Wednesday, November 3, 2021

U.S. beats Spain to reach Billie Jean King Cup semis

Sloane Stephens, playing in San Jose in August, beat Nuria Parrizas Diaz 6-4, 6-4
today in the United States' 2-1 win over Spain in the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague.
Photo by Mal Taam 
   One day after suffering an embarrassing loss, the United States somehow advanced to the semifinals of the Billie Jean King Cup, formerly Fed Cup, in Prague.
   Behind Sloane Stephens and Danielle Collins, the Americans defeated Spain 2-1 today to win Group C, even though all three teams finished round-robin play at 1-1 overall and 3-3 in matches. 
   The United States, which lost to Slovakia 2-1 on Tuesday, will meet the Russian Tennis Federation on Friday. The other semifinal matchup will be determined Thursday.
   Stephens, a Fresno, Calif., product who has plunged from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 63, beat Nuria Parrizas Diaz, ranked No. 66, 6-4, 6-4. Collins, ranked No. 30, then demolished No. 37 Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 6-0 in 59 minutes to give the U.S. an insurmountable lead. Spain won the doubles match. 
   Collins, 27, claimed her first two WTA titles back-to-back in Palermo on clay and San Jose on hardcourts this summer. Sorribes Tormo ousted top-ranked Ashleigh Barty, the reigning Wimbledon champion, in the first round of the Tokyo Olympics in late July. 
   The United States, which has won a record 18 Billie Jean King Cup titles, is missing its top four singles players — No. 15 Sofia Kenin, No. 20 Jessica Pegula, No. 23 Coco Gauff and No. 25 Jennifer Brady — and top five doubles players — No. 14 Nicole Melichar-Martinez, No. 16 Bethanie Mattek-Sands, No. 17 Caty McNally, No. 19 Gauff and No. 23 Desirae Krawczyk.
   Five-time champion Spain played without its top two singles competitors, No. 5 GarbiƱe Muguruza and No. 11 Paula Badosa, this week.
   The Russian Tennis Federation has its top five singles players — No. 12 Anasastia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 28 Daria Kasatkina, No. 31 Veronika Kudermetova, No. 32 Ekaterina Alexandrova and No. 40 Liudmila Samsonova — and its top doubles competitor, No. 11 Kudermetova. Kasatkina fell to Collins in the San Jose final.
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the first round of doubles in Charlottesville, Va., No. 3 seeds Treat Huey, a Washington, D.C., native who represents the Philippines, and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark defeated JC Aragone of Yorba Linda, Calif., in the Los Angeles region and Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., 6-4, 6-1. 
   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.
   Aragone graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, helping the Cavaliers win three consecutive NCAA team titles (2015-17).
   USTA Pro Circuit — Qualifier Maegan Manasse, an assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley and former Bears All-American, topped American wild card Elizabeth Mandlik, the 20-year-old daughter of International Tennis Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova of the Czech Republic, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the opening round of a $25,000 tournament in Orlando, Fla.
   In Fayetteville, Ark., qualifier Keenan Mayo of Sacramento, Calif., eliminated U.S. wild card Tyler Zink 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the first round of a $15,000 tournament.
   Mayo's younger brother, Aidan, lost to No. 6 seed Luke Johnson of Great Britain 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 in the opening round of the $15,000 Dick Savitt Futures in Ithaca, N.Y. Connor Farren, a San Francisco Bay Area product, beat lucky loser Jonathan Sorbo of Canada 7-6 (4), 6-4.

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