Saturday, July 31, 2021

Djokovic, Rybakina lose bronze-medal matches

Novak Djokovic came to the Tokyo Olympics hoping to continue his bid
for a Golden Slam but left empty-handed. 2017 photo by Paul Bauman
   The Olympics didn't work out so well for Novak Djokovic.
   The top-ranked Djokovic, who came to Tokyo hoping to continue his bid for a Golden Slam, lost his cool and the bronze-medal match to Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 today.
   Djokovic abused his racket several times, throwing it five rows of seats into the stands at one stage, in the brutal heat and humidity, The Associated Press reported. Citing a left-shoulder injury, he withdrew from the bronze medal match in mixed doubles with Nina Stojanovic.
   Djokovic still can earn the first men's calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969 (Rod Laver) by winning the U.S. Open, Aug. 30-Sept. 12 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   In the women's bronze-medal match, No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina beat No. 15 seed Elena Rybakina, a Moscow native who represents Kazakhstan, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 to win Ukraine's first Olympic tennis medal.
   Svitolina, a semifinalist in the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, trailed 1-4 in the third set. Rybakina is seeded second in next week's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State University.
   No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland won the gold medal in women's singles, defeating unseeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 2-6, 6-3. Bencic trailed by an early service break in the deciding set. 
   WTA Tour — The homecourt advantage did not help Kristie Ahn, Carol Zhao or Katie Volynets. All lost their first-round qualifying matches in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State University.
   Han Na-Lae, a 29-year-old left-hander from South Korea, beat the second-seeded Ahn, a 29-year-old graduate of nearby Stanford, 6-3, 2-6, 6-0. Ahn reached the 2019 quarterfinals as a qualifier. The tournament was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
   No. 6 seed Lesley Pattinama-Kerkhove of the Netherlands dominated Zhao (Stanford, 2014-16) of Canada 6-2, 6-2.
   And Emina Bektas of Indianapolis defeated Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
   Here are the singles qualifying and main draws and Sunday's schedule.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Zverev ends Djokovic's bid for Golden Slam

Alexander Zverev of Germany ended Novak Djokovic's winning streak
at 22 matches. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany surprised top-ranked Novak Djokovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 today in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics, ending the Serb's bid for the first men's Golden Slam.
   Zverev battled back from a service break down in the second set to end Djokovic's winning streak at 22 matches and improve to 3-6 in the head-to-head series.
   Djokovic, who fell to 38-4 this year, was trying to win all four Grand Slam tournaments and an Olympic gold medal in a calendar year. Steffi Graf accomplished the feat in 1988. The Olympics dropped tennis from 1924 until 1988.
   Djokovic still would earn the first men's calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969 (Rod Laver) by winning the U.S. Open, Aug. 30-Sept. 12 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Zverev is scheduled to face No. 12 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia on Sunday for the gold medal in a matchup of 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) players. Khachanov beat No. 6 seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-3.
   Zverev, 24, and Khachanov, 25, have split four career matches, but Khachanov has won the last two. Djokovic and Carreno Busta are set to meet for the bronze medal on Saturday. 
   In women's singles on Saturday, No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland is slated to play unseeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic for the gold medal, and No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine is set to meet No. 15 seed Elena Rybakina, a Moscow native who represents Kazakhstan, for the bronze medal.
   The left-handed Vondrousova, the runner-up in the 2019 French Open at 19, outlasted Bencic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round in Miami last March in their only previous meeting.
   Svitolina reached the semifinals of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Rybakina is entered in next week's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif.
   WTA Tour — Former Stanford stars Carol Zhao of Canada and Kristie Ahn of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., are scheduled to play back-to-back on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. PDT in the first round of qualifying for the Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State University. Then Katie Volynets, 19, of nearby Walnut Creek, Calif., is set to play.
   The main draw will begin Monday as the tournament celebrates 50 years of women's tour tennis in the San Francisco Bay Area. In featured 7 p.m. matches, 18-year-old British sensation Emma Raducanu will meet Zhang Shuai of China on Monday, Fresno, Calif., product Sloane Stephens will face compatriot Alison Riske on Tuesday, and No. 3 seed Madison Keys will play Raducanu or Zhang on Wednesday. Keys won the last Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017.
   Elise Mertens of Belgium and Rybakina are seeded first and second, respectively, in San Jose. 
   ATP Challenger Tour — Eighth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia outlasted top-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in 2 hours, 56 minutes in the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Lexington (Ky.) Challenger. 
   Kokkinakis, 25, pounded 15 aces and converted four of 19 break-point opportunities. Brooksby capitalized on four of eight break-point chances.
   Injuries have derailed Kokkinakis' promising career. In 2018, he stunned Roger Federer in the second round in Miami and won the Aptos (Calif.) Challenger. Kokkinakis also reached the final of the 2019 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, losing to American Tommy Paul.
   Brooksby was coming off an appearance in the final of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, R.I., two weeks ago. It was his first tournament ever on grass and first in the main draw on the ATP Tour.
   In the Lexington doubles semifinals, wild cards Alex Rybakov of Fort Worth, Texas, and Reese Stalder of Costa Mesa in the Los Angeles region beat third-seeded Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3). Harrison and Novikov won the doubles crown in last week's $52,080 Cary, N.C., Challenger.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Rybakina, entered in San Jose, falls in Olympic semis

   No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland defeated No. 15 seed Elena Rybakina, a Russia native who represents Kazakhstan, 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-3 today in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics.
   Ryabakina, who's entered in next week's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State University, led 2-0 in the third set and blew a forehand putaway that would have given her a 4-1 advantage. 
   Bencic, 24, is scheduled to play unseeded Marketa Vondrousova, a 22-year-old left-hander from the Czech Republic, for the gold medal. Vondrousova, the runner-up in the 2019 French Open at 19, routed No. 4 seed Elena Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3, 6-1 in 64 minutes.
   Svitolina reached the semifinals of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. The tournament moved to San Jose, Calif., in 2018 under new sponsorship.
   Rybankina and Svitolina are set to meet for the bronze medal.
   In the men's semifinals, top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia will face No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany, and No. 6 seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain will play No. 12 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia. Carreno Busta upset No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia 6-2, 7-6 (5).
   Djokovic aims to become the first man to win all four majors and a gold medal in a calendar year. Steffi Graf accomplished the feat in 1988. The Olympics dropped tennis from 1924 until 1988.
   In the mixed doubles quarterfinals, No. 4 seeds Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev of Russia edged Ena Shibahara, a San Francisco Bay Area native, and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) 7-5, 6-7 (0) [10-8].
   Pavlyuchenkova played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at 15 in 2006. The Capitals announced in 2014 that they were moving to Las Vegas after 28 years but folded four weeks later.
   Rublev lost to former world No. 2 Tommy Haas in the first round of the 2015 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger at 17. 
   ATP Tour — In the doubles quarterfinals of the $52,080 Lexington (Ky.) Challenger, No. 3 seeds Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose beat unseeded Roberto Cid Subervi of the Dominican Republic and Wu Tung-Lin of Chinese Taipei 7-5, 6-3.
   Harrison and Novikov won the doubles title in last week's $52,080 Cary (N.C.) Challenger.
   WTA Tour — In the opening round of doubles in the $115,000 LTP Women's Open on clay in Charleston, S.C., Liang En-Shuo of Chinese Taipei and Rebecca Marino of Canada edged No. 4 seeds Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., and Maria Sanchez, a 31-year-old product of Modesto, Calif., 4-6, 7-5 [10-8].

