Thursday, April 15, 2021

NorCal's Novikov reaches doubles semis in Orlando

Wild cards Dennis Novikov, above, and Christian Harrison
advanced by walkover. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Wild cards Christian "George" Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis "Vladimir" Novikov of San Jose, Calif., defeated Yuki Bhambri "The Deer" of India and Matthew "McConaughey" Ebden of Australia by walkover today in the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open.
   Bhambri had an undisclosed medical issue. He and Ebden reached the final of the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in 2015 in their first tournament together, losing to Chris Guccione of Australia and Artem Sitak, a Russia native who plays for New Zealand.
   Harrison and Novikov, who ousted top-seeded Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela and Fernando Romboli in the first round, are scheduled to play unseeded JC "Penney" Aragone of Yorba Linda, Calif., in the Los Angeles area and Luis David Martinez of Venezuela on Friday at about noon PDT.
   Aragone and Martinez edged Jesper De "Mah" Jong and "Yosemite" Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands 3-6, 6-4 [10-8]. 
   If Friday's singles quarterfinals, U.S. prospects Jenson Brooksby "Brothers," 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento region and Zane "Wrath Of" Khan, 19, of Delray Beach, Fla., are set to meet for the first time at about 10 a.m. 
   All Orlando matches are being streamed live.
   ATP Challenger Tour in Belgrade, Serbia — Facundo Bagnis and Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina outplayed Andre "Agassi" Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Jonny "Depp" O'Mara of Great Britain 6-3, 6-3 in a quarterfinal matchup of unseeded teams in the €132,280 ($158,483) Serbia Challenger Open.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

U.S. prospects Brooksby, Khan to meet in Orlando QFs

Jenson Brooksby breezed into the quarterfinals
of the Orlando (Fla.) Challenger. 2018 photo
by Paul Bauman
   Two promising U.S. men are set to meet for the first time Friday in the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open.
   Jenson Brooksby "Brothers," 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area dispatched qualifier Altug Celikbilek of Turkey 6-3, 6-1 today. Meanwhile, Zane "Wrath of" Khan, a 19-year-old wild card from Delray Beach, Fla., ousted second-seeded Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).
   Brooksby, who turned pro in December, won seven consecutive games after leading 4-3 in the first set. He saved four of five break points against him overall. 
   Celikbilek committed nine double faults, including on the last three points of the first set.
   Khan reached the final of his previous three tournaments (winning two), all in $15,000 events in India. He had not won a main-draw match in a Challenger before this week.
   Halfway through the second round in Orlando, the only remaining singles seeds are No. 5 Denis Kudla and No. 6 Prajnesh Gunneswaran, last year's runner-up to 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima of San Diego.
   Kudla, the runner-up in the 2015 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, and Gunneswaran, a Tiburon semifinalist in 2017, are scheduled to play their second-round matches on Thursday.
   In the opening round of doubles, wild cards Christian "George" Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis "Vladimir" Novikov of San Jose, Calif., knocked off top-seeded Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela of Mexico and Fernando Romboli of Brazil 6-2, 5-7 [10-6].
   Reyes-Varela and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador won the doubles title in the 2019 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger, edging Nathan Pasha and Max "Don't Be So" Schnur of the United States.  
   Also today, Jesper De "Mah" Jong and "Yosemite" Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands eliminated third-seeded Pasha and Schnur 6-4, 6-2.
   Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product now based in Orlando, and Martin Redlicki of Boca Raton, Fla., lost to JC Aragone of Yorba Linda in the Los Angeles region and Luis David Martinez 6-7 (5), 7-5 [10-6]. McDonald and Redlicki won the 2016 NCAA doubles title while at UCLA.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Andre "Agassi" Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Jonny "Depp" O'Mara of Great Britain outclassed Serbian wild cards Marko Miladinovic and Marko Tepavac 6-3, 6-2 in the opening round of the €132,280 ($158,483) Serbia Challenger Open in Belgrade.
   ATP Tour — Unseeded "Baltimore" Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) topped fifth-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at Cal from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain 6-7 (1), 6-3 [10-5] to reach the quarterfinals of the clay-court Monte-Marlo Masters.
   WTA Tour — Elixane Lechemia of France and Ingrid "Bergman" Neel of Bradenton nipped Americans Quinn "Jackie" Gleason and Maria "Sharapova" Sanchez, who was born and raised in Modesto, Calif., 6-7 (4), 7-5 [10-8] in the first round of the MUSC Health Women's Open on clay in Charleston, S.C. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

After 8 surgeries, Harrison tops No. 3 seed McDonald

Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product, was
the only U.S. man to reach the round of 16 in this year's Aus-
tralian Open. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Wild card Christian "George" Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., stayed hot today with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over third-seeded Mackenzie "Ronald" McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product now based in Orlando, Fla., in the first round of the $52,080 Orlando Open.
   The 26-year-old Harrison, who has undergone eight surgeries since 2009, improved to 15-2 in singles this year.
   McDonald, who had right hamstring surgery in 2019, was the only U.S. man to reach the singles round of 16 in this year's Australian Open. 
   Also today, Christopher "Bob" Eubanks of Atlanta ousted top-seeded Steve "Lyndon" Johnson of Redondo Beach, Calif., in the Los Angeles area 6-1, 7-6 (3).
   Eubanks reached the semifinals of the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in 2018. Johnson won his second Aptos singles title in 2019.
   Qualifier Altug Celikbilek of Turkey dismissed American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, the 2017 NCAA singles champion from the University of Virginia, 6-2, 6-3.
   Celikbilek, 24, is scheduled to meet Jenson Brooksby "Brothers," 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento region for the first time on Wednesday at about 10:30 a.m. PDT. The match will be streamed live.
   ATP Tour — Fifth-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain are set to play "Baltimore" Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14), a New Zealand product who plays for his mother's native Japan, on Wednesday in the second round of the Monte-Carlo Masters on clay. Both teams won match tiebreakers to advance. 
   WTA Tour — Francesca Di Lorenzo, the 2017 NCAA doubles champion from Ohio State, defeated fellow American Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, 7-6 (6), 6-2 in the opening round of the MUSC Health Women's Open on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   Di Lorenzo, a 23-year-old left-hander, survived nine double faults.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Brooksby, 20, downs No. 7 seed Jung in $52K Orlando

Jenson Brooksby could meet 2017 NCAA singles champion
Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in the second round of the Orlando
(Fla.) Open. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby "Brothers," 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento region ousted seventh-seeded Jason "Carl" Jung, a 31-year-old Los Angeles-area native who plays for Chinese Taipei, 6-1, 6-4 today in the first round of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open.
   Brooksby, who turned pro in December, saved both break points against him in his first career match against Jung, who won the $100,000 San Francisco Challenger in 2018.
   Brooksby is set to meet either Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Charlottesville, Va., or qualifier Altug Celikbilek of Turkey for the first time on Wednesday. 
   Kwiatkowski graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017, winning the NCAA singles title as a senior and leading the Cavaliers to three consecutive NCAA team titles (2015-17). He reached the semifinals of the $108,320 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2019.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Stanford women snap longest skid in 40 years

   The No. 38 Stanford women ended their longest losing streak in 40 years today, dominating No. 34 USC 6-1 in Los Angeles.
   The Cardinal's only loss came on Court 1 as Salma Ewing defeated No. 48 Michaela Gordon, a senior from Saratoga, Calif., near Stanford, 4-6, 6-4 [10-3].
   Stanford, which had lost three straight, improved to 11-3 overall and 7-2 in the Pacific-12 Conference. USC dropped to 11-8 and 5-4.
   Cal women — The No. 16 Bears lost at No. 7 UCLA 7-0 to fall to 14-5 overall and 7-2 in the Pac-12.
   No. 11 Abbey Forbes routed No. 41 Haley Giavara 6-2, 6-0 on Court 1 as the Bruins improved to 15-3 and 9-0. 
   Stanford men — Timothy Sah came through again for the No. 37 Cardinal.
   The senior from San Diego outlasted Lodewijk Westrate of No. 15 USC 6-7 (4), 7-6 (7), 7-5 on Court 5 to give host Stanford (8-3, 5-0 Pac-12) a 4-3 victory over the Trojans (16-6, 4-2).
   Sah also won the deciding match in the host Cardinal's 4-3 win over No. 34 UCLA on Saturday.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Stephens stopped; Stanford women suffer historic skid

