Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cancer survivor Duval loses in Stockton Challenger

   Third-seeded Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg, Fla., beat qualifier Victoria Duval of Bradenton, Fla., 6-1, 7-6 (5) today in the first round of the $60,000 University of the Pacific Stockton (Calif.) Challenger at the Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center.
   Collins won the 2014 and 2016 NCAA singles titles while attending Virginia to become the seventh woman with multiple NCAA singles crowns.
   Duval, now 21, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014 and missed one year while undergoing chemotherapy.
   Collins, 23, is scheduled to play Xu Shilin, 19, of China on Thursday not before 10:30 a.m.
   In a battle of teenagers, Tessah Andrianjafitrimo of  France took out fifth-seeded Lizette Cabrera of Australia 1-6, 7-5, 6-2. After the first round, six of the eight seeds remain. No. 8 Jennifer Elie of New York lost to former top-50 player Anna Tatishvili, a 27-year-old U.S. citizen from the nation of Georgia, on Tuesday.
   Second-seeded Jamie Loeb, a product of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York, outclassed An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium 6-3, 6-2.
   Shortly after Loeb won the 2015 NCAA singles championship as a North Carolina sophomore, she took the doubles title in the inaugural Stockton Challenger with previous Tar Heels star Sanaz Marand. Mestach reached the singles final, falling to Nao Hibino of Japan.
   Amanda Anisimova, a 15-year-old phenom from Hallandale Beach, Fla., demolished qualifier Ingrid Neel, 19, from Rochester, Minn., 6-0, 6-1 in 47 minutes.
   Both Anisimova, who will turn 16 on Aug. 31, and Neel made news in May. Anisimova became the youngest player to compete in the main draw of the French Open since Alize Cornet of France in 2005, losing to Kurumi Nara of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the opening round. Neel, then a freshman at Florida, won the clinching match in the Gators' 4-1 victory over Stanford in the NCAA final in Athens, Ga.
   Anisimova's victory was not the only 47-minute match of the day. Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia overwhelmed Michaela Gordon, a 17-year-old qualifier from Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area, 6-1, 6-0. Gordon will enroll at Stanford in September.
   Tomljanovic, 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters), attained a career-high ranking of No. 47 in February 2015 and reached the quarterfinals of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford that July. But she had shoulder surgery in February 2016 and missed 13 months.
   Francesca Di Lorenzo, 19, of New Albany, Ohio, defeated qualifier Allie Will, a former University of Florida star who teaches tennis in Fairfield (near San Francisco), 7-5, 6-3. Di Lorenzo won the NCAA doubles title in May as an Ohio State sophomore with Miho Kowase.
   Here are the Stockton singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule. Live streaming of the tournament is available.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cancer survivor gains main draw; Date, 46, falls

