Saturday, September 29, 2012

Two magical weeks changed Nielsen's life

Wimbledon men's doubles champion Frederik Nielsen
practices Saturday at the Natomas Racquet Club
in Sacramento. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After three months, the glow remains.
   It probably always will.
   During a practice session Saturday at the Natomas Racquet Club, Frederik Nielsen joked to a shirtless player on the adjacent court, "If you're topless, you gotta make that shot."
   After the workout, it took Nielsen about 15 minutes to make the short walk back to the clubhouse as he stopped to chat amiably with fellow pros.
   Once inside the locker room, Nielsen happily granted an interview to a reporter and encouraged him to "ask anything you want."
   Until late June, the Danish veteran was a journeyman pro playing in the shadow of his grandfather, two-time Wimbledon runner-up Kurt Nielsen, not to mention countrywoman and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Nielsen had toiled mostly in tennis' minor leagues at distant outposts around the world for 11 grueling years.
   But after two magical weeks, Nielsen will be known for the rest of his life as a Wimbledon champion. He and Jonathan Marray became the first wild cards in the revered tournament's 135-year history to win the men's doubles title.
   As if the fairy tale needed any more drama, Nielsen felt a pop in his left wrist late in the second set of the five-set final against Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Horia Tecau of Romania. But Nielsen, who's right-handed with a two-handed backhand, said a CT scan later showed no major damage.  
   So how much has Nielsen's life changed?
   "Well, obviously it's changed a little bit. You're here talking to me, and you probably wouldn't be (otherwise)," the 29-year-old Nielsen, who received a wild card to play singles in next week's $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger, cracked to the reporter.
   Turning serious, he said: "Even in Denmark, people didn't know who I was. And the ones who (did) couldn't really relate to it. But it's (a tournament) everyone can relate to because basically everyone knows Wimbledon."
   There also have been practical advantages.
   "It made a big difference for my doubles ranking," said Nielsen, who soared from No. 111 to No. 24 with the title and is now No. 22 after reaching the final in Metz, France, last week. "That's obviously giving me the chance to play all the doubles tournaments that I want, but that's not really what I'm trying to do. My schedule is roughly gonna be the same.
   "But it goes without saying that it's gonna give me some new opportunities. There's a good chance we're gonna play the (ATP) World Tour Finals (for the top eight doubles teams of the year), and it opens up some other doors. So (my life) definitely has changed, but I don't feel different. Sometimes I have to remind myself (that it has changed) because I keep forgetting."
   Nielsen didn't mention money, but the $210,000 he pocketed for winning the Wimbledon title represents 37 percent of his career earnings of $563,585.  
   Nielsen insisted that winning Wimbledon was not more meaningful because of his grandfather's appearance in the 1953 and 1955 singles finals there.
   "Wimbledon is big enough by itself," said Nielsen, the first Dane to win a Wimbledon title. "It's the pinnacle of our sport. I think if you ask most tennis players what tournament they want to win, they would say Wimbledon. It's the same for me. It's obviously fun and a great side fact that my granddad did well there back in the days, but the fact that it's Wimbledon is big enough."
   Marray and Nielsen received a wild card because Marray is British.
   "He could pick whoever he wanted to play with," Nielsen said. "We had played a Challenger a few weeks before where we played really, really well together (cruising to the Nottingham final before narrowly losing). A hundred or 120 other people already were in the (Wimbledon men's doubles) draw, so he didn't really have that many to pick from. They were all roughly around my ranking, so it's not like he had an obvious choice. I think the fact that we played really well together made him believe that it's better to take a chance with me knowing what we were capable of instead of playing with somebody for the first time." 
   Nielsen cited three reasons that he and Marray, a 31-year-old doubles specialist who had been ranked No. 76, marched to the title. In the semifinals, they stunned Bob and Mike Bryan, arguably the best men's doubles team of all time.
   "The biggest reason is we were able to completely enjoy and make the most of the experience," Nielsen said. "I was just ecstatic that I was able to play Wimbledon. I had never played Wimbledon in my life (except in qualifying).