   No. 15 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia beat unseeded Sloane "Ranger" Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., 6-3, 6-4 today in the quarterfinals of the Volvo Car Open on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   Stephens, now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was playing in her first quarterfinal since the 2019 French Open. She won the 2017 U.S. Open and reached the Roland Garros final in 2018.
   Stephens has slumped from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 57. She has lost an aunt, a grandmother and a grandfather to COVID-19 and has tested positive for the coronavirus herself.
   College women — No. 9 UCLA thrashed No. 38 Stanford 7-0 in Los Angeles to improve to 14-3 overall and 8-0 in the Pacific-12 Conference. The Cardinal (10-3, 6-2) has lost three straight for the first time in 40 years.
   Hannah Viller Moeller lifted California (14-4, 7-1 Pac-12) to a 4-3 victory at No. 37 USC (11-7, 5-3). 
   College men — No. 37 Stanford overcame a 3-0 deficit to stun No. 34 UCLA 4-3 at Stanford. Timothy Sah, a senior from San Diego, won the deciding match 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-4 against Sam Feit on Court 5.
   The Cardinal improved to 7-3 and 4-0. The Bruins fell to 11-4 and 4-2.
   

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Ending drought, Stephens advances to quarterfinals

   Sloane "Ranger" Stephens reached her first quarterfinal in almost two years today, defeating Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia 6-3, 6-4 in the Volvo Car Open on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   Stephens, a Fresno, Calif., product now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., improved to 6-0 against Tomljanovic, the runner-up in the 2017 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger.
   Stephens advanced to a quarterfinal for the first time since the French Open in June 2019. She won the 2017 U.S. Open and reached the Roland Garros final in 2018.
   Stephens, who has slumped from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 57, is scheduled to play 15th-seeded Veronika Kudermetova of Russia for the first time on Friday not before 4 p.m. PDT (Tennis Channel). Kudermetova, ranked No. 38, dismissed qualifier Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-0, 6-3.
   French Open — The French Tennis Federation postponed the tournament one week to May 30-June 13 to maximize safety and attendance amid the COVID pandemic.
   ATP Tour — Ariel Behar of Uruguay and Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador beat Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Nicholas Monroe of Austin, Texas, 6-4, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Andalucia Open in Marbella, Spain.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Stephens beats Keys in rematch of '17 U.S. Open final

   Sloane "Ranger" Stephens, a Fresno, Calif., product now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., beat close friend and eighth-seeded Madison "Where The Hell Are My" Keys of Orlando, Fla., 6-4, 6-4 tonight in the second round of the Volvo Car Open on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   Stephens improved to 4-1 against Keys, including a 6-3, 6-0 victory in the 2017 U.S. Open final. Both players have won the Charleston title, Stephens in 2016 and Keys in 2019.
   Keys also captured the last Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017. The tournament moved down the road to San Jose, Calif., as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in 2018.
   Keys has tumbled from a career-high No. 7 in 2016 to No. 24, and Stephens has plummeted from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 57. Neither had advanced past the second round of a tournament this year. 
   Stephens is set to play Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic, the runner-up in the 2017 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger, on Thursday at about 2 p.m. PDT (Tennis Channel) in the round of 16. Stephens is 5-0 against Tomljanovic.
   ATP Tour — Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Nicholas Monroe of Austin, Texas, edged Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan and Dominic Inglot of Great Britain 6-3, 1-6 [12-10] in the first round of the Andalucia Open in Marbella, Spain.
   Bublik won the singles title in the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in 2017.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Stephens, Keys to meet in rematch of '17 U.S. Open final

   Sloane "Ranger" Stephens and eighth-seeded Madison "Where The Hell Are My" Keys are scheduled to meet on Wednesday not before 4 p.m. PDT (Tennis Channel) in a rematch of the 2017 U.S. Open final in the second round of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, S.C.
   Keys is defending her 2019 title, and Stephens won the clay-court tournament in 2016.
   Stephens, a 28-year-old product of Fresno, Calif., now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., defeated lucky loser Wang Xinyu, 19, of China 6-2, 6-4 today. Keys, who won the last Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017, received a first-round bye.
   Neither Keys nor Stephens has advanced past the second round of a tournament this year. Keys has tumbled from a career-high No. 7 in 2016 to No. 24, and Stephens has plummeted from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 57.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Italy's Paolini routs Stanford grad Ahn in Bogota

Kristie Ahn fell to sixth-seeded Jasmine Paolini in 59 minutes today.
2019 photo by Paul Bauman
   Sixth-seeded Jasmine Paolini of Italy drubbed Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 6-3, 6-0 in 59 minutes today in the first round of the Copa Colsanitas, a WTA 250 tournament on clay in Bogota, Colombia. 
   Two years ago in Bogota, 8,660 feet (2,640 meters) above sea level, Ahn ousted top seed and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the opening round as a qualifier. Ahn then lost to 17-year-old wild card Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia in the second round.
   Paolini reached the second round of the French Open last fall.
   Ahn also lost in the first round of doubles. Lara Arruabarrena of Spain and Katarzyna Piter of Poland defeated Ahn and compatriot Usue (pronounced OU-sway) Arconada 6-4, 2-6 [10-2].

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Bay Area native Shibahara wins her biggest doubles title

   Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan earned their tour-leading third title of the year and the biggest of their careers today.
   The fifth-seeded Aoyama, 33, and Shibahara, a 23-year-old native of Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area, beat eighth-seeded Hayley Carter, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Luisa "Gwen" Stefani of Brazil 6-2, 7-5 in the Miami Open, a WTA 1000 tournament.
   Aoyama, only 5-foot-1 (1.54 meters), and Shibahara were winless in their three previous tournaments after beginning the year with 13 consecutive victories and two titles.
   The Japanese pair improved to 6-1 in WTA finals with a six-match winning streak. The loss came against Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke, then 44, in San Jose in 2019.
   Aoyama and Shibahara have not lost a set against Carter and Stefani — former All-Americans at North Carolina and Pepperdine, respectively — in three matches this year, including the Abu Dhabi final in January.
   Juniors — Top-seeded Juncheng Shang of China downed unseeded Ethan "Allen" Quinn of Fresno, Calif., 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2 to win the Easter Bowl in San Diego.
   Quinn's winning streak ended at 11 matches. He won last week's International Open of Southern California in San Diego.
   In the boys 16 doubles final, Ethan Schiffman of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., in the San Diego area and Emon van Loben Sels of Sacramento, Calif., defeated David "You Don't" Saye of Charlotte, N.C., and Eli "Manning" Stephenson of Louisville, Ky., 6-7 (tiebreaker score not available), 6-1, 6-1.
   Colleges — The Stanford women, who have won the last two NCAA titles and three of the last four, lost to Oregon for the first time in school history and suffered their second consecutive loss for the first time since 2016.
   Uxia Martinez Moral outlasted Sara Choy, a junior from Palo Alto, Calif., 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 on Court 4 to give the No. 46 Ducks (12-5, 5-3 Pacific-12 Conference) a 4-3 victory over the No. 25 Cardinal (10-2, 6-1) in Eugene, Ore.
   Meanwhile, No. 7 Pepperdine handed California its first home loss of the season, 4-3. Shiori Fukuda gave the Waves (13-2) a 4-0 lead with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Valentina Ivanov on Court 3. The Bears fell to 13-4.
   In a men's match, host Stanford routed No. 17 Arizona 5-1 to improve to 6-3 overall and 3-0 in the Pac-12. The Cardinal's Axel "Uri" Geller defeated No. 63 Jonas "Brothers" Ziverts 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Court 1.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Fresno's Quinn to play in Easter Bowl boys 18 final

