Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stars come out at Stanford

Serena Williams, playing her first match since winning
her fifth Wimbledon singles title, beat Stanford's Nicole
Gibbs, the NCAA singles and doubles champion, 6-2,
6-1 in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   STANFORD -- One match was a rout, even if the winner didn't think so. The other was an exhibition that ended prematurely.
   But for star power at a non-Grand Slam tournament, it doesn't get any better than Wednesday at the Bank of the West Classic.
   Top seed and defending champion Serena Williams dominated Stanford star Nicole Gibbs 6-2, 6-1 in 62 minutes in the second round during the day session. Then Pete Sampras retired with a calf injury while leading Michael Chang 7-6 (2), 5-5 in an exhibition match at night.
   Williams and Sampras have won 14 Grand Slam singles titles each, but the 30-year-old Williams figures to add to her total. Chang remains the youngest man to win a Grand Slam singles title, capturing the 1989 French Open at 17. He never won another major title, although he reached three more Slam finals.
   All four players were born in the Midwest (Williams and Gibbs) or East (Sampras and Chang) and moved to the Los Angeles area as juniors. Sampras and Chang are 40-year-old International Tennis Hall of Famers.
   Williams' match Wednesday was her first since winning her fifth Wimbledon title on Saturday.
Pete Sampras retired with a calf injury
while leading Michael Chang 7-6 (2),
5-5 in an exhibition. Photo by Paul Bauman
   "I couldn't quite believe I was playing today," said Williams, who will face sixth-seeded Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa in Friday's quarterfinals. "But I'm healthy, I have a heartbeat, so there's no reason not to play. I'll feel better after a day off. I'm still waking up at 2 a.m. I definitely felt sluggish. It's good to get the win over with."
   Williams won last year's Bank of the West Classic in her third tournament back from an 11-month layoff. She had cut her foot on a piece of glass at a restaurant, then had two operations on the foot and was treated for life-threatening blood clots in her lungs.
   Gibbs, a 19-year-old wild card, had won 26 consecutive matches in college and professional competition before Wednesday. She became the third woman in history and first since 1995 to sweep the NCAA singles and doubles titles, then won the $50,000 Colorado International last week as an amateur qualifier.
   "She played really well," Williams said graciously about Wednesday's match. "She moves really well, and she doesn't quit. That's the best quality you can have as an athlete. She easily could have given up. She's a fighter. She actually has a really good first serve. It's good to see Ameicans coming up."
   When pressed about administering a "beat-down," Williams replied: "I don't think it was too much of a beat-down. She held her own."
Chang, whose wife won two NCAA singles titles while attending
Stanford, said the conditions were quick Wednesday night.
Photo by Paul Bauman
  Williams, pounding her first serve and groundstrokes, raced to leads of 4-0 in the first set and 5-0 in the second set. But Gibbs played Williams even for the rest of the first set, and Williams needed four match points to put away her opponent.
   “It was a great experience for me to match up against that level of player and see what’s out there," said Gibbs, who plans to return to Stanford in the fall for her junior year. "I have a lot to look over and work on, but that was a good benchmark for where I am.
   "It was pretty surreal, no matter how much I tried to prepare myself mentally. To be matched up against someone like Serena was obviously a dream and obviously intimidating but just an incredible experience.”    
   The muscular, 5-foot-9 Williams, whose serve is considered the best in women's history, blasted seven aces at up to 117 mph. The petite, 5-6 Gibbs, meanwhile, had none. Her first serve registered in the high 80s and low 90s, her second delivery in the powder-puff 60s.
   "Her second serve has to get deeper and faster," Stanford women's coach Lele Forood said. "She knows that. That's why she's in college."
   Lucky loser CoCo Vandeweghe, who will play the last five matches of the World TeamTennis regular season for the Sacramento Capitals, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over fourth seed and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.
   Sampras said he will have an MRI on his left calf on Thursday. He's scheduled to play Hall of Famer Jim Courier that night in another exhibition, with Chang and Courier set to meet Friday night. 
   Sampras said his injury "was my own fault. I haven't been playing a lot. I felt it on a forehand."       
   He apparently over-extended himself Wednesday, having earlier hit with second-seeded Marion Bartoli of France.
   "She was hitting balls hard," said Sampras, one of whose three siblings is named Marion. "I had just gotten off a plane. It took a lot out of me."
   Sampras and Chang showed flashes of their former brilliance amid some bad errors. The legends were lighthearted in the first set, bantering between each other and with the crowd, but serious in the second. Points ended quickly throughout the match.
   "The women's ball is a little lighter," explained Chang, a former part-time Capital whose wife, the former Amber Liu, won the NCAA singles title in 2003 and 2004 while attending Stanford. "The conditions were quick."
   See below for Wednesday's full results and Thursday's schedule.
   Sweeting probable -- The Capitals expect Ryan Sweeting to return for Saturday night's match at Orange County, his last scheduled appearance for the team this season.
   Sweeting suffered back spasms in Monday's season opening loss at Boston and missed Tuesday's overtime victory at Philadelphia. Last-minute replacement Alex Kuznetsov, a 25-year-old American, helped Sacramento beat the Freedoms 22-16 in overtime. In an e-mail, Capitals coach Wayne Bryan called the victory "truly one of the best all-around Caps performances in my 11 years with the team."
   Marquee player Mardy Fish is scheduled to join the Capitals for their home opener Thursday night at 7:35 against Kansas City and for Friday night's home match against Orange County. Fish, 30, is coached by 40-year-old Capitals captain Mark Knowles, who's in his 11th season, all with the team.