  "Second, we weren't trying to win Wimbledon. I think that was key, as well. We weren't really worried about it. We were just trying to play the best we could, see how far it was going to take us and enjoy the moment. I wasn't going to let anything ruin the moment or ruin the experience of playing Wimbledon.
   "We didn't expect much anyway, so when we got into tough situations in the last few matches, we were just happy we were there. We didn't change our mentality just because we were close to the win. We were just trying to stay positive, play aggressive tennis and do what got us there.
   "Last of all, we get along really well. We had fun on the court together. We have roughly the same (temperament) and approach in tennis. That's key in doubles. We were a good match on the court. It definitely helps in doubles when you have good chemistry."    
   Ironically, Nielsen will play singles only in Sacramento. He plans to try to qualify for the Tiburon Challenger in singles the following week, which could have created a conflict next weekend with doubles in Sacramento.
   "Singles will always have priority, and I'll build my doubles around that," said Nielsen, who reached the singles quarterfinals of the Sacramento Challenger two years ago before losing to eventual champion John Millman of Australia 6-0, 6-3. "That's what gives me joy and pleasure. That's the reason I'm playing tennis.
   "I play tennis for singles and doubles. I'm not ready to sacrifice one for the other. I see myself as a tennis player, not a singles player or a doubles player."
   Nielsen is ranked No. 352 in singles, down from his career high of No. 190 in August last year. In addition to his wrist injury, he pulled a muscle in his ribe cage last spring. But injuries have been only part of the problem.
   "I've never been top 100 (in singles), so obviously something has held me back," said the 6-foot-3, 168-pound Nielsen, who's nicknamed "The Turtle" for his deliberate ways off the court. "It's a long journey, and I was not very good as a junior. It takes some people longer to find their way. I've been trying my best, but obviously I haven't done the right things.
   "I feel the last year or two have been very productive. It's a learning process. I think I was many years behind all the other guys physically, mentally and tactically. I've had to build that up. Tennis is not easy."
   Now, though, Nielsen will have something to tell his grandchildren.                    
   Sacramento qualifying -- Eighth-seeded Nicolas Meister of Trabuco Canyon in the Los Angeles area saved two match points and edged Chris Guccione of Australia 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the first round of qualifying for the RelyAid Natomas Challenger.
   Guccione, a 6-foot-7 left-hander, has plunged to No. 572 in the world after reaching a career-high No. 67 in 2008. Meister completed his eligibility at UCLA in May following an All-America career. ...
   Mackenzie McDonald, a 17-year-old wild card from Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, dispatched Drew Courtney of Clifton, Va., 6-2, 6-2. McDonald overcame a huge size disadvantage against Courtney, who won the 2010 NCAA doubles title as a Virginia sophomore with Michael Shabaz. McDonald is 5-9 and 140 pounds, Courtney 6-5 and 205. ...
   Jason Jung of Torrance ousted sixth-seeded Austin Krajicek of Brandon, Fla., 7-6 (5), 6-1. Jung, a former Michigan standout, turned pro in January only because he was laid off after one month at an oil company in Torrance and didn't do as well on the law school admission test as he had hoped. Krajicek won the 2011 NCAA doubles title with fellow Texas A&M senior Jeff Dadamo over Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher of Stanford. Thacher avenged that loss by beating Dadamo 6-4, 6-3 Saturday in Natomas qualifying.
$100,000 RELYAID NATOMAS CHALLENGER
In Sacramento, Calif.
First-round qualifying 
A Pavic (CRO) d M Santiago (USA) 75 63
J Jung (USA) d A Krajicek (USA) 76(5) 61
D Britton (USA) d [WC] Z Hindle (USA) 64 60
N Meister (USA) d C Guccione (AUS) 16 63 76(3)
P Simmonds (USA) d [WC] L Rosenberg (USA) 62 63
R Thacher (USA) d J Dadamo (USA) 64 63
S Ianni (ITA) d [WC] B Sutter 63 46 61
A Daescu (ROU) d [WC] C Altamirano (USA) 60 60
[WC] M McDonald (USA) d A Courtney (USA) 62 62
[WC] L Singh (USA) d [WC] S Kolar (USA) 63 61
A Hubble (AUS) d [WC] N Andrews (USA) 64 62
L Gregorc (SLO) d [WC] O Morel (FRA) 61 61 
Today's schedule
(Beginning at 10 a.m.)
