Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Liezel, Lisa loom large after rare feat; new rankings

   Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond completed another of their patented hot streaks Sunday.
   Four times in this century, a women's doubles team has won three titles in three weeks. In each case, either Huber or Raymond has been involved.
   The American veterans accomplished the feat together for the first time, winning in Paris, Doha and Dubai in the past three weeks. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Venus and Serena Williams haven't played doubles since, what, the Clinton administration? Huber and Raymond did not enter either of this week's WTA tournaments (Acapulco and Kuala Lumpur).
   Huber pulled off a trifecta with Cara Black of Zimbabwe in 2007, and Raymond managed a three-peat with Australians Samantha Stosur in 2006 and Rennae Stubbs in 2002.
   Raymond, 38, has won 77 women's doubles titles, sixth in the Open Era (since 1968). Huber, 35, has captured 51. Each has won two crowns in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, but they have never done so together.
   Injury report -- Several players with Northern California ties have battled health problems this year.
   Vania King of the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis has missed the last two weeks because of a hip injury. Sacramento-area resident Dmitry Tursunov, a right-hander with a two-handed backhand, has been out since last month's Australian Open because of a left wrist injury, according to his manager. Former Sacramento State star Kiryl Harbatsiuk has been out all year with a bad case of the flu.
  And Andy Roddick, who has won the SAP Open in San Jose three times, has been plagued by hamstring and ankle injuries. Seeded fourth in the Delray Beach (Fla.) International, he's scheduled to play Philipp Petzschner of Germany tonight in the first round.
   Harbatsiuk, arguably the greatest player in Sac State history, hopes to return to the Futures circuit next month. King, ranked sixth in the world in doubles and 58th in singles, and Tursunov, a former top-20 singles player who's 0-3 this year, have not announced their plans.
   Men's pro results -- Sixth-seeded Mardy Fish of Los Angeles routed Andreas Beck of Germany 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of the Dubai (United Arab Emirates) Duty Free Tennis Championships.
   Fish, the top-ranked American man or woman at No. 8 in the world, is scheduled to play two matches, both at home, for the Capitals in July.
   Jimmy Wang, a Taiwan native based in Folsom, and countryman Tsung-Hua Yang beat wild cards Yuki Bhambri of India and Liang-Chi Huang of Taiwan 6-4, 6-2 in the opening round of doubles in the Singapore Challenger.  
   New rankings -- Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, Sacramento Capitals (2012) of World TeamTennis -- No. 8 in singles (no change), No. 103 in doubles (no change).
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- Career-high No. 105 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Kiryl Harbatsiuk, three-time Big Sky Conference MVP (2009-11) at Sacramento State -- No. 765 in singles (-1), No. 1,248 in doubles (-4).
   Mark Knowles, Capitals (2001-07, 2009-11) -- No. 61 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 33 in doubles (-5), unranked in singles.
   David Martin, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 157 in doubles (+4), No. 757 in singles (no change).
   Conor Niland, 2006 Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year and two-time All-American at Cal -- No. 310 in singles (-1), unranked in doubles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native -- No. 87 in singles (+12), No. 34 in doubles (+6).
   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 60 in singles (+3), No. 212 in doubles (-2).
   Dusan Vemic, Capitals (2010-11) -- No. 650 in doubles (-6), No. 1,499 in singles (-1).
   Jimmy Wang, Folsom resident -- No. 228 in singles (-4), No. 491 in doubles (-5).
Women
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-11) -- No. 6 in doubles (no change), No. 58 in singles (-1).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- Career-high No. 29 in doubles (+1), No. 715 in singles (-1).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- Career-high No. 191 in doubles (+24), career-high No. 484 in singles (+116).
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Capitals (2011) -- Career-high No. 170 in doubles (+12), No. 377 in singles (-1).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Raonic falls short in bid for second title in two weeks

   For all his physical and mental gifts, Milos Raonic lacks one thing.
   Experience.
   The 21-year-old Canadian standout has lost only twice this year, both times to crafty 30-year-old veterans.
   Jurgen Melzer became the latest player to outfox Raonic, winning 7-5, 7-6 (4) Sunday to take the title of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tenn.
   Raonic, 6-foot-5, is blessed with a percussive serve and forehand and an even temperament. But Melzer, an unseeded Austrian playing with a broken toe, rattled the fourth seed by periodically standing far back and jumping up and down like a prize fighter to return serve.
    Melzer, a 6-0 left-hander, also preyed on Raonic's less-dangerous two-handed backhand and transformed his size from a strength into a weakness with well-timed drop shots.
   Raonic lost his serve twice after getting broken only once en route to the final.
   "I'll learn much more from this (loss) than I would if the outcome was the other way," Raonic told reporters. "It doesn't matter what the outcome is. I just need to take the most I can from it. I'm young. There's a lot of space for improvement in my game, and that's what I have to look at in the next steps to get getter."
   Raonic had his nine-match winning streak (all in straight sets) stopped and fell to 15-2 this year. His other loss came to former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of last month's Australian Open. Sports Illustrated reported that Raonic was "visibly shaken" when Hewitt "puffed his chest and stared at his young Canadian opponent" after leveling the match at one set apiece.
   For the second consecutive year, Raonic came within one victory of becoming the first player since his idol, Pete Sampras, to win back-to-back titles in San Jose and Memphis. Sampras accomplished the feat in 1996.
   "It's like somebody dangling a piece of cake in front of you and taking it away in the last second," Raonic said. "I'll definitely be back (in Memphis)."
    Melzer, who beat top-seeded John Isner (6-foot-9) in the quarterfinals, jumped 19 places to No. 19 in the world with the title. After reaching a career-high No. 8 last April, he was plagued by back trouble. Melzer broke his right big toe Feb. 16 when it got caught in a hotel bedspread.
   "If anybody would've said (Feb. 17), especially in the morning after seeing the doctor, that I'll be holding the trophy next Sunday, I would've called him a fool," said Melzer, who earned his fourth career title and first since 2010. "But sometimes, life plays games like that. Maybe it took a bit of the pressure off in the beginning."          

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Raonic rolls to another straight-set victory

   These days, the question isn't so much whether anyone can beat Milos Raonic.
   It's whether anyone can take a set off him.
   The 21-year-old Canadian won his ninth consecutive match, all in straight sets, Saturday to reach his second final in two weeks.
  Raonic, the fourth seed coming off his second straight San Jose title, defeated unseeded Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-4, 6-4 in 75 minutes to improve to 15-1 this year and reach the final of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tenn., for the second year in a row.
   Raonic, who lost to Andy Roddick 7-6 (7), 6-7 (11), 7-5 in last year's final, will face unseeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria for the first time today at 1 p.m. PST (Tennis Channel).
   Melzer, a 30-year-old left-hander, beat third-seeded Radek Stepanek, a Czech who lost to Roddick in the 2009 Memphis final, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
   Melzer has fallen to No. 38 in the world because of back trouble after reaching a career-high No. 8 last spring. He broke his right big toe when it got caught in a hotel bedspread Feb. 16.
   “But the good thing is most of my sliding I do on hard court I do with my left foot, so it
doesn’t … affect my game,” Melzer, a two-time Grand Slam men's doubles champion, told reporters.
   In a matchup of the last two Memphis doubles titlists, top seeds and defending champions Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Daniel Nestor of Canada defeated unseeded Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the semifinals. Querrey was born in San Francisco and grew up in the Los Angeles area.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Isner's loss gives Raonic bid another boost

   Milos Raonic's biggest obstacle -- literally and figuratively -- to a rare San Jose-Memphis double was removed Friday.
   Unseeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer, playing with a broken big toe on his right foot, beat 6-foot-9 John Isner, the top seed, 6-3, 7-6 (6) in the quarterfinals of the Regional Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tenn.
   The 30-year-old Melzer, who told reporters he caught his toe in a bedspread in his hotel on Feb. 16, will face third-seeded Radek Stepanek today at 9 a.m. PST (Tennis Channel).
   Stepanek, the 2009 runner-up to Andy Roddick, ousted 2010 champion Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native, 7-6 (5), 6-0. Stepanek, a 33-year-old Czech, came to Memphis after spending four days sick in bed at home in Florida and not practicing.
   Raonic, seeded fourth, defeated unseeded Olivier Rochus 6-3, 7-6 (3) to set up a semifinal against unseeded Benjamin Becker of Germany today at 1 p.m. (Tennis Channel). Raonic, who moved from Montenegro to Canada at age 3, is 6-foot-5 and Rochus 5-6.
   Raonic, the only seed left in the bottom half of the draw after the first round, improved to 14-1 this year with an eight-match winning streak. He is trying to become the first player to win the San Jose and Memphis titles back to back since his idol, Pete Sampras, in 1996. The last player before Sampras to do it was Brad Gilbert, from the San Francisco Bay Area, in 1989.
   Last week, the 21-year-old Raonic became the seventh player in the Open Era (since 1968) to win two consecutive titles in the Bay Area tournament. He joined Andy Murray (2006-07), Andy Roddick (2004-05), Mark Philippoussis (1999-2000), Sampras (1996-97), John McEnroe (1978-79) and Stan Smith (1968-69). The last player to win three straight crowns in the tournament, which dates to 1889, is Tony Trabert (1953-55).
   Olivetti ousted -- Six-foot-eight Albano Olivetti, a 20-year-old qualifier coming off a victory over eighth-ranked Mardy Fish, lost to Michael Llodra 7-6 (5), 7-5 in an all-French quarterfinal at the Open 13 in Marseille, France. Llodra, 31, won the title in 2010.

Friday, February 24, 2012

France's Olivetti, 6-foot-8, scores a giant upset

   Six-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic broke through in the early 2000s.
   Then came 6-6 Juan Martin del Potro, Sam Querrey and Marin Cilic in the middle 2000s, 6-9 John Isner and 6-8 Kevin Anderson shortly thereafter, and 6-5 Milos Raonic and Bernard Tomic last year.
   Now comes 6-8 Albano Olivetti.
   The 20-year-old French qualifier stunned second-seeded Mardy Fish 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 Thursday in the second round of the Open 13 in Marseille, France. Olivetti is ranked No. 388 in the world.
   "That's just a number next to his name right now," Fish, the top-ranked American (man or woman) at No. 8, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. "He won't be there for very long if he continues to play like that."
   Fish is scheduled to play two matches, both at home, for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in July. The 30-year-old veteran said Olivetti, who blasted 23 aces, "probably has one of the hardest serves I've ever played against. He hit me with a serve, and I almost hurt my left wrist.
   "I had a rough time with his serve, for sure. When he's down 15-40, he can come back with not only his first serve but his second serve -- it's almost just as good."
   Olivetti will face 31-year-old countryman Michael Llodra, the 2010 champion, in the quarterfinals. Also, the fourth-seeded del Potro of Argentina will take on fifth-seeded Richard Gasquet of France.  
   Meanwhile, Isner, Raonic and Querrey reached the quarterfinals of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tenn.
   Isner, seeded first, downed fellow American Donald Young 7-6 (3), 6-4. Raonic, the No. 4 seed coming off the title of last week's SAP Open in San Jose, eliminated Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4. Querrey, a San Francisco native who won the 2010 Memphis crown, upended the seventh-seeded Anderson of South Africa 7-6 (4), 6-4.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Upsets clear path for SAP Open champ in Memphis

   Not that Milos Raonic needed any help, but the rising star's road to his second straight Memphis final got a lot easier Wednesday.
   The other three seeds in Raonic's half of the draw lost in the first round of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships.
   Thirty-one-year-old Belgian veterans accounted for two of the upsets. Xavier Malisse knocked off No. 2 seed and defending champion Andy Roddick, slowed by injuries this year, 7-6 (8), 7-5, and Olivier Rochus edged No. 5 Alex Bogomolov Jr. of Russia 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5).
   Roddick, a three-time Memphis champion, fell to Malisse for the first time in 10 matches and suffered his earliest loss in 12 appearances in the tournament.
   Also, Germany's Philipp Petzschner toppled France's Julien Benneteau, the sixth seed and a semifinalist in last week's SAP Open in San Jose, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6).
   Raonic, the fourth seed coming off his second straight SAP Open title, downed Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-2, 7-6 (6). Raonic, 6-foot-5 with a booming serve, improved to 12-1 this year and 12-2 in career tiebreakers in Memphis and San Jose.   
   In the top half of the draw, Austrian veteran Jurgen Melzer nipped last week's SAP Open runner-up, Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (4).
   Meanwhile, 40-year-old doubles specialist Mark Knowles, a longtime Sacramento Capitals star in World TeamTennis who won the SAP Open title with Malisse, lost in the opening round with 6-8 Kevin Anderson of South Africa.
   The first-time pair fell to top seeds and defending champions Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Daniel Nestor of Canada 7-5, 6-2. Knowles has won four Memphis doubles crowns, the first two with Nestor.
   Davis Cup teammates John Isner and Sam Querrey, the 2010 Memphis doubles champions, advanced to the semifinals with a 2-6, 6-3, 15-13 tiebreak victory over Bogomolov and Lukasz Kubot of Poland. Querrey, 24, was born in San Francisco and grew up in the Los Angeles area.  
   Kops-Jones loses -- Raquel Kops-Jones, a former NCAA doubles champion from Cal, and Abigail Spears of San Diego lost to fourth-seeded Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain and Anastasia Rodionova, an ex-Capital from Australia, 6-3, 2-6, 12-10 tiebreak in the quarterfinals of the $2 million Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
  Kops-Jones and Spears had edged Llagostera Vives and Rodionova 3-6, 6-1, 10-8 tiebreak last week in the semifinals at Doha, Qatar.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blake demolished in season debut

   James Blake finally made his season debut Tuesday.
   It did not go well.
   Blake, who has been sidelined by a knee injury, lost to fellow American Ryan Sweeting 6-0, 6-2 in 45 minutes in the first round of the Regional Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tenn.
   Blake, 32, is ranked 61st after reaching a career-high No. 4 in 2006. He was the runner-up to 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic in the Sacramento Challenger last October.
   Sweeting, a semifinalist in the Tiburon Challenger the week after Sacramento last fall, will face either third-seeded Radek Stepanek or qualifier Bobby Reynolds in the second round.
   San Francisco native Sam Querrey, who swept the singles and doubles titles in Memphis two years ago, beat Alejandro Falla of Colombia 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
   The right-handed Querrey, a former top-20 player who underwent right elbow surgery last June, entered the match with a 1-5 record this year.
   “I feel pretty close,” the 99th-ranked Querrey, who will meet either seventh-seeded Kevin Anderson or qualifier Robby Ginepri in the second round, told reporters about returning to form. “I’m missing more forehands than I usually do, but I’m just committed to stepping up and hitting it. More and more are falling (in) every day.”
   On Monday, Querrey also won his opening doubles match. He and Davis Cup teammate John Isner, who teamed up for the 2010 Memphis crown, ousted fourth-seeded Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Christopher Kas of Germany 7-6 (1), 7-6 (2).
   Americans Scott Lipsky, a former Stanford All-American, and Rajeev Ram lost to Alex Bogomolov Jr. of Russia and Lukasz Kubot of Poland 6-2, 4-6, 15-13 tiebreak Tuesday in the first round.
   Stanford women roll -- Playing for the first time since being ranked No. 1, the host Stanford women routed No. 36 Saint Mary's 6-1.
   The Cardinal's Ellen Tsay, a freshman from Pleasanton in the San Francisco Bay Area, annihilated Jade Frampton 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4 singles. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ex-Cal star reaches career-high No. 30 in doubles

   After reaching the doubles final in Doha, Qatar, last week, former Cal All-American Raquel Kops-Jones improved nine spots to a career-high No. 30 Monday in the WTA rankings.
   Kops-Jones, a 29-year-old doubles specialist from Fresno, has played in four tournaments this year, all with Abigail Spears of San Diego. They have reached two finals and one semifinal and lost in the first round of the Australian Open.
   Kops-Jones, the 2003 NCAA doubles champion with Sacramento native Christina Fusano, has won four WTA doubles titles. Her latest crown came last September in Quebec City with Spears.
   Also reaching career highs Monday were ex-Cal All-American John Paul Fruttero (No. 105 in doubles) of San Jose, Modesto's Maria Sanchez (No. 215 in doubles and No. 600 in singles) and Sacramento-area resident Yasmin Schnack (No. 376 in singles).
   Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis (2012) -- No. 8 in singles (no change), No. 103 in doubles (+4).
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- Career-high No. 105 in doubles (+5), unranked in singles.
   Kiryl Harbatsiuk, three-time Big Sky Conference MVP (2009-11) at Sacramento State -- No. 764 in singles (no change), No. 1,244 in doubles (+1).
   Mark Knowles, Capitals (2001-07, 2009-11) -- No. 61 in doubles (+2), unranked in singles.
   Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 28 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   David Martin, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 161 in doubles (no change), No. 757 in singles (no change).
   Conor Niland, 2006 Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year and two-time All-American at Cal -- No. 309 in singles (-2), unranked in doubles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native -- No. 99 in singles (-14), No. 40 in doubles (-1).
   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 63 in singles (-11), No. 210 in doubles (+1).
   Dusan Vemic, Capitals (2010-11) -- No. 644 in doubles (+1), No. 1,498 in singles (+4).
   Jimmy Wang, Folsom resident -- No. 224 in singles (+2), No. 486 in doubles (no change).
Women
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-11) -- No. 6 in doubles (no change), No. 57 in singles (no change).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- Career-high No. 30 in doubles (+9), No. 714 in singles (+8).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- Career-high No. 215 in doubles (+15), career-high No. 600 in singles (+5).
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis (2011) -- No. 182 in doubles (-3), career-high No. 376 in singles (+1).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Serving sensationally, Raonic repeats in SAP Open