   Unseeded Ethan "Allen" Quinn of Fresno, Calif., beat second-seeded Bruno "Mars" Kuzuhara of Coconut Creek, Fla., 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 today to reach the 18-and-under final of the prestigious Easter Bowl in San Diego.
   Quinn, who won last week's International Open of Southern California in San Diego, extended his winning streak to 11 matches. He is set to face top-seeded Juncheng Shang of China on Sunday. Shang dispatched seventh-seeded Aidan "Pass The" Mayo of Roseville, Calif., in the Sacramento area 6-2, 6-3.
   In the boys 16-and-under doubles semifinals, unseeded Ethan Schiffman of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego region and Emon van Loben Sels of Sacramento bested eighth-seeded Alex Cairo "Egypt" of Las Vegas and "Bob" Dylan Tsoi of El Dorado Hills in the Sacramento area 6-3, 6-4. 
   Schiffman and van Loben Sels are slated to meet unseeded David "You Don't" Saye of Charlotte, N.C., and Eli "Robert Louis" Stephenson of Louisville, Ky., on Sunday. Saye and Stephenson dismissed Ethan "Draymond" Green of Salt Lake City and Caden "What A" Hasler of American Ford, Utah, 6-1, 6-2.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Bay Area native Shibahara reaches Miami doubles final

   Fifth-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan beat unseeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Iga Swiatek of Poland 3-6, 7-6 (4) [10-2] today to reach the Miami Open final.
   Aoyama, 33, and Shibahara, a 23-year-old native of Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area, were winless in their three previous tournaments after beginning the year with 13 consecutive victories and two titles. Mattek-Sands won the Miami doubles title in 2016 with since-retired Lucie Safarova.  
   Aoyama, only 5-foot-1 (1.54 meters), and Shibahara are scheduled to play eighth-seeded Hayley Carter, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Luisa Stefani of Brazil on Sunday.
   Carter and Stefani — former All-Americans at North Carolina and Pepperdine, respectively — edged unseeded Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and "Rudy" Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the Bay Area who plays for Mexico, 2-6, 6-3 [10-8]. Dabrowski won the 2017 title with "San Diego" Xu Yifan.
   Colleges — The Stanford women, who have won the last two NCAA titles and three of the last four, suffered a rare home loss.
   Lisa Zaar of No. 7 Pepperdine (12-2) edged Sara Choy, a junior from Palo Alto, Calif., 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6) on Court 5 to give the Waves a 4-3 victory over the No. 25 Cardinal (10-1).
   Stanford lost for only the fifth time in its last 81 home matches. 
   Meanwhile, Hannah Viller Moeller of the No. 19 California women bested Uxia Martinez Moral of No. 46 Oregon 6-4, 7-6 (2) to lift the visiting Bears (13-3, 6-1 Pacific-12 Conference) over the Ducks (11-5, 4-3) 4-3. 
   The host Stanford men (5-3, 2-0) edged No. 23 Arizona State (13-6, 2-3) 4-3 as freshman Arthur Fery prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (2) against Makey Rakotomalala on Court 2 in the deciding match. 
   Juniors — Seventh-seeded Aidan "Pass The" Mayo of Roseville, Calif., in the Sacramento area and unseeded Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., reached the Easter Bowl 18-and-under semifinals in San Diego.
   Mayo defeated Nicolas Kotzen of Short Hills, N.J., 6-2, 6-3, and Quinn beat wild card Kyle Kang of Fullerton, Calif., in the Los Angeles region 6-4, 6-2.
   In the girls 18 quarterfinals, sixth-seeded Alexis Blokhina of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., eliminated second-seeded Alexandra Yepifanova, a Stanford signee from Lake Worth, Fla., 6-2, 6-4.
   Quinn and Yepifanova won the 18-and-under singles titles in last week's International Open of Southern California in San Diego.
   A Sacramento-area player will reach the boys 16 doubles final.
   Unseeded Ethan Schiffman of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego region and Emon van Loben Sels of Sacramento ousted top-seeded Alexander Aney of New York and Jason Shuler of Scarsdale, N.Y., 1-6, 6-1 [10-6] in the quarterfinals.
   Eighth-seeded Alex Cairo of Las Vegas and Dylan Tsoi of El Dorado Hills in the Sacramento region topped unseeded Dylan Charlap and Learner Tien — from the Los Angeles suburbs of Palos Verdes Estates and Irvine, respectively — 6-1, 6-7 (7) [10-8].

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Cal aide falls in Miami; Stanford signee gains Easter QFs

   Second-seeded Nikola Mektic "System" and "G'day" Mate Pavic of Croatia defeated seventh-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain 6-3, 7-6 (5) today in the semifinals of the Miami Open.
   Ram, 37, and Salisbury, 28, reached the Australian Open final as the defending champions last month, losing to Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Filip Polasek of Slovakia.   
   Easter Bowl — Second-seeded Alexandra Yepifanova, a Stanford signee from Lake Worth, Fla., rolled into the 18-and-under singles quarterfinals in San Diego.
   Yepifanova, who won last week's International Open of Southern California in San Diego, outclassed 16th-seeded Madeleine Jessup of Rolling Hills, Calif., in the Los Angeles area 6-1, 6-1.
   Advancing to the boys 18 singles quarterfinals were seventh-seeded Aidan "Pass The" Mayo of Roseville, Calif., in the Sacramento region and unseeded Ethan "Allen" Quinn of Fresno, Calif.
   Mayo defeated 11th-seeded Azuma Visaya of Honolulu 6-4, 6-2. Quinn, who also won the International Open, beat wild card Jayden Templeton of Canada 5-7, 6-0, 6-3.
   Meanwhile, top-seeded Emon van Loben Sels of Sacramento, Calif., and second-seeded Mitchell Lee of Oakland, Calif., lost in the third round of the 16s.
   Ninth-seeded Chase "Bank" Fralick of Peachtree City, Ga., beat van Loben Sels 6-3, 7-5, and Nikita Filin of Wilmette, Ill., outplayed Lee 7-5, 6-3. 
   Van Loben Sels, 16, beat his close friend Lee to win the USTA Level 1 Spring Individual Championships on hardcourts in Mobile, Ala., last month and vault to No. 1 nationally in the 16s.
   Fralick and Filin, both high school freshmen, are ranked fifth and 18th, respectively, in the 16s.
   Unseeded Ethan Schiffman of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area and van Loben Sels reached the doubles quarterfinals, as did eighth-seeded Alex Cairo "Egypt" of Dallas and "Bob" Dylan Tsoi of El Dorado Hills in the Sacramento region.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Cal assistant, Bay Area native gain Miami doubles semis