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Rybakina, entered in San Jose, reaches Olympic semis

   No. 15 seed Elena Rybakina, a Russia native who represents Kazakhstan, defeated No. 7 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain 7-5, 6-1 today in Tokyo's brutal heat and humidity to reach the Olympic semifinals.
   Rybakina, who's entered in next week's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State University, is scheduled to face No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.
   Bencic defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-0, 3-6, 6-3. Pavlyuchenkova played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at 15 in 2006 and reached the French Open final last month.
   In the other Olympic semifinal, No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine is set to meet unseeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.
   Svitolina, who advanced to the semifinals of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford and stunned Serena Williams en route to the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, beat Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-4, 6-4.
   Vondrousova eliminated unseeded Paula Badosa of Spain 6-3, 0-0, retired after ousting No. 2 seed Naomi Osaka of Japan on Tuesday. Badosa, who also is entered in San Jose, left the court in a wheelchair because of heatstroke. 
   Rybakina and Badosa reached their first Grand Slam quarterfinal in the recent French Open.
   In the Olympic men's draw, No. 14 seed Ugo Humbert of France surprised No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals. Tsitsipas, 22, advanced to his first major final in the French Open, falling to top-ranked Novak Djokovic after winning the first two sets.
   Djokovic, trying to become the first man to earn a singles Golden Slam (all four major titles and an Olympic gold medal in a calendar year), dominated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 6-3, 6-1. 
   Meanwhile, top-seeded Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia outplayed Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) and Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
   In the first round of mixed doubles:
   —Laura Siegemund and Kevin Krawietz of Germany edged No. 3 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at Cal, 6-4, 5-7 [10-8]. Ram and Venus Williams won the silver medal in mixed doubles in the 2016 Games.
   —Ena Shibahara, a San Francisco Bay Area native who plays for Japan, and McLachlan beat Yaroslava Shvedova and Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan 6-3, 7-6 (3).
   ATP Tour — In the opening round of doubles in Atlanta, Alexei Popyrin and Matt Reid of Australia defeated Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark 7-6 (4), 2-6 [11-9] in a matchup of unseeded teams.
   At Wimbledon in 2012, Nielsen and Great Britain's Jonathan Marray became the only wild cards in the tournament's 144-year history to capture the men's doubles title. Goran Ivanisevic (2001) is the only man to accomplish the feat in singles.
   Reid has won four Challenger doubles titles in Northern California, three with countryman John-Patrick Smith and one with compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Top-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento region defeated Ulises Blanch of Orlando, Fla., 6-7 (6), 6-5, retired to reach the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Lexington (Ky.) Challenger.
   Brooksby is coming off an appearance in the final of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, R.I., two weeks ago in his first tournament ever on grass and first in the main draw on the ATP Tour.
   In the opening round of Lexington doubles, No. 3 seeds Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose beat N Vijay Sundar Prashanth and Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 4-6, 6-3 [10-5]. Harrison and Novikov won the doubles crown in last week's $52,080 Cary (N.C.) Challenger.
   USTA Pro Circuit — Strong Kirchheimer of Cary outlasted qualifier William Griffith, a former Cal standout from Fresno, Calif., 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the first round of the $25,000 Neitzel Family Open in Champaign, Ill.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Vondrousova ousts Osaka in Olympics

Japanese star Naomi Osaka faced enormous pressure
in the Tokyo Olympics. "I don't really know how to cope
with that pressure," she said. 2018 photo by Mal Taam
   The pressure proved to be too much for Naomi Osaka.
   Playing in her home country, the second-ranked Osaka lost to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4 today in the third round of the Tokyo Olympics. 
   Osaka made her WTA main-draw debut at 16 at Stanford in 2014. The left-handed Vondrousova reached the final of the 2019 French Open at age 19, losing to Ashleigh Barty.
   Osaka was playing in her first tournament since withdrawing from the French Open early last month amid controversy over her decision to skip mandatory news conferences.
   "I've taken long breaks before, and I've managed to do well," Osaka told reporters. "I'm not saying that I did bad right now, but I do know that my expectations were a lot higher.
   "I feel like my attitude wasn't that great because I don't really know how to cope with that pressure, so that's the best that I could have done in this situation."
   Entering the Olympic quarterfinals, the highest remaining seed in women's singles is No. 4 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
   Two players entered in next week's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., both of whom reached the French Open quarterfinals this year, advanced to the last eight in Tokyo,
   No. 15 seed Elena Rybakina, a Russia native who represents Kazakhstan, defeated Donna Vekic of Croatia 7-6 (3), 6-4. Vekic ousted No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka, a Wimbledon semifinalist three weeks ago, on Monday. Sabalenka beat Vekic in the San Jose semifinals in 2019 before losing to Zheng Saisai.
   Unseeded Paula Badosa, a New York native who plays for Spain, dismissed Nadia Podoroska of Argentina 6-2, 6-3. Last October, Podoroska became the first female qualifier to reach the French Open semifinals.
   In the second round of Olympic men's doubles, Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig of Croatia beat Americans Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Frances Tiafoe, who won the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger at 18, 6-3, 7-5. Ram and Venus Williams claimed the silver medal in mixed doubles in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.   
   ATP Tour — San Francisco Bay Area natives Sam Querrey, 33, and Mackenzie McDonald, 26, lost in the first round of the Truist Atlanta Open.
   Qualifier Peter Gojowczyk of Germany edged Querrey 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) in a brisk 1 hour, 57 minutes in the completion of a rain-suspended match. Querrey blasted 36 aces, won 88 percent of the points on his first serve (53 of 60) and never lost his serve.
   Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland topped McDonald 7-6 (3), 7-5.    
   ATP Challenger Tour — No. 1 seed Jenson Brooksby, 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, dispatched Liam Draxl, a 19-year-old wild card from Canada, 6-3, 6-3 in the opening round of the $52,080 Lexington (Ky.) Challenger.
   Brooksby reached the final of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, R.I., two weeks ago in his first tournament ever on grass and first in the main draw on the ATP Tour.
   WTA Tour — No. 4 seed Varvara Lepchenko, a U.S. citizen from Uzbekistan, beat Carol Zhao (Stanford, 2014-16) of Canada 6-1, 7-5 in the first round of the LTP Women's Open on clay in Charleston, S.C. 
   USTA Pro Circuit — No. 13 seed William Griffith, a former Cal standout from Fresno, Calif., defeated Kento Takeuchi of Japan 6-4, 6-3 in the final round of qualifying for the $25,000 Neitzel Family Open in Champaign, Ill.
   No. 15 qualifying seed Eliot Spizzirri, a rising sophomore at the University of Texas from Greenwich, Conn., eliminated Connor Farren, a Bay Area native who played at USC, 6-3, 6-2.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Badosa, entered in San Jose, upsets Swiatek in Olympics

