Wednesday, September 29, 2021

No. 1,246 Kozyreva stuns No. 75 Zheng; Volynets upset

Top-seeded Zheng Saisai of China lost to Russian qualifier Maria Kozyreva, a fifth-
year senior at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Calif., today in the first round of the
$60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger. 2019 photo by Mal Taam
   In one of the biggest upsets in memory, qualifier Maria Kozyreva, a college player ranked No. 1,246, shocked top-seeded Zheng Saisai, ranked No. 75, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 today in the first round of the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger at the Berkeley Tennis Club.
   Russia's Kozyreva, a fifth-year senior at Saint Mary's College in nearby Moraga, is playing in only her seventh professional tournament and first above the $15,000 level.
   China's Zheng (pronounced Jung), 27, won the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in nearby San Jose two years ago for her only WTA singles title and climbed to a career-high No. 34 in March last year.
   Kozyreva is scheduled to play another qualifier, Emma Navarro of Charleston, S.C., on Thursday at about noon for a quarterfinal berth. Navarro, a University of Virginia sophomore who won the NCAA singles title in May, defeated Kyoka Okamura of Japan 7-5, 6-2.
   On a wild day, second-seeded Wang Xinyu of China and fifth-seeded Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek, Calif., 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) east of Berkeley, also lost.
   Sachia (pronounced Sasha) Vickery of Miramar, Fla., ousted Wang, the runner-up in last week's $115,000 tournament in Columbus, Ohio, 7-5, 7-6 (5). Wang served for the second set at 6-5 but was broken at love.
   Vickery reached the singles semifinals and won the doubles title in the last (2019) Berkeley Challenger.
   Marcela Zacarias of Mexico outlasted Volynets 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-2 in 3 hours, 38 minutes. 
   Volynets, ranked a career-high No. 182, had two set points, one on her serve, before the tiebreaker in the first set, which lasted a whopping 1:41. She has lost eight of her last nine matches.
   After the first round, only one of the top six seeds remains. No. 4 Kurumi Nara needed 3:03 to subdue qualifier Hiroko Kuwata 7-6 (1), 7-5 in an all-Japanese encounter. 
   No. 7 seed Mayo Hibi, a longtime resident of Irvine, Calif., who represents her native Japan, dispatched qualifier Jada Hart, a former UCLA All-American from Colton in Southern California, 6-3, 6-2.
   Hibi, who lived in Foster City in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family from age 2 to 4, reached the Berkeley final in 2019.
   Wild card Ellie Douglas, a former Texas Christian University star from McKinney, Texas, eliminated qualifier Maegan Manasse, a University of California, Berkeley assistant coach and former Bears All-American, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
   Here are the Berkeley singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule.
   ATP Tour — Jonathan Erlich, 44, of Israel and Dominic Inglot of Great Britain surprised top-seeded Henri Kontinen of Finland and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan 4-6, 7-6 (4), [10-6] in the opening round of the Sofia (Bulgaria) Open.
   Also, fourth-seeded Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith of Australia edged Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Hugo Nys of Monaco 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2). 
   Erlich won the Aptos (Calif.) Challenger doubles title in 2013 with countryman Andy Ram and in 2017 with Neal Skupski of Great Britain. Saville took the doubles crown in the 2018 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger with Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico.

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