Sunday, April 22, 2018

Stephens leads U.S. into 2nd straight Fed Cup final

   Thanks largely to Sloane Stephens, the United States today reached its second consecutive Fed Cup final.
   The 25-year-old Fresno product won both of her matches in the Americans' 3-2 victory over France on indoor clay in Aix-en-Provence, France.
   No. 9-ranked Stephens, who won the U.S. Open as an unseeded player last September, routed No. 20 Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-0 in 54 minutes to give the United States a 2-1 lead. No. 13 Madison Keys then clinched the victory be defeating No. 122 Pauline Parmentier 7-6 (4), 6-4.
   Stephens beat Parmentier 7-6 (3), 7-5 on Saturday to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
   France was missing three of its top four singles players in the semifinals: No. 7 Caroline Garcia, No. 35 Alize Cornet and No. 104 Oceane Dodin.
   Absent for the U.S. were its top singles player, No. 8 Venus Williams, and 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams, who has played in two tournaments since delivering her first child last Sept. 1.
   The Americans will visit the Czech Republic, which won the championship five times in six years from 2011 through 2016, in the Nov. 10-11 final. The Czechs outclassed Germany 4-1 in Stuttgart, Germany.
   The U.S. beat Belarus 3-2 in last year's final. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sharapova enters San Jose tournament

Maria Sharapova plays in the first round of last year's Bank of the West Classic
at Stanford. She then withdrew with soreness in her left arm. Photo by Mal Taam
   Maria Sharapova hopes her stay in the San Francisco Bay Area this year lasts longer than it did last year.
   The five-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 has entered the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, organizers announced today.
   The tournament, scheduled for July 30-Aug. 5 at San Jose State, replaces the longtime Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   After winning her first-round match at Stanford last year, the right-handed Sharapova withdrew with soreness in her left arm. That followed a thigh injury in the third tournament of her comeback from a 15-month doping ban.
   Sharapova, who will turn 31 on Thursday, is ranked No. 42. She has played in only three tournaments this year, reaching the third round of the Australian Open and losing in the first round at Doha and Indian Wells. Sharapova withdrew from the Miami Open last month with a left forearm injury.
   Sharapova completed a career Grand Slam by winning the 2012 French Open. She is one of only six women to achieve the feat.
   This will be Sharapova's fifth appearance in the Bay Area tournament. She reached the 2010 final, losing to Victoria Azarenka.
   Sharapova joined 2017 champion Madison Keys and runner-up CoCo Vandeweghe in this year's 28-player field.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Ex-Cal teammates win 25K Memphis doubles title

   Former Cal teammates Andre Goransson and Florian Lakat edged Scott Griekspoor of the Netherlands and Yannick Mertens of Belgium 2-6, 6-2 [10-7] today to win the 2018 Spell Restaurant Men's $25,000 in Memphis, Tenn.
   Goransson, a 23-year-old Swede, and Lakat, a 22-year-old Frenchman, were seeded first. Griekspoor and Mertens were unseeded.
   Goransson won his second consecutive doubles title and Lakat his third. They claimed the $25,000 Calabasas (Calif.) title late last month, and Lakat took the $25,000 Gatineau (Canada) crown with ex-North Carolina All-American Ronnie Schneider of Bloomington, Ind., in early March.
   In the Memphis singles final, the top-seeded Griekspoor topped sixth-seeded Sebastian Fanselow, a former Pepperdine All-American from Germany, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5.

Lim, Volynets take titles in Spring Championships

   Northern California juniors earned two more titles on Saturday in the USTA International Spring Championships in Carson.
   Zachery Lim of Fairfield won the boys 16s singles championship, and Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek claimed the girls 18 doubles crown with Natasha Subhash of Fairfax, Va.
   Twins Allura and Maribella Zamarripa of Saint Helena took the girls 16s doubles title on Friday.
   Lim, seeded third, whipped fifth-seeded Maxwell McKennon of Newport Beach 6-0, 6-2. Lim, 16,  did not lose a set in his five tournament matches after receiving a first-round bye. He dropped only three games in the semifinals.
   The third-seeded Volynets and Subhash beat fifth-seeded Georgia Drummy of Ireland and Alexandra Vagramov of Canada 6-3, 6-3. Volynets, 16, won the Easter Bowl 18s singles title last week at Indian Wells.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