Victoria Duval, slugging a backhand in her final-round
qualifying win in the Stockton (Calif.) Challenger, has
overcome three harrowing personal crises, plus a knee
operation. Photo by Paul Bauman
   STOCKTON, Calif. -- Kimiko Date peaked at No. 4 in the world on
Nov. 13, 1995. Seventeen days later, Victoria Duval came into the world.
   They continued their remarkable stories today in the $60,000 University of the Pacific Stockton Challenger.
   Duval has overcome three harrowing personal crises, plus a knee operation, in her 21 years. She overpowered fellow American Kristina N. Smith 6-2, 6-1 in the morning at the Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center in the final round of qualifying.
   Japan's Date (pronounced DAH-tay), still playing professionally at the preposterous age of 46, fell to seventh-seeded Usue (pronounced OO-sway) Maitane Arconada, an 18-year-old American, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 on a hot, gusty afternoon.
   Date led 3-1 in the second set when she began to tire, and then her surgically repaired left knee tightened up early in the third set. The hard-hitting Arconada, who reached No. 5 in the junior world rankings, swept the last 11 games of the match.
   Duval was born in Miami but lived in Haiti until she was 8. At age 7, she was held hostage in an armed robbery in her aunt's house in Port-au-Prince, along with several cousins before being freed unharmed. Duval has put the incident out of her mind.
   "I have made sure that was locked away in a box," she said in her high-pitched voice.  
   After the robbery, Duval's mother, Nadine, gave up her neonatal practice and moved Vicky and her two brothers to South Florida, leaving behind Vicky's father, Jean-Maurice, to continue his obstetrics and gynecology practice in Port-au-Prince.
   Vicky then moved with her mother to Atlanta to work with coach Brian de Villiers at the Racquet Club of the South. Vicky was training in Atlanta in January 2010 when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. Estimates of the death toll range from 100,000 to 360,000.
   Vicky's father was trapped under collapsing walls outside his home for 11 hours. His legs were broken, his left arm was crushed, he suffered seven fractured ribs and a punctured lung, and an infection spread throughout his body. A wealthy Atlanta family connected to the club where Vicky trained donated money to have him airlifted to a Fort Lauderdale hospital.
   "He's still paralyzed in his left arm," Duval said. "Everything else is fine."
   At age 17, Duval qualified for the 2013 U.S. Open and shocked 2011 champion Samantha Stosur in the first round.
   Shortly before reaching a career-high No. 87 in August 2014, Duval was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system (part of the immune system). She missed a year while undergoing chemotherapy and has been cancer-free since then.
   By comparison, her surgery for a torn meniscus in her left knee last summer was relatively minor. Still, she missed nine months.
   Reflecting on all her misfortune, Duval said she never asks, why me?
   "People go through worse things in life," she submitted. "I never (pity myself). I don't have that kind of personality, so anything I've been through, you just buckle down and do it."
   This is the fourth tournament of the 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Duval's comeback. She has reached two semifinals on the minor-league USTA Pro Circuit since returning to improve her ranking to No. 436.
   Duval is scheduled to face third-seeded Danielle Collins, the 2014 and 2016 NCAA champion from Virginia, on Wednesday not before 10:30 a.m.
   "I just feel privileged to be back on the court," Duval allowed.
Kimiko Date, 46, of Japan lost to seventh-seeded Usue Maitane Arconada,
an 18-year-old American, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the first round of the main draw
in Stockton. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Date, only 5-foot-4 (1.63 meters) and 117 pounds (53.1 kilograms), said in halting English that her knee "is not big problem" and she plans to play in next week's $60,000 Sacramento Challenger at the Gold River Racquet Club.
   Date frustrated Arconada with devastating flat groundstrokes and great gets before tiring and taking a medical timeout at 0-3 (two service breaks) in the third set.
   It was easy to see how Date reached the semifinals of the Australian Open in 1994, the French Open in 1995 and Wimbledon in 1996. However, she retired four days before her 26th birthday in September 1996, a victim of burnout, and returned a whopping 12 years later. At age 39 in 2010, Date became the oldest player to rank in the top 50 since Billie Jean King was No. 22 at age 40 in 1984.
   Date advanced to the semifinals of the inaugural Stockton Challenger in 2015 but missed last year's tournament because of two operations on her left knee. She still seeks her first main-draw victory in three tournaments since returning in early May.
   Stockton was Date's first tournament since she qualified for a $25,000 event in Changwon, South Korea, in mid-May and retired from her first-round match with a right shoulder injury.
   "Still I have problem with my shoulder," said Date, who could not have been more gracious with reporters after the match. "That's why I cannot hit hundred percent."
   The unranked Date said her motivation is "just to enjoy to play tennis. I love competition, I love traveling. Everybody asking me, 'Why you continue to play? Anytime you can stop.' I don't need to stop (laughs). One day when I feel it's time to stop, of course I will stop. But still I want to continue."
   Her goal?
  "Yeah, it's most difficult," Date conceded. "I don't need a ranking anymore. Also, it's difficult to be (top) hundred anymore. I just want to play hundred percent, (not) worry about my body, just focus on the ball and try hundred percent on the match. Then maybe I feel it's time to stop. But last two, three years, always I have some problem, so it's difficult." 
   Date, who divorced German race car driver Michael Krumm last September but said they remain good friends, laughed heartily when asked how long she'd like to play.
   "I don't know," she mused. "Slowly, (retirement) is coming."
   Notes -- Top-seeded Kristie Ahn, a 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) former Stanford star, defeated lanky Sophie Chang of Havre de Grace, Md., 6-2, 7-5 in a ragged match. Ahn, ranked No. 117, faces a tough assignment in the second round against fellow American Irina Falconi, who is rebounding from toe surgery after climbing to a career-high No. 63 in May 2016. ...
   Wild card Anna Tatishvili, a 27-year-old U.S. citizen from the nation of Georgia, ousted eighth-seeded Jennifer Elie, 30, of New York 6-4, 7-6 (4). ...
   Fourth-seeded Sofia Kenin, a resident of Pembroke Pines, Fla., who won last year's Sacramento Challenger, topped Vera Lapko of Belarus 6-4, 7-5 in matchup of 18-year-olds. ...
   Northern Californians Michaela Gordon and Allie Will advanced to the main draw with 7-5, 6-1 victories. The Stanford-bound Gordon, a resident of Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area who will turn 18 on July 26, defeated Ena Shibahara, who won last year's U.S. Open girls doubles title with UCLA teammate Jada Hart. Will, a former top-100 doubles player who teaches tennis in Fairfield (near San Francisco), beat former USC standout Brynn Boren. ...
   Here are the Stockton singles, doubles and qualifying draws and Wednesday's schedule.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Stockton Challenger schedule features top attractions

Kimiko Date, 46, will play seventh-seeded Usue Maitane
Arconada, 18, on Tuesday in the first round of the Stockton
(Calif.) Challenger. 2015 photo by Mal Taam
   Top-seeded Kristie Ahn, ageless wonder Kimiko Date and cancer survivor Victoria Duval are scheduled to play on Tuesday in the $60,000 University of the Pacific Stockton Challenger.
   Ahn, a 25-year-old former Stanford star ranked No. 117, will meet 20-year-old Sophie Chang of Havre de Grace, Md., not before 10 a.m. on the Stadium Court in the first round of the main draw at Pacific's Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center.
   In the following match on the Stadium Court, Date (pronounced DAH-tay), 46, of Japan will take on seventh-seeded Usue (pronounced OO-sway) Maitane Arconada, an 18-year-old resident of College Park, Md.
   Date returned to competition in May after undergoing two operations on her left knee and missing 15 months. She climbed to a career-high No. 4 in 1995, retired in 1996, returned 12 years later and reached the semifinals of the inaugural Stockton Challenger in 2015.
   Duval, 21, of Bradenton, Fla., will meet Southern Californian Kristina N. Smith at 9 a.m. on Court 2 in the final round of qualifying. Duval, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma shortly after reaching a career-high No. 87 in 2014, outlasted American Megan McCray 6-7 (8), 6-3, 6-4.
   Ahn's former teammate at Stanford, Nicole Gibbs, withdrew from the Stockton Challenger. She played World TeamTennis for the host Orange County Breakers on Monday night.
   Seeded first in Stockton last year, Gibbs lost to Arina Rodionova of Australia 7-6 (3), 7-6 (6) in the second round. The grueling match lasted 2 hours, 24 minutes in 98-degree (36.7 Celsius) heat.
  Also playing in the final round of qualifying on Tuesday at 9 a.m. will be Northern Californians Michaela Gordon, who will turn 18 on July 26, on the Stadium Court and Allie Will on Court 1.
   Here are the singles and doubles main draws, the qualifying draw and Tuesday's schedule.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cancer survivor Duval advances in Stockton qualies

   Victoria Duval, a former top-100 player who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014, routed UCLA's Alaina Miller of Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-2, 6-1 today in the first round of qualifying for the $60,000 University of the Pacific Stockton Challenger at the Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center.
   Duval, seeded first with a world ranking of No. 440, won 78.3 percent of the points on her first serve (18 or 23) to Miller's 42.4 percent (14 of 33).
   Miller had no aces and eight double faults. On groundstrokes, she uses two hands on both sides.
   Duval, 21, is scheduled to meet fellow American Megan McCray on Monday at 9 a.m. McCray dispatched Magdalena Ekert of Poland 6-1, 6-2.
   Two seeds, both former USC standouts, lost in the opening round. No. 2 Giuliana Olmos of Fremont in the Bay Area fell to Ena Shibahara of UCLA 6-3, 6-2, and No. 6 Kaitlyn Christian bowed out against fellow American Kristina Smith, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3. Christian won the 2013 NCAA doubles title with Sabrina Santamaria.
   Third-seeded Tori Kinard of the United States beat Brienne Minor, the reigning NCAA singles champion from Michigan, 6-2, 7-5.
   Kinard will face Ingrid Neel of reigning NCAA titlist Florida. As a freshman, Neel won the clinching match in the Gators' 4-1 victory over Stanford in the NCAA final in May in Athens, Ga.
   Also advancing today were fifth-seeded Michaela Gordon, a 17-year-old Saratoga resident headed to Stanford; Cal's Olivia Hauger; former Florida star Allie Will of Fairfield; and wild cards Karina Vyrlan and Roos Nederstigt of Pacific.
   The main draw will begin Tuesday. Heading the field are former Stanford teammates Nicole Gibbs and Kristie Ahn. Also entered are 46-year-old Japanese marvel Kimiko Date, who reached No. 4 in the world in 1995, and 15-year-old U.S. phenom Amanda Anisimova.
   Here are the qualifying draw and Monday's schedule.

Federer claims record eighth Wimbledon title

Roger Federer, playing at Indian Wells in March, broke a tie with Pete Sampras
and William Renshaw for the most men's singles titles at Wimbledon.
Photo by Mal Taam
   There is no king of England.
   Except Roger Federer.
   The Swiss star dominated ailing Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 today to win his record eighth Wimbledon singles title. Federer had been tied with Pete Sampras (1993-2000) and William Renshaw of Great Britain (1881-89).
   "It means the world to me to hold this trophy, particularly when I haven't dropped a set," Federer, who missed the last half of 2016 to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery, told the BBC. "It's magical. I can't believe it yet. It's too much, really. It's disbelief that I can achieve such heights.
   "I wasn't sure if I'd be in a final again after last year, especially some tough losses to Novak (Djokovic) in 2014 and 2015. But I kept believing, and if you believe, you can go a long way in your life. Here I am with an eighth title. It's fantastic."
   Cilic said afterward he developed a painful blister on his left foot during his semifinal Friday, reported The Associated Press.
   The 1-hour, 41-minute final was the most one-sided in men's singles at Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt whipped David Nalbandian 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in 2002.
   Federer, who will turn 36 on Aug. 8, became the oldest Wimbledon men's champion since the Open Era began in 1968 and the second player in that period to win the title without dropping a set. Bjorn Borg accomplished the feat in 1976.
   Federer has won two Grand Slam singles crowns this year and a record 19 overall. Rafael Nadal is second with 15. Before triumphing in the Australian Open in January, Federer hadn't won a major title since Wimbledon in 2012.
   Federer improved to 7-1 against Cilic, who led two sets to none and held three match points before falling to Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year.
   Cilic, 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), was trying to earn his second Grand Slam singles championship and join Goran Ivanisevic (2001) as the only Croatians to win Wimbledon.
   Cilic overpowered Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 for the 2014 U.S. Open title. Cilic also outclassed Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cancer survivor Duval to play in Stockton qualifying

   Former top-100 player Victoria Duval, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014, is scheduled to play Sunday morning in the first round of qualifying for the $60,000 University of the Pacific Stockton Challenger.
   Duval, seeded first with a world ranking of No. 440, will face UCLA's Alaina Miller of Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area at 9 a.m. at Pacific's Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center.
   Duval, 21, of Bradenton, Fla., missed one year after her diagnosis.
   Miller uses two hands on both sides.
   A temperature of 84 degrees (29 Celsius) is forecast for the beginning of the match, rising to a high of 105 (41 Celsius) at 4 p.m.
   Here are the qualifying draw and Sunday's schedule. The main draw will begin Tuesday.

Muguruza, entered at Stanford, wins Wimbledon

Garbine Muguruza, playing in the 2015 U.S. Open, beat
Venus Williams today for her second Grand Slam title.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Nothing against Venus Williams, but organizers of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford clearly were rooting for Garbine Muguruza in today's Wimbledon women's final.
   Muguruza is entered in the Bank of the West; Williams is not. The tournament is scheduled for July 31-Aug. 6 at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   Muguruza, a 23-year-old Spaniard, rolled to a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Williams, 37, for her second title in three Grand Slam finals. She won the French Open last year and lost at Wimbledon in 2015, facing Serena Williams each time.
   Muguruza, seeded 14th, saved two set points serving at 4-5 in the first set and swept the last nine games. Ranked No. 15, she will return to the top five on Monday. Muguruza climbed to a career-high No. 2 after winning the French Open last year. She is the only player to beat both Williams sisters in a Grand Slam final.
   Venus Williams, seeded 10th, was seeking her first Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 2008. The seven-time major singles champion was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, which saps energy and causes joint pain, in 2011.
   Williams, the oldest Wimbledon singles finalist since Martina Navratilova lost to Conchita Martinez of Spain in 1994 at the same age, lost in a major final for the second time this year. She fell in the Australian Open to Serena, who has not played since then because she is pregnant with her first child.
Garbine Muguruza talks to the media during the 2014
Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   Martinez, the only previous Spanish woman to win Wimbledon, coached Muguruza during the tournament. Muguruza's regular coach, Sam Sumyk,  stayed home in Los Angeles because his wife, former professional player Meilen Tu of the United States, is expecting their first child.
   Sumyk, a Frenchman, formerly guided Victoria Azarenka to the No. 1 ranking and two Australian Open singles titles.
   Venus Williams, knowing she has few chances left to win majors at her advanced age, likely felt more pressure than Muguruza. Williams also was coming off emotional victories over surprise French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and British hope Johanna Konta.
   Furthermore, Williams was involved in a two-car accident near her home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., last month in which a 79-year-old man later died. She broke down when asked about the crash in her initial post-match news conference at Wimbledon last week. The man's family has sued Williams for wrongful death.
   Both Williams and Muguruza have won Bank of the West titles. Williams captured the singles championship in 2000 and 2002 and was the runner-up in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2016. Muguruza took the doubles crown with countrywoman Carla Suarez Navarro and reached the singles quarterfinals in 2014, her only appearance at Stanford to date.
   Also entered in singles at Stanford this year are Azarenka, former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova and local favorite CiCi Bellis, 18.