Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sac State women held out of relocated Big Sky tourney

The Sacramento State women's team poses after winning the 2012 Big Sky
Conference tournament at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento
area. Coach Dima Hrynashka is at front left, and Clarisse Baca is standing
third from right. Baca replaced the highly successful Hrynashka last October
under mysterious circumstances. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The Sacramento State saga continues.
   In the latest blows to Sacramento-area tennis, the Hornets women have been held out of the Big Sky Conference Championships, and the men's and women's tournaments have been moved from the Gold River Racquet Club to Phoenix.
   The Big Sky Championships, which had been held at Gold River every year since 2007 except in 2011, are scheduled for Thursday through Sunday at the Phoenix Tennis Center. The Hornets men are seeded third.
   Sac State spokesman Andrew Tomsky said today that the school and NCAA are investigating the Hornets women's program but would not elaborate.
   "We can't comment on it since it's ongoing," said Tomsky, an assistant media relations director who handles women's tennis and four other sports at Sac State.
   Tomsky added that he doesn't know when the investigation will end.
   NCAA spokewoman Emily James also declined to comment.
   "Due to member rules, we cannot comment on current, pending or potential investigations," James, an associate director of public and media relations for the Indianapolis-based NCAA, wrote in an email.
   Brad Wall, the Big Sky communications director for tennis, did not return a phone call this morning.
   Since February 2014, the Sacramento area has lost two World TeamTennis franchises, a $100,000 men's tournament on the USTA Pro Circuit, a legends tournament and the USTA 30-and-over Indoor Championships in addition to the Big Sky tourney. Tomsky said that to his knowledge, future sites for the latter have not been determined.
   Despite the CIA-like secrecy, the issue with the Sac State women's program is thought to be minor. One source said on the condition of anonymity that it concerns summer employment last year by current seniors Alina Soltanici of Moldova and Deimante Bulatovaite of Lithuania. Their status as international students could be a factor.
   Soltanici, who played No. 1 singles for Sac State in 2016, and Bulatovaite, who played primarily No. 3 or 4, sat out the regular season this year. When asked why, Tomsky said, "Due to the ongoing investigation." 
   On Oct. 6 last year at the beginning of the fall season, Sac State announced that Clarisse Baca had been named the acting women's coach. The former Hornets star replaced longtime coach Dima Hrynashka, a Belarus native whose name was not mentioned in the release.
   Bill Campbell, then Sac State's director of tennis, said on Oct. 25 that Hrynashka had taken a leave of absence for personal reasons.
   Campbell said Tuesday that he retired as director of tennis in "September or October."
   Campbell also declined to discuss possible NCAA infractions by Sac State.
   "I told (Sac State) I wouldn't answer any questions, so I'm not answering any questions," he said.
   Hrynashka's future at Sac State is unclear. He compiled records of 168-96 (.636) overall and 85-4 (.955) in the Big Sky in 10 seasons at the school and was named the conference Women's Coach of the Year five times (2008-11 and 2013).
   Sac State moved its women's home matches from the Rio del Oro Racquet Club in Sacramento to the campus this season. The men, however, continued to play at Rio del Oro. Campbell founded and owns a chain of nine fitness clubs, including Rio del Oro, in the Sacramento area.   
   The Sac State women finished fifth in the 12-team Big Sky at 7-4 this season (9-17 overall). Six teams qualify for the postseason tournament, and the winner receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Championships.
   The Hornets women won 13 consecutive Big Sky tournament titles from 2002 to 2014 and lost in the first round of the NCAAs each time. They won one point total in their last five appearances.
   Northern Arizona is seeded first in this year's tournament, and two-time defending champion Idaho is second. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Breaking story tomorrow; Nelson profile postponed

   Because of a breaking story that I will post tomorrow, I have to postpone my profile of Sacramento's Priya Nelson until next week.
   Nelson recently won the girls 12 singles title in the prestigious Easter Bowl at Indian Wells.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Coming soon: Nelson profile, junior tourney

   I plan to post a profile of Sacramento's Priya Nelson, who recently won the girls 12 singles title in the prestigious Easter Bowl at Indian Wells, on Wednesday or Thursday.
   Then I'll cover the later rounds of the Rio Del Oro Junior Championships on May 6-7 at the Rio Del Oro Racquet Club in Sacramento. Nelson will play in the 16s.

Friday, April 14, 2017

After 2,000 posts, new blog format announced

   Since launching my website in June 2011, I have accumulated 2,000 posts while working full-time in Sacramento.
   Upon reflection, I have decided to alter the format.
   I will continue to cover professional, college and junior tournaments in Northern California (plus the first week of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March) and write occasional news and feature stories.
   However, I will no longer post other tournament stories, weekly rankings or TV schedules. This will give me some time to work on a football book that I have been eager to write.
   My next blog post will be a profile of Sacramento's Priya Nelson this month. Nelson recently won the Easter Bowl girls 12 singles title in Indian Wells.
   Here's my tournament coverage schedule for the rest of the year:
   May 6-7 -- Late rounds of Rio Del Oro Junior Championships, Rio Del Oro Racquet Club, Sacramento.
   June 17-19 -- Late rounds of NorCal Boys 18 &16 Junior Sectional Championships, Natomas Racquet Club, Sacramento.
   June 17-19 -- Late rounds of NorCal 14s Junior Sectional Championships, Arden Hills Club & Spa, Sacramento.
   July 17-23 -- $60,000 women's professional tournament, Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center, University of the Pacific, Stockton.
   July 24-30 -- $60,000 women's professional tournament, Gold River Racquet Club, Gold River (Sacramento area).
   July 31-Aug. 6 -- Bank of the West Classic, Taube Family Tennis Stadium, Stanford.
   Aug. 7-13 -- $100,000 men's professional tournament, Seascape Sports Club, Aptos, Calif.
   Sept. 11-17 -- $25,000 women's professional tournament, Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness, Redding, Calif.
   Sept. 25-Oct. 1 -- $100,000 men's professional tournament, Tiburon Peninsula Club, Tiburon (San Francisco Bay Area).
   Sept./Oct. TBA -- Professional exhibition in Sacramento area.
   Oct. 2-8 -- $100,000 men's professional tournament, Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center, University of the Pacific, Stockton.
   Oct. 9-15 -- $100,000 men's professional tournament, Solano Community College, Fairfield, Calif.
   Oct. 16-22 -- $25,000 men's professional tournament, Hellman Tennis Complex, University of California, Berkeley.
   Oct. 23-29 -- $25,000 men's professional tournament, Broadway Tennis Center, Burlingame (San Francisco Bay Area).

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Azarenka to return in Bank of the West Classic

Victoria Azarenka begins a practice at Indian Wells
last year by tossing a football. Azarenka went on to
win the title and the following Miami Open for a rare
Sunshine Double. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka announced today that she will return to the WTA tour in the Bank of the West Classic, July 31-Aug. 6 at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   Azarenka gave birth to her first child, a son named Leo, on Dec. 20. The 27-year-old Belarus native will make her fifth appearance at Stanford, where she won the singles title in 2010 and the doubles crown with Maria Kirilenko of Russia in 2011.
   "I am very excited to be returning to the WTA at the Bank of the West Classic," said Azarenka, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion (2012 and 2013 Australian Open). "Becoming a mother has been the most rewarding thing that has ever happened to me and really puts things in perspective. I am looking forward to beginning this new stage of my career."
   Azarenka, who will turn 28 on the first day of the Bank of the West Classic, has another Northern California connection besides her Stanford titles. Slava Konikov, in his 12th season as the Sacramento State men's coach, worked extensively with her when she was a junior in Belarus.
   In Azarenka's last match on the tour, she retired in the first round of the 2016 French Open against Karin Knapp of Italy with a knee injury that also caused her to withdraw from Wimbledon.
   Earlier last year, Azarenka became only the third woman besides Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters to pull off a Sunshine Double, winning back-to-back titles in Indian Wells and Miami.
   The Bank of the West Classic also received a commitment from 10th-ranked Madison Keys, who recently launched a comeback of her own. The 22-year-old American returned to the circuit in March at Indian Wells, where she reached the fourth round, after undergoing left wrist surgery last fall.
   Keys, who climbed to a career-high No. 7 last October, has lost in the second round in both of her Stanford appearances (2013 and 2015).
   Bank of the West tickets are available online or by phone at (866) WTA-TIXS (982-8497).

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Querrey loses; U.S. ousted in Davis Cup

   Nick Kyrgios defeated Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native, 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4 today to give host Australia an insurmountable 3-1 lead over the United States in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
   Querrey led 3-1 in the third set on a hardcourt in Brisbane.
   Australia likely will play Belgium, which leads visiting Italy 2-1 in the best-of-five-match series, in September's semifinals. Belgium would host again with a victory, but if Italy rallies to win, it will travel to Australia.
   The United States and Australia are the two most celebrated nations in Davis Cup history with 32 and 28 titles, respectively. However, the Americans haven't won the Cup since 2007, and the Aussies haven't done so since 2003.

Bay Area product McDonald wins Futures doubles title

Mackenzie McDonald, shown last September, won the
doubles title in the $25,000 Memphis (Tenn.) Futures with
Lloyd Glasspool of Great Britain. Photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 4 seeds Mackenzie McDonald, who grew up near Oakland in Piedmont, and Lloyd Glasspool of Great Britain defeated No. 1 Philip Bester of Canada and Alex Lawson of Tempe, Ariz., 6-2, 7-6 (3) Friday for the doubles title in the $25,000 Memphis (Tenn.) Futures.
   It was McDonald's fifth Futures doubles title but first with Glasspool. McDonald, who will turn 22 on April 16, also won the Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger last October with Brian Baker of Nashville, Tenn.
   McDonald, seeded No. 1 in singles, lost to unseeded Jared Hiltzik of Tampa, Fla., 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in today's semifinals.
   McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 145 pounds (66 kilograms), is ranked a career-high No. 235 in singles. Hiltzik, a former Illinois All-American ranked No. 466, will play unseeded Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe in the final. Gaganganga topped Bester, seeded eighth, 6-4, 6-0.
   After beating McDonald 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2 in the second round of the $100,000 San Francisco Challenger in February, fellow American Denis Kudla said, "For sure, he'll be a top-100 player -- guarantee it -- so I knew it would be tough."
   Kudla, 24, is ranked No. 136 after reaching a career-high No. 53 last May.
   Glasspool and McDonald, now based in Los Angeles, have played separately on the last two NCAA championship doubles teams. Glasspool teamed with Soren Hess-Olesen for Texas in 2015, and McDonald paired with Martin Redlicki for UCLA last year.
   McDonald turned pro last June, forgoing his senior year, after becoming the first man since Matias Boeker of Georgia in 2001 to sweep the NCAA titles.