U.S. wins doubles, advances to Davis Cup semis

   As expected, the United States won the doubles to clinch a victory over Belgium in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
   But today's match was surprisingly close.
   Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock subdued Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 5-7, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (3), 6-4 in three hours in Nashville, Tenn., to give the U.S. an insurmountable 3-0 lead and put the United States in the semifinals for the first time since 2012.
   John Isner and San Francisco native Sam Querrey won their singles matches on Friday.
   Both Harrison and Sock -- ranked 17th and 26th in doubles, respectively -- have won one Grand Slam men's doubles title but with different partners. Harrison and Michael Venus of New Zealand took the French Open crown last year, and Sock teamed with Vasek Pospisil of Canada for the 2014 Wimbledon trophy.
   Meanwhile, Gille and Vliegen -- ranked 84th and 98th in doubles, respectively -- made their Davis Cup debut near where they played in college. Gille attended East Tennessee State, and Vliegen went to East Carolina.
   The United States likely will play at nemesis Croatia, which leads visiting Kazakhstan 2-1, in the Sept. 14-16 semifinals.
   Croatia, with a population comparable to Detroit's, is 4-0 against the United States. In the most recent meeting, Croatia stunned the U.S. 3-2 after trailing 2-0 in Portland, Ore., in the 2016 quarterfinals.

NorCal's Zamarripas complete junior doubles sweep

   Allura and Maribella Zamarripa of Saint Helena in the Napa area on Friday won their second big junior doubles title in two weeks.
   Six days after winning the Easter Bowl girls 16s at Indian Wells, the unseeded Zamarripa twins took the USTA International Spring Championships crown in Carson. They beat fourth-seeded Maryam Ahmad of Albertson, N.Y., and Lina Mohamed of Glen Cove, N.Y., 6-2, 6-4.
   Meanwhile, third-seeded Zachery Lim of Fairfield knocked off top-seeded Spencer Brachman of Commack, N.Y., 6-0, 6-3 to reach the boys 16 final. Lim will meet fifth seed and Easter Bowl runner-up Maxwell McKennon of Newport Beach.
   Third-seeded Natasha Subhash of Fairfax, Va., and Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek advanced to the girls 18 doubles final with a 5-7, 7-6 (5) [13-11] victory over top-seeded Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine and Elizabeth Mandlik of Delray Beach, Fla.
   The match ended abruptly when Mandlik received a point penalty for throwing her racket, Colette Lewis reported at Zootennis.
   Subhash and Volynets, 16, will face fifth-seeded Georgia Drummy of Ireland and Alexandra Vagramov of Canada.
   Volynets, seeded ninth in singles, lost to Drummy 6-1, 6-4 in the third round after winning the Easter Bowl singles title in the 18s.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Querrey gives U.S. 2-0 lead in Davis Cup quarters

   San Francisco native Sam Querrey defeated Ruben Bemelmans 6-1, 7-6 (5), 7-5 today in Nashville, Tenn., to give the United States a 2-0 lead over Belgium in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey, ranked 14th, pounded 21 aces and won 83 percent of the points on his first serve (45 of 54).  Bemelmans, ranked 110th, had nine aces and nine double faults.
   Earlier, ninth-ranked John Isner beat No. 319 Joris De Loore 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (8), 6-4. The 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) Isner, who won the biggest title of his career on Sunday in Miami, hammered 43 aces and won 84 percent of the points on his first delivery (74 of 88).
   Both De Loore and Bemelmans have played in Northern California in recent years.
   De Loore, 6-foot-3 (1.91 meters) and 190 pounds (86 kilograms), ousted top-seeded Bjorn Fratangelo in the first round of the $100,000 Stockton Challenger in 2016 before losing to eventual runner-up Noah Rubin. The following week, De Loore reached the semifinals of the $100,000 Fairfield Challenger.
   Bemelmans, a 6-foot (1.83-meter) left-hander, won the $25,000 Burlingame Futures in 2016 and lost as the first seed in the opening round of the $100,000 Tiburon and Stockton Challengers last fall.
   Belgium, the Davis Cup runner-up in 2015, is playing without veterans David Goffin, ranked 10th, and Steve Darcis, ranked 143rd after reaching a career-high 37th last May, because of injuries.
   The United States can advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2012 with a victory in Saturday's doubles match (2 p.m. PDT, Tennis Channel).