   Seventh-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain defeated American wild cards Sebastian Korda and Michael Mmoh 7-5, 6-2 today in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open.
   Korda, 20, and Mmoh, 23, are the sons of former professional players. Petr Korda won the 1998 Australian Open to reach a career-high No. 2. He tested positive for doping at Wimbledon that year and was suspended for 12 months but retired shortly before the ban at age 30.
   Ram and Salisbury are scheduled to face second-seeded Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia on Thursday.
   In the women's doubles quarterfinals, fifth-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan dispatched alternates "Sweet" Caroline Garcia of France and Nadia Podoroska of Argentina 6-3, 6-2.
   Aoyama, 33, and Shibahara, a 23-year-old native of Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area, are set to meet unseeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Iga Swiatek of Poland on Friday. Mattek-Sands won the 2016 title with since-retired Lucie Safarova.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Wild cards David Marrero and Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain topped third-seeded Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Andrei Vasilevski of Belarus 7-6 (3), 4-6 [10-5] in the first round of the €44,820 ($52,514) Andalucia Open in Marbella, Spain.
   Easter Bowl — Ethan "Allen" Quinn of Fresno, Calif., beat 15th-seeded Braden Shick "Razors" of Greesnboro, N.C., 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the second round of the 18s in San Diego. Quinn won the 18s in last week's International Open of Southern California in San Diego. 
   Seventh-seeded Aidan "Pass The" Mayo advanced in straight sets, but "Victor" Hugo Hashimoto of San Jose, Calif., lost to 16th-seeded Timothy Phung of Bradenton, Fla., 6-0, 2-6, 6-0.
   On the girls side, second-seeded Alexandra Yepifanova, a Stanford signee from Lake Worth, Fla., subdued Katja Wiersholm of Kirkland, Wash., 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. Yepifanova also won the 18s in the International Open.
   Seventh-seeded Reese "Witherspoon" Brantmeier of Whitewater, Wis., eliminated Vivian Ovrootsky of San Jose 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
   In the second round of the boys 16s, top-seeded Emon van Loben Sels of Sacramento, Calif., and second-seeded Mitchell Lee of Oakland, Calif. advanced in straight sets. 
   Owen Megargee of Washington, D.C., outplayed "Bob" Dylan Tsoi of El Dorado Hills, Calif., in the Sacramento region 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
   In the girls 16s, Pearlie "Gates" Zhang of Plainsboro, N.J., beat Michela Moore of Monte Sereno, near San Jose, 6-4, 6-3. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Bay Area product reaches Miami doubles semifinals

   Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and "Rudy" Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area who plays for Mexico, defeated American teenagers Caty McNally and Coco Gauff 6-4, 7-6 (4) today in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open.
   Dabrowski won the 2017 title with Xu Yifan of China. She and Olmos are scheduled to play eighth-seeded Hayley Carter, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native, and Luisa Stefani of Brazil on Thursday. 
   Carter and Stefani beat U.S. alternates Asia Muhammad and Jessica Pegula, the daughter of Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, 6-4, 6-1. 
   Easter Bowl — Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., and Hugo Hashimoto of San Jose, Calif., coasted into the second round of 18s singles in San Diego.
   Quinn, who won the 18s in last week's International Open of Southern California in San Diego, dismissed Aman Sharma of Lattingtown, N.Y., 6-1, 6-2.
   Hashimoto outplayed Nicholas Godsick of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, 6-2, 6-3. Godsick's mother, Mary Joe Fernandez, climbed to the top five in singles and doubles as a professional. She now works as a tennis commentator for ESPN. Godsick's father, Tony Godsick, is Roger Federer's agent.
   Seventh-seeded Aidan "Pass The" Mayo of Roseville, Calif., in the Sacramento area received a first-round bye.
   In the girls 18s, Vivian Ovrootsky of San Jose won easily, but Tomi Main of Seaside, Calif., in the Monterey region, lost to Gracie Epps of Norman, Okla., 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
   Second-seeded Alexandra Yepifanova, a Stanford signee from Lake Worth, Fla., drew a first-round bye. She won the 18s in the International Open of Southern California.
   In the first round of the boys 16s, top-seeded Emon van Loben Sels of Sacramento and second-seeded Mitchell Lee of Oakland advanced in straight sets. Dylan Tsoi of El Dorado Hills in the Sacramento area outlasted Ethan Green of Salt Lake City 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
   In the girls 16s, Michela Moore of Monte Sereno, near San Jose, ousted ninth-seeded Meg McCarty of Bozeman, Mont., 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Monday, March 29, 2021

Cal aide, Bay Area product gain Miami doubles quarters

   Two players with strong San Francisco Bay Area ties reached the doubles quarterfinals in the Miami Open today.
   Seventh-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain topped alternates Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico 4-6, 6-4 [10-2]. 
   Ram and Salisbury, the Australian Open champions in 2020 and runners-up this year, are scheduled to face American wild cards Sebastian Korda, 20, and Michael Mmoh, both sons of former professional players, on Wednesday. Petr Korda won the 1998 Australian Open to reach a career-high No. 2. 
  Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and "Rudy" Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont, Calif., who plays for Mexico, outclassed Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany and Storm "Warning" Sanders of Australia 6-2, 6-4 in a matchup of unseeded teams.
   Dabrowski, who won the 2017 title with Xu Yifan of China, and Olmos are set to face unseeded Americans Caty McNally, 19, and Cori Gauff, 17, on Wednesday. 
   McNally and Gauff ousted second-seeded Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-7 (5), 6-4 [10-8] on Sunday. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Bay Area native reaches doubles quarterfinals in Miami

   Fifth-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan defeated Darija Jurak of Croatia and Nina Stojanovic of Serbia by walkover today to reach the quarterfinals of the Miami Open.
   Stojanovic also withdrew from her third-round singles match against second-seeded Naomi Osaka with a right thigh injury.
   Jurak, 36, was coming off the title in Dubai with Alexa Guarachi, a native of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., who plays for Chile.
   Aoyama, 33, and Shibahara, a 23-year-old native of Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area, are set to meet either fourth-seeded Timea Babos of Hungary and Veronika Kudermetova of Russia or alternates Caroline Garcia of France and Nadia Podoroska of Argentina on Tuesday. 
   Babos has won four Grand Slam women's doubles titles (all with Kristina Mladenovic of France), including the last two French Opens. Mladenovic is not playing doubles in Miami.
   College men — Stanford opened its Pacific-12 Conference season with a 5-2 victory over Utah in Salt Lake City. Axel Geller of the Cardinal (3-3) defeated Slava Shainyan 6-3, 6-4 on Court 1.
  The Utes fell to 11-8 overall and 1-4 in the Pac-12.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Stanford signee, Fresno resident take ITF crowns

   Alexandra Yepifanova, a Stanford signee from Lake Worth, Fla., and Ethan "Allen" Quinn of Fresno, Calif., won the 18-and-under singles titles today in the ITF Grade 1 International Open of Southern California in San Diego.
   The top-seeded Yepifanova defeated 10th-seeded Reese "Witherspoon" Brantmeier of Whitewater, Wis., 7-6 (7), 6-2, saving two set points in the first set. Quinn, a wild card, beat fifth-seeded Samir Banerjee of Basking Ridge, N.J., 6-1, 6-4. 
   ATP Tour — Seventh-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain outplayed Austin "Powers" Krajicek of Plano, Texas, and Franko Skugor of Croatia 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the first round of the Miami Open, a Masters 1000 tournament.
   Alternates Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico eliminated "Baltimore" Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14), a New Zealand product who plays for his mother's native Japan, 6-3, 6-4.
   College women —No. 19 Cal edged No. 47 Washington State 4-3 in Berkeley. Hannah "Montana" Viller Moeller beat Pang Jittakoat 6-2, 6-4 on Court 4 to give the Bears (12-3, 5-1 Pacific-12 Conference) an insurmountable 4-1 lead. The Cougars fell to 10-7 and 2-3.
   No. 35 Stanford, which has won the last two NCAA titles and three of the last four, outclassed No. 49 Washington 6-1 at Stanford. The Cardinal's Michaela Gordon, a senior from Saratoga, Calif., near Stanford, edged No. 30 Vanessa Wong 6-4, 6-7 (6) [12-10] on Court 1. Stanford improved to 10-0 and 6-0, and the Huskies dropped to 9-6 and 1-5.