   SAN JOSE -- Don't be deceived by Milos Raonic's modest seven aces and 62 percent conversion rate on first serves.
   The 21-year-old Canadian star put on the most dominant serving display in memory Sunday.
   Dropping only four points on his serve, the third-seeded Raonic wore down unseeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 7-6 (3), 6-2 at HP Pavilion for his second straight SAP Open title.
   Raonic won 28 of 31 points, including 17 straight, on his serve in the first set and 16 of 17 in the second set. He never surrendered more than one point in a service game. 
   Asked if he could serve any better, Raonic said: "I don't think so. I hope so. I served pretty flawlessly all week but sometimes lost focus on the next shot."  
   Raonic, who won his first career ATP World Tour title last year in San Jose, became the seventh player in the Open Era (since 1968) to win back-to-back championships in the Bay Area tournament. All the others -- Andy Murray (2006-07), Andy Roddick (2004-05), Mark Philippoussis (1999-2000), Pete Sampras (1996-97), John McEnroe (1978-79) and Stan Smith (1968-69) -- are multiple Grand Slam singles champions or finalists.
   There is no reason -- other than injuries -- to think Raonic won't wind up in Grand Slam finals, too. He missed two months after undergoing hip surgery last July and withdrew from a Davis Cup singles match eight days ago with knee pain. Raonic said it was "a big sigh of relief" that he would be able to defend his SAP Open crown.
   Largely because of the hip operation, it took Raonic 11 months to win his second ATP title (Chennai, India, in the first week of this year). It took him only six weeks to win his third.
   "I'm a much better tennis player this year," said Raonic, who's 11-1 this season and the first two-time winner of 2012 on the ATP circuit. "I'm hitting well from the baseline and constructing points. My tennis sense is better. I understand my game and my opponent's game better."
   Raonic, ranked 35th, improved to 9-0 in the SAP Open without losing a set. He held his serve 42 of 43 times last year and 41 of 42 times this year.   
   Istomin, a 25-year-old Russia native who fell to 0-2 in ATP finals, said the 6-foot-5 Raonic's serve is the best he has faced.
   "It's harder, he's taller, and the ball is jumping high. Five times I saw 145 (on the radar gun). It's really difficult to face this kind of serve," said Istomin, an SAP Open semifinalist in 2010 and quarterfinalist last year.
   In the middle of the first set, Raonic uncorked a 150-mph ace that Istomin challenged for the heck of it.
   "I didn't see it at all," Istomin, who rose 12 spots to No. 49 in the world with his runner-up finish, admitted with a chuckle. "That's why I challenged, to be sure it was in or no."
   But Raonic is hardly a one-dimensional player. Like a cagey veteran pitcher, he changes speeds on  his serve, often slicing the ball wide in the deuce court. He moves surprisingly well for his size, has a powerful baseline game and can volley deftly. He says his return of serve needs the most work. 
   Not that Raonic needed any help during the week, but he had plenty.
   Gael Monfils, seeded second last year and first this year, withdrew with an injury in Raonic's half of the draw for the second consecutive year. Second seeded Andy Roddick, a three-time SAP Open champion, struggled with hamstring and ankle injuries and lost to Istomin in the quarterfinals.
   Raonic also was fresher for Sunday's 3 p.m. final than Istomin. Raonic beat U.S. teenager Ryan Harrison in straight sets in 1 hour, 18 minutes Saturday afternoon, whereas Istomin labored for 2 hours, 20 minutes to beat fifth-seeded Julien Benneteau on Saturday night.  
   In the final, Istomin held his serve throughout the first set to force a tiebreaker. Raonic bolted to a 6-1 lead and held on to improve his career tiebreaker record in the tournament to 8-0. After drawing a first-round bye this year, he won one tiebreaker in each of his four matches.
   Errors crept into Istomin's game in the second set, when he was broken at 1-2 and 2-5.
   "The first set I was playing really good on my serve," he said. "In the second set, I was a little tired. I had a long match (Saturday night)."
   In doubles, Mark Knowles became the first player 40 years or older to win an ATP title since McEnroe, at 47, captured the 2006 SAP Open doubles crown with Jonas Bjorkman.
   The fourth-seeded team of Knowles, a 40-year-old Bahamian and Sacramento Capitals veteran in World TeamTennis, and Belgium's Xavier Malisse outlasted unseeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Frank Moser of Germany 6-4, 1-6, 10-5 tiebreak. 
   "To be in a sentence with John McEnroe is pretty cool," said Knowles, who won his 55th career ATP doubles title (tied for 15th in the Open Era and fourth among active players). "I’ll take that. I didn’t realize that. To win a title at 40 years old is far beyond anything I could have dreamed of. When you first turn pro, you never really dream of playing 20-plus years on tour.
   "I’ve been fortunate enough to stay fairly healthy and have had some great partners who have helped me win a lot of titles over the years. It’s helped me to have a family. I spend a lot of time with my wife and three kids. I really enjoy tennis a lot more than I did in the beginning when it was just myself."
   Knowles has won a doubles crown for 13 straight years, including 2001 in San Jose (with former Capitals teammate Brian MacPhie), and every year since 1993 except 1999.
  "It’s amazing," he said. "You don’t really keep track of that until somebody points it out. Now I’m a little bit bummed I didn’t win that one title."
   Malisse, a relative youngster at 31, played in his fourth straight doubles final in California. He was the runner-up in last year's SAP Open (with Alejandro Falla of Colombia, beating top-seeded Knowles and Michal Mertinak of Slovakia in the semifinals) and won titles at Indian Wells last March (with Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine) and Los Angeles (with Knowles) last July.
   "Maybe I should move to California," Malisse joked.   
   WTA tour -- Top-seeded Liezel Huber of Houston and Lisa Raymond of Wayne, Pa., breezed past unseeded Raquel Kops-Jones, a former Cal All-American from Fresno, and Abigail Spears of San Diego 6-3, 6-1 to win the $2,168,400 Qatar Total Open in Doha.
   Huber, 35, became the 15th player in the Open Era to win at least 50 WTA doubles titles. Raymond, 38, tied Jana Novotna for sixth place on that list with 76 crowns.
   Huber and Raymond reached the final of last year's Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, falling to Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko.
   Women's Challenger --  Fourth-seeded Maria Sanchez of Modesto and Yasmin Schnack of Elk Grove in the Sacramento area won their second doubles title of the year, beating third-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania and Valeria Solovieva of Russia 6-4, 6-3 in the $25,000 City of Surprise (Ariz.) Women's Tennis Classic. Schnack also won a doubles crown this year with Whitney Jones of St. Louis.
   Fifth-seeded Michelle Larcher de Brito, a former Capital from Portugal, won the Surprise singles title with a 6-1 6-3 victory over eighth-seeded Claire Feuerstein of France.
   College -- Cal freshman Zsofi Susanyi was named to the all-tournament team at No. 2 singles after helping the Bears reach the semifinals of the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville. Susanyi, from Hungary, also was chosen as the Pacific-12 Conference Player of the Week for Feb. 6-12.

Hard-serving Raonic eyes a repeat in SAP Open

   There are some things players on the ATP World Tour just don't want to do.
   They don't want to fly economy to Australia. They don't want to answer stupid questions at post-match news conferences. And they don't want to face Milos Raonic's blistering serve indoors (outdoors is no picnic, either).
   Hammering deliveries at up to 150 mph, the 6-foot-5 Canadian defeated promising U.S. teenager Ryan Harrison 7-6 (4), 6-2 Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the $531,000 SAP Open at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
   Raonic, 21, pounded 20 aces and evened his professional record against Harrison, 19, at 1-1.
   "If he served like that against anybody, it’s going to be a nightmare to break,” Harrison told reporters. “It doesn’t matter who he plays. Whenever he’s serving like that, it’s going to be a tough match for any of the top guys – Roger, Rafa, Novak – all the guys that are the best in the game."
   Harrison beat Raonic 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4 in a third-round thriller at Indian Wells last March. But that was outdoors. At HP Pavilion, the home of the NHL's San Jose Sharks, Raonic doesn't have to contend with wind or the sun.
   Raonic, who won his first ATP title in last year's SAP Open, is 8-0 (including a walkover) in the tournament.
  “It was all really new to me last year," said Raonic, who underwent hip surgery in July and missed two months. "I felt it all flew by really quickly. "Whereas now, going through all these things again and playing well and everything, I feel like I know how to deal with it all. There’s not stress around it.”
   Raonic, seeded third at No. 32 in the world rankings, will try for a repeat, his second title of the year and the third of his career when he meets unseeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan today at 3 p.m. (Comcast SportsNet California, CSN Plus in Sacramento and Tennis Channel).
   Istomin, ranked No. 61, outlasted fifth-seeded Julien Benneteau of France 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in 2 hours, 20 minutes Saturday night to reach his second ATP final. Istomin lost to Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine at New Haven in 2010.
   In the doubles final at 1 p.m., fourth-seeded Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Xavier Malisse of Belgium will face unseeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Frank Moser of Germany.
   The 40-year-old Knowles, who played his 10th season with the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis last July, and Malisse eliminated unseeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg and Olivier Rochus of Belgium 7-6 (4), 6-3. Malisse and Rochus won the 2004 French Open men's doubles title.
   Anderson, 6-8, and Moser, 6-5, upset second seeds and defending champions Scott Lipsky of Huntington Beach and Rajeev Ram of Carmel, Ind., 7-6 (5), 6-4. Lipsky and former Stanford teammate David Martin reached the NCAA doubles final in 2002 and won the SAP Open doubles crown in 2008.
   WTA tour -- Raquel Kops-Jones, a former Cal All-American from Fresno, and Abigail Spears of San Diego edged fifth-seeded Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain and Anastasia Rodionova, a Russian-born Australian and former Capital, 3-6, 6-1, 10-8 tiebreak in the doubles semifinals of the $2,168,400 Qatar Total Open in Doha.
   Kops-Jones and Spears will face top-seeded Liezel Huber, an American citizen orginally from South Africa, and Lisa Raymond of Wayne, Pa., for the title. Huber and Raymond coasted past Germany's Kristina Barrois and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-2, 6-3.  
   Women's Challenger -- Qualifier Maria Sanchez of Modesto lost to eighth-seeded Claire Feuerstein of France 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 in the semifinals of the $25,000 City of Surprise (Ariz.) Women's Tennis Classic.
   Feuerstein will meet fifth-seeded Michelle Larcher de Brito, a former Capital from Portugal, in today's final.
   College men -- Ninth-ranked Stanford (7-4) lost 4-1 to No. 2 Virginia (7-0) in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship at Charlottesville, Va. No. 13 Cal (5-3) beat No. 12 Pepperdine (3-6) in the consolation quarterfinals.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hobbling Roddick falls to Istomin in SAP quarterfinals

   He could have withdrawn before the SAP Open like Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and James Blake.
   He could have quit Wednesday night like Gael Monfils.
   And he could have pulled out before his quarterfinal on Friday night.
   But second-seeded Andy Roddick, battered like an NFL player, soldiered on and predictably lost to unseeded Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-4 at HP Pavilion.
   As usual, Roddick didn't exactly go down gracefully. The Associated Press reported that he "slammed one racket, broke another, argued with the chair umpire and shouted back at his own box. At one point, he smacked a ball high into the black curtains behind the far baseline grandstand."
   The three-time SAP Open champion, still recovering from a partially torn tendon in his right hamstring suffered during the Australian Open last month, twisted his right ankle during his second-round victory Wednesday night.
   "It would be abnormal if you weren't frustrated," Roddick, who still plans to defend his title next week in Memphis, told reporters after losing to Istomin. "The question is, how do you figure your way through it?"
   Istomin, a 25-year-old Russia native who plays for Uzbekistan, reached the SAP Open semifinals for the second time in three years. Also a quarterfinalist last year, he will meet fifth-seeded Julien Benneteau of France at 7:30 tonight (Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and Tennis Channel) for a berth in the final.
   Benneteau, a 30-year-old veteran playing in the SAP Open for the first time this year, eliminated unseeded Steve Darcis of Belgium 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
   Benneteau is 2-0 against Istomin, winning all five of their sets 6-4. That includes a three-set triumph in the second round of last year's U.S. Open.
   In today's 1 p.m. semifinal (Comcast SportsNet California and Tennis Channel), third seed and defending champion Milos Raonic, 21, of Canada will face unseeded Ryan Harrison, 19, of Bradenton, Fla.
   Raonic, 6-foot-5, edged sixth-seeded Kevin Anderson, a 6-8 South African, 7-5, 7-6 (3). Raonic pounded 16 aces to Anderson's 14 and never faced a break point.
   Harrison downed qualifier Dimitar Kutrovsky 6-1, 6-4 to become the first teenager to reach the SAP Open semifinals since Andy Murray won the 2006 and 2007 titles at 18 and 19, respectively.    
   Harrison beat Raonic 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4 in the third round at Indian Wells last year in their only previous meeting.
   Sanchez stays hot -- Maria Sanchez of Modesto reached the singles semifinals and doubles final at the $25,000 City of Surprise (Ariz.) Women's Tennis Classic.
   Sanchez, a singles qualifier, beat unseeded Olga Puchkova of Russia 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 to advance to a meeting with eighth-seeded Claire Feuerstein of France.
   In doubles, fourth-seeded Sanchez and Yasmin Schnack of Elk Grove in the Sacramento area dominated top-seeded Wan-Ting Liu and Shuai Zhang of China 6-2, 6-0. Sanchez and Schnack -- former rivals at USC and UCLA, respectively -- will take on third-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania and Valeria Solovieva of Russia in Sunday's final.
   Stanford men advance -- No. 9 Stanford beat No. 7 Baylor 4-2 in the first round of the National Men's Team Indoor Championship at Charlottesville, Va.
   Bradley Klahn, the 2010 NCAA singles champion who had missed Stanford's first nine matches with an undisclosed injury, defeated Marko Krickovic 6-3, 6-2 at No. 3 singles and teamed with Ryan Thacher to beat Roberto Maytin and Mate Zsiga 8-6 at No. 1 doubles. Klahn and Thacher reached the NCAA doubles final at Stanford last May, losing to Jeff Dadamo and Austin Krajicek of Texas A&M.
   No. 13 Cal (4-3) lost 4-0 to No. 4 Georgia (7-0). Stanford (7-3) will face host Virginia today in the quarterfinals.
   Other colleges -- The Sacramento State women defeated visiting Portland State 7-0 in a Big Sky Conference match and host UC Davis 5-2. The Hornets improved to 4-3 (1-0 in the Big Sky), and the Aggies fell to 3-7.
   The UC Davis men (3-4) routed visiting Weber State 6-0.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Former champ Stepanek, Russell ousted in San Jose

   Age caught up with two 33-year-olds Thursday in the SAP Open.
   In the second round at HP Pavilion in San Jose, fourth-seeded Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic lost to Steve Darcis of Belgium 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), and Michael Russell of Houston fell to Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-2, 6-2.
   Stepanek swept the 2009 SAP Open singles and doubles titles, teaming with Tommy Haas of Germany, and lost to Andy Roddick in the 2008 singles final. But Stepanek has not won a singles match in San Jose since 2009, losing in the first round in 2010, skipping last year's event and drawing a first-round bye this year. He won his first Grand Slam title last month, pairing with Leander Paes of India in men's doubles at the Australian Open.
   Russell, seven months older than Stepanek, is the oldest player in this year's singles draw. He lost to Istomin in the second round of the SAP Open for the second consecutive year after falling 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) in 2011.
   Istomin reached the San Jose semifinals in 2010 and quarterfinals last year, losing to Fernando Verdasco of Spain each time. Verdasco, the 2010 champion and 2011 runner-up, did not return this year.
   In Thursday night's featured match, 19-year-old Ryan Harrison saved two match points and beat fellow American Robby Ginepri, a 29-year-old wild card, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (0). Harrison won the last 10 points of the two-hour, eight-minute battle.
   Highlighting today's quarterfinals will be the first career meeting between Canada's Milos Raonic, the No. 3 seed and defending champion, and South Africa's Kevin Anderson, the No. 6 seed. Both are tall (Anderson is 6-8 and Raonic 6-5) with booming serves,  ranked in the 30s (Raonic is No. 32 and Anderson No. 35) and possibly headed to the top 10.
   Anderson, though, is four years older at 25. He starred at Illinois for three years, whereas Raonic turned pro out of high school.
   “It’ll come down to just a few opportunities,” Anderson told reporters about today's matchup. “Service game is going to be a big focus, so hopefully I’ll be able to serve well and capitalize on a few opportunities.”
   Also in the top half of the draw, Harrison will meet qualifier Dimitar Kutrovsky of Bulgaria. In the bottom half, No. 2 seed Roddick will take on Istomin, and fifth-seeded Julien Benneteau of France will play Darcis.
   Roddick, a three-time SAP Open champion, is still recovering from a partially torn tendon in his right hamstring and twisted his right ankle during his second-round victory over 19-year-old American qualifier Denis Kudla on Wednesday night.
   In the doubles quarterfinals, fourth-seeded Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Xavier Malisse of Belgium dispatched James Cerretani of Reading, Mass., and Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-3, 6-2. The 40-year-old Knowles, a longtime Sacramento Capitals star in World TeamTennis, won the 2001 SAP Open doubles title with former Capitals teammate Brian MacPhie.
   Ex-Cal star reaches doubles semis -- Raquel Kops-Jones, a former NCAA doubles champion from Cal, and fellow Californian Abigail Spears defeated Vera Dushevina of Russia and Shahar Peer of Israel 6-0, 7-6 (5) in the quarterfinals of the $2,168,400 Qatar Total Open in Doha.
   Sanchez stuns top seed -- Qualifier Maria Sanchez of Modesto recorded her first victory over a top-100 player when she shocked top-seeded Irina Falconi of Atlanta 6-2, 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals of the $25,000 City of Surprise (Ariz.) Women's Tennis Classic.
   Falconi is ranked No. 100 after climbing to a career-high No. 73 last October. Sanchez, a 22-year-old former USC All-American, jumped from No. 699 to a career-high No. 605 this week. She beat her doubles partner, qualifier Yasmin Schnack of Elk Grove in the Sacramento area, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round.
   Sanchez and Schnack, seeded fourth in doubles, will meet top-seeded Wan-Ting Liu and Shuai Zhang of China in today's semifinals.
   Former Sac State standout eyes return -- Ex-Sacramento State star Kiryl Harbatsiuk hopes to return to the Futures circuit next month after a long bout with the flu, Sac State director of tennis Bill Campbell said.
   Harbatsiuk, a 24-year-old native of Minsk, Belarus, is training in Sacramento. He has not played in a tournament since the first week of November.
   Stanford women rise to No. 1 -- The Stanford women replaced Florida at No. 1 in the nation after beating the Gators 5-2 Sunday at Stanford in a rematch of the past two NCAA team finals. The Cardinal had been No. 2.
   No. 3 Allie Will of Florida defeated No. 5 Nicole Gibbs 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 at No. 1 singles. Stanford's Kristie Ahn, playing for the first time since suffering an ankle injury last May, beat Alex Cercone 2-6, 7-5, 1-0 (4) at No. 4 singles.   
  Stanford won the 2010 NCAA title but, playing without then-No. 15 Ahn, lost to Florida 4-3 last year as the Gators snapped the Cardinal's NCAA-record 184-match home winning streak.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Monfils withdraws from SAP Open; Roddick survives

   SAN JOSE -- First, it appeared that the SAP Open's second seed would quit with an injury.
   Minutes later, its top seed did.
   On a bizarre night at HP Pavilion, Andy Roddick overcame a sprained ankle to beat qualifier Denis Kudla 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-4 Wednesday in the second round, and Gael Monfils withdrew during the tournament for the second straight year.   
   Third seed and defending champion Milos Raonic, who pulled out of his Davis Cup singles match Sunday with a knee injury, defeated Tobias Kamke 6-2, 7-6 (7) late Wednesday night in a matchup of the last two ATP World Tour Newcomers of the Year. Raonic, 21, of Canada won the award last year. 
   Monfils, a 25-year-old Frenchman considered the best athlete in men's professional tennis, announced at a news conference that he had withdrawn with patellar inflammation in his right knee. After drawing a first-round bye, he had been scheduled to play qualifier Dimitar Kutrovsky of Bulgaria on Thursday night.
   Kutrovsky, a 5-foot-9 former Texas All-American who uses two hands on both sides, instead will face lucky loser Blake Strode, who has deferred his acceptance to Harvard Law School to play pro tennis.  
   Last year, Monfils withdrew before his semifinal in the SAP Open with a wrist injury.
   Roddick, 29, was playing in his first match since retiring from his second-round match in the Australian Open on Jan. 19 with a partially torn tendon in his right hamstring.
   With Kudla, a 19-year-old Ukrainian-born American serving at 7-6 (5), 4-5, 15-0, Roddick twisted his right ankle while going wide for a forehand, went down in a heap and briefly lay motionless on his side.
   Worried that he might have suffered another serious injury, the three-time SAP Open champion yelled in frustration, then sat up and pounded his fist on the court. But after getting the ankle taped during a medical timeout and donning a brace, he decided to continue.
   "When you first go down, you don't know how it feels until you take the first few steps," he said. "It was all too familiar. I didn't want to stop. I'm sick of that."
   Kudla proceeded to win the game at love to even the second set 5-5 and take the first three points on Roddick's serve. Roddick, though, managed to hold serve, pull out the tiebreaker with the help of a Kudla double fault at 4-5 and overcome a 2-0 deficit in the third set.
   "It got away from me," said the 5-foot-11 Kudla, who had frustrated Roddick before the injury with laser forehands and two-handed backhands. "I pressed a little on a couple of shots. I lost a great opportunity to win a match like that, but I'll try to take the positives from it and move on."
   Roddick advanced to Friday's quarterfinals against either Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, an SAP Open semifinalist in 2010 and quarterfinalist last year, or 33-year-old American Michael Russell.
   As for his hamstring, Roddick said: "It's not going to be perfect for a while, but I'm not going to get into a day-by-day analysis. I don't like it when other guys do that. It's good enough. I'm going to play on it."
   Earlier Wednesday, 19-year-old wild card Ryan Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., knocked off eighth-seeded Olivier Rochus of Belgium 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round.
   Harrison, who won his Davis Cup debut Sunday after the United States had clinched its series against host Switzerland on indoor clay, won the last four games of the second set and last five games of the third set. The 6-foot-1 rising star blasted 27 aces to none for Rochus, the shortest man in the top 100 at 5-6 and the 2004 French Open men's doubles champion with countryman Xavier Malisse.
   Harrison, the second-youngest man in the top 100 at No. 94 behind fellow 19-year-old Bernard Tomic (No. 36) of Australia, will meet American veteran Robby Ginepri in the second round.
   Istomin outlasted San Francisco native Sam Querrey 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.The right-handed Querrey, who has fallen from a career-high No. 17 in January 2011 to No. 85 after undergoing surgery on his right elbow last June, pounded 15 aces to Istomin's six but committed eight double faults to his opponent's none.
    It was Querrey's second consecutive first-round loss in the SAP Open after appearances in the 2010 semifinals and 2009 quarterfinals. Istomin led Uzbekistan to a 3-2 victory over host New Zealand in the Davis Cup last weekend.
   For full SAP Open results and Thursday's schedule, go to www.sapopentennis.com.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Capitals land Fish again; Young upset in SAP Open