   Spain's Paula Badosa, who's entered in next week's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., ousted No. 6 seed Iga Swiatek, last year's French Open champion at 19, 6-3, 7-6 (4) today in the second round of the Olympics in Tokyo. 
   Badosa, a 23-year-old New York native, reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in the French Open in June. 
   Also losing today were No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and No. 10 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.
   Donna Vekic of Croatia defeated Sabalenka, a semifinalist at Wimbledon this month, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in 2 hours, 35 minutes. Vekic trailed 2-4 in the third set. Sabalenka beat Vekic in the San Jose semifinals in 2019 before losing to Zheng Saisai.
   Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck, the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger champion, topped Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon titlist, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0. Van Uytvanck, who had knee surgery in February, won the last 10 games.
   Meanwhile, Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) and Kei Nishikori of Japan reached the doubles quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 seeds Jamie Murray, Andy's older brother, and Neal Skupski of Great Britain. 
   Murray won the first of his 25 tour-level doubles titles in San Jose in 2007. Skupski played for the Sacramento-based California Dream of World TeamTennis in 2015, the squad's only year of existence.
   McLachlan, a New Zealand product who represents his mother's native country, and Nishikori are set to face top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia. Mektic and Pavic have won eight titles this year, including Wimbledon.
   ATP Tour — Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native now living in Las Vegas, leads Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-4 in a first-round match suspended by rain in Atlanta. 
   Querrey is playing in the tournament for the first time since reaching the second round in 2014.
   USTA Pro Circuit — No. 7 seed Connor Farren and No. 13 seed William Griffith, Northern California natives and former Pacific-12 Conference standouts, easily advanced to the second (final) round of qualifying in the $25,000 Neitzel Family Open in Champaign, Ill. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Opinion: Hall of Fame commits double fault

   Since I'm apparently one of the few Americans who haven't guest-hosted "Jeopardy?," here goes:
   Me: "Start us off, Norman Knowitall."
   Norman: "I'll take Bogus International Tennis Hall of Famers for $1,000."
   Me: "These players have no business being inducted."
   Norman: "Who are Goran Ivanisevic and Conchita Martinez?"
   Me: "Correct!"
   Each of the newly enshrined — ahem — Hall of Famers won a grand total of one Grand Slam singles title and no major doubles crowns. "Immortals" Michael Chang, Yannick Noah and Manuel Orantes also won only one Slam in singles.
   This sad state of affairs is hardly surprising. Standards have fallen, if not disappeared, almost everywhere in society — in the United States, at least. It makes people happy. Meanwhile, institutions crumble.
   What's next? Inducting just a Grand Slam finalist? Semifinalist? 
   Can we agree that the definition of a Hall of Famer is "one of the greatest players ever"? Are you telling me that Ivanisevic, Martinez, Chang, Noah and Orantes belong in the same group as Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert? Yeah, right.
   News flash: Tennis greatness is measured in Grand Slam titles. Period. Everything else — Davis Cup/Fed Cup championships, Olympic medals, ATP/WTA titles, appearances in Grand Slam finals, weeks at No. 1 (zero for the Fab Five, by the way), first this or first that — is a bonus. Collecting a bunch of those but capturing just one Grand Slam title begs the question, if you're such a great player, why didn't you win more Slams?
   It's pretty simple, folks. One Grand Slam singles title makes you a one-hit wonder. Two major singles crowns make you one of the best players of your era. Three make you one of the best ever.
   Double those numbers for doubles, because each player is responsible for half of the team's success and the top singles players don't play.
   Combinations of major singles and doubles titles are allowed. Thus, one Grand Slam singles title and four major doubles crowns make you a Hall of Famer under this formula.
   Mixed doubles doesn't count because few play it. 
   A sport's history is sacred. Enshrining singles specialists with one Grand Slam title defaces tennis history.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Former Pacific star falls in Los Cabos doubles final

Sem Verbeek returns serve in doubles in the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger.
Verbeek starred at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico and John Isner of the United States beat Hunter Reese of Knoxville, Tenn., and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands 5-7, 6-2 [10-4] tonight in the Mifel Open, an ATP 250 hardcourt tournament in Los Cabos, Mexico.
   Both teams were unseeded. Reese, 28, and Verbeek, 27, played in their first ATP final, together or separately.
   The 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) Isner, 36, made his pro debut in a $15,000 Futures tournament in the Sacramento, Calif., suburb of Shingle Springs in 2007 and won the singles title. Hach Verdugo took the doubles crown in the 2018 Tiburon Challenger in the San Francisco Bay Area with Luke Saville of Australia. 
   In the Los Cabos singles final, top-seeded Cameron Norrie of Great Britain dominated unseeded Brandon Nakashima, 19, of San Diego 6-2, 6-2 for his first ATP title.
   Norrie, who won back-to-back Northern California Challengers in Tiburon and Stockton in 2017, will rise only one notch to a career-high No. 29. 
   Olympics — In the first round of doubles, Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland stunned No. 2 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan 6-4, 6-7 (5) [10-5] on a hardcourt in Tokyo. Shibahara, 23, was born in Mountain View in the Bay Area, starred at UCLA and lives in Rancho Palos Verdes in the Los Angeles area.
   Paula Badosa and Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain eliminated Giuliana Olmos and Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-2, 6-7 (4) [10-7]. Olmos, 28, was born in Austria, grew up in Fremont in the Bay Area and played at USC.
   Sorribes Tormo earlier ousted top-ranked Ashleigh Barty, coming off her Wimbledon title, 6-4, 6-3 in the opening round of singles. Badosa, 23, reached the singles quarterfinals of the French Open and the fourth round at Wimbledon this year. 
   ATP Challenger Tour — Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., won his third Cary (N.C.) Challenger title and second straight in doubles.
   Top-seeded Novikov and Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., outclassed unseeded Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus and Michail Pervolarakis of Greece 6-3, 6-3 on a hardcourt in the $52,080 Atlantic Tire Championships.
   Novikov won his ninth Challenger doubles championship, first of the year and first with Harrison. Novikov won the Cary doubles title last November with Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia and took the singles title in 2015.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Ex-Pacific star Verbeek reaches first ATP doubles final

Sem Verbeek, playing with Jose Chamba Gomez, serves
during the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger. Verbeek
starred at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Hunter Reese of Knoxville, Tenn., and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands reached their first ATP Tour doubles final tonight, defeating San Francisco Bay Area natives Mackenzie McDonald and Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-6 (3) on a hardcourt in Los Cabos, Mexico.
   Entering the week, Reese and Verbeek, a 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) left-hander, owned a combined four tour-level match wins, according to atptour.com. Unseeded, they edged top seeds Luke Bambridge and Ken Skupski of Great Britain in the first round on Tuesday.
   Querrey won the last of his 11 ATP singles titles in Los Cabos in 2017.
   Reese, 28, and Verbeek, 27, will face unseeded Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico and John Isner of Dallas on Saturday.
   Olympics — Rebecca Peterson of Sweden eliminated Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt 7-5, 7-6 (1) in the first round on hardcourts in Tokyo.
   In the opening round of men's doubles, Americans Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Frances Tiafoe edged No. 6 seeds Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5) [12-10]. In 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Ram won the silver medal in mixed doubles with Venus Williams.
   Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) and Kei Nishikori of Japan downed Joao Sousa and Pedro Sousa of Japan 6-1, 6-4.
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the doubles semifinals of the $52,080 Atlantic Tire Championships on hardcourts in Cary, N.C., top seeds Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., beat unseeded Lukas Lacko of Slovakia and Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 7-5, 6-3.
   The teams had played only one match total this week. Harrison and Novikov drew a first-round bye, and Lacko and Ramanathan received two walkovers.
   Novikov won the Cary singles title in 2015 and the doubles crown last year with Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia.
   Harrison and Novikov, both 27, are set to meet unseeded Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus and Michail Pervolarakis of Greece on Saturday at 11 a.m. PDT (live stream).  
   USTA Pro Circuit — Wild card Cannon Kingsley, an Ohio State All-American from Northport, N.Y., beat qualifier William Griffith, a former Cal standout from Fresno, Calif., 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the $15,000 Edwardsville (Ill.) Futures on hardcourts.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