Stadium 
Qualifying - A Bossel (SUI) vs. P Simmonds (USA)
Qualifying - G Jones (AUS) vs [WC] M Mcdonald (USA) 
Court 1
Qualifying - L Gregorc (SLO) vs N Meister (USA) 
Qualifying - [WC] L Singh (USA) vs D Britton (USA) 
Court 2
Qualifying - R Thacher (USA) vs A Pavic (CRO) 
Qualifying - A Daescu (ROU) vs J Jung (USA) 
Court 6
Qualifying - F Wolmarans (RSA) vs A Hubble (AUS) 
Qualifying - T Daniel (JPN) vs S Ianni (ITA)

Former top-70 player set for Sacramento qualifying

  Chris Guccione, a former top-70 singles player and the defending doubles champion, is scheduled to face eighth-seeded Nicolas Meister today at 10 a.m. in the first round of qualifying for the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger at the Natomas Racquet Club in Sacramento.
   Guccione, a 6-foot-7 left-hander from Australia, is ranked No. 572 after reaching a career-high No. 67 in 2008. The 27-year-old veteran missed six months in 2010 with an Achilles' tendon injury.
   In September 2011, Guccione and former world No. 1 singles player Lleyton Hewitt beat 2008 Olympic gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka in Sydney in the Davis Cup playoffs. Two weeks later, Guccione and Carsten Ball, a native of Newport Beach, Calif., who plays for Australia, won the doubles title in Sacramento.
   Meister, a 23-year-old Los Angeles-area resident, made his professional debut in June in a $15,000 Futures tournament at the Park Terrace Swim & Tennis Club in Sacramento. The former UCLA All-American reached the singles semifinals and doubles final (with friend and ex-Cal star Pedro Zerbini).
   Two other All-Americans from the Pacific-12 Conference who completed their eligibility this year, Nicholas John Andrews (Cal) and Ryan Thacher (Stanford), also are scheduled to play today in separate matches.
   Andrews, a wild card from the Sacramento suburb of Folsom, will meet Adam Hubble of Australia. Thacher will take on fellow American Jeff Dadamo in a rematch of the 2011 NCAA doubles final at Stanford. Texas A&M's Dadamo and Austin Krajicek, also set to play today in Natomas qualifying, defeated Thacher and Bradley Klahn in a contest featuring four left-handers.
   Seventh-seeded Devin Britton, who edged Dadamo in the Sacramento Futures in June for his first professional singles title, will meet wild card Zeke Hindle of Los Angeles. At Mississippi in 2009, Britton became the youngest NCAA singles champion at 18 years, 2 months and joined Jimmy Connors (1971), John McEnroe (1978) and Cecil Mamiit (1996) as the only male freshmen to win the title.
   Today's schedule also features Northern California wild cards Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont, Brandon Sutter of El Dorado Hills, Collin Altamirano of Yuba City, Sean Kolar of Loomis and Lovedeep Singh of Sacramento.   
   McDonald, 17, reached the boys singles semifinals at the Australian Open in January and won the boys 18 singles title at the prestigious Easter Bowl junior tournament in Rancho Mirage in April.
ORDER OF PLAY - SATURDAY, SEPT. 29, 2012
 STADIUM start 10:00 am
Qualifying - C Guccione (AUS) vs N Meister (USA)
Qualifying - [WC] M Mcdonald (USA) vs A Courtney (USA)  
 Qualifying - J Jung (USA) vs A Krajicek (USA) 
COURT 1 start 10:00 am
Qualifying - A Hubble (AUS) vs [WC] N Andrews (USA)
Qualifying - J Dadamo (USA) vs R Thacher (USA)
Qualifying - [WC] C Altamirano (USA) vs A Daescu (ROU) 

COURT 2 start 10:00 am
Qualifying - L Gregorc (SLO) vs [WC] O Morel (FRA)
Qualifying - [WC] B Sutter vs S Ianni (ITA)
Qualifying - [WC] Z Hindle (USA) vs D Britton (USA) 

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
Qualifying - [WC] S Kolar (USA) vs [WC] L Singh (USA)
Qualifying - M Santiago (USA) vs A Pavic (CRO)
Qualifying - [WC] L Rosenberg (USA) vs P Simmonds (USA)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Zach Gilbert's background serves him well

Zach Gilbert, Brad's son, coached former Cal teammate
Pedro Zerbini in the spring and summer. Under Gilbert,
the 23-year Brazilian dramatically improved his world
ranking. Photos by Paul Bauman
  When Pedro Zerbini turned pro in February, he chose a 23-year-old coach with no professional playing experience.