   Mardy Fish will try again.
   The Sacramento Capitals protected Fish, the top-ranked American at No. 8 in the world, with the seventh pick in Tuesday's World TeamTennis marquee draft.
   Fish was scheduled to play one match for the Capitals last year but withdrew with an abdominal injury. This year, the 30-year-old Los Angeles resident is set to play two matches, both at  home, for Sacramento during the July 9-29 regular season. Dates for all marquee player appearances will be announced when the league schedule is released next month.
   Visiting Capitals Stadium at Sunrise Mall will be 35-year-old retired stars Lindsay Davenport, chosen third by the Orange County Breakers, and Mark Philippoussis, picked first by the Philadelphia Freedoms. 
   Davenport, a Laguna Beach resident formerly ranked No. 1 in singles and doubles, was named WTT's 1993 Female Rookie of the Year at 17 and 1997 Female MVP as a member of the Capitals. Philippoussis, an Australian living in Las Vegas, reached the singles final at the U.S. Open in 1998 and at Wimbledon in 2003. He achieved a career-high singles ranking of No. 8 in 1999.
   Returning marquee players are former Stanford stars John McEnroe of the New York Sportimes and Bob and Mike Bryan of the Kansas City Explorers, Serena and Venus Williams of the defending champion Washington Kastles, Martina Hingis of the Sportimes and John Isner of the Boston Lobsters. Also, James Blake will play for Philadelphia. The Springfield (Mo.) Lasers did not make a selection, and the St. Louis Aces folded after last season.
   Team lineups will be finalized in the WTT roster draft on March 13.  Marquee players typically play a limited schedule, while roster players play the full season.  Additional marquee players could be added before the start of the season. 
   Young upset in SAP Open -- Thirty-three-year-old Michael Russell, 5-foot-8, upset fellow American Donald Young, seeded seventh, 6-1, 7-6 (6) Tuesday night in the first round of the $531,000 SAP Open at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
   Young, 22, made his ATP World Tour debut seven years ago in the SAP Open as the future of U.S. men's tennis. The gifted left-hander from Atlanta has failed to achieve stardom, although he did soar from No. 127 to No. 39 in the world rankings last year.
   Russell could meet another American, Sam Querrey, in the second round. Querrey, 6-6, beat Russell 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the 2010 SAP Open.
   In a matchup of former SAP Open semifinalists, 29-year-old wild card Robby Ginepri of Kennesaw, Ga., dismissed 31-year-old Xavier Malisse of Belgium 6-1, 6-2. Ginepri has fallen from No. 15 in the world in 2005, when he reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open, to No. 235. The right-hander broke his left elbow in a bicycle accident in September 2010 and missed 10 months.
   In a battle of 19-year-old American prospects, qualifier Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va., outlasted wild card Jack Sock of Overland Park, Kan., 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3. Kudla, who avenged a loss to Sock in the 2010 U.S. Open junior final, is scheduled to meet second-seeded Andy Roddick, a three-time SAP Open champion, tonight at 7 in the second round.
   Ex-Cal star advances in doubles -- Raquel Kops-Jones, a former NCAA doubles champion from Cal, and fellow Californian Abigail Spears dominated Eleni Daniilidou of Greece and Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of the $2,168,400 Qatar Ladies Open in Doha.
SAP OPEN
In San Jose
First-round singles
   Dimitar Kutrovsky, Bulgaria, def. Dennis Lajola, United States, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 7-6 (3).
   Gilles Muller, Luxembourg, def. Tim Smyczek, United States, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
   Denis Kudla, United States, def. Jack Sock, United States, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3.
   Steve Darcis, Belgium, def. Steve Johnson, United States, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5).
   Robby Ginepri, United States, def. Xavier Malisse, Belgium, 6-1, 6-2.
   Michael Russell, United States, def. Donald Young (7), United States, 6-1, 7-6 (6).
   First-round doubles
   Kevin Anderson, South Africa, and Frank Moser, Germany, def. Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic, and Igor Zelenay, Slovakia, 6-2, 6-3.
   Defending champions Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram (2), United States, def. Julien Benneteau and Gael Monfils, France, 6-3, 7-6 (6).  
Today's schedule
(First-round matches unless noted)
Stadium Court
(Beginning at 9:30 a.m.)
   Matthew Ebden, Australia, vs. Dudi Sela, Israel.
   Denis Istomin, Uzbekistan, vs. Sam Querrey, United States.
   Ryan Harrison (wild card), United States, vs. Olivier Rochus (8), Belgium.
   Julien Benneteau (5), France, vs. Ryan Sweeting, United States
   James Cerretani, United States, and Matthew Ebden, Australia, vs. Robby Ginepri and Travis Rettenmaier (wild cards), United States.
(Beginning at 7 p.m.)
   Denis Kudla (qualifier), United States, vs. Andy Roddick (2), United States, second round.
   Defending champion Milos Raonic (3), Canada, vs. Tobias Kamke, Germany, second round.
Courtside Club in Los Gatos
(Beginning at 1 p.m.)
   Santiago Gonzalez, Mexico and Christopher Kas (1), Germany, vs. Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria, and John Paul Fruttero, United States.
   Kevin Anderson, South Africa, and Frank Moser, Germany, vs. Paul Hanley, Australia, and Jamie Murray (3), Great Britain, quarterfinals.
   Mark Knowles, Bahamas, and Xavier Malisse (4), Belgium, vs. Mikhail Elgin, Russia, and Denis Istomin, Uzbekistan.
   Gilles Muller, Luxembourg, and Olivier Rochus, Belgium, vs. Carsten Ball, Australia, and Treat Conrad Huey, Philippines.
  To be arranged
  Sam Querrey and Jack Sock (wild cards), United States, vs. defending champions Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram (2), United States, quarterfinals.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

McEnroe, Sock win doubles exhibition at SAP Open

   John McEnroe and Jack Sock defeated Steve Johnson and Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4 in an exhibition doubles match Monday night in the SAP Open at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
   Nine of McEnroe's 78 career doubles titles and five of his 77 singles crowns came in the San Francisco Bay Area. The International Tennis Hall of Famer, who will turn 53 Thursday, returned to the SAP Open for the first time since winning the doubles title with Jonas Bjorkman six years ago.
   McEnroe had been scheduled to play with Milos Raonic, the defending singles champion, but the 21-year-old Canadian withdrew with a knee injury. The 6-foot-5 Raonic, who has a first-round bye in singles as the third seed, still is scheduled to play in Wednesday night's second match against 5-10 Tobias Kamke of Germany.
   Kamke, who won the 2010 Challenger in Tiburon (50 miles north of San Jose), beat Izak Van der Merwe of South Africa 6-3, 6-3 in the opening round.
   In a late match, sixth-seeded Kevin Anderson, a 6-8 South African, edged Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) in 2 hours, 27 minutes. At 20 years old, the 82nd-ranked Dimitrov is the third-youngest player in the top 100 behind No. 36 Bernard Tomic (19 years, 4 months) of Australia and No. 94 Ryan Harrison (19 years, 9 months) of Bradenton, Fla.
   Harrison, who made a victorious Davis Cup debut Sunday in Switzerland, is set to play eighth-seeded Olivier Rochus of Belgium on Wednesday in the first round of the SAP Open. Tomic withdrew from the tournament to face two driving charges in Australia.
   Anderson, who won a Futures title in Sacramento five years ago, and Dimitrov made their SAP Open debuts.
SAP Open
In San Jose
Final-round singles qualifying
   Dennis Lajola, United States, def. Yuki Bhambri, India, 6-4, 6-4.
   Tim Smyczek, United States, def. Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania, 6-3, 4-2, ret.
   Denis Kudla, United States, def. Blake Strode, United States, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-4.
   Dimitar Kutrovsky, Bulgaria, def. Luka Gregorc, Slovenia, 6-2, 6-0.
First-round singles
   Tobias Kamke, Germany, def. Izak Van der Merwe, South Africa, 6-3, 6-3.
   Kevin Anderson (5), South Africa, def. Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3).
First-round doubles
   Sam Querrey and Jack Sock, United States, def. Julian Knowle, Austria, and Michael Kohlmann, Germany, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 10-5 tiebreak.
   Paul Hanley, Australia, and Jamie Murray (3), Britain, def. Philipp Marx, Germany, and Adil Shamasdin, Canada, 6-3, 7-6 (7).
Today's schedule
Stadium Court
First round singles and doubles
(Beginning at 9:30 a.m.)
   Dimitar Kutrovsky (qualifier), Bulgaria, vs. Dennis Lajola (qualifier), United States.
   Gilles Muller, Luxembourg, vs. Tim Smyczek (qualifier), United States.
   Jack Sock (wild card), United States, vs. Denis Kudla (qualifier), United States.
   Steve Johnson (wild card), United States, vs. Steve Darcis, Belgium.
   Julien Benneteau and Gael Monfils, France, vs. defending champions Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram (2), United States.   
Beginning at 7 p.m.
   Xavier Malisse, Belgium, vs. Robby Ginepri (wild card), United States.
   Donald Young (7), United States, vs. Michael Russell, United States.
   New rankings -- Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
    Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
    Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
    John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- Career-high No. 110 in doubles (+5), unranked in singles.
    Kiryl Harbatsiuk, three-time Big Sky Conference MVP (2009-11) at Sacramento State -- No. 764 in singles (+4), No. 1,245 in doubles (+2).
   Mark Knowles, Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis (2001-07, 2009-11) -- No. 63 in doubles (+2), unranked in singles.
    Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 28 in doubles (-2), unranked in singles.
    David Martin, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 161 in doubles (+1), No. 757 in singles (+4).
    Conor Niland, 2006 Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year and two-time All-American at Cal -- No. 311 in singles (no change), unranked in doubles.
    Sam Querrey, San Francisco native -- No. 85 in singles (no change), No. 39 in doubles (-1).
    Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 52 in singles (-3), No. 211 in doubles (+1).
    Dusan Vemic, Capitals (2010-11) -- No. 645 in doubles (+1), No. 1,502 in singles (no change).
    Jimmy Wang, Folsom resident -- No. 226 in singles (+3), No. 486 in doubles (+90).
Women
    Vania King, Capitals (2010-11) -- No. 6 in doubles (no change), No. 57 in singles (+2).
    Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 39 in doubles (no change), No. 722 in singles (+5).
    Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- Career-high No. 230 in doubles (+40), career-high No. 605 in singles (+94).
    Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis (2011) -- Career-high No. 179 in doubles (+13), career-high No. 377 in singles (+16).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Reigning, former SAP Open champions hobbling