NorCal native, NCAA champ Riffice loses in $52K Cary

No. 2 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India beat wild card Sam
Riffice in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals in Cary, N.C.
2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 2 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran, a 31-year-old left-hander from India, defeated Sam Riffice, a 22-year-old wild card originally from Sacramento, Calif., 6-2, 6-4 today in the second round of the $52,080 Atlantic Tire Championships on hardcourts in Cary, N.C. 
   Gunneswaran reached the Cary final last November and the semifinals of the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger in 2017.
   Riffice, now based in Orlando, Fla., won the NCAA singles title in May as a University of Florida junior after helping the Gators capture the team championship.
   Riffice also lost in the Cary doubles quarterfinals. The unseeded pair of Riffice and Ulises Blanch of Orlando fell to top seeds Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., 6-3, 7-5. 
   Novikov won the Cary singles title in 2015 and the doubles crown last year with Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia. 
   ATP Tour — At least one player with strong ties to Northern California will reach the doubles final in Los Cabos, Mexico.
   Wild cards and San Francisco Bay Area natives Mackenzie McDonald and Sam Querrey are scheduled to play unseeded Hunter Reese of Knoxville, Tenn., and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands in Friday's semifinals. Querrey won the singles title in 2017. 
   Reese and Verbeek edged top seeds Luke Bambridge and Ken Skupski of Great Britain in the first round on Tuesday. Querrey won the singles title in 2017.
   USTA Pro Circuit — Qualifier William Griffith, a former University of California, Berkeley standout from Fresno, Calif., topped No. 7 seed Dusty Boyer, a native of Grand Forks, N.D., 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals of the $15,000 Edwardsville (Ill.) Futures on hardcourts.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Doubles star to return to Bay Area after long absence

Sania Mirza, left, and Martina Hingis meet the press after winning the doubles
title at Indian Wells in 2015. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Sania Mirza, formerly ranked No. 1 in doubles, plans to return to the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time in 13 years.
   The 34-year-old Indian is set to play doubles in next month's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, tournament officials announced today.
   Mirza, who is only a runner-up finish in the French Open from earning a career Grand Slam in women's doubles, took 2018 and 2019 off to have her first child with husband Shoaib Malik. 
   Mirza leads active players with 42 career tour-level doubles titles, including the 2007 Bank of the West Classic crown at Stanford with Shahar Peer of Israel. Mirza also reached the 2007 singles final at Stanford, losing to Anna Chakvetadze of Russia.
   The doubles field for the Silicon Valley Classic, Aug. 2-8 at San Jose State University, also includes former doubles world No. 1s Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix, Latisha Chan of Chinese Taipei and Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic. 
   Peschke, 46, has won both Mubadala doubles titles, in 2018 with Chan and 2019 with Nicole Melichar, a Czech-born American.
   The team of Mattek-Sands, ranked No. 13 in the doubles, and countrywoman Desirae Krawczyk, ranked No. 18, heads the acceptance list for the tournament, which will mark 50 years of women's tour tennis in the Bay Area. Krawczyk has won the last two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.
   ATP Tour — In the first round of doubles on clay in Gstaad, Switzerland, alternates Zizou Bergs of Belgium and Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands dispatched No. 4 seeds Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark 6-3, 6-4.
   At Wimbledon in 2012, Nielsen and Jonathan Marray of Great Britain became the only wild cards in the tournament's 144-year history to capture the men's doubles title. Three years later, Nielsen won Northern California Challengers in Tiburon and Fairfield with Johan Brunstrom of Sweden.
   In Los Cabos, Mexico, Brandon Nakashima, 19, of San Diego upended No. 4 seed and 2017 champion Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round on hardcourts.
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the opening round of doubles in the $52,00 Atlantic Tire Championships on hardcourts in Cary, N.C., Orlando, Fla., residents Ulises Blanch and Sam Riffice, a Sacramento, Calif., native, outplayed Boris Arias of Bolivia and Gonzalo Villanueva of Argentina 6-1, 7-5 in a matchup of unseeded teams. 
   Riffice won the NCAA singles title as a Florida junior in May after helping the Gators capture the team championship.
   USTA Pro Circuit — Qualifier William Griffith, a former Cal standout from Fresno, Calif., beat Nathan Ponwith of Scottsdale, Ariz., 7-5, 6-4 in the first round of the $15,000 Edwardsville (Ill.) Futures on hardcourts. Ponwith completed his eligibility at Arizona State in May.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Qualifier Escobedo ousts seed McDonald in Los Cabos

Ernesto Escobedo improved to 4-0 against fellow Cali-
fornia native Mackenzie McDonald. 2019 photo by
Paul Bauman
   In a matchup of California natives and former top-70 players, qualifier Ernesto Escobedo eliminated No. 8 seed Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the ATP hardcourt tournament in Los Cabos, Mexico.
   The 182nd-ranked Escobedo, a lifelong Los Angeles-area resident, improved to 4-0 against the 106th-ranked McDonald, who was born and raised in Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area. Each previous match was close.
   Escobedo, 25, earned his first main-draw victory in three attempts in Los Cabos. McDonald, 26, made his tournament singles debut. On Monday night, McDonald and San Francisco native Sam Querrey reached the doubles quarterfinals as wild cards. 
   In the 2017 Fairfield Challenger near San Francisco, McDonald won the first of his three titles at that level, and the top-seeded Escobedo lost in the first round to former Stanford star Bradley Klahn.    
   Also in first-round doubles in Los Cabos, Hunter Reese of Knoxville, Tenn., and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands edged No. 1 seeds Luke Bambridge and Ken Skupski of Great Britain 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4) [10-8].
   Bambridge won the Fairfield doubles title in 2017 with David O'Hare of Ireland. 
   ATP Challenger TourSam Riffice, a 22-year-old wild card and Sacramento native, outlasted Tatsuma Ito, 33, of Japan 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5 in 2 hours, 44 minutes in the first round of the $52,080 Atlantic Tire Championships on hardcourts in Cary, N.C.
   Riffice won the NCAA singles title as a Florida junior in May and helped the Gators capture the team championship.
   USTA Pro Circuit — No. 6 seed William Griffith, a former University of California, Berkeley standout from Fresno, Calif., beat No. 14 seed Joshua Howard-Tripp of South Africa 4-6, 6-2 [10-3] in final-round qualifying for the $15,000 Edwardsville (Ill.) Futures on hardcourts.
   No. 3 qualifying seed Kyle Seelig, a former Ohio State star from Hatfield, Pa., eliminated Ethan Quinn, 17, of Fresno 6-4, 6-3.

