Sunday, May 16, 2021

Volynets, 19, pulls off big comeback for first pro title

Katie Volynets, a 19-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco
Bay Area, outlasted fifth-seeded Irina Maria Baria of Romania in 3 hours, 14 min-
utes. 2019 photo courtesy of JFS Communications
   Displaying her indomitable will, Katie Volynets wore down Irina Maria Bara physically and mentally for her first professional title.
   Volynets, a 19-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, outlasted the fifth-seeded Bara, a 26-year-old Romanian, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-1 in 3 hours, 14 minutes today in the $100,000 Finemark Women's Pro Tennis Championship on green clay in Bonita Springs, Fla.
   Bara, who reached the third round of the French Open as a qualifier last October, led by two service breaks at 4-1 in the second set and was two points from the title while serving at 6-5, 30-30. But she committed two backhand errors to force a tiebreaker, and Volynets dominated the rest of the match.
   Volynets pulled off a similar comeback in her 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 semifinal victory over Hanna Chang in 2 hours, 46 minutes. Chang had three break points to lead by two service breaks at 4-1 in the second set, but Volynets held. Volynets trailed 0-2 in the third set but reeled off the next four games.
   Volynets, who routed No. 6 seed Renata Zarazua in the second round and No. 1 seed Madison Brengle in the quarterfinals, skyrocketed 99 places to a career-high No. 200. Bara improved 12 spots to No. 121, six off her career high.
   It's no stretch to project the petite Volynets as a top-100 or even top-50 player. Top 10? Let's just say 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Sofia Kenin — who won Northern California Challengers as a teenager in 2016, 2017 and 2018 — has shown how far impeccable groundstrokes and fierce determination can take you. No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, No. 3 Simona Halep, No. 7 Bianca Andreescu and No. 9 Iga Swiatek are no giants, either. All have won at least one Grand Slam singles title, as has No. 5 Kenin.
   Volynets pocketed $15,200 for the title, and Bara earned $8,107.
   In the first round of qualifying for the $25,000 Legacy Pro Classic on green clay in Pelham, Ala., 18-year-old identical twins Allura and Maribella Zamarripa each advanced in straight sets.
   WTA Tour — Sharon Fichman of Canada and Giuliana Olmos — who was born in Austria, grew up in Fremont in the Bay Area and plays for Mexico — won twice to claim their first WTA 1000 title.
    In the Italian Open final on red clay in Rome, Fichman and Olmos topped Kristina Mladenovic of France and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 7-5 [10-5]. Mladenovic won the 2015 title with Timea Babos of Hungary.
   Earlier, Fichman and Olmos dispatched fourth-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan 6-3, 6-2 in a rain-delayed semifinal. Shibahara was born in Mountain View in the Bay Area and starred at UCLA.
   Four of Fichman and Olmos' five matches in the tournament went to match tiebreakers, including in the second round against Elise Mertens and Hsieh Su-Wei, ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.
   ATP Tour — Second-seeded Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia beat fifth-seeded Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain 6-4, 7-6 (4) to win the Italian Open. 
   Mektic and Pavic collected their sixth doubles title of the year. Ram and Salisbury fell to 0-2 in 2021 finals, including the Australian Open as the defending champions.
   In the first round of singles qualifying for the Geneva Open on red clay, fifth-seeded Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the Bay Area, beat Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
   NCAA Tournament — The 16th-seeded California women (19-6) are scheduled to face top-seeded North Carolina (28-0) today at 4 p.m. PDT in the round of 16 in Orlando, Fla. Live streaming and live scoring are available.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Volynets, 19, rallies to reach first Challenger final

Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Fran-
cisco Bay Area showed her mental toughness
today in a three-set victory over Hanna Chang.
2019 photo by Paul Bauman
   Petite Katie Volynets will never overpower anyone. The 19-year-old resident of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area relies on quickness, consistency and mental toughness.
   Volynets, a wild card, needed all of those assets today to reach her first Challenger final. She outlasted Hanna Chang, a 23-year-old qualifier from Fontana in the Los Angeles region, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in a 2-hour, 46-minute seesaw battle of wills in the $100,000 Finemark Women's Pro Tennis Championship on green clay in Bonita Springs, Fla.
   In the first Challenger semifinal for both players, whenever one of them seemed in command, the other took control. Volynets broke serve nine times and Chang eight.
   Chang had three break points to lead by two service breaks at 4-1 in the second set, but Volynets held. Volynets also trailed 0-2 in the third set but reeled off the next four games.
   Chang broke back for 3-4, then both players held serve until the final game. From 15-15, Chang made three consecutive errors.
   Volynets, who routed No. 1 seed Madison Brengle in the quarterfinals, is scheduled to meet No. 5 seed Irina Maria Bara, a 26-year-old Romanian, for the first time on Sunday not before 9:30 a.m. PDT. The match will be streamed live. Bara beat compatriot Irina Fetecau, a qualifier, 6-4, 6-1 in 1 hour, 38 minutes. 
   Volynets, who was ranked No. 316 two weeks ago, will skyrocket at least 67 more places to a career-high No. 232 on Monday. Bara will improve a minimum of 12 spots to No. 121, and Chang will jump 43 notches to a career-high No. 268.
   WTA Tour — In a rain-delayed doubles quarterfinal in the Italian Open, alternates Sharon Fichman of Canada and Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the Bay Area who plays for Mexico, beat unseeded Coco Gauff, 17, of Delray Beach, Fla., and Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 1-6, 7-6 (6) [10-6] on red clay in Rome.
   Fichman and Olmos are scheduled to face No. 4 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan on Sunday. The winning team then will play unseeded Kristina Mladenovic of France and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic for the title. Mladenovic won the 2015 title with Timea Babos of Hungary.
   Shibahara was born in Mountain View in the Bay Area and starred at UCLA.
   ATP Tour — No. 5 doubles seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain won twice to reach the Italian Open final. 
   Ram and Salisbury defeated No. 4 seeds Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, who won the Madrid title last week, 7-6 (3), 3-6 [10-2] in a rain-delayed match and outplayed alternates Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-4.
   Ram and Salisbury are set to face No. 2 seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia on Sunday. Mektic and Pavic beat unseeded John Peers of Australia and Michael Venus of New Zealand 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).
   Mektic and Pavic seek their sixth title of the year and Ram and Salisbury their first.
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the doubles final of a €88,520 ($107,527) Challenger on red clay in Heilbronn, Germany, No. 3 seeds Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas and Jackson Withrow of Omaha, Neb., edged unseeded Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands 6-7 (4), 6-4 [10-8].
   Goransson and Lammons won last week's €44,820 ($54,189) Challenger in Biella, Italy, on red clay.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Volynets routs top seed to reach first Challenger semi

Katie Volynets, a 19-year-old Northern Californian, has
not lost more than three games in a set in her three
matches this week. 2019 photo by Paul Bauman
   Katie Volynets reached her first Challenger semifinal today, emphatically avenging last week's loss to Madison Brengle and recording her second victory over a top-100 player.
   Volynets, a 19-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, brushed aside the top-seeded Brengle of Dover, Del., 6-1, 6-2 in the $100,000 Finemark Women's Pro Tennis Championship on green clay in Bonita Springs, Fla.
   After Brengle held serve in the opening game, Volynets reeled off seven consecutive games, including the last three of the first set at love (two service breaks).
   Volynets has not lost more than three games in a set in her three matches this week. She also ousted sixth-seeded Renata Zarazua, who last year became the first Mexican woman in 20 years to win a main-draw singles match in a Grand Slam tournament, in the second round.
   Brengle, who won Northern California Challengers in 2018 and 2019 and reached the final of another in 2013, defeated Volynets 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the quarterfinals of last week's $100,000 tournament in Charleston, S.C., on green clay in their first career meeting.
   At No. 81, Brengle is the highest-ranked player Volynets has beaten. She also stunned No. 91 Monica Puig, the reigning Olympic champion in women's singles, in the first round of qualifying for the Western & Southern Open in New York last August at the top level of women's tennis besides the Grand Slams.
   Volynets, who was ranked No. 316 two weeks ago, will soar at least 36 more places to a career-high No. 263 on Monday. She is scheduled to play qualifier Hanna Chang of Fontana in the Los Angeles region on Saturday at about noon PDT. All tournament matches are being streamed live.  
   Chang, who also will play in her maiden Challenger semifinal, dispatched unseeded Francesca Di Lorenzo, an American left-hander, 6-3, 6-3. Earlier today, Di Lorenzo, playing her second consecutive marathon, outlasted third-seeded Maiar Sherif Ahmed Abdelaziz (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in 3 hours, 5 minutes in a match postponed one day by inclement weather.
   Volynets is 1-1 against the 23-year-old Chang, including a victory by retirement in the final round of qualifying for a $60,000 Challenger in Stockton, Calif., in 2018.
   ATP Challenger Tour —No. 4 seed Daniel Elahi Galan, a Colombian playing his third straight long match, topped No. 8 seed Mackenzie McDonald, who grew up in Piedmont in the Bay Area, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 7-5 in 2 hours, 23 minutes in the semifinals of a €88,520 ($107,527) Challenger on red clay in Heilbronn, Germany.
   Galan, 24, won in three hours in the second round and 2:23 in the quarterfinals. Both matches went to third-set tiebreakers.
   Meanwhile, Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) will seek his second Challenger doubles title in two weeks. The 27-year-old Swede and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands eliminated No. 1 seeds Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan and Andrei Vasilevski of Belarus 6-4, 6-4. 
   Goransson and Verbeek are set to play No. 3 seeds Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas and Jackson Withrow of Omaha, Neb., on Saturday. Goransson and Lammons won last week's €44,820 ($54,189) Challenger on red clay in Biella, Italy.
   WTA Tour — In the doubles quarterfinals of the Italian Open on red clay in Rome, No. 4 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan topped No. 6 seeds Hao-Ching Chan and Latisha Chan of Chinese Taipei 4-6, 7-5 [10-6].
   Aoyama and Shibahara, a 23-year-old native of Mountain View in the Bay Area, will meet either Sharon Fichman of Canada and Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the Bay Area who plays for Mexico, or 17-year-old sensation Coco Gauff of Delray Beach, Fla., and Veronika Kudermetova of Russia. The matchup of unseeded teams was postponed by rain.
   ATP Tour — In the doubles quarterfinals in Rome, No. 5 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at Cal from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain led No. 4 seeds Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 4-3 when the match was suspended because of rain. It's scheduled to resume on Saturday at 2 a.m.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Volynets, Olmos score big wins; McDonald gains semis

