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.

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