Monday, July 19, 2021

San Jose qualifying strong; NorCal Challengers canceled

Former world No. 1 Samantha Stosur warms up for her first-round
match in the 2013 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   The qualifying field in next month's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., announced today, features ex-world No. 1 Samantha Stosur, three other former top-10 players and 2021 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Ajla Tomljanovic.
   Joining Australians Stosur and Tomljanovic (pronounced Tom-yon-o-vich) are France's Caroline Garcia (No. 4 in 2018), Southern Californian CoCo Vandeweghe (No. 9 in 2018) and France's Kristina Mladenovic (No. 10 in 2017).
   Vandeweghe reached the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2012 and 2017. The tournament moved to San Jose under new sponsorship in 2018. 
   Heading the Mubadala qualifying field is No. 45 Donna Vekic, a Croat who reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals and San Jose semifinals in 2019. Last year's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic was canceled because of the pandemic.
   The 2021 qualifying field also includes 19-year-old American Amanda Anisimova, a French Open semifinalist in 2019. Anisimova won her first professional title at 15 in the 2017 (last) Sacramento, Calif., Challenger, beating Tomljanovic by walkover.
   Qualifying is scheduled for July 31-Aug. 1 at San Jose State University, followed by the main draw Aug. 2-8. Tickets are available at mubadalasvc.com as the tournament celebrates the 50th year of women's tour tennis in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   The main draw features 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, 2017 U.S. Open winner and Fresno, Calif. product Sloane Stephens and 2017 U.S. Open runner-up and Stanford champion Madison Keys. Kenin won Northern California Challengers as a teenager in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
   WTA Tour in Gdynia, Poland— Kateryna Kozlova, 27, of Ukraine defeated Katie Volynets, a 19-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the first round of the clay-court tournament.
   Volynets recently made her Wimbledon main-draw debut as a qualifier, losing to 30-year-old Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in the first round. 
   Challengers — The Aptos and Tiburon men's Challengers — normally held in August and September, respectively —  in NorCal have been canceled for the second consecutive year.
   "We were in a holding pattern (because of COVID)," Aptos tournament director Rick Kepler said. "When it was time to decide, it was too iffy.
   "I feel like we made a good decision with all the mask stuff now in California. Now we're kind of looking like geniuses."
   In its 32nd year in 2019, Aptos was the longest-running men's Challenger in the United States. The tournament probably will return in 2022, Kepler said.
   According to the Tiburon Challenger's Facebook page: "The requirements mandated by the ATP Challenger Circuit in order to meet the stringent COVID protocols has (sic) created too big an operational and financial roadblock for the (Tiburon Peninsula) Club to undertake hosting the event this year. ... We have already begun preparing for the 2022 Tiburon Challenger."
   NorCal Challengers still scheduled this year are the $60,000 Berkeley women (Sept. 27-Oct. 3), $25,000 Redding women (Oct. 4-10) and $100,000 Fairfield men (Oct. 11-17).
   ATP Tour — In the opening round of doubles on hardcourts in Los Cabos, wild cards and Bay Area natives Mackenzie McDonald and Sam Querrey beat unseeded Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow 6-1, 6-4 in an all-American matchup.
   Jovic takes break — Jovana (Jaksic) Jovic, a 27-year-old Serb living in Sacramento, Calif., is taking the rest of the year off and teaching tennis.
   "I needed a break," said the 323rd-ranked Jovic, whose last tournament was in March.
   Jovic has struggled with back problems since reaching a career-high No. 102 in 2014.
   USTA Pro Circuit — No. 6 seed William Griffith and unseeded Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., won their first-round qualifying matches in straight sets on hardcourts in the $15,000 Edwardsville (Ill.)  Futures. Quinn, 17, is ranked first nationally in the boys 18s. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Resurgent Anderson beats Brooksby for Newport title

Six-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Kevin Anderson of the host Sacramento Capitals
serves in a 2012 World TeamTennis match. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Welcome to the big time, Jenson.
   Kevin Anderson, a 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) South African, used his power, mental toughness and experience to subdue Jenson Brooksby, 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area 7-6 (8), 6-4 today in the final of the Hall of Fame Open on grass in Newport, R.I.
   The 35-year-old Anderson, a two-time Grand Slam finalist coming back from two knee surgeries, saved a pair of set points, both on his serve, in the tiebreaker and earned the only service break of the match in the opening game of the second set.
   Seeded eighth, Anderson blasted 16 aces overall, committed three double faults and won 81 percent of the points on his first serve (44 of 54).
   The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Brooksby, who was unseeded, finished with six aces and no double faults and won 77 percent of the points on his first delivery (40 of 52). 
   Anderson won his seventh ATP Tour singles title, first since January 2019 and first on a surface other than hardcourt.
   Brooksby, a human highlight reel, played in the first grass-court tournament of his life and in his first ATP Tour main draw. He fell to 32-7 since turning pro in late December,, including three titles in Challenger tournaments and a runner-up finish in another.
   Anderson reached the 2018 Wimbledon final, shocking top seed and defending champion Roger Federer in the semifinals, to climb to a career-high No. 5. He will soar 39 places to No. 74.
   Brooksby, ranked No. 310 at the beginning of the year, will jump 26 spots to a career-high No. 126.
   Anderson is practically American. He starred at the University of Illinois for three years (2005-07), met his U.S.-born wife there and lives in Gulf Stream, Fla., with Kelsey and their daughter Keira, who will turn 2 in September. 
   Anderson has a long history in Northern California. He won the 2006 NCAA doubles title at Stanford with Ryan Rowe and reached the singles final of a $15,000 Futures tournament in the Sacramento suburb of Loomis in 2007. In 2012, Anderson advanced to the singles quarterfinals and doubles final (with Frank Moser of Germany) in San Jose, Calif., on the ATP Tour and played part-time for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis. The San Jose tournament and Capitals folded after the 2013 season. 
   USTA National Clay Court Championships — In the boys 16 doubles final in Delray Beach, Fla., No. 10 seeds Caden Hasler of American Fork, Utah, and Dylan Tsoi of El Dorado Hills, Calif., in the Sacramento area defeated No. 1 seeds Stefan Regalia of Alexandria, Va., and Cooper Woestendick of Olathe, Kan., 4-6, 6-3 [10-2].

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Brooksby, 20, tops Thompson to reach first ATP final

Jenson Brooksby practices at Arden Hills in Sacra-
mento, Calif., in 2018. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby, playing in the first grass-court tournament of his life and in his first ATP Tour main draw, today reached the final of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, R.I.
   The 20-year-old resident of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area dismantled yet another veteran, 27-year-old Jordan Thompson of Australia, 6-3, 7-6 (3). Brooksby saved two set points in the second set, which Thompson led 5-2. 
   Thompson, at No. 71, is the highest-ranked and second top-100 player whom Brooksby has beaten. He stunned No. 98 Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up, in the first round of the 2019 U.S. Open as a qualifier.
   Thompson advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open last year and the third round at Wimbledon, ousting 12th-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway in the opening round, two weeks ago.
   Seeded first in the 2018 Stockton and Fairfield Challengers in Northern California, Thompson advanced to the semifinals and quarterfinals, respectively, in consecutive weeks.
   Brooksby improved to 32-6, including three titles in Challenger tournaments and a runner-up finish in another, since turning pro in late December. Ranked No. 310 at the beginning of 2021, he will jump at least 26 places to a career-high No. 126.
   "My guess is he'll be top 100 by the end of the year," said Tennis Channel commentator Tracy Austin, an International Tennis Hall of Famer.
   If not sooner, possibly in time to get straight into the U.S. Open, Aug. 30-Sept. 12 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. A victory over eighth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa in Sunday's final (11:30 a.m. PDT, Tennis Channel) would put Brooksby at No. 112.
   The unseeded Brooksby, who missed Wimbledon with a right arm injury, broke for 3-1 in the first set on a mis-hit by the Thompson and held on for the set.
   Thompson broke for 4-2 in the second set on Brooksby's long forehand. Serving for the set at 5-3, Thompson lost his serve on a forehand slice get by Brooksby that a replay showed barely caught the back of the baseline.
   "The kid is a magician," commentator Noah Eagle marveled. 
   Brooksby held for 5-5, and Thompson survived a break point to hold for 6-5 as fog shrouded the court. Brooksby saved two set points to force a tiebreaker, in which he won the last four points.
   The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson, 35, outlasted top-seeded Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5 in 2 hours, 43 minutes.
   Bublik, serving at 5-5 in the third set, double-faulted on break point. Anderson finished with 20 aces and the 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Bublik 15.
   Anderson reached the final of the 2017 U.S. Open and at Wimbledon in 2018. He had right knee surgery in September 2019 and February 2020.
   Ranked a career-high No. 5 in 2018, Anderson has tumbled to No. 113. He will improve at least 25 notches to No. 88. 
   Bublik, a 24-year-old Russia native, won the 2017 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger
USTA NATIONAL CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIPS
BOYS
18-and-under
In Delray Beach, Fla.
Singles semifinals
   Ryan Colby (17), Alexandria, Va., def. Luke Casper (33), Santa Cruz, Calif.,  7-5, 6-3.
16-and-under
In Delray Beach, Fla.
Doubles semifinals
   Caden Hasler, American Fork, Utah, and Dylan Tsoi (10), El Dorado Hills, Calif., def. Owen Megargee, Washington, D.C., and Emon van Loben Sels (3), Sacramento, Calif., 5-7, 6-1 [10-7].
GIRLS
12-and-under
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Singles final
   Ciara Harding (3), Boca Raton, Fla., def. Kristina Penickova (17), Campbell, Calif., 6-4, 7-5.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Brooksby, 20, routs German vet to reach Newport semis

Unseeded Jenson Brooksby of Carmichael, Calif., in the
Sacramento area is set to meet seventh-seeded Jordan
Thompson on Saturday in the semifinals of the Hall of
Fame Open in Newport, R.I. Photo courtesy of USTA
   Another day, another impressive victory by 20-year-old Jenson Brooksby.
   Playing in the first grass-court tournament of his life and in his first ATP Tour main draw, the resident of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area dominated Germany's Peter Gojowczyk, who turned 32 on Thursday, 6-0, 6-3 today in the quarterfinals of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, R.I.
   Brooksby improved to 31-6 since turning pro in December, including three titles in Challenger tournaments and a runner-up finish in another. Ranked No. 310 at the beginning of 2021, he will jump at least 18 spots to a career-high No. 134. 
   Gojowczyk, ranked No. 131 after climbing to a career-high No. 39 in 2018, had not lost more than three games in a set in his first two matches this week.
   In a matchup of unseeded players, Brooksby saved two break points in the first set was broken at love in the opening game of the second set. Gojowczyk then held for 2-0. No matter, as Brooksby regained control and wrapped up the match in 62 minutes.
   Brooksby is scheduled to face seventh-seeded Jordan Thompson, a 27-year-old Australian Davis Cup veteran, for the first time after Saturday's 10 a.m. PDT semifinal between top-seeded Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan and eighth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa (Tennis Channel).
   Thompson, ranked No. 71 after reaching a career-high No. 43 in 2019, eliminated unseeded Maxime Cressy, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Paris native who plays for the United States, 6-3, 7-6 (6).
   Cressy, coming off a three-set victory over second seed and 2009 champion Sam Querrey, saved two match points at 4-5 in the second set and held a set point at 5-6.
   Thompson reached his third ATP semifinal, all on grass. He seeks his second ATP final, having lost to Adrian Mannarino of France in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, in 2019.
   Thompson advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open last year and the third round at Wimbledon, ousting 12th-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway in the first round, two weeks ago.
   Seeded first in the 2018 Stockton and Fairfield Challengers in Northern California, Thompson gained the semifinals and quarterfinals, respectively, in consecutive weeks.
   Brooksby eyes his second victory over a top-100 player. He stunned No. 98 Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up, in the first round of the 2019 U.S. Open as a qualifier.
   Bublik, a 24-year-old Russia native, won the 2017 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger.
   The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson, 35, reached the final of the 2017 U.S. Open and at Wimbledon in 2018. He had right knee surgery in September 2019 and February 2020.
USTA NATIONAL CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIPS
BOYS
18-and-under
In Delray Beach, Fla.
Singles quarterfinals
   Luke Casper, Santa Cruz, Calif., def. Alex Finkelstein, Raynham, Mass., 6-0, 7-5.
16 and-under 
In Delray Beach, Fla.
Singles quarterfinals
   Cooper Woestendick (4), Olathe, Kan., def. Dylan Tsoi (17), El Dorado Hills, Calif., 6-2, 6-1.
Doubles quarterfinals
   Owen Megargee, Washington, D.C., and Emon van Loben Sels (3), Sacramento, Calif., def. Ari Cotoulas, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Ariel Zauber (8), Great Neck, N.Y., 4-1, 4-0.
   Caden Hasler, American Fork, Utah, and Dylan Tsoi (10), El Dorado Hills, Calif., def. Tygen Goldammer, Estero, Fla., and Kase Schinnerer (17), Lewisburg, Pa., 4-1, 1-4 [8-6].
14-and-under
In Miami Beach, Fla.
Singles round of 16
   Oliver Narbut (23), Chapel Hill, N.C., def. Cooper Han (46), Los Altos, Calif., 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
GIRLS
14-and-under
In Plantation, Fla.
Singles round of 16
   Kenzie Nguyen (17), Irvine, Calif., def. Bianca Brown (33), Folsom, Calif., 6-2, 6-1.
12-and-under
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Singles semifinals
   Kristina Penickova (17), Campbell, Calif., def. Sena Yoon (4), Buford, Ga., 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-1.
Doubles quarterfinals
   Bela Martinez, Puerto Rico, and Anita Tu (3), Melbourne, Fla., def. Annika Penickova and Kristina Penickova (13), Campbell, Calif., 1-6, 6-3 [10-5].

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Former Stanford star Zhao falls in $25K Evansville

Carol Zhao of Canada lost to Emiliana Arango of Colombia
in three sets today in the second round of a $25,000 tourna-
ment in Evansville, Ind. 2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   In tennis, it isn't how many points you win, but which ones.
   Carol Zhao (Stanford, 2014-16), a 26-year-old Canadian, won 85 points to Emiliana Arango's 84 but lost to the 20-year-old Colombian 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 today in the second round of the $25,000 Women's Hospital Classic on hardcourts in Evansville, Ind.
   Zhao, the NCAA singles runner-up in 2015, had no aces and seven double faults.
   ATP Tour in Bastad, Sweden — Former University of California, Berkeley teammates Andre Goransson and Filip Bergevi of Sweden lost separate doubles quarterfinals on clay.
   Sander Arends and David Pel of the Netherlands ousted No. 2 seeds Goransson and Frederik Nielsen, from Denmark, 6-2, 6-2. No. 3 seeds Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and Fabrice Martin of France topped wild cards Bergevi and Markus Eriksson, also from Sweden, 6-3, 3-6 [10-6]. 
   At Wimbledon in 2012, Nielsen and Jonathan Marray of Great Britain became the only wild cards in the tournament's 144-year history to capture the men's doubles title. Three years later, Nielsen won Northern California Challengers in Tiburon and Fairfield with Johan Brunstrom of Sweden.
   ATP Tour in Newport, R.I. — Austin Krajicek of Plano, Texas, and Vasek Pospisil of Canada defeated Hunter Reese of Knoxville, Tenn., and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands 6-3, 7-6 (12) in the quarterfinals on grass.
   At Wimbledon, Pospisil won the doubles title with Jack Sock in 2014 and advanced to the singles quarterfinals in 2015. Pospisil had surgery for a herniated disk in 2019. 
   Both Krajicek and Pospisil have reached singles finals in NorCal Challengers. 
   No. 2 seeds and former champions (with other partners) Jonathan Erlich, 44, of Israel and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico beat wild cards Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan and Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., by walkover.
   In the 2017 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger, Bublik won the singles title, and Erlich took the doubles crown with Neal Skupski of Great Britain. Skupski captured the Wimbledon mixed doubles title last week with American Desirae Krawczyk
   Juniors — No. 17 seed Felipe Pinzon of Sunrise, Fla., edged No. 1 seed Emon van Loben Sels of Sacramento, Calif., 4-6, 6-3 [11-9] in the fourth round of the USTA Boys 16 National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla. Also, No. 17 seed Jose Garcia of Knoxville beat No. 2 seed Mitchell Lee of Oakland, Calif., 6-4, 1-6 [10-5].
   Meanwhile, in the:
   Girls 18s in Mount Pleasant, S.C., No. 2 seed Ahmani Guichard of Seminole, Fla., beat unseeded Gayathri Krishnan of Cupertino in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-4, 6-1.
   Boys 14s in Miami Beach, Fla., No. 46 seed Cooper Han of Los Altos in the Bay Area routed unseeded Joah Dunwoody of Chicago 6-0, 3-0, retired.
   Girls 14s in Plantation, Fla., No. 33 seed Bianca Brown of Folsom, Calif., in the Sacramento area, dispatched No. 17 seed Kinley Vanpelt of Lawrence, Kan., 6-2, 6-3.
   Girls 12s quarterfinals in Fort Lauderdale Fla., No. 17 seed Kristina Penickova of Campbell in the Bay Area beat Addy Rogin of Moreland, Ga., 6-2, 6-3.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

NorCal's Brooksby, 20, reaches first ATP quarterfinal

Jenson Brooksby practices at Arden Hills in Sacra-
mento, Calif., in 2018. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Let's get this straight.
   Less than seven months after turning pro, 20-year-old Jenson Brooksby of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area is playing his second grass-court match ever in his first ATP Tour main draw. 
   Brooksby is facing 28-year-old American Denis Kudla today in the second round of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, R.I. Kudla has eliminated No. 6 seed and 2018 champion Steve Johnson in the first round after reaching the third round at Wimbledon as a qualifier and losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7). In 2015, Kudla advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon and the final of the Tiburon Challenger in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
   Brooksby leads Kudla by a set and a break, but Kudla rallies to even the match at one set apiece. Brooksby breaks for 6-5 in the third set to serve for the match. He trails 0-40 but wins the next three points and converts his second match point to win 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 and reach his first ATP quarterfinal.
   This stuff just isn't done, especially by someone lacking a big serve even though he's 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters). But it's typical Brooksby, who appears to be a tennis savant.
   Kudla, at No. 104, is the second-highest-ranked player Brooksby has beaten. He toppled No. 98 Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up, in the first round of the 2019 U.S. Open as an 18-year-old qualifier. 
   Brooksby improved to 30-6 this year, including three Challenger titles, one of which came by dominating Kudla 6-3, 6-3 in Orlando, Fla., on a hardcourt. Ranked No. 310 at the beginning of 2021, Brooksby will rise at least 10 places to a career-high No. 142.
   Brooksby is scheduled to meet unseeded Peter Gojowczyk, a 31-year-old German, for the first time on Friday. Gojowczyk, ranked No. 131 after climbing to a career-high No. 39 in 2018, eliminated No. 4 seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada 6-3, 6-3. Pospisil won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2014 with Jack Sock and reached the singles final in the 2017 San Francisco Challenger.
   Gojowczyk has not lost more than three games in a set in his two matches this week.
   Also in the bottom half of the draw, Maxime Cressy, a 24-year-old Paris native who plays for the United States, ousted No. 2 seed Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native living in Las Vegas, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in a matchup of 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) players. Querrey reached the Newport final in 2009, losing to countryman Rajeev Ram, and the Wimbledon semifinals in 2017.
   In opening-round doubles on clay in Bastad, Sweden, No. 2 seeds Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark beat Facundo Bagnis and Federico Coria of Argentina 6-4, 6-3.
   At Wimbledon in 2012, Nielsen and Jonathan Marray of Great Britain became the only wild cards in the tournament's 144-year history to capture the men's doubles title. In 2015, Nielsen won Northern California Challengers in Tiburon and Fairfield with Johan Brunstrom of Sweden. 
   WTA Tour — Anna Bondar and Dalma Galfi of Hungary downed No. 4 seeds Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt and Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-5 in the first round of the Hungarian Grand Prix on clay in Budapest.  
   In Australian Open singles in February, Sherif became the first Egyptian woman to win a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament.
   USTA Pro Circuit — No. 5 seed Carol Zhao (Stanford, 2014-16) of Canada defeated Sophie Chang, a native of Havre de Grace, Md., 6-4, 6-4 in the first opening round of the $25,000 Women's Hospital Classic on hardcourts in Evansville, Ind.
   Juniors — No. 1 seed Emon van Loben Sels of Sacramento, Calif., routed Dillon Beckles of Round Rock, Texas, 6-1, 6-1 in the third round of the USTA Boys 16 National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla. No. 2 seed Mitchell Lee of Oakland, Calif., edged Aaron Sandler of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., 5-7, 7-5 [11-9].

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

British teen star Raducanu receives San Jose wild card

   Emma Raducanu, 18, of Great Britain accepted a wild card in next month's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., tournament officials announced today.
   Raducanu this month became the youngest British woman to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon in the Open Era, which began in 1968. She soared from No. 338 in the world to No. 179.
   Raducanu retired from her fourth-round match at Wimbledon against Ajla Tomljanovic, the runner-up in the last (2017) Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger, because of difficulty breathing. Tomljanovic led 6-4, 3-0 at the time. 
   The Silicon Valley Classic is scheduled for Aug. 2-8 at San Jose State University, 
   ATP Tour — Austin Krajicek of Plano, Texas, and Vasek Pospisil of Canada ousted top-seeded Marcus Daniell of New Zealand and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the Hall of Fame Open on grass in Newport, R.I.
   Both Krajicek and Pospisil have reached singles finals in Northern California Challengers. At Wimbledon, Pospisil won the doubles title with Jack Sock in 2014 and advanced to the singles quarterfinals in 2015. Pospisil had surgery for a herniated disk in 2019.
   Also in the opening round of Newport doubles, wild cards Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan and Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., edged Robert Galloway of Greenville, S.C., and Alex Lawson of Tempe, Ariz., 4-6, 7-6 (2) [10-8]. Bublik wo the singles title in the 2017 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger.
   In the first round of doubles in Bastad, Sweden, Swedish wild cards Filip Bergevi (Cal, 2014-17) and Markus Eriksson beat Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Purav Raja of India 5-7, 6-3 [10-6]. Raja reached the doubles final of the 2014 Aptos Challenger with countryman Sanam Singh.
   WTA Tour — Wild card Panna Udvardy of Hungary dispatched Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt 6-3, 6-1 in the opening round of the Hungarian Grand Prix on clay in Budapest. 
   USTA Pro Circuit — Ivana Corley, a rising senior at the University of Oklahoma from Albuquerque, N.M., eliminated Sabastiani Leon (San Jose State, 2011-14) of San Diego 6-4, 6-1 in the final-round qualifying for the $25,000 Women's Hospital Classic in Evansville, Ind.
   In the opening round of doubles, Jessica Failla, a graduate student at Pepperdine University last season from Ramona, Calif., in the San Diego area, and Katarina Jokic of Serbia surprised third-seeded Allura and Maribella Zamarripa, 18-year-old identical twins from St. Helena in the Napa Valley, 6-2, 4-6 [10-3].
   Also, Abigail Forbes, a rising junior at UCLA from Raleigh, N.C., and Katrina Scott, 17, of Woodland Hills, Calif., in the Los Angeles region defeated Nadia Echevarria of Venezuela and Leon by walkover.
   World TeamTennis — Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, will play for the Springfield Lasers. The season is scheduled for Nov. 13-28 in Indian Wells, Calif.  
   Juniors — The second-round match between top-seeded Emon van Loben Sels of Sacramento and 33rd-seeded Dillon Beckles of Round Rock, Texas, in the USTA Boys 16 National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla., was postponed by rain. There is a 70 percent chance of rain on Wednesday. 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Brooksby, 20, wins his first grass-court match ever

Jenson Brooksby of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sac-
ramento area made his ATP Tour main-draw debut
and recorded his second tour-level win. 2021 photo
courtesy of USTA
   New surface and level, same result.
   Jenson Brooksby, a 20-year-old resident of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, defeated Evgeny Donskoy, 31, of Russia 7-5, 6-3 today in the first round of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, R.I.
   It was Brooksby's first match ever on grass, first in the main draw on the ATP World Tour and first since withdrawing from the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Challenger 2 with a right arm injury five weeks ago.
   Brooksby recorded his second tour-level victory, having stunned 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych in the first round of the 2019 U.S. Open as a qualifier.
   Brooksby has won three Challenger tournaments this year and reached the final of another. He improved to 29-6 overall, including a first-round loss to No. 24 seed Aslan Karatsev in the French Open as a qualifier, since turning pro in December.
   "I try to treat every match the same," Brooksby, who will rise at least three notches to No. 149, said on atptour.com. "But I want to prove that I can do the same things at all the ATP Tour events as I've done at the Challengers so far. I'm very motivated to prove myself and for everybody to see how well I can do here. I'm pushing for that."
   Brooksby faces a tough assignment on Wednesday against Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va. Kudla, the runner-up in the 2015 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, outlasted No. 6 seed and 2018 Newport champion Steve Johnson 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4.
   Kudla, 28, reached the third round at Wimbledon as a qualifier two weeks ago, losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7). Kudla also advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2015. 
   Brooksby beat Kudla 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the $52,080 Orlando Challenger 1 on a hardcourt in April in their only previous meeting.
   In the opening round of Newport doubles, Hunter Reese of Knoxville, Tenn., and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands defeated Peter Gojowczyk of Germany and Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain 6-1, 7-5.
   USTA Pro Circuit — No. 9 seed Sabastiani Leon (San Jose State, 2011-14) of San Diego routed Sumvruta Iyengar from Prosper, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth region 6-0, 6-1 in first-round qualifying in the $25,000 Women's Hospital Classic in Evansville, Ind.
   Juniors — Top-seeded Emon van Loben Sels of Sacramento beat James Lian of Parsippany, N.J., 6-2, 7-5 in the second round of the USTA Boys 16 National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Djokovic ties record with 20th major singles crown

Novak Djokovic can earn the first men's Golden Slam ever
by winning the Olympics and U.S. Open. The title at Flush-
ing Meadows would give him the first men's Grand Slam
since Rod Laver in 1969. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   It appears to be only a matter of time until Novak Djokovic goes down as the greatest player ever.
   Maybe as little as two months.
   Djokovic tied Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles today, defeating Matteo Berrettini 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 at Wimbledon. 
   Federer will turn 40 on Aug. 8, and Nadal, 35, is showing signs of his age. Meanwhile, the 34-year-old Djokovic can earn the first men's calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969 by winning the U.S. Open, Aug. 30-Sept. 12 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. 
   "I can definitely envision that happening," Djokovic said with a laugh in an on-court interview. "I will definitely give it a shot. I am in great form, and I am playing well at the Grand Slams. So let's keep it going."
   Furthermore, a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics in two weeks could give Djokovic the first men's Golden Slam in history (the Olympics dropped tennis between 1924 and 1988).
   Djokovic won sixth Wimbledon singles crown, third among men in the Open Era (since 1968) behind Roger Federer (eight) and Pete Sampras (seven), and third in a row. He has won five of the last seven.
   "It was more than a battle," Djokovic said after improving to 3-0 against Berrettini. "Winning Wimbledon was always the biggest dream of mine as a child. I know how special this is, and I don't want to take it for granted.
   "I was a 7-year-old boy in Serbia, constructing a Wimbledon trophy with improvised materials in my room, and now I am standing here with six titles. It's incredible."
   The top-ranked Djokovic overcame 16 aces by the 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Berrettini to extend his winning streak to 18 matches and end Berrettini's at 11. 
   "For me, it's not the end; it's the beginning," said Berrettini, the first Italian player — man or woman — to reach the Wimbledon final.
   Djokovic led 5-2 (one service break) in the first set as the seventh-seeded Berrettini inevitably suffered the jitters in his first Grand Slam final. But Berrettini, who played with his left thigh taped after taking a nasty fall in Friday's semifinals, rallied for 5-5, saved a set point by chasing down a sharply angled drop shot and won the set with an ace down the middle.
   "There was a lot of tension," Djokovic admitted. "Then I started swinging through the ball."
   In the second set, Djokovic led 4-0 and served for it at 5-2, but Berrettini broke and overcame a 0-40 deficit by winning five consecutive points to hold for 4-5. This time, Djokovic held at love to even the match.   
   Djokovic broke for 2-1 in the third set on a Berrettini backhand error, saved two break points to hold for 4-2 and served out the set.
   Djokovic recovered from 0-30 to hold for 3-3 in the fourth set. Berrettini then double-faulted on break point. Djokovic held for 5-3 and broke serve for the match, converting his third championship point when Berrettini netted a slice backhand. 
   Mixed doubles final — No. 7 seeds Neal Skupski of Great Britain and Desirae Krawczyk, a native of Palm Desert, Calif., beat unseeded Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart of Great Britain 6-2, 7-6 (1).
   Krawczyk and Salisbury won the French Open mixed doubles title last month.
   Skupski played for the Sacramento-area California Dream of World TeamTennis in 2015, the team's only season of existence. KrawczykSalisbury and Dart starred in Northern California Challenger doubles in 2017.
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