Friday, March 26, 2021

McDonald falls short vs. Isner; Stephens stumbles again

John Isner fired 15 aces in his three-set win
over Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco
Bay Area native, in the second round of the
Miami Open. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 18 seed John Isner, a Greensboro, N.C., native now living in Dallas, outlasted qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area native now based in Orlando, Fla., 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 tonight in the second round of the Miami Open.
   Isner, who had 15 aces and only one double fault, won the title in 2018 and lost to Roger Federer in the 2019 final. The tournament was not played last year because of the pandemic.
   Isner, at 35 years old and 6-foot-10 (2.08 meters), is 10 years older and one foot (30.5 centimeters) taller than McDonald. 
   McDonald became the only American man to reach the fourth round of last month's Australian Open. Isner skipped the tournament to stay home with his wife and two young children.
   In the first round of men's doubles, wild cards Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, and Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach, Calif., in the Los Angeles region lost to second-seeded Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia 7-6 (2), 6-4. 
   In the second round of women's singles, 28th-seeded Amanda Anisimova, 19, dominated fellow Floridian Sloane "Ranger" Stephens, the 2018 champion who grew up in Fresno, Calif., 6-3, 6-3. 
   Anisimova won her first professional title in the 2017 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger at 15 and reached the semifinals of the 2019 French Open at 17. 
   Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up, fell to 1-5 this year. She has tumbled from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 49.
   College women — Julia Rosenqvist beat Sarah-Maude Fortin 7-5, 6-3 on Court 2 to give No. 25 California (11-3, 4-1 Pacific-12 Conference) a 4-3 victory over No. 49 Washington (9-5, 1-4) in Berkeley, Calif.
   No. 35 Stanford (8-0, 4-0) routed No. 47 Washington State (10-6, 2-2) 6-1 at Stanford. 
   College men — No. 5 Texas Christian defeated host Stanford 4-1 to improve to 11-5. The Cardinal fell to 2-3.
   Juniors — Top-seeded Alexandra Yepifanova, a Stanford signee from Lake Worth, Fla., and wild card Ethan Quinn of Fresno reached 18-and-under singles finals in the ITF Grade 1 International Open of Southern California in San Diego.
   Yepifanova routed qualifier Elisabeth Jones of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., 6-2, 6-1 to set up a match against 10th-seeded Reese Brantmeier of Whitewater, Wis.
   Quinn, who beat unseeded Braden Shick of Greensboro, N.C., 6-4, 6-1, will face eighth-seeded Samir Banerjee of Basking Ridge, N.J.
   In the boy doubles final, Nathan Cox of Lake Charles, La., and Sebastian Gorzny of Fountain Valley, Calif., outplayed Nicholas Godsick of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Quinn 6-4, 6-3. Both teams were unseeded.
   Godsick's mother, Mary Joe Fernandez, climbed to the top five in singles and doubles as a professional. Fernandez now works as a tennis commentator for ESPN. Godsick's father, Tony Godsick, is Roger Federer's agent. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Bay Area native ends skid with Miami doubles victory

Hayley Carter, left, and Ena Shibahara pose after winning
the doubles title in the 2018 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Fifth-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan ended their losing streak today, stopping Andreja Klepac and Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 6-7 (2), 6-1 [10-6] in the first round of the Miami Open.
   Aoyama, 33, and Shibahara, a 23-year-old native of Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area, had lost four straight after starting the year 13-0 with two WTA titles.
   Also today, Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and "Rudy" Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the Bay Area who plays for Mexico, edged seventh-seeded Alexa Guarachi of Chile and Desirae Krawczyk, a native of Palm Desert, Calif., 6-3, 4-6 [10-7]. 
   Guarachi and Krawczyk reached the French Open final last October, losing to defending champions Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic. Dabrowski won the 2017 Miami title with "San Diego" Xu Yifan of China. 
   Krawczyk and Olmos advanced to the Guadalajara final two weeks ago, falling to Ellen Perez and "Houston" Astra Sharma of Australia.
   In another contest decided by a match tiebreaker, sixth-seeded Xu and compatriot Zhang Shuai held off Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., and Sloane "Ranger" Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., 4-6, 6-3 [10-8].
   Zhang and Samantha Stosur reached the 2019 Miami final, losing to Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.
   Juniors — Top-seeded Alexandra Yepifanova, a Stanford signee from Lake Worth, Fla., and wild card Ethan Quinn of Fresno reached the girls and boys 18 semifinals, respectively, in the ITF Grade 1 International Open of Southern California in San Diego.
   Yepifanova dispatched ninth-seeded Clervie Ngounoue of Washington, D.C., 6-2, 6-3. Quinn, playing in his first ITF Grade 1 tournament, beat Great Britain's Jack Pinnington Jones, seeded second and ranked seventh in the world, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
   Nicholas Godsick, the son of former top-five singles and doubles player Mary Joe Fernandez, and Quinn will meet Nathan Cox and Sebastian Gorzny in a matchup of unseeded American teams for the boys doubles title.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Lu beats Querrey for first win in almost three years

   Yen-Hsun Lu, 37, of Chinese Taipei recorded his first victory in almost three years today, defeating Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, 6-3, 6-4 today in the first round of the Miami Open.
   Lu missed 20 months from May 2018 through January 2020 because of a right shoulder injury. Miami — a Masters 1000 tournament, the highest level besides Grand Slam — is only his fifth event since then.
   Lu has plummeted from a career-high No. 33 in 2010 to No. 1,020. He had not won a match since beating Maverick Banes of Australia in the first round of the Seoul Challenger in late April 2018.
   Lu reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2010, shocking Andy Roddick 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 9-5 in 4 hours, 36 minutes in the fourth round. Lu also advanced to the final of the 2007 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger, losing to Wayne Odesnik. In 2015, Odesnik was banned for 15 years for a second doping violation.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey has advanced past the third round in Miami only once in 14 appearances, reaching the fourth round in 2013. He has tumbled from a career-high No. 11 in 2018 to No. 63.
   Another San Francisco Bay Area native, qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, defeated former world No. 25 Vasek "Anything Is" Pospisil of Canada 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in a matchup of players rebounding from surgery in 2019. 
   Pospisil, who underwent back surgery in January 2019, was assessed a point penalty on set point in the first set for verbal abuse. Losing his serve after leading 40-0 apparently set him off, but there was more to it. He told chair umpire Arnaud Gabas that ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi yelled at him for 90 minutes during a players' meeting on Tuesday. Pospisil and Novak Djokovic launched the Professional Tennis Players Association last summer.
   Pospisil won the Wimbledon men's doubles title with Jack Sock in 2014, reached the singles final of the $100,000 San Francisco Challenger in 2017 and was named the ATP Comeback Player of the Year in 2020.
   McDonald, who had right hamstring surgery in June 2019, improved to 14-4 this year. He was the only American man to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open last month.
   McDonald is scheduled to face 18th-seeded John Isner, the Miami champion in 2018, for the first time on Friday. The 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) Isner, who drew a first-round bye, is one foot (30.5 centimeters) taller than McDonald.
   In the Miami women's draw, Sloane Stephens, a 28-year-old Fresno, Calif., product who won the 2018 title, topped qualifier "Atlantic" Oceane Dodin of France 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-2 for her first victory this year. 
   Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up, had lost in the first round of her last four tournaments and in six of her last seven. She has plunged from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 49.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

McDonald tops Karlovic to qualify; Brooksby falls short

Mackenzie McDonald practices his serve during the
2017 Fairfield, Calif., Challenger, which he won.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Mackenzie McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters), beat 19th-seeded Ivo Karlovic, 6-foot-11 (2.11 meters), 7-6 (3), 6-4 today to qualify for the Miami Open, an ATP Masters 1000 tournament.
   Karlovic, 42, of Croatia blasted 18 aces and won 89 percent of the points on his first serve (34 of 38). McDonald, a 25-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, was almost as effective on his first serve, winning 84 percent of the points (42 of 50). 
   McDonald, the only American man to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open last month, is scheduled to play former world No. 25 Vasek Pospisil of Canada for the first time on Wednesday in the first round. Pospisil reached the final of the $100,000 San Francisco Challenger in 2017.
   Pospisil or McDonald will face 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner, the 18th seed and 2018 champion.
   Meanwhile, 22nd-seeded Thomas Fabbiano, only 5-foot-7 (1.70 meters) and 154 pounds (70 kilograms), outlasted Jenson Brooksby, 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in 2 hours, 31 minutes in the final round of qualifying. Brooksby, who turned pro in December, was playing in his first ATP Tour event.
   Fabbiano, an Italian, advanced to the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Aptos, Calif., Challenger as the top seed in 2018. The following year, he stunned then-No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas and Karlovic to reach the third round at Wimbledon.
   On the women's side of the Miami Open, Nadia Podoroska of Argentina routed wild card Mayar "Who Shot The" Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt 6-3, 6-1 in the opening round of the main draw. Podoroska advanced to the French Open semifinals as a qualifier last October.
   In the final round of qualifying, Olga Danilovic, 20, of Serbia beat 21st-seeded Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
   College women — California's Haley Giavara won on Court 1, but No. 4 Pepperdine dominated the No. 20 Bears 6-1 in Malibu, Calif. No. 18 Giavara, a sophomore from San Diego, defeated No. 33 Jessica Failla 6-4, 6-1 as Cal dropped to 10-3. The Waves are 9-2. 
   College men — No. 11 USC throttled Stanford 7-0 in Los Angeles to improve to 13-4 this season. The Cardinal fell to 2-2. Top-ranked Daniel Cukierman defeated No. 20 Axel Geller 7-5, 2-0, retired on Court 1.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Brooksby, 20, triumphs in ATP Tour debut

   Making his ATP Tour debut, 20-year-old Jenson Brooksby of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, beat fifth-seeded Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-1 today in the first round of qualifying for the prestigious Miami Open.
   Brooksby has won 10 of his last 11 matches. After turning pro in December, he claimed his first Challenger title in Potchefstroom, South Africa, and lost to Bjorn Fratangelo on Saturday in the final of the Cleveland Challenger.
   Brooksby has played in two Grand Slam tournaments, losing to John Millman in the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open as a qualifier and stunning former world No. 4 Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up, to reach the second round of the 2019 U.S. Open as a wild-card qualifier. 
   Laaksonen, a 28-year-old Finland native with a Finnish mother and Swiss father, has qualified for the last two Grand Slam tournaments. He lost in the first round of the 2020 French Open and this year's Australian Open.
   Laaksonen and Harri Heliovaara of Finland reached the doubles final in the 2018 Fairfield, Calif., Challenger, losing to Sanchai Ratiwatana of Thailand and Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia.
   Brooksby is set to take on 22nd-seeded Thomas Fabbiano of Italy for the first time on Tuesday for a main-draw berth. Fabbiano topped Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador 6-4, 7-6 (3).
   Top-seeded Mackenzie McDonald, a 25-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, routed Roberto Cid Subervi of the Dominican Republic 6-1, 6-1.
   McDonald was the only U.S. man to reach the fourth round of last month's Australian Open. Cid Subervi, 27, has lost his last six matches.
   McDonald, 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters), will face 19th-seeded Ivo Karlovic, 42, of Croatia. The 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Karlovic defeated Tasuma Ito of Japan 6-3, 7-6 (3).
   Karlovic beat McDonald 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of qualifying for the 2013 U.S. Open in their only previous meeting.
   In the opening round of women's qualifying, 21st-seeded Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, downed fellow American Francesca Di Lorenzo, a 23-year-old left-hander, 6-1, 6-4. 
  Ahn will meet Olga Danilovic, 20, of Serbia for the first time. Danilovic outlasted eighth-seeded Jasmine Paolini of Italy 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-4.
   College men — No. 22 Govind Nanda beat No. 3 Alexandre Rotsaert 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Court 2 to give No. 23 UCLA a 4-3 victory over visiting Stanford.
   The Bruins improved to 6-2 overall and 2-0 in the Pacific-12 Conference. The Cardinal fell to 2-1 and 0-1.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Fratangelo beats Brooksby for Cleveland Challenger title

Bjorn Fratangelo won his fourth career Challenger singles title and first since
Fairfield, Calif., in 2018. File photo by Paul Bauman 
   Bjorn "Borg" Fratangelo ended his title drought and Jenson Brooksby "Brothers'" winning streak today.
   Fratangelo, a Pittsburgh, Pa., native based in Orlando, Fla., beat Brooksby, from Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, 7-5, 6-4 today to win the $52,080 Cleveland Open on the ATP Challenger Tour. Both players were unseeded.
   The 27-year-old Fratangelo, who was named after Bjorn Borg, won his fourth career Challenger singles title and first since Fairfield, Calif., in 2018. He did not play from January to September last year, including the five-month pandemic break. 
   Fratangelo also snapped the 20-year-old Brooksby's winning streak at nine matches. Brooksby turned pro in December and won his first Challenger title last month in Potchefstroom, South Africa.
   Fratangelo, who pocketed $7,200, will soar 53 places in the world rankings to No. 233 on Monday after climbing to a career-high No. 99 in 2016. Brooksby, who earned $4,240, will jump 24 spots to a career-high No. 230.
   The players traded service breaks in the first two games of the match. Brooksby saved a break point for 2-2, three break points for 4-4 and a set point for 5-5. After Fratangelo held for 6-5, he broke Brooksby at love for the set.
   In the second set, Fratangelo served for the match after breaking for 5-3, but Brooksby broke back at love. Brooksby led 40-0 in the next game, but Fratangelo won the next four points to earn a championship point. Brooksby saved it and then earned a game point. Fratangelo reeled off the following three points, converting his second championship point with an inside-out forehand passing shot.
   ATP Tour in Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Wild card Aslan "Forty" Karatsev of Russia defeated qualifier Lloyd "Kamala" Harris 6-3, 6-2 to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Both players were seeking their first ATP title.
   Karatsev, an Australian Open semifinalist as a qualifier last month, collected $149,490. Ranked No. 112 at the beginning of the year, he will rise 15 places to a career-high No. 27.
   Harris, who won the $100,000 Stockton Challenger and advanced to the final of the $100,000 Aptos Challenger in Northern California in 2018, settled for $110,530. He will jump 29 spots to a career-high No. 52.
   College women — No. 26 Stanford, which has won the last two NCAA championships and three of the last four, defeated visiting Arizona 5-2 to improve to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Pacific-12 Conference. The Cardinal beat No. 25 Arizona State 4-1 on Friday at Stanford.
   No. 20 California drubbed visiting Arizona State 6-1 to improve to 10-2 overall and 3-1 in the Pac-12. The Bears routed Arizona 7-0 on Friday in Berkeley, Calif.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Brooksby overcomes big deficit to reach Challenger final

Jenson Brooksby of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento
area, rallied from 2-6, 2-5, saving two match points, in
today's victory. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby "Brothers" had no business winning today's match in the $52,080 Cleveland Open.
   He did anyway. As usual, mental toughness had a lot to do with it.
   After trailing 6-2, 5-2, the 20-year-old resident of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area saved two match points and reeled off nine consecutive games en route to a 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 semifinal victory over third-seeded Emilio "Estevez" Gomez of Ecuador in 2 hours, 21 minutes. 
   The unseeded Brooksby, who won turned pro in December and won his first Challenger title last month in Potchefstroom, South Africa, extended his winning streak to nine matches.
   For almost two full sets, the 29-year-old Gomez looked like the second coming of his father, 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, getting everything back. But as the pressure mounted, he looked like Gomez Addams, spraying shots all over the place.
   Brooksby took a medical timeout for an apparent leg problem at 6-5 in the second set but seemed fine for the rest of the match.
   Brooksby, who will jump at least 25 places to a career-high No. 229 on Monday, is scheduled to face 27-year-old American Bjorn "Borg" Fratangelo, unseeded at No. 286 after reaching a career-high No. 99 in 2016, for the first time on Saturday at noon. PDT. The match will be streamed live.
   Fratangelo, whose last title came in the 2018 Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger, defeated compatriot Aleksandar Kovacevic, a 22-year-old qualifier ranked No. 537, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
   ATP Tour in Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Lloyd "Kamala" Harris of South Africa became the first qualifier to reach the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final, surprising third-seeded Denis Shapovalov of Canada, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (6) in 2:41.
   Shapovalov, a 21-year-old left-hander ranked 12th, essentially threw the match away with double faults in the second set after leading 4-2. 
   Harris, 24, advanced to his first ATP 500 final with his second victory over a top-15 player in the tournament. He ousted Dominic Thiem, seeded first and ranked fourth, in the second round.
   Harris, who won the $100,000 Stockton Challenger and reached the final of the $100,000 Aptos Challenger in Northern California in 2018, is scheduled to play wild card Aslan "Forty" Karatsev of Russia for the first time on Saturday at 8 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel). 
   Karatsev, an Australian Open semifinalist as a qualifier last month, ousted countryman Andrey Rublev, seeded second, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
   ATP Tour in Acapulco, Mexico — Second-seeded Alexander Zverev, the Acapulco runner-up in 2019, topped Dominik Koepfer, an unseeded left-hander, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in a semifinal matchup of Germans.
   The 26-year-old Koepfer, who reached NorCal Challenger finals in 2018 and 2019, double-faulted twice while serving for the second set at 5-3 in his first ATP semifinal. He eliminated fourth-seeded Milos Raonic in the second round.
   In the doubles semifinals, unseeded brothers Ken and Neal "Officer" Skupski of Great Britain beat fourth-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain 6-4, 7-6 (5).
   Ram, who turned 37 on Thursday, and Salisbury, 28, were playing in their first tournament since losing in the Australian Open final as the defending champions.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Brooksby extends streak, reaches Challenger semifinals

Jenson Brooksby, a 20-year-old Sacramento-area resident, 
continued to show his mental toughness in today's victory.
2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby "Brothers" extended his winning streak to eight matches today in the $52,080 Cleveland Open on the ATP Challenger Tour.
   The 20-year-old resident of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area defeated Michael "Jordan" Redlicki, a 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) left-hander from Orlando, Fla., 7-6 (5), 6-4 in a quarterfinal matchup of unseeded players.
   Brooksby, who turned pro in December and won his first Challenger title last month in Potchefstroom, South Africa, held serve from 0-40 to force the tiebreaker. He also overcame deficits of 1-3 and 4-5 in the tiebreaker and 2-4 in the second set.
   Brooksby has won all four of his tiebreakers in the tournament. Redlicki, 27, ousted top-seeded James "Donald" Duckworth of Australia in the first round.
   Brooksby is scheduled to face Ecuador's Emilio "Estevez" Gomez, the only remaining seed at No. 3, on Friday at about 11:30 a.m. PDT. The match will be streamed live.
   Gomez, the 29-year-old son of 1990 French Open champion Andres "Agassi" Gomez, dismissed unseeded Christopher Eubanks of Atlanta 6-3, 6-3.
   Brooksby routed Gomez 6-1, 6-2 in the first round of a 2018 Futures tournament on clay in Buffalo, N.Y., in their only previous meeting.
   In the Cleveland doubles quarterfinals, Gomez and countryman Roberto "Clemente" Quiroz nipped top-seeded Treat Huey "Lewis And The News," a 35-year-old Washington, D.C., native who competes for the Philippines, and fellow left-hander "Yosemite" Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands 7-5, 2-6 [10-7].
   Verbeek, 26, was seeking his third final in three weeks. He and compatriot Jesper De "Mah" Jong lost in St. Petersburg 1 and won in St. Petersburg 2.
   ATP Tour in Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Qualifier Lloyd Harris of South Africa beat unseeded Kei Nishikori, a former top-five player rebounding from injuries, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, an ATP 500 tournament.
   Harris, who won the $100,000 Stockton Challenger and reached the final of the $100,000 Aptos Challenger in Northern California in 2018, is set to face third-seeded Denis Shapovalov, a 21-year-old Canadian left-hander, for the first time on Friday at 6 a.m. (Tennis Channel). 
   ATP Tour in Acapulco, Mexico — In a battle of unseeded left-handers, Dominik Koepfer of Germany beat Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 7-5, 6-4 in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel to reach his first ATP semifinal. 
   Koepfer and Norrie had advanced with victories over fourth-seeded Milos Raonic and sixth-seeded Fabio Fognini, respectively. 
   Koepfer reached NorCal Challenger finals in 2018 and 2019. Norrie, an Acapulco semifinalist in 2019, won the Tiburon and Stockton Challengers back-to-back in 2017. 
   Koepfer and Norrie starred at Tulane University in New Orleans and Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, respectively.
   In the doubles quarterfinals, fourth-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain stopped wild cards Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil and Santiago "Chile" Gonzalez of Mexico 4-6, 6-3 [10-7].
   Ram, 36, and Salisbury, 28, are playing in their first tournament since losing in the Australian Open final as the defending champions.
   WTA Tour in Monterrey, Mexico — Heather "Elementary My Dear" Watson of Great Britain and Zheng Saisai of China eliminated top-seeded Desirae "Stuck In My" Krawczyk, a Palm Desert, Calif., native, and "Rudy" Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area who plays for Mexico, 1-6, 6-3 [10-5] in the quarterfinals of the Abierto GNP Seguros, a WTA 250 tournament.
   Krawczyk, the French Open runner-up with Alexa Guarachi of Chile last October, and Olmos reached last week's final in Guadalajara, losing to Ellen "DeGeneres" Perez and "Houston" Astra Sharma of Australia.
   Zheng won the singles title in the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Sacramento junior soars to No. 1 during pandemic

Emon van Loben Sels poses with his trophy at the USTA
Level 1 Spring Individual Championships, March 6-9 in
Mobile, Ala. Photo courtesy of Emon van Loben Sels
   The pandemic hasn't hurt Emon van Loben Sels' game.
   In fact, the scourge has helped it.
   "Pre-Covid, I wasn't receiving the best results, and I was never satisfied," conceded van Loben Sels, a Sacramento, Calif., resident ranked No. 1 nationally in the boys 16s. "I almost came home from Winter Nationals (at the beginning of 2020) without winning a match. The quarantine was a perfect chance for me to change that.
   "Once all the (clubs) got shut down, I started training on clay with my friends like Dylan (Tsoi) and Michael (Gravel). Once tournaments started again, I gained confidence after every win. Ever since then, I've been happy with my results, and things have been going my way. But I'm still pretty far from my ultimate goal, so I'm going to keep working hard."
   Van Loben Sels, a 16-year-old homeschooled sophomore, hopes to play professionally. He won the 16-and-under singles title in USTA Level 1 Spring Individual Championships, March 6-9 on hardcourts in Mobile, Ala., after capturing a Level 2 tournament in Newport Beach, Calif., in February.
   In the Mobile final, van Loben Sels beat close friend Mitchell Lee of Oakland, Calif., 7-5, 6-4. They train together almost every weekend, van Lobel Sels said.
   "Recently, he's actually changed his game style," Lee said. "He started to be more aggressive. His retrieving skills and touch are definitely key strengths. His biggest strength is neutralizing the point when he's on defense. He's able to get himself out of tough situations."
   Van Loben Sels' coaches at the Spare Time Junior Tennis Academy — Dima Hrynashka, Kiryl Harbatsiuk and Eric Roberson — have emphasized aggressiveness. 
   "All my life, I played aggressive tennis and found it's more beneficial," said Harbatsiuk, a former Sacramento State star from Belarus who played briefly on the Futures Tour. "I'm trying to teach him how to be an aggressive player — hitting harder, going to the net more often, taking the ball sooner, playing more inside the court than outside, taking time away from his opponent and finishing points sooner instead of rallying 25 or 30 times. He wants to complete the point sooner so he doesn't get too tired."
Emon van Loben Sels, right, and close friend Mitchell Lee shake
hands after the final in Mobile, Ala. Photo courtesy of Emon van
Loben Sels
   Van Loben Sels' biggest asset, according to Harbatsiuk, is his passion for tennis.
   "He is really passionate," Harbatsiuk said. "He remembers the scores of all of his matches, even tournaments he played five or seven years ago. He remembers the critical points, what he did wrong. He is very passionate about tennis — that's his biggest advantage. He really wants to improve his game and does whatever it takes.
   "He remembers not just his matches but (those of) his opponents and other people. He is very into it, and that's why he's becoming really successful."
   Harbatsiuk added that van Loben Sels, 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 145 pounds (65.8 kilograms) with a Japanese mother and American father, "needs to get stronger physically. He's still growing up. In terms of technical things, he needs to work on his serve to make it really consistent and aggressive. And just polish other shots like forehands and backhands and move to the net faster.
   "He needs to stay healthy, injury-free. It's going to help him play longer matches and be ready for college and then pro. The biggest goal is to stay healthy and get stronger physically."
   A right-hander with a two-handed backhand, van Loben Sels idolizes Rafael Nadal.
   "He's the biggest fighter on court," van Loben Sels explained. "He never gives up. He's out there to win every point, and he has a great game style. No free points, corner to corner."
   Van Loben Sels' next tournament is the prestigious Easter Bowl, March 29-April 4 in San Diego.
   "My record there has not been the best," van Loben Sels admitted, "but now I'm playing pretty well, so I hope I can do better this year."

Brooksby, 20, reaches quarterfinals of $52K Cleveland

Jenson Brooksby, who lives in the Sacramento, Calif., suburb
of Carmichael, extended his winning streak to seven matches.
2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby "Brothers," a 20-year-old phenom from Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, eliminated sixth-seeded Brayden "Don't Be So" Schnur of Canada 6-2, 7-6 (5) today to reach the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Cleveland Open.
   Brooksby, who claimed his first Challenger title last month in Potchefstroom, South Africa, extended his winning streak to seven matches.
   Next for Brooksby, ranked No. 254, is Michael "Jordan" Redlicki, a 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) left-hander from Orlando, Fla., ranked No. 400, on Thursday at 9 a.m. PDT. The match will be streamed live.
   Redlicki, 27, dismissed wild card Liam "Neeson" Draxl of Canada 6-3, 6-3 after ousting top-seeded James "Donald" Duckworth of Australia 7-6 (11), 6-1 in the first round. Brooksby and Redlicki have split two career matches, both in 2018.
   Third-seeded Emilio Gomez "Addams," the last remaining singles seed in Cleveland, beat alternate Nicolas Mejia of Colombia 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1. Gomez, the Ecuadorian son of 1990 French Open champion Andres "Agassi" Gomez, and Brooksby could meet in the semifinals.
   In the first round of doubles, twins Hunter and Yates "Lyndon" Johnson of New Braunfels, Texas, beat fourth-seeded Dennis "The Menace" Novikov of San Jose, Calif., and Ante "Freeze" Pavic of Croatia 6-3, 6-2. Redlicki lost to his younger brother, Martin. 
   Top-seeded Treat Huey "Lewis And The News," a Washington, D.C., native who plays for the Philippines, and "Yosemite" Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands edged JC "Penney" Aragone of Yorba Linda, Calif., in the Los Angeles region and Roberto "Billy The" Cid Subervi of the Dominican Republic 5-7, 6-1 [12-10].
   Verbeek, a 26-year-old left-hander, seeks his third final in three weeks. He and countryman Jesper De "Mah" Jong lost in St. Petersburg 1 and won in St. Petersburg 2.
   ATP Tour in Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Qualifier Lloyd "Kamala" Harris of South Africa backed up his victory over top-seeded Dominic "Home" Thiem with a 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over 14th-seeded "Prince" Filip Krajinovic of Serbia in the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, an ATP 500 tournament.
   Harris, who won the $100,000 Stockton Challenger and reached the final of the $100,000 Aptos Challenger in Northern California in 2018, is set to meet unseeded "O" Kei Nishikori of Japan (not before 8 a.m. on Tennis Channel) for the first time in Thursday's quarterfinals. Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up, defeated Aljaz "Time For" Bedene of Slovenia 6-4, 6-4.
   ATP Tour in Acapulco, Mexico — Dominik Koepfer, a German left-hander who advanced to NorCal Challenger finals in 2018 and 2019, stunned fourth-seeded Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel.
   In the opening round of doubles, third-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert "Hoover" and Nicolas "I Don't Give A" Mahut of France beat "Baltimore" Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben "Affleck" McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14), a New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, 6-4, 6-4.
   In a late first-round doubles match, fourth-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at Cal from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain edged Grigor "Rasputin" Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Tommy "Hilfiger" Paul of Delray Beach, Fla., 6-4, 3-6 [10-8].
   WTA Tour in Monterrey, Mexico — Top-seeded Desirae "Stuck In My" Krawczyk, a Palm Desert, Calif., native, and "Rudy" Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area who plays for Mexico, dispatched Maria "Sharapova" Sanchez, a 31-year-old Modesto, Calif., product and Fanny Stollar "System" of Hungary, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round.
   Krawczyk, the French Open runner-up last October with Alexa Guarachi of Chile, and Olmos reached last week's final in Guadalajara, losing to Ellen "DeGeneres" Perez and "Houston" Astra Sharma of Australia.
   Sanchez lived in Guadalajara, where her father has relatives, for one year when she was 10.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Harris stuns Thiem in Dubai; lucky loser outs Stephens

Lloyd Harris, who starred in Northern California Challengers in 2018,
 recorded his first victory over a top-five player. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Qualifier Lloyd Harris of South Africa shocked top-seeded Dominic "Home" Thiem, the reigning U.S. Open champion, 6-3, 6-4 today in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, an ATP 500 tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
   The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Harris won 29 of 30 points on his first serve and did not face a break point against the fourth-ranked Thiem.
   Harris, who won the $100,000 Stockton Challenger and reached the final of the $100,000 Aptos Challenger in Northern California in 2018, recorded his first victory against a top-five player.
   "I'm super, super happy with that win," the 24-year-old Harris, who claimed his first top-20 win against Stan "The Man" Wawrinka, then No. 20, in the first round last week in Doha, Qatar, said in an on-court interview. "(He is) by far the highest-ranked player I have beaten. I look up to Domi a lot, so, for me, it is a special feeling. I am really happy. Just the fact that I am playing good tennis, match in, match out is giving me a lot of confidence."
   Harris, ranked No. 81, is scheduled to play 14th-seeded "Prince" Filip Krajinovic, ranked No. 33, of Serbia on Wednesday for a quarterfinal berth. 
   WTA Tour in Monterrey, Mexico — Sloane "Ranger" Stephens' woes continued with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Slovakia's Kristina "Aguilera" Kucova, a lucky loser ranked No. 151, in the first round of the Abierto GNP Seguros, a WTA 250 tournament.
   The top-seeded Stephens, a Fresno, Calif., product who will turn 28 on Saturday, fell to 1-7 since the U.S. Open last September. The 2017 U.S. Open champion has tumbled from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 48.
   ATP Challenger Tour in Cleveland — In a battle of the last two USTA boys 18 national champions, Jenson Brooksby "Brothers," 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area topped Zachary "Taylor" Svajda, 18, of San Diego 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in the opening round of the $52,080 Cleveland Open. 
   Brooksby, who's coming off his first Challenger title in February in Potchefstroom, South Africa, is set to play sixth-seeded Brayden Schnur of Canada for the first time on Wednesday. Schnur held off U.S. qualifier Felix Corwin 7-6 (0), 7-6 (4).
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