   NorCal Hall of Fame -- The Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame will add four members, including ex-Stanford All-American Nick Saviano, on Thursday at Stanford.
   Joining Saviano will be volunteer Andrea Norman; Steve Cornell, an accomplished junior, collegiate and senior player and tennis advocate; and Martha Downing, a gifted senior player, teaching pro and volunteer.  
   Saviano has coached more than 50 ATP and WTA players. He helped Stanford win NCAA titles in both of his years there (1974 and 1975) before he turned pro. Saviano peaked at No. 48 in the world in 1978 and reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 1980.
   Norman directed the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in Berkeley, started a tennis-based non-profit organization and participated on national and regional committees aimed at making tennis accessible to everyone.
   Cornell played on UCLA's national championship teams in 1970 and 1971. His teammates included Jimmy Connors, Jeff Borowiak of Berkeley and Jeff Austin.Cornell, a founding member of the Berkeley Tennis Club Foundation, is a USTA committee member and an avid volunteer.
   Downing, a retired teaching pro and tennis director at Sacramento-area clubs for more than 35 years, holds 27 national senior titles and represents the United States in international competitions. A member of the inaugural class of the Sacramento Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009, she has been named the NorCal Senior Player of the Year four times. 
BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
At Stanford
Second-round singles
   Chanelle Scheepers (6), South Africa, def. Michelle Larcher de Brito, Portugal, 6-3, 6-4.
   Yanina Wickmayer (5), Belgium, def. Heather Watson, Great Britain, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.
   Serena Williams (1), Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., def. Nicole Gibbs, Santa Monica, 6-2, 6-1.
   CoCo Vandeweghe (Capitals), Rancho Santa Fe, def. Jelena Jankovic (4), Serbia, 6-4, 6-2.
First-round doubles
   Natalie Grandin, South Africa, and Vladimira Uhlirova (3), Czech Republic, def. Mallory Burdette, Jackson, Ga., and Nicole Gibbs, Santa Monica, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 10-6 tiebreak.
Doubles quarterfinals
   Yung-Jan Chan and Hao-Ching Chan (4), Taiwan, def. Dominika Cibulkova and Janette Husarova, Slovakia, 6-4, 6-3.
   Jarmila Gajdosova, Australia, and Vania King (1), Boynton Beach, Fla., def. Sorana Cirstea, Romania, and Anne Keothavong, Great Britain, 6-2, 6-2.
   Marina Erakovic, New Zealand, and Heather Watson, Great Britain, def. Raquel Kops-Jones (former Cal All-American), Fresno, and Abigail Spears (2), San Diego, 7-6 (9), 2-6, 10-4 tiebreak.
Thursday's schedule
Stadium (starting at 11 a.m.)
   Sorana Cirstea (9), Romania, vs. Saisai Zheng, China.
   Marina Erakovic (8), New Zealand, vs. Urszula Radwanska, Poland (not before 2 p.m.).
   Marion Bartoli (2), France, vs. Mallory Burdette (Stanford), Jackson, Ga.
   Eleni Daniilidou, Greece, and Urszula Radwanska, Poland, vs. Natalie Grandin, South Africa, and Vladimira Uhlirova (3), Czech Republic.
   Exhibition: Jim Courier vs. Pete Sampras (not before 7 p.m.)
   Dominika Cibulkova (3), Slovakia, vs. Erika Sema, Japan (not before 8 p.m.)
CALENDAR
   Thursday -- WTA, Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, second round, 11 a.m. and not before 8 p.m. Exhibition match, Pete Sampras vs. Jim Courier, 7 p.m. www.bankofthewestclassic.com.
    2012 Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame Brunch and Induction Ceremony (Nick Saviano, Andrea Norman, Steve Cornell and Martha Downing), Stanford, Pac 12 Plaza/Cardinal Plaza, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., tickets $75 each at http://www.acteva.com/booking.cfm?bevaid=230538. 
   World TeamTennis, Sacramento Capitals' home opener (with Mardy Fish) vs. Kansas City, Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m., www.saccaps.com.
   Friday -- WTA, Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, quarterfinals, noon and 7 p.m. Exhibition match, Michael Chang vs. Courier, not before 8 p.m. www.bankofthewestclassic.com.
   Capitals (with Fish) vs. Orange County, Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m., http://www.saccaps.com/.
   Saturday -- WTA, Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, semifinals, 1 and 7 p.m. www.bankofthewestclassic.com.
   Capitals at Orange County, 7 p.m.
   Sunday -- WTA, Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, singles final at 1 p.m., doubles final to follow. www.bankofthewestclassic.com.
   Monday -- Capitals (with Sam Querrey) vs. New York, Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m., http://www.saccaps.com/.
   July 18 -- Capitals at Washington, 4:10 p.m.
   July 19 -- Capitals at Springfield, 5:05 p.m.
   July 20 -- Capitals at Kansas City, 5:35 p.m.
   July 22 -- Springfield at Capitals (with Querrey, Vandeweghe), Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m., http://www.saccaps.com/.
   July 24 -- Orange County (with Lindsay Davenport) at Capitals (with Kevin Anderson, Vandeweghe), Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m., http://www.saccaps.com/.
   July 25 -- Capitals (with Vandeweghe) at Orange County, 7 p.m.
   July 27 -- Philadelphia (with Mark Philippoussis) at Capitals (with Anderson, Vandeweghe), Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m., http://www.saccaps.com/.
   July 28 -- Boston at Capitals (with Anderson, Vandeweghe), Sunrise Marketplace Outdoor Pavilion, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m., http://www.saccaps.com/.
   July 28-Aug. 5 -- OLYMPIC TENNIS TOURNAMENT, Wimbledon, www.london2012.com.

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