   Zerbini is no dummy, though. The Brazilian graduated from prestigious Cal in December in economic development.
   And Zach Gilbert is no ordinary 23-year-old coach. He's the son of Brad Gilbert, who ascended to a career-high No. 4 in the world during a 13-year playing career before becoming a renowned tennis coach, commentator and author. Zach also was Zerbini's teammate at Cal for four years. 
   At least Zach is older than Zerbini. By two weeks.
   "I get people asking me about (my age)," Gilbert admitted in June during the Sacramento Futures tournament, in which Zerbini reached the singles quarterfinals and doubles final. 'Aren't you a little young to be doing this?' Yeah, but I'm confident in my knowledge of the game. I think I have a lot to offer Pedro. It's a little strange to be friends and former teammates. Now I have to be the boss a little bit, but I think things are working out alright so far."
   Indeed, since Zerbini debuted in the world singles rankings in April, he has almost halved his position from No. 1,218 to No. 625. On the Futures circuit, he has reached two finals and four quarterfinals in singles and two finals in doubles (winning one).
   Gilbert cautioned, though, that "it's easy to let your mind wander out here, especially at the Futures level. It's hard to be out there on your own and keep your drive week in and week out. The biggest thing I can do is make sure he stays on track mentally. If you have a bad loss, it happens. You have to shake it off and make sure it doesn't hang on for long stretches."
    Brad Gilbert said by telephone that his son "has a good demeanor, which is maybe the most important thing for a coach. He's very relaxed. One thing about tennis and coaching -- you always have to be open to learning. You have to understand the player and push the right buttons to make him play better."
Zerbini addresses the fans after he and former Pacific-10
Conference rival Nicolas Meister from UCLA finished
as the doubles runners-up at a Futures tournament
in Sacramento in June.
   Zerbini, named first-team All-Pacific-10 Conference in his last three years at Cal, hired Zach because "he understands the game well. He knows me and my style since we went to college together. He's seen a lot of my matches and been around the game. He's very analytical."
   Wonder where he got that from.
   "The majority of what I know I learned from (my dad) and my college coach (Peter Wright)," Zach said. "My dad wants me to have fun out there. You've got to be passionate about it. When I see how much he loves and cares about the sport, it's hard not to admire that quality, how devoted he is. He obviously taught me a lot about strokes and X's and O's, but that's not as important as loving what you do."
   Andre Agassi also was a big influence. Brad Gilbert coached the International Tennis Hall of Famer from the time Zach was 6 to 14.
   "Those are a lot of impressionable years," Zach said. "I really looked up to him, and I'd go crazy at all of his matches. He was a positive influence on my life and a good role model."
   Zach grew up in San Rafael, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco and across San Francisco Bay from Cal in Berkeley. He began taking lessons full-time at 7, grew to 6-foot-3 and played low on the ladder at nationally ranked Cal.
   "I competed because I wanted to," Gilbert said. "My dad was not too pushy. He would have been just as happy if I played basketball or baseball. I played a lot of sports until I was 12. Then I decided I was best at tennis. My dad and mom were supportive of me in whatever I wanted to do."
  Zach's two siblings -- sisters Julian, 20, and Zoe, 15 -- take after their artistic mother, Kim, and do not play tennis. Brad said he's not surprised that Zach, who graduated in American studies, became a coach at 23.
   "If that's the path he wants to do down, I'm sure he can do a really good job. He's been around me and a lot of players, and he's a really bright kid. He learned a lot being around tennis his whole life," Brad said.
   Like Brad, though, Zach also is involved in television. He's working full-time for the rest of the year as a writer and researcher for Chris Fowler on ESPN's "College GameDay."
