Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Zheng, 2019 San Jose champ, heads $60K Berkeley field

Zheng Saisai plays in the semifinals of the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic
in San Jose, Calif. She went on to win the title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Zheng Saisai, who won her only WTA singles title in San Jose in 2019, heads the field in next week's Women's $60,000 Challenge at the Berkeley (Calif.) Tennis Club.
   Zheng (pronounced Jung), 27, of China is ranked No. 83 after reaching a career-high No. 34 in March 2020. She has won four WTA doubles titles, including Stanford in 2015 with countrywoman Xu Yifan. A French Open finalist in 2019 with compatriot Duan Yingying, Zheng has been ranked as high as No. 15 in doubles.
   The top-ranked Berkeley entries behind Zheng are No. 135 Wang Xinyu, 19, of China and No. 157 Arina Rodionova, 31, of Australia. Rodionova, a Russia native, advanced to the quarterfinals of the last (2019) Berkeley Challenger.
   Entries also include:
   —2019 Berkeley runner-up Mayo Hibi, a longtime resident of Irvine, Calif., who represents Japan.
   —Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area. The USTA Girls 18 national champion in 2019, Volynets qualified for Wimbledon this year before losing to Romanian veteran Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round.
   —Alycia Parks, 20, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., whose 129-mph (208-kph) serve in the recent U.S. Open tied Venus Williams' women's record in a Grand Slam tournament.
   All Berkeley players must have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. They will be screened daily. Spectators are not required to be vaccinated or wear masks but must maintain social distancing. 
   Admission is free until Tuesday at noon, $15 from then through Friday and $20 on Saturday and Sunday. Play will start at 10 a.m. through Saturday and 11 a.m. for the finals on Sunday, Oct. 3.
   The Berkeley Tennis Club has a rich history. Nestled in the hills, it was founded in 1906. Past members include International Tennis Hall of Famers Don Budge, Helen Wills Moody, Helen Jacobs and Hazel Wightman. Plaques in their honor line the interior and exterior of the clubhouse. 
   Hall of Famers Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Stan Smith and Billie Jean King have played at the BTC, and King is an honorary lifetime member. The USTA Girls 18 National Championships were held at the BTC until the tournament moved to its current site in San Diego in 2010. 
   Sofia Kenin won the 2018 Berkeley Challenger and hoisted the Australian Open trophy 18 months later. Ranked as high as No. 4, the 22-year-old American is now No. 7.
   WTA Tour — No. 5 seed Lauren Davis of Boca Raton, Fla., defeated Volynets 6-2, 7-6 (6) to reach the quarterfinals of the $115,000 Tennis Ohio Championships in Columbus. The 27-year-old Davis, only 5-foot-2 (1.57 meters), has been ranked as high as No. 26. 
   ATP Tour — No. 1 seeds Henri Kontinen of Finland and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan beat Matt Reid of Australia and Ken Skupski of Great Britain 7-6 (3), 7-5 in the first round of the Moselle Open in Metz, France.
   Reid, 31, has won four Northern California doubles titles, three with countryman John-Patrick Smith and one with compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis.
   Alternates Hunter Reese of Knoxville, Tenn., and "Yosemite" Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands edged Jonny O'Mara of Great Britain and Divij Sharan of India 6-3, 3-6 [10-8]. 
   O'Mara and fellow Briton Joe Salisbury advanced to the final of the 2018 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger, losing to Reid and Kokkinakis.
   In Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, No. 4 seeds Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Andrea Vavassori of Italy nipped Andre Begemann of Germany and Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas 6-4, 4-6 [11-9] in the opening round.
   Goransson and Lammons reached the final of last week's €132,280 ($155.700) Szczecin (Poland) Challenger, falling to Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Andres Molteni of Argentina 2-6, 6-2 [15-13].
   ATP Challenger Tour — Chung Yunseong and Hong Seong-chan of South Korea topped No. 3 seeds Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., 5-7, 7-5 [15-13] in the first round of the $52,080 Tennis Ohio Championships in Columbus.
   Chung and Hong survived three match points at 6-9 in the match tiebreaker and one more at 10-11. They converted their fourth match point.

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