   Wednesday night at the SAP Open in San Jose could be very interesting.
   Andy Roddick and Milos Raonic, who have used their massive serves to win four SAP Open singles titles combined, are scheduled to play their first matches in the tournament then at HP Pavilion. And both are hobbling.
   Roddick -- the champion in 2004, 2005 and 2008 -- retired from his second-round match against Lleyton Hewitt in last month's Australian Open with a partially torn tendon in his right hamstring. Roddick, 29, said on Feb. 2 that he hadn't hit a ball since the Jan. 19 injury but was planning to start last Monday.
   Raonic, a 21-year-old Canadian who won his first ATP World Tour title in last year's SAP Open, withdrew from his Davis Cup singles match against France on Sunday in Vancouver, British Columbia, with knee pain following Saturday's doubles loss. France won 4-1 and will host the United States in the April 6-8 quarterfinals.
   Roddick, seeded second, and Raonic, seeded third, received first-round byes in the SAP Open. On Wednesday at 7 p.m., Roddick is scheduled to play the winner of Tuesday's match between wild card Jack Sock, a promising 19-year-old American, and a qualifier to be determined.
   In a nationally televised encounter between Nebraska natives, Roddick dispatched Sock 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round of the U.S. Open under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium last September. But Sock, who won the mixed doubles title there with Melanie Oudin two weeks after turning pro, is rapidly improving.
   In Wednesday night's second match, Raonic is scheduled to face the winner of today's contest between 129th-ranked Izak Van der Merwe, 28, of South Africa and No. 89 Tobias Kamke, 25, of Germany. Raonic and Van der Merwe are both 6-5; Kamke is 5-10.
   Both Van der Merwe -- a 2005 NCAA singles semifinalist for Old Dominion, located in Norfolk, Va. -- and Kamke won 2010 Challenger titles in Northern California. Van der Merwe captured the Sacramento Challenger doubles crown with countryman Rik de Voest, and Kamke took the Tiburon singles trophy.
   Also seeded in the SAP Open are No. 1 Gael Monfils of France, No. 4 Radek Stepanek (the 2009 singles and doubles champion, with Tommy Haas) of the Czech Republic, No. 5 Kevin Anderson of South Africa, No. 6 Julien Benneteau of France, No. 7 Donald Young of Atlanta and No. 8 Olivier Rochus of Belgium.
  Go to http://www.sapopentennis.com/ for draws, schedules, qualifying results, ticket information, etc.
  Karlovic carries Croatia -- Speaking of powerful servers, 6-10 Ivo Karlovic of Croatia almost single-handedly beat host Japan in the first round of the Davis Cup over the weekend.
   Karlovic, who captured the Sacramento and Tiburon singles titles in consecutive weeks last October, won both of his singles matches in straight sets and teamed with Ivan Dodig for a four-set doubles victory in Croatia's 3-2 triumph in Hyogo.
   Karlovic, ranked 39th at 32 years old, defeated No. 18 Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to give Croatia a 2-0 lead and beat No. 81 Go Soeda 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-4 in the deciding match. Both Nishikori, who's coached by Brad Gilbert of San Rafael (near San Francisco), and Soeda, the 2009 Tiburon singles champion, are one foot shorter than Karlovic.
   Cal women ousted - Fifth-seeded Cal lost to top-seeded Duke 4-1 in the semifinals of the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Va.
   The seventh-ranked Bears (6-1) fell in the semis for the third time in four years. The third-ranked Blue Devils (8-0) will face second-seeded UCLA today for the title.
   Cal's point came from freshman Zsofi Susnayi, ranked 21st, at No. 2 singles. She pounded No. 38 Hanna Mar 6-2, 6-1. The Bears' Jana Juricova, the reigning NCAA singles champion, did not finish her matches at No. 1 singles or doubles.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

U.S. odd couple eliminates Federer, Switzerland

   Bob and Mike Bryan go together like Ben and Jerry. The Pittsburgh Pirates and losing. Wall Street and greed.
   It's impossible to think of one without the other. The Bryans, 33-year-old identical twins and former Stanford All-Americans, have played tennis together all their lives. With 11 Grand Slam men's doubles titles and 76 overall, they form arguably the greatest team of all time.
   So it was more than a little strange when Mike Bryan took the court Saturday with Mardy Fish. No matter. They knocked off Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, the reigning Olympic champions, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 Saturday to give the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead over host Switzerland in the first round of the Davis Cup.
   It was only the second time in the last 10 years that Mike has played with anyone other than Bob, who was unavailable because of the birth of his first child last week. Mike Bryan and Fish won in five sets in the 2008 Davis Cup semifinals on outdoor clay in Spain over Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco.
   "It's great that the guy I have to tee it up with is the best doubles player ever," Fish told reporters Saturday. "I'm just trying to do my part."
   On Friday, John Isner shocked Federer 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2, and Fish outlasted Wawrinka 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 9-7 in the best-of-five series on indoor clay, supposedly the United States' worst surface.
   Speaking in French to the Swiss media Saturday, Federer was candid regarding Wawrinka, ranked 28th in the world in singles after reaching a career-high ninth in 2008.
   "I played well enough in doubles, but Stanislas not so much," Federer said. "He didn't have his best match in singles. It's a shame. Because of that defeat, we weren't able to put he U.S. under pressure."
   The United States redeemed itself after losing to Spain, minus Rafael Nadal, 3-1 in the quarterfinals last July on an indoor hardcourt in Austin, Texas. Fish went 0-2 and Andy Roddick, playing in his hometown, 0-1. The Bryans accounted for the Americans' point.
   The U.S. will go on the road again in the quarterfinals, April 6-8, against the winner of the France-Canada matchup in Vancouver, British Columbia. France leads 2-1. The winner of that quarterfinal will play on the road, probably against defending champion Spain on clay.
   That raises the question, if the U.S. couldn't beat Spain, playing without Nadal, on the Americans' preferred surface, how would it beat a Spanish team playing on clay at home with Nadal?
   "We have the worst draw you could have on paper," U.S. captain Jim Courier conceded Saturday. "But you saw what paper means here, which is absolutely nothing. That's the statement: It's that our guys are committed and played well."
   Cal women reach semis -- Seventh-ranked Cal defeated No. 6 Georgia 4-0 in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Va., avenging a loss to the Bulldogs in the round of 16 of last year's NCAA championships at Stanford.
   The encounter featured a matchup of the last two NCAA singles champions. Fifth-ranked Jana Juricova, the reigning titlist from Cal, dominated second-ranked Chelsey Gullickson 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1 singles.
   In today's semifinals, the Bears (6-0) will face third-ranked Duke (7-0), and fourth-ranked UCLA will meet 16th-ranked USC.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Roddick hopes to be fit for SAP Open

   Andy Roddick expressed concern about his hamstring injury entering next week's SAP Open in San Jose.
   The No. 2 seed and three-time SAP Open champion retired from his second-round match against Lleyton Hewitt in last month's Australian Open. A subsequent MRI showed a partial tear of a right hamstring tendon.
   "I haven't hit a ball since Australia," Roddick said last week on a conference call from his home in Austin, Texas. "We've just been working on different types of treatments trying to get it right. The MRI came back probably not as good as we were hoping. But I'm hoping to be hitting balls for the first time next Monday. If all goes well there, that should be plenty of time to be ready.
   "Bill (SAP Open tournament director Bill Rapp) was nice enough to confirm a Wednesday night start of me in San Jose, so that gives me a little extra time. If all goes well on Monday, I should have a good seven, eight, nine days to hit balls beforehand, and I think that should be enough."
   Roddick, who will turn 30 on Aug. 30, won the SAP Open in 2004, 2005 and 2008 and was the runner-up in 2010. He earned his 30th career ATP singles title in Memphis last year to join Roger Federer as the only active players with at least one crown for 11 consecutive years. However, Roddick's streak of finishing in the year-end top 10 ended at nine.
   Roddick, Milos Raonic and John McEnroe conducted separate conference calls to promote the SAP Open, Monday through Feb. 19 at HP Pavilion.
   Raonic, a 6-foot-5 Canadian who turned 21 in December, won his first ATP World Tour title last year in San Jose. He was named the ATP's Newcomer of the Year after jumping from No. 156 in the world at the start of the season to No. 31 at the end despite undergoing hip surgery in July and missing two months.
   McEnroe, an International Tennis Hall of Famer from New York who will turn 53 on Thursday, won 17 Grand Slam titles (seven in singles, nine in men's doubles and one in mixed doubles). Overall, he captured 165 singles and doubles titles combined, by far more than anyone else in the Open Era. Five of his singles crowns and nine of his doubles trophies came in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he also attended Stanford for one year and won the NCAA singles title.
   McEnroe will play an exhibition doubles match with Raonic against Gael Monfils of France and rising star Jack Sock, a 19-year-old American, on Monday at 7 p.m. Monfils is seeded first and Raonic third in singles.
   To see the SAP Open singles draw, go to www.sapopentennis.com/ftpuploads/MDS.pdf. Evening schedules are available at http://www.sapopentennis.com/.
   Here are other highlights of the conference calls:
     Roddick on Novak Djokovic's epic victory over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final: "It almost looked like the kind of tennis you see when you play Xbox, where the guys really don't get tired, and they just hit whatever shot they want.
   "It's pretty remarkable. Probably at no time in my career -- and I've been in pretty good shape throughout it -- I'm not sure I could play back-to-back six-hour matches of that intensity. It's not like those guys were getting a lot of free points on their serves, either. What they're doing right now physically is impressive."
   Raonic, on winning last year's SAP Open: "Everything just came together really well. I felt like the Australian Open (fourth round as a qualifier, beating 10th-ranked Mikhail Youzhny) was a really big surprise for me but also gave me very good insight into my potential. I felt like I came into San Jose a lot more confident that I could play with the top guys and win matches and not just squeeze through them.
   "So it was sort of the first time I really felt I was stepping into a tournament and feeling like I truly belonged. But not only like I belonged, but that I can win a title."
   McEnroe, on the level of interest in tennis in the United States: "I think the sport isn't as popular as it was. I still think it's a great game. There are a lot of other things out there that people can gravitate towards. If you had told me 25 years ago that poker would outrate tennis, I would have laughed at you. For that matter, golf, bowling -- you could go on and on.
   "I think tennis is better than any of those things. Having said that, you have to think outside the box and go after the fan who has 500 choices on TV now instead of 10."
   Pro results -- Two members of the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis lost Friday.
   Eighth-seeded Vania King fell to third-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 7-6 (7), 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the $220,000 PTT Pattaya Open in Pattaya City, Thailand. King, 5-foot-5, dropped to 0-7 against the 5-11 Hantuchova.
   Mark Knowles, King's teammate on the Capitals, and Robert Kendrick, a Fresno native, lost to the British team of Chris Eaton and Dominic Inglot 4-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8 tiebreak in the doubles semifinals of the $100,000 yp Challenger of Dallas. Knowles has homes in Dallas and his native Bahamas.
   Maria Sanchez of Modesto also lost in a doubles semifinal, falling with Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland to third-seeded Valeria Solovieva of Russia and Lenka Wienerova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-3 in the $25,000 Childhelp Desert Classic in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs.
   College results -- Fifth-seeded Cal blanked Miami 4-0 in the first round of the ITA National Women's Indoor Team Championship in Charlottesville, Va. The Bears will meet fourth-seeded Georgia in today's quarterfinals.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Strange but true: King still in singles, out of doubles

   Vania King finds herself in a strange position in the PTT Pattaya Open.
   King, a member of the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis for the past two seasons, remains alive in singles after being eliminated in doubles. It's usually the other way around.
   Seeded eighth in singles, the 23-year-old Long Beach product dismissed Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 6-1, 6-3 Thursday in the second round of the $220,000 tournament in Pattaya City, Thailand. On Wednesday, King and Kai-Chen Chang of Taiwan defaulted their first-round doubles match because of Chang's undisclosed illness.
   The 5-foot-5 King is ranked sixth in the world in doubles and 59th in singles. She has reached three Grand Slam women's doubles finals, winning two, but has never advanced past the third round of singles in a Slam.
   King will face third seed and defending champion Daniela Hantuchova, a 5-11 veteran from Slovakia, in today's quarterfinals. King is 0-6 against Hantuchova, but four of the matches have gone to three sets.
   SAP Open -- Lleyton Hewitt (toe) joined fellow Australian Bernard Tomic (leg) and American James Blake (knee) as players who have withdrawn from next week's SAP Open in San Jose.
   However, Hewitt and Tomic are scheduled to play in the Davis Cup against China in Geelong, Australia, near Melbourne, this weekend. Hewitt, a former world No. 1 who will turn 32 on Feb. 24, won the SAP Open 10 years ago.
   Meanwhile, the SAP Open awarded its final wild card to American Steve Johnson, the reigning NCAA singles champion who has led USC to three consecutive NCAA team titles. The other two wild cards went to Americans Robby Ginepri, 29, and Jack Sock, 19.
   Tickets to the SAP Open, Monday through Feb. 19 at HP Pavilion, are available by calling (408) ACE-2121 or visiting http://www.ticketmaster.com/. For more information, go to http://www.sapopentennis.com/.
   World TeamTennis -- The Capitals' intrastate rival, the Breakers, will move a few miles inland from Newport Beach to the Bren Events Center at UC Irvine.
   "Our rebranding as the Orange County Breakers and the move to the Bren Center in centrally located Irvine better align the team with the entire Orange County community," Breakers general manager Kerry Schneider explained in a news release.
   The franchise, based in Newport Beach since 2003, will play its 10th season in WTT when the 2012 regular season opens July 9 and runs through July 29. The top two teams from each conference advance to WTT Finals Weekend, Sept. 14-16 in Charleston, S.C.
   The league's marquee draft is scheduled for Feb. 14 and roster player draft for March 13.
   Other results -- Unseeded Robert Kendrick, a Fresno native, and Mark Knowles, a longtime Capital from the Bahamas, edged top-seeded Carsten Ball of Australia and Adil Shamasdin of Canada 4-6, 7-5, 11-9 tiebreak in the doubles quarterfinals of the $100,000 yp Challenger of Dallas.
   Alexandra Mueller of Abington, Pa., and Yasmin Schnack of Elk Grove in the Sacramento area lost to Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Jessica Pegula of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-4, 6-0 in the first round of doubles at the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, Mich.
   Maria Sanchez of Modesto and Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland gained the doubles semifinals of the $25,000 Childhelp Desert Classic in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs, with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Americans Anamika Bhargava and Sylvia Krywacz.
   As a singles qualifier, Sanchez lost in the first round to Stanford-bound Krista Hardebeck of Santa Ana in the Los Angeles area 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Hardebeck then fell to Valeria Solovieva of Russia 6-4, 6-4.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

College capsules: Stanford women seek redemption

   The second-ranked Stanford women's tennis team has plenty of incentive this season.
   Florida edged the host Cardinal 4-3 in last year's NCAA final as Lauren Embree overcame a 4-0 third-set deficit to beat Mallory Burdette 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (6) at No. 2 singles in the deciding match. The loss ended Stanford's 12-year home winning streak.
   Burdette, now a junior, is ranked No. 1 in singles and doubles (with sophomore Nicole Gibbs). The Gators head the team rankings.
   The Cal women, led by defending NCAA singles champion Jana Juricova, are ranked seventh. Sacramento State is No. 49 and UC Davis No. 64. On the men's side, Stanford is No. 9 and Cal No. 13.
   Following are capsules of Northern California college teams:  
STANFORD WOMEN
   2012 record, ranking -- 2-0, No. 2.
   Last season -- 28-1 overall, 8-0 Pacific-10 Conference. Lost to No. 2 Florida 4-3 in final of NCAA Tournament at Stanford.
   Coach -- Lele Forood (12th year, 289-17 overall, 49-3 Pac-10), 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, six NCAA team championships.
   Key players lost -- Hilary Barte, four-time All-American in singles and doubles, two-time NCAA doubles champion; Carolyn McVeigh.
   Key returners -- Junior Mallory Burdette (Jackson, Ga.), reigning NCAA doubles champion; sophomore Nicole Gibbs (Santa Monica), ranked fifth (tie) in singles, 2011 NCAA singles semifinalist; junior Stacey Tan (Lakewood), 2011 NCAA singles runner-up; sophomore Kristie Ahn (Upper Saddle River, N.J.), first-team All-Pac-10, 2011 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. 
   Key addition -- Freshman Ellen Tsay (Pleasanton), ranked 31st in NCAA.
   Note -- Stanford's loss in the NCAA final, which came without the injured Ahn, ended Cardinal streaks of 47 consecutive victories overall and 184 home wins spanning 12 years.
STANFORD MEN
   2012 record, ranking -- 5-2, No. 9.
   Last season -- 21-6 overall, 5-1 Pac-10. Lost to top-ranked Virginia 4-3 in quarterfinals of NCAA Tournament.
   Coach -- John Whitlinger (eighth year, 119-70 overall, 30-16 Pac-10), six NCAA Tournament appearances.
   Key players lost -- Alex Clayton, NCAA singles semifinalist as freshman, NCAA singles quarterfinalist as sophomore; Greg Hirshman.
   Key returners -- Senior Bradley Klahn (Poway), 2010 NCAA singles champion, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up, 2011 All-Pac-10 first team; senior Ryan Thacher (Studio City), ranked 37th in singles, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up, All-Pac-10 second team; Denis Lin (Thousand Oaks); junior Matt Kandath (Gansevoort, N.Y.), ranked 75th in singles.
   Freshmen -- John Morrissey (Ireland), Robert Stineman (Winnetka, Ill.), Georgy Zerkalov (Moscow).
   Note -- Stanford has won 15 NCAA team titles, more than twice as many as any other school, but none since 2000. ... Klahn has missed the Cardinal's first seven matches because of an undisclosed injury.
CAL WOMEN
   2012 record, ranking -- 4-0, No. 7.
   Last season -- 18-7 overall, 6-2 Pac-10. Lost to No. 8 Georgia 4-3 in round of 16 of NCAA Tournament.
   Coach -- Amanda Augustus, fifth year.
   Key players lost -- Mari Andersson, 2009 NCAA doubles champion with Jana Juricova, 2011 NCAA singles quarterfinalist, All-Pac-10 second team (2009, 2010, 2011); Marina Coussou.
   Key returners -- Senior Juricova (Slovakia), ranked tied for fifth in singles, 2011 NCAA singles champion, All-Pac-10 first team (2009, 2010, 2011); sophomore Anett Schutting (Estonia), ranked No. 74; junior Annie Goransson (Sweden), ranked No. 81; Tayler Davis (San Jose), ranked No. 32, lost in first round of singles in 2011 NCAA Tournament.
   Freshmen -- No. 21 Zsofi Susanyi (Hungary), No. 64 Cecilia Estlander (Finland).
   Note -- All six of Cal's singles players are ranked, but the Bears do not have a ranked doubles team.
CAL MEN
   2012 record, ranking -- 4-2, No. 13.
   Last season -- 14-8 overall, 3-3 Pac-10. Lost to No. 3 Tennessee 4-2 in round of 16 of NCAA Tournament.
   Coach -- Peter Wright (19th year, 245-177 overall), 12 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and 17 in 18 years, NCAA round of 16 five times.
   Key players lost -- Pedro Zerbini (Brazil), 2011 All-Pac-10 first team; Bozhidar Katsarov (Ojai).
   Key returners -- Junior Carlos Cueto (Spain), 2001 All-Pac-10 second team, ranked No. 27 in doubles with Ben McLachlan; senior Nick Andrews (Folsom), ranked No. 5 in doubles with Christoffer Konigsfeldt; junior Konigsfeldt (Denmark); sophomore Ben McLachlan (New Zealand), ranked No. 42 in singles; junior Riki McLachlan (New Zealand). 
   Key additions -- Senior Ahmed Ismail (Egypt), transfer from UCLA;  freshman Gregory Bayane (France).
   Note -- Cal reached the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time since 2003.
SACRAMENTO STATE WOMEN
   2012 record, ranking --1-2, No. 49.
   Last season -- 19-9 overall, 8-0 Big Sky Conference. Lost to Arkansas in first round of NCAA Tournament.
   Coach -- Dima Hrinashka (sixth year, 96-38 overall, 39-0 Big Sky Conference).
   Key players lost -- Milica Zivanovic.
   Key returners -- Senior Tatsiana Kapshai (Belarus), Big Sky MVP; junior Rebeca Delgado (Mexico), first-team All-Big Sky; senior Maria Meliuk (Belarus), first-team All-Big Sky; senior Clarisse Baca (Mexico), first-team All-Big Sky; sophomore Sophie Lohscheidt (Germany), second-team All-Big Sky; sophomore Katharina Knoebl (Austria).
   Freshmen -- Chyna Brown (Oakland), Andrea Gomez Canus (Mexico), Jackline Kraiouchkina (Russia), Mariam Samkanashvili (Georgia), Gina Zambemardi (Mexico).
   Notes --Sac State returns its top five singles players and all three doubles teams after winning its 10th consecutive Big Sky title and making its 10th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. ... Kapshai reached second round of NCAA singles. ... Kaphai and Delgado are ranked 38th nationally in doubles.
SACRAMENTO STATE MEN
   2012 record -- 0-3.
   Last season -- 14-14 overall, 10-0 Big Sky. Lost to eventual champion USC in first round of NCAA Tournament.
   Coach -- Slava Konikov (seventh year, 97-61 overall, 43-2 Big Sky).
   Key players lost -- Kiryl Harbatsiuk, a three-time Big Sky MVP; Marco Starcevic, honorable mention All-Big Sky; Josh Lorentzen.
   Key returners -- Seniors Jason Smith (Davis) and Javier Millan (Mexico), both first-team All-Big Sky; Aliaksandr Malko (Belarus).
   Freshmen -- Roy Brandys (Poland), Jonathan Hultkrantz (Sweden), Sean Kolar (Loomis), Marek Marksoo (Estonia), Joaquin Marquez (Mexico), Tom Miller (England), Niranjan Ram (India).
   Note -- Since joining the Big Sky in 1996-97, the Hornets have won 10 regular-season titles (1998-99, 2001-03, 2007-11) and nine tournament championships (1998-99, 2001-03, 2007, 2009-11) and qualified for the NCAA Tournament eight times (1999, 2001-03, 2007, 2009-11).
UC DAVIS WOMEN
   2012 record, ranking --2-5, No. 64.
   Last season -- 17-7 overall, 6-2 Big West Conference. Reached quarterfinals of Big West tournament.
   Coach -- Bill Maze (16th year, fourth in Division I, 166-146 overall, 48-16 Big West), 2011 Big West Coach of the Year.
   Key players lost --None.
   Key returners -- Sophomore Megan Heneghan (Tustin), 2011 All-Big West first team, 2011 Big West Freshman of the Year; sophomore Kelly Chui (Milpitas), 2011 All-Big West second team; senior Dahra Zamudio (Orange), 2011 All-Big West honorable mention; junior Ellie Edles (Costa Mesa); sophomore Nicole Koehly (Santa Ana); junior Lauren Curry (Walnut Creek). 
   Freshman -- Layla Sanders (El Cerrito).
   Note -- Maze, a former three-time All-American at Stanford, played No. 1 doubles with John McEnroe as a senior.
UC DAVIS MEN
   2012 record --2-3.
   Last season -- 5-13, lost in the first round of the Big West tournament.
   Coach -- Daryl Lee (18th year, 133 victories), six seasons in double-figure victories, fourth official season in NCAA Division I, nine appearances in NCAA Division II Tournament.
   Key players lost -- Nick Lopez, 2011 All-Big West first team in singles and doubles.
   Key returners -- Junior Toki Sherbakov (Mountain View), 2009-10 All-Big West second team in singles; junior Connor Coates (Roseville), All-Big West first team in doubles with Lopez; sophomore Kyle Miller (Pacific Grove); senior Chris Aria (Alameda); sophomore Alex Haley (Woodside).  
   Key addition -- Junior Hugo Verdi-Fortin (Canada), transfer from Fresno State.
   Note -- Sherbakov takes over at No. 1 singles after battling injuries last season.
ALSO
   Other national rankings:
   Women's team --No. 34 Saint Mary's, No. 73 Santa Clara.
   Women's singles -- Washington senior Denise Dy (San Jose), No. 10; Santa Clara sophomore Katie Le (Milpitas), No. 37; Saint Mary's sophomore Jenny Julien (France), No. 68; Saint Mary's junior Catherine Isip (Anaheim); Saint Mary's sophomore Jade Frampton (St. George, Utah), No. 116.
   Men's team -- No. 49 Santa Clara, No. 65 Saint Mary's.
   Men's singles -- USF senior Thai Tu (Vietnam), No. 114.
   Notes -- Senior Artem Ilyushin of Granite Bay is 3-1 at No. 1 singles and 4-1 at No. 2 doubles for the Mississippi State men (5-2), tied for No. 14 nationally. ...
   Freshman Breanna Bachini of Roseville is 1-0 at No. 4 singles for the Syracuse women (3-3), coached by former French Open men's doubles champion Luke Jensen. Bachini has not played doubles. ...
   Junior Mike Facey of Cameron Park is 0-2 at No. 4 singles and 0-2 at No. 2 doubles for the Montana men (1-1). His sisters, freshman twins Kat and Ali Facey, play for UC Irvine (2-2). Kat is 2-2 at No. 4 and No. 5 singles, and Ali is 0-1 at No. 4 singles. With separate partners at No. 3 doubles, Ali is 1-1 and Kat 0-1. ...
   Junior Heather Davidson of Rocklin is 0-4 at No. 1 singles and 1-3 at No. 1 doubles for the Montana women (2-2). ...
   Granite Bay, Roseville, Cameron Park and Rocklin are suburbs of Sacramento.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Knowles opens year (very) close to home this time

   Traveling on the ATP World Tour for the past 20 years, Mark Knowles probably has earned enough frequent flier miles to earn a free ticket to Neptune.
   So rather than begin his season in Australia, as he had every year since 1993, the longtime Sacramento Capital decided to stay a little closer to home this year.
   Like practically around the corner.
   Knowles, a 40-year-old doubles specialist and father of three, teamed with Fresno native Robert Kendrick to beat Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native, and Chris Wettengel of Las Vegas 7-5, 6-3 Monday in the first round of the $100,000 yp Challenger of Dallas. Knowles has homes in Dallas and his native Bahamas.
   The unseeded Kendrick, who returned two weeks ago from an eight-month doping suspension, and Knowles, a former world No. 1 in doubles who has plunged to No. 65, could face top-seeded Carsten Ball of Australia and Adil Shamasdin of Canada in the quarterfinals.
   Knowles plans to make his ATP season debut next week in the SAP Open at HP Pavilion in San Jose. He won the doubles title there in 2001 with former Capitals teammate Brian MacPhie.
   New rankings -- Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
    Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
    Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
    John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- No. 115 in doubles (-1), unranked in singles.
    Kiryl Harbatsiuk, three-time Big Sky Conference MVP (2009-11) at Sacramento State -- No. 768 in singles (no change), No. 1,247 in doubles (no change).
   Mark Knowles, Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis (2001-07, 2009-11) -- No. 65 in doubles (-1), unranked in singles.
    Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 26 in doubles (-2), unranked in singles.
    David Martin, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 162 in doubles (-15), No. 761 in singles (no change).
    Conor Niland, 2006 Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year and two-time All-American at Cal -- No. 311 in singles (+10), unranked in doubles.
    Sam Querrey, San Francisco native -- No. 85 in singles (+4), No. 38 in doubles (+1).
    Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 49 in singles (no change), No. 212 in doubles (no change).
    Dusan Vemic, Capitals (2010-11) -- No. 646 in doubles (+7), No. 1,502 in singles (no change).
    Jimmy Wang, Folsom resident -- No. 229 in singles (+35), No. 576 in doubles (+5).
Women
    Vania King, Capitals (2010-11) -- No. 6 in doubles (no change), No. 59 in singles (no change).
    Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 39 in doubles (no change), No. 727 in singles (no change).
    Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- No. 270 in doubles (no change), No. 699 in singles (-3).
    Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis (2011) -- No. 192 in doubles (no change), No. 393 in singles (no change).