   Then Zach will decide what he wants to do. Return to coaching? Stay in television? Try something else? It doesn't matter to his father.
   "I'm like everybody," Brad said. "I want the best for my son. Whatever he wants to do, it's all good."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Updated: World's fastest server enters Sacramento

   The world's fastest server, the player who ended Andre Agassi's career and a Wimbledon champion head the field in next week's $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger in Sacramento.
   Samuel Groth, 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, was credited with a 163.4-mph (263-kph) serve in May at a Challenger tournament in Busan, South Korea. Groth, a 24-year-old Australian ranked No. 237 in the world, broke the record of 156 mph by 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic, who won last year's Sacramento and Tiburon Challengers. 
   Benjamin Becker beat Agassi in the third round of the 2006 U.S. Open, the last tournament of the future International Tennis Hall of Famer's career. Becker, the 2004 NCAA singles champion from Baylor, is the only top-100 player entered in the RelyAid Challenger at the Natomas Racquet Club. The 31-year-old German, just 5-foot-10 and 158 pounds, is ranked No. 84. He reached a career-high No. 38 in 2007 and sat out for six months last year with an elbow injury.
   Also entered in Sacramento is Frederik Nielsen, 29, of Denmark. Nielsen, the grandson of two-time Wimbledon singles runner-up Kurt Nielsen, and Jonathan Marray of Great Britain teamed in July to become the first wild cards to win the Wimbledon men's doubles title.
   James Blake, last year's runner-up, accepted a wild card to return to Sacramento. The 32-year-old American is ranked No. 99 after reaching a career-high No. 4 in 2006.
   Neither Karlovic nor 2011 semifinalist Sam Querrey is on the direct entry list this year. Both are former top-20 players who were coming back from injuries at this time last year. The 24-year-old Querrey has rebounded to No. 26, but the 33-year-old Karlovic is mired at No. 80. 
   Three former Sacramento Challenger champions plan to return: 32-year-old Rik de Voest, a South African who won the inaugural tournament at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club in 2005; Wayne Odesnik (2007) of Weston, Fla.; and John Millman (2010) of Australia. Odesnik, a 5-foot-11 left-hander, served a one-year suspension in 2010 for transporting human growth hormone into Australia.
   The Sacramento field also includes top U.S. prospects Denis Kudla (20 years old), Jack Sock (20), Rhyne Williams (21) and Steve Johnson (22). Sock won the U.S. Open mixed doubles title last year with Melanie Oudin. Johnson captured the last two NCAA singles titles, beating Williams of Tennessee in the 2011 final at Stanford, before completing his eligibility at USC in May.
   Based on current rankings, the Sacramento seeds will be Becker, 34-year-old Michael Russell (No. 104) of Houston, Ryan Sweeting (No. 135) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Odesnik (No. 136), Matteo Viola (No. 148) of Italy, Peter Polansky (No. 149) of Canada, Tim Smyczek (No. 154) of Tampa, Fla., and Kudla (No. 158) of Arlington, Va.
   Qualifying for this year's Sacramento Challenger begins Saturday at 9 a.m. The main draw starts Monday at 10 a.m., and the singles and doubles finals will be played on Oct. 7 at times to be determined.
TV SCHEDULE
(All Times PDT)
   Wednesday -- Tokyo (women), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 10 p.m.-5 a.m. Thursday (live).
   Thursday -- Tokyo (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday (live). Bangkok (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 5-9 p.m. (delay).
   Friday -- Tokyo (women), final, Tennis Channel, 9-11 p.m. (live). Bangkok (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 5-9 p.m. (delay).
   Saturday -- Kuala Lumpur (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 1-5 p.m. (delay). Bangkok (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 5-9 p.m. (delay).
   Sunday -- Kuala Lumpur (men), final, Tennis Channel, 1-3 p.m. (delay). Bangkok (men), final, Tennis Channel, 5-7 p.m. (delay).
CALENDAR
    Saturday-Oct. 7 -- $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger, Natomas Racquet Club, 2450 Natomas Park Drive, Sacramento, Calif., 95833, www.natomaschallenger.com, (916) 649-0909. 2011 champions: Ivo Karlovic, Carsten Ball-Chris Guccione.
