for her first title in four years.
   — Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14), who was born and raised in New Zealand, won his second consecutive Auckland doubles title, this time with Luke Bambridge of Great Britain.
   — Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden won his maiden ATP doubles title in Pune, India, with Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia to crack the top 100 for the first time.
   — Giuliana Olmos, who grew up in the Bay Area suburb of Fremont, won her second career WTA doubles title, teaming with Desirae Krawczyk in Acapulco.
   — Katie Volynets, a resident of Walnut Creek in the Bay Area who turned 19 today, shocked 91st-ranked Monica Puig, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in women's singles, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the first round of qualifying for the Western & Southern Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., for her first victory over a top-100 player.
   — In her first match since 2012, International Tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters, who won four singles titles in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006), lost to Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 7-6 (6) in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
   — Dennis Ralston, an International Tennis Hall of Famer, died of cancer at 78 less than 15 months after speaking at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club's 100th-anniversary gala in Sacramento.
   — Ashley Kratzer, the runner-up to Kenin in the 2017 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger and a semifinalist in the 2018 Berkeley Challenger, was suspended for four years after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
   — The ATP issued Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, a suspended fine of $20,000 for violating the COVID-19 protocol at the St. Petersburg Open by fleeing Russia after he, his wife and his 8-month-old son tested positive for the coronavirus.
   — Allura and Maribella Zamarripa, 18-year-old identical twins from St. Helena in the Napa Valley, saved two championship points to win the $80,000 Bellatorum Resources Pro Classic in Tyler, Texas, as the fifth alternates for their biggest title by far.

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