Katie Volynets, a 19-year-old wild card from the San Francisco Bay Area,
has reached her first two Challenger quarterfinals in the past two weeks.
2019 photo courtesy of JFS Communications
   For the second consecutive week, Katie "Serve And" Volynets will face No. 1 seed Madison "Avenue" Brengle in a Challenger quarterfinal.
   Meanwhile, "Rudy" Giuliana Olmos and Sharon "Stone" Fichman beat the top two doubles players in the world, Mackenzie "Ronald" McDonald reached a Challenger singles semifinal, and Rajeev "Los Angeles" Ram advanced to a Masters 1000 doubles quarterfinal.
   Volynets, a 19-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, dominated No. 6 seed Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-1, 6-3 today in the second round of a $100,000 Challenger on green clay in Bonita Springs, Fla.
   In the French Open last fall, Zarazua became the first Mexican woman in 20 years to win a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament.
   Volynets, who surrendered only five games in the first round, will seek her first Challenger semifinal when she faces Brengle, 31, of Dover, Del., on Friday at about 3 p.m. PDT. All tournament matches are being streamed live.
   Brengle, who won Northern California Challengers in 2018 and 2019 and reached the final of another in 2013, dispatched qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund of Sweden 6-3, 6-1 after also dropping only four games in the opening round.
   Brengle defeated Volynets, playing in her maiden Challenger quarterfinal, 7-5, 7-6 (3) in last week's $100,000 Challenger in Charleston, S.C., on green clay in their first career meeting.
   The second-round match between No. 3 seed Maiar "Who Shot The" Sherif Ahmed Abdelaziz (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt and Francesca Di Lorenzo, an American left-hander, was moved to Friday at 8 a.m. because of a storm.
   In the Australian Open in February, Sherif became the first Egyptian woman to win a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament.
   In today's doubles quarterfinals, unseeded Emina Bektas of the United States and Tara Moore of Great Britain saved four match points in their 6-4, 6-7 (5) [11-9] victory over wild cards Elizabeth Mandlik, the 19-year-old daughter of International Tennis Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova, and Volynets. Mandlik and Volynets led 7-1 and 9-5 in the match tiebreaker.
   WTA Tour — In the second round of doubles in the Italian Open on red clay in Rome, Fichman of Canada and Olmos — who was born in Austria, grew up in Fremont in the Bay Area and plays for Mexico — ousted No. 1 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei and Elise "Ethyl" Mertens of Belgium 1-6, 6-4 [10-4].
   Mertens and Hsieh are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Hsieh won last year's title with Barbora Strycova, who announced her retirement last week.
   Fichman and Olmos are slated to play 17-year-old sensation Coco Gauff of Delray Beach, Fla., and Veronika Kudermetova of Russia on Friday. Both teams are unseeded.   
   ATP Challenger Tour — The eighth-seeded McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the Bay Area, cruised past lucky loser Joao Menezes of Brazil 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of a €88,520 ($107,527) Challenger on red clay in Heilbronn, Germany. 
   McDonald, now based in Orlando, Fla., is scheduled to take on fourth-seeded Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia for the first time on Friday at about 3:30 a.m. The match will be streamed live.
   Galan, 24, subdued seventh-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber, a 37-year-old German and former top-20 player, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4) in 2 hours, 23 minutes after needing 3 hours to top alternate Alessandro Gianessi of Italy on Wednesday in the second round.
   In the doubles quarterfinals, unseeded Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and "Yosemite" Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands beat fourth-seeded Rafael Matos and Felipe Meligeni Rodriques Alves of Brazil 6-4, 7-6 (5).
   Third-seeded Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas and Jackson Withrow of Omaha, Neb., eliminated Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va., and McDonald 7-6 (4), 6-2.
   ATP Tour — In the second round of doubles in the Italian Open, Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at Cal, and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain outclassed "Baltimore" Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben "And Jerry's" McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan 6-3, 6-2.
   Ram and Salisbury are set to take on No. 4 seeds Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina in Friday's quarterfinals. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

McDonald reaches quarterfinals in Germany Challenger

No. 8 seed Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product, topped
alternate Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium in three sets today in the second
round of the Heilbronn Challenger. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman 
   No. 8 seed Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, defeated alternate Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 today in the second round of the €88,520 ($107,527) Challenger in Heilbronn, Germany, on red clay.
   McDonald, now based in Orlando, Fla., saved all three break points against him and broke Coppejans, the 2012 French Open boys singles champion, five of 10 times. 
   McDonald, ranked No. 120, is scheduled to play lucky loser Joao Menezes of Brazil for the first time in Thursday's quarterfinals. Menezes, ranked No. 196, ousted No. 2 seed Yannick Hanfmann of Germany 6-4, 6-3.
   In the first round of doubles, Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16), topped Daniel Masur of Germany and Denys Molchanov of Ukraine 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). Goransson won last week's €44,820 ($54,189) Challenger in Biella, Italy, with Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas.
   McDonald and Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va., eliminated wild cards Tuna Altuna and Altug Celikbilek of Turkey 6-4, 6-4.
   ITF Women's TourKatie Volynets, a 19-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the Bay Area, dispatched lucky loser Catherine Harrison, a former UCLA All-American from Germantown, Tenn., 6-3, 6-2 in the opening round of the $100,000 Challenger in Bonita Springs, Fla., on green clay. 
   No. 3 seed Maiar Sherif Ahmed Abdelaziz (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt outlasted qualifier Victoria Duval of Bradenton, Fla., 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. 
   No. 4 seed Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., suffered her fifth consecutive first-round loss, falling to qualifier Irina Fetecau of Romania 6-3, 7-5.
   Ahn has won only two matches in her last 11 tournaments, dating to the U.S. Open last September. The first two losses in the skid came against Serena Williams.
   ATP Tour — In the first round of doubles in the Italian Open in Rome, No. 5 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at Cal from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain edged Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen of Belgium 6-3, 2-6 [12-10] on red clay. Gille and Vliegen reached the final in Munich two weeks ago and the semifinals in Madrid last week. 
   Ram and Salisbury are set to meet Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan on Thursday. Klaasen and McLachlan topped Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina and Fabrice Martin of France 6-7 (7), 6-4 [10-6].
   WTA Tour — In the opening round of doubles in the Italian Open, No. 4 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan demolished wide cards Giulia Gatto-Monticone and Bianca Turati of Italy 6-1, 6-0 in 50 minutes. Shibahara was born in Mountain View in the Bay Area and starred at UCLA. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Keys stops Stephens in rematch of 2017 U.S. Open final

Madison Keys outlasted her close friend Sloane
Stephens in the first round of the Italian Open.
2017 photo by Mal Taam
   In a rematch of the 2017 U.S. Open final, Madison "Where The Hell Are My" Keys of Orlando, Fla,  outlasted lucky loser Sloane "Ranger" Stephens, a Fresno, Calif., product now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 today in the first round of the Italian Open on red clay in Rome. 
   Keys improved to 2-4 against her close friend. One month after winning the last Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017, a nervous Keys lost to Stephens 6-3, 6-0 in 61 minutes at Flushing Meadows. 
   In the opening round of doubles today, Sharon "Stone" Fichman of Canada and "Rudy" Giuliana Olmos — who was born in Austria, grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area and plays for Mexico — beat Bethanie "Welcome" Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Jessica "Count" Pegula of Boca Raton, Fla., 3-6, 6-2 [10-3].
   Fichman and Olmos are slated to face top-seeded Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei and Elise "Ethyl" Mertens of Belgium on Thursday.
   In men's singles, top-ranked Novak "No" Djokovic beat Taylor "On The" Fritz, the top American man at No. 31 in the world, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in a match interrupted by rain.
   Fritz won back-to-back Northern California Challengers in Sacramento and Fairfield six years ago at 17.
   ATP Challenger Tour — No. 8 seed Mackenzie "Ronald" McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the Bay Area now based in Orlando, defeated qualifier Aleksandar Vukic of Australia 6-3, 4-3, retired in the first round of the €88,520 ($107,527) Heilbronn (Germany) Challenger on red clay. 
   ITF Women's Tour — In the opening round of doubles in the $100,000 Finemark Women's Pro Tennis Championship on green clay in Bonita Springs, Fla., 19-year-old wild cards Elizabeth Mandlik, the American daughter of International Tennis Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova, and Katie "Serve And" Volynets, from Walnut Creek in the Bay Area, edged No. 4 seeds Beatrice Gumulya and Jessy Rompies of Indonesia 4-6, 6-4 [13-11].
   No. 3 seeds Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato of Japan crushed Americans Kristie "Game" Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, and Quinn "Jackie" Gleason 6-1, 6-0 in 57 minutes.

Monday, May 10, 2021

U.S. men hit new low in world rankings

Taylor Fritz, who won back-to-back Northern California Challengers six years ago
at 17, leads all U.S. men at No. 31 in the world. 2018 photo by Mal Taam 
   For the first time in the history of the computerized rankings, no American men are in the top 30.
   The top U.S. man, Taylor Fritz, slipped one notch to No. 31 today after losing in the first round in Madrid last week.
   Fritz, who won back-to-back Northern California Challengers in Sacramento and Fairfield six years ago at 17, is scheduled to play top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the second round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. Djokovic won his fifth Italian Open title last year.
   The computerized rankings began almost 50 years ago, in 1973.
   The good news for the United States is that it has 10 men in the top 100, tied for second with Italy behind Spain and France with 11 each. Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, is ranked No. 66.
   Five of the top-100 Americans are 23 or younger and therefore likely headed higher. The youngest, 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Sebastian Korda, is No. 67.
Sebastian Korda, right, and his father, former world No. 2
Petr, chat at the 2017 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger. Andy
Roddick calls Sebastian the United States' "best prospect
in a long, long time." Photo by Paul Bauman
   "I'll say it in no uncertain terms," Andy Roddick, the last U.S. man to win a Grand Slam singles title (2003 U.S. Open), proclaimed recently in Inside Tennis. "(Korda) is our best prospect in a long, long time. I'm very bullish on Seb Korda." 
   Korda's father, Czech-born Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open to climb to a career-high No. 2. Petr Korda tested positive for doping later that year and was suspended for 12 months. He retired at age 30 shortly before the ban took effect.
   In doubles, only one American man is ranked in the top 30: Rajeev Ram, a 37-year-old volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, at No. 12.
   Three U.S. women are ranked in the top 20 in singles: No. 5 Sofia Kenin, No. 8 Serena Williams and No. 13 Jennifer Brady.
   The United States leads all nations with a whopping 17 women in the top 100. Next are the Czech Republic (10) and Russia (nine).
   The youngest Americans in the top 100 are No. 35 Coco Gauff (17), No. 39 Amanda Anisimova (19) and No. 76 Ann Li (20). 
   Four American women are ranked in the top 30 in doubles: No. 10 Nicole Melichar (who was born in the Czech Republic), No. 16 Bethanie Mattek-Sands, No. 19 Desirae Krawczyk and No. 27 Hayley Carter.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Stanford men lose to No. 5 Virginia in NCAAs

   The host Virginia men, ranked No. 5, defeated No. 21 Stanford 4-2 today in Charlottesville, Va., in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
   The Cardinal (11-6) earned the doubles point, but the Cavaliers (23-2) won on Court 5, 4 and 6 to lead 3-1. No. 78 Arthur Fery "Cross The Mersey," a Stanford freshman from Great Britain, triumphed on Court 2 to make it 3-2, but Virginia's Chris Rodesch clinched the victory with a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) decision over freshman Tristan Boyer on Court 3.
   WTA Tour — No. 16 seed "See Ya" Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia beat No. 1 seed Sloane "Ranger" Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., 6-4, 7-5 in the final round of qualifying for the Italian Open in Rome. 
   Stephens, the 2018 French Open runner-up, has not advanced past the round of 16 in the Italian Open in eight appearances.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Former Cal star captures Challenger doubles crown

Andre Goransson claimed his seventh career Challenger
doubles title. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 1 seeds Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas defeated No. 2 seeds Rafael Matos and Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves of Brazil 7-6 (3), 6-3 today to win the €44,820 ($54,189) Biella (Italy) Challenger on red clay.
   Goransson earned his second Challenger doubles title of the year, seventh of his career and first with Lammons. They eked out a 6-4, 3-6 [10-8] victory over N.Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan of India in the quarterfinals and ended the 10-match winning streak of No. 4 seeds Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul of France in the semifinals. 
   Goransson will rise two notches to No. 84 in the world in doubles, four off his career high, on Monday. He and Lammons split €2,670 ($3,248). 
   NCAA Tournament — The host Pepperdine women, ranked fifth, beat No. 27 Stanford, which has won the last two NCAA titles and three of the last four, 4-2 in the second round in Malibu, Calif.
   With the score tied 2-2, No. 111 Angelica Blake and No. 34 Michaela Gordon, a senior from Saratoga, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay Area, lost three-setters. Gordon fell to Ashley Lahey, the NCAA singles runner-up in 2018, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
   The Cardinal ended the season at 15-5. The NCAA singles and doubles championships begin May 23 in Orlando, Fla. Gordon and California's Haley Giavara earned berths in singles and doubles. Gordon will team with junior Niluka Madurawe of Sunnyvale in the Bay Area, and Giavara will pair with Valentina Ivanov.
   The No. 13 Cal women eliminated No. 26 Kentucky 4-2 in Berkeley, Calif., in the second round. Jada Bui clinched the victory with a 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory over Elizabeth Stevens on Court 4.
   The Bears (19-6) will face No. 1 North Carolina (28-0) on May 16 in the round of 16 in Orlando, Fla. 
   The No. 21 Stanford men blanked No. 40 LSU 4-0 in the first round in Charlottesville, Va. The Cardinal (11-5) will meet host Virginia (22-2), ranked fifth, in Charlottesville on Sunday at 9 a.m.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Top seed vanquishes Volynets, 19, in $100K Charleston

Madison Brengle has reached three singles finals in Northern 
California, winning two. 2019 photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 1 seed Madison "Avenue" Brengle of Dover, Del., defeated Katie "Serve And" Volynets, a 19-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, 7-5, 7-6 (3) today in the quarterfinals of the $100,000 LTP 100 on green clay in Charleston, S.C.
   Volynets, who played in her first Challenger quarterfinal, will rise 17 places in the world rankings on Monday to crack the top 300 for the first time at No. 299.
   The 31-year-old Brengle, who won Northern California Challengers in 2018 and 2019 and reached the final of another in 2013, will improve at least four spots to No. 82. 
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the doubles semifinals of the €44,820 ($54,189) Biella (Italy) Challenger on red clay, top-seeded Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas beat fourth-seeded Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul of France 7-6 (8), 6-3.
   Doumbia and Reboul had won 10 consecutive matches, including Rome Challenger titles in the last two weeks.
   Goransson and Lammons are scheduled to play second-seeded Rafael Matos and Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves of Brazil on Saturday. Goransson seeks his second Challenger doubles title of the year and seventh of his career.
   NCAA Tournament — The No. 27 Stanford women, who have won the last two NCAA titles and three of the last four, blanked No. 48 UC Santa Barbara 4-0 in Malibu, Calif., in the first round.
   The Cardinal (15-4) will face host Pepperdine (21-3), ranked No. 5, on Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT for the right to advance to the round of 16 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.
   The No. 13 California women whipped San Jose State 4-0 at the Hellman Tennis Complex in Berkeley in the opening round. The Bears (18-6) will host No. 26 Kentucky (16-8) on Saturday at 1 p.m. 
   The No. 21 Stanford men (10-5) open against No. 40 LSU (12-12) on Saturday at 7 a.m. in Charlottesville, Va. The Cal men, who played only three matches in the spring season, did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Volynets, 19, hits milestones with one-sided victory

Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area reached
her first Challenger quarterfinal and will crack the top 300 in the world
for the first time. 2019 photo courtesy of JFS Communications
   Katie "Serve And" Volynets emphatically achieved two milestones in her budding career today.
   The 19-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area reached her first Challenger quarterfinal and will crack the top 300 in the world for the first time.
   Volynets routed Storm "Warning" Sanders of Australia 6-2, 6-0 in 68 minutes in the $100,000 LTP 100 on green clay in Charleston, S.C. 
   Volynets, who will jump at least 17 places to No. 299 on Monday, is set to face top-seeded Madison "Avenue" Brengle, 31, of Dover, Del., for the first time Friday at 7 a.m. PDT. The match will be streamed live.
   Brengle, who won Northern California Challengers in 2018 and 2019, defeated Veronica "Orlando" Cepede Royg of Paraguay 7-5, 6-2.
   Meanwhile, Claire "Lucy" Liu, 20, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., in the Los Angeles area extended her winning streak to seven matches with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over third seed and defending champion Maiar "Who Shot The" Sherif Ahmed Abdelaziz (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt. Liu won her first Challenger singles title last week on clay in Charlottesville, Va. 
   In the doubles quarterfinals, 19-year-old wild cards Hailey "John The" Baptiste and Whitney "Houston" Osuigwe of the United States eliminated unseeded Irina Maria "Candy" Bara of Romania and Sherif 6-4, 6-4.  
   ATP Tour — No. 6 seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France topped alternates "Baltimore" Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben "And Jerry's" McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open on red clay.
   ATP Challenger Tour —Top-seeded Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas edged N.Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan of India 6-4, 3-6 [10-8] in the quarterfinals of the €44,820 ($54,189) Biella (Italy) Challenger on red clay.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Volynets avenges last week's loss to fellow 19-year-old

Katie Volynets, a wild card from the San Francisco
Bay Area, surprised eighth-seeded Wang Xinyu in
Charleston, S.C. 2019 photo by Paul Bauman
   One week after winning four games against fellow 19-year-old "Vera" Wang Xinyu, Katie "Serve And" Volynets upset the Chinese player.
   Volynets, a wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, beat the eighth-seeded Wang 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 today in the first round of the $100,000 LTP 100 on green clay in Charleston, S.C.
   Volynets is scheduled to play Storm "Warning" Sanders, a 26-year-old left-hander from Australia, for the first time on Thursday.
   Sanders, who won the doubles title in the 2014 Sacramento, Calif., Challenger with compatriot Daria Gavrilova, routed Romania's Gabriela Talaba, the Redding, Calif., champion in 2019, 6-0, 6-1 in 65 minutes on Tuesday. 
   Also today, No. 3 seed and defending champion Maiar "Who Shot The" Sherif Ahmed Abdelaziz (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt beat Urszula Radwanska, a 30-year-old Polish qualifier who reached a career-high No. 29 in the world in 2012, 6-4, 6-3.
   Sherif, who became the first Egyptian woman to win a Grand Slam main-draw singles match in the Australian Open in February, saved 12 of 14 break points against her.
   Radwanska's older sister, Agnieszka, reached the 2012 Wimbledon final to ascend to a career-high No. 2 in 2012, advanced to the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2013 and retired at 29 in 2018.
   Sherif, 24, is scheduled to face Claire "Lucy" Liu, 20, of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles area, for the first time on Thursday.
   Liu, who won her first Challenger title last week in Charlottesville, Va., beat Alycia "Keys" Parks, a 20-year-old wild card from Port St. Lucie, Fla., 6-4, 6-4. Parks reached the final of a $25,000 tournament in Redding, Calif., in 2019.
   In the first round of doubles, Irina Maria "Candy" Bara of Romania and Sherif ousted No. 3 seeds and Charlottesville champions Anna "Kendrick" Danilina of Kazakhstan and Arina "Song On The" Rodionova of Australia 6-4, 4-6 [11-9].
   Also, top-seeded Caty McNally of Cincinnati and Sanders topped Americans Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, and Emina Bektas 6-7 (1), 6-1 [10-6].
   ATP Tour — In the first round of doubles in the Mutua Madrid Open on red clay, Alexander "Notary" Bublik of Kazakhstan and Cristian Garin of Chile surprised No. 5 seeds Rajeev "Los Angeles" Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain 7-6 (5), 7-5.
   Alternates "Baltimore" Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben "And Jerry's" McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14), a New Zealand product who plays for his mother's native Japan, dismissed Taylor "On The" Fritz of Rancho Palos Verdes in the Los Angeles region and Oliver "Cromwell" Marach of Austria 6-2, 6-3.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Leonardo "Oscar" Mayer, a 33-year-old Argentine who has been ranked as high as No. 21, defeated No. 3 seed Mackenzie "Ronald" McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the Bay Area, 6-7 (0), 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the €44,820 ($54,189) Biella (Italy) Challenger on red clay.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

McDonald tops teen phenom in Italy Challenger

Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay
Area product, beat Juan Manuel Cerundolo,
a 19-year-old left-hander from Argentina, in
the first round of the Biella (Italy) Challenger.
2016 photo by Paul Bauman 
   No. 3 seed Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, defeated Juan Manuel Cerundolo, a 19-year-old left-hander from Argentina, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 today on red clay in the first round of the €44,820 ($54,189) Biella (Italy) Challenger. 
   Cerundolo won last week's Rome Challenger, beating 18-year-old Flavio Cobolli of Italy in only the sixth Challenger final between teenagers since 2007, and the ATP 250 tournament in Cordoba, Argentina, as a qualifier in February. 
   Also today, Joao Menezes of Brazil ousted top-seeded Pedro Sousa of Portugal 7-6 (3), 6-4. In the first round of doubles, No. 1 seeds Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas demolished Tatsuma "Judge" Ito and "Do Not Pass" Go Soeda of Japan 6-1, 6-0. Soeda won the 2009 Tiburon Challenger in the Bay Area.
   McDonald, now based in Orlando, Fla., reached a career-high No. 57 in April 2019 and underwent right hamstring surgery two months later. Now ranked No. 121, he is scheduled to play another Argentine, 33-year-old Leonardo "Oscar" Mayer, for the first time on Wednesday.
   Mayer, ranked No. 160 after climbing as high as No. 21 in 2015, eliminated wild card Luca "Doncic" Vanni of Italy 7-6 (7), 6-0. 
   Mayer played the longest singles match in Davis Cup history, outlasting Joao Souza of Brazil 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 5-7, 15-13 on his 11th match point in 6 hours, 43 minutes as Argentina triumphed 3-2 in the first round in 2015. Mayer helped Argentina win its only Davis Cup title the following year after four runner-up finishes.
   ITF Women's TourKristie Ahn's struggles continued with a 6-4, 6-3 loss to "Mary" Magdalena Frech of Poland in the first round of the $100,000 LTP 100 on green clay in Charleston, S.C. 
   Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, has won only two matches in her last 10 tournaments, dating to the U.S. Open last September. The first two losses in the skid came against Serena Williams.
   In an all-American opening-round doubles match, Quinn "Jackie" Gleason and Jamie "Leopold And" Loeb surprised No. 2 seeds "Sweet" Caroline Dolehide and Maria Sanchez, a 31-year-old product of Modesto, Calif., 6-2, 6-3.
   In the first round of doubles in a $25,000 tournament on green clay in Naples, Fla., No. 2 seeds Sofia "Vergara" Shapatava of Georgia and Panna "Cotta" Udvardy of Hungary surprised Allura and Maribella Zamarripa, 18-year-old identical twins from St. Helena, Calif., in the Napa Valley, 6-1, 6-4.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Bay Area product Olmos loses in Madrid doubles

Giuliana Olmos, above, and Sharon Fichman fell to No. 7 seeds Xu
Yifan and Zhang Shuai in straight sets in the first round in Madrid.
2019 photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 7 seeds Xu Yifan and Zhang Shuai of China defeated Sharon Fichman of Canada and Giuliana Olmos — who was born in Austria, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and represents Mexico — 6-4, 6-3 today in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open, a WTA 1000 tournament on red clay.
   Xu reached the final at Wimbledon in 2019 with Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and the U.S. Open last year with Nicole Melichar of Stuart, Fla. Also, Xu won the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford with compatriot Zheng Saisai, the San Jose singles champion in 2019.
   Zhang captured the 2019 Australian Open with Samantha Stosur of Australia. Fichman and Olmos advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals in February.
   ITF Women's Tour — Tara Moore of Great Britain beat No. 15 seed Maria Sanchez, a 31-year-old product of Modesto, Calif., 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of qualifying for the $100,000 LTP 100 on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   In the opening round of qualifying for a $25,000 clay-court tournament in Naples, Fla., No. 6 seed Anna Siskova of the Czech Republic dispatched Maribella Zamarripa, 18, of Saint Helena, Calif., in the Napa area, 6-2, 6-2.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Spaniard nips NorCal nonpareil Norrie in Estoril final

Albert Ramos-Vinolas serves during the 2016
U.S. Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Seventh-seeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain edged unseeded Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) today in a battle of left-handers to win the Millennium Estoril Open, an ATP 250 tournament on red clay in Estoril, Portugal.
   Ramos-Vinolas, 33, trailed by a break in the second set against the 25-year-old Norrie, who won back-to-back Northern California Challengers in Tiburon and Stockton in 2017 before prevailing in 2 hours, 44 minutes for his third ATP singles title.
   Ramos-Vinolas improved to 16-5 on clay this year and 3-0 against Norrie. Ramos-Vinolas owns seven more clay-court victories than any other player on the ATP Tour this season, according to atptour.com.
   Norrie — who was born in South Africa, grew up in New Zealand, played at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, and has represented Great Britain since 2013 — fell to 0-2 in ATP singles finals. He lost to American Tennys Sandgren, whom he had beaten in the Tiburon final, 6-4, 6-2 in the 2019 Auckland title match.
   Norrie, who won the Estoril doubles crown in 2018 with countryman Kyle Edmund, defeated second seed Cristin Garin of Chile in the quarterfinals and sixth seed Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, of Croatia in the semifinals.
   "I had some good wins," Norrie, who has been called a lefty Andy Murray, said on atptour.com. "It is obviously disappointing to come unstuck today, but I am playing well on the clay and moving better and better. ... It was a great week, and I can take a lot of positives, but (there) is a lot of stuff to work on as well."
   Ramos-Vinolas, who reached a career-high No. 17 in the world in 2017, will jump nine places to No. 37 on Monday. Norrie will rise two notches to No. 48, seven spots off his career high in 2019.
   WTA Tour — Ons Jabeur of Tunisia defeated Sloane Stephens, a 28-year-old Fresno, Calif., product, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 on Saturday in a second-round clash of unseeded players in the Mutua Madrid Open on red clay.
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