   Oct. 6-14 -- $100,000 First Republic Bank Men's Challenger, Tiburon Peninsula Club, 1600 Mar West St., Tiburon, Calif., 94920, www.tiburonchallenger.com, (415) 789-7900. 2011 champions: Ivo Karlovic, Carsten Ball-Chris Guccione.
   Oct. 23-28 -- WTA Championships (top eight singles players and top four doubles teams of 2012), Istanbul, www.wtatennis.com/page/Tournaments/Info/0,,12781~742,00.html. 2011 champions: Petra Kvitova, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
   Nov. 3-4 -- Fed Cup Final, Serbia at Czech Republic, www.fedcup.com. 2011 champion: Czech Republic.
   Nov. 5-12 -- ATP World Tour Finals (top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams of 2012), London, www.atpworldtour.com/Finals/2012.aspx. 2011 champions: Roger Federer, Max Mirnyi-Daniel Nestor.
   Nov. 16-18 -- Davis Cup Final, Spain at Czech Republic, www.daviscup.com. 2011 champion: Spain.
   Jan. 14-27, 2013 -- AUSTRALIAN OPEN, www.australianopen.org. 2012 champions: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka, Leander Paes-Radek Stepanek, Svetlana Kuznetsova-Vera Zvonareva.
   Feb. 1-3, 2013 -- Davis Cup, first round, Brazil at United States, www.daviscup.com.
   Feb. 9-10, 2013 -- Fed Cup, first round, United States at Italy, www.fedcup.com.
   Feb. 11-17, 2013 -- SAP Open, HP Pavilion in San Jose, www.sapopentennis.com. 2012 champions: Milos Raonic, Mark Knowles-Xavier Malisse.
   March 4-17, 2013 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. 2012 champions: Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka, Marc Lopez-Rafael Nadal, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
PRO RANKINGS
   Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Kevin Anderson, Sacramento Capitals (2012) of World TeamTennis -- No. 35 in singles (no change), No. 96 in doubles (-3).
   Nick Andrews, Cal All-American in 2012 -- No. 1,429 in singles (-4), career-high No. 1,221 in doubles (+294).  
   Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, Capitals (2012) -- No. 22 in singles (no change), No. 728 in doubles (+2).
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- No. 107 in doubles (-8), unranked in singles.
   Artem Ilyushin, Granite Bay resident -- No. 921 in singles (-1), No. 1,224 in doubles (+5).
   Bradley Klahn, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 347 in singles (+2), No. 1,024 in doubles (+7). 
   Mark Knowles, Capitals (2001-07, 2009-12), three-time World TeamTennis Male MVP (2001, 2005 and 2007) -- No. 124 in doubles (-1), unranked in singles.
   Alex Kuznetsov, Capitals (2012) -- No. 194 (+4) in singles, No. 427 in doubles (+1) in doubles.
   Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 26 in doubles (+1), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012) -- No. 26 in singles (no change), No. 46 in doubles (-2).
   Ryan Sweeting, Capitals (2012) -- No. 135 in singles (-1), No. 844 in doubles (-7).
   Ryan Thacher, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 1,288 in singles (-7), No. 1,466 in doubles (-33).
   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 100 in singles (+25, won $83,000 tournament in Izmir for second Turkish Challenger singles title in two weeks), No. 179 in doubles (-2).
   Jimmy Wang, trains part-time in Granite Bay -- No. 151 in singles (+2), No. 339 in doubles (+5).
   Pedro Zerbini, All-Pacific-10 Conference first team at Cal (2009-11) -- No. 625 in singles (no change), No. 701 in doubles (+5).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- Career-high No. 165 in singles (-5), No. 660 in doubles (+10). 
   Jana Juricova, NCAA singles (2011) and doubles (2009) champion from Cal -- No. 927 in singles (no change), unranked in doubles.
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-12) -- No. 13 in doubles (no change), No. 59 in singles (-2).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 20 in doubles (no change), No. 743 in singles (+19).
   Asia Muhammad, Capitals (2012) -- No. 168 in doubles (no change, won $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger), No. 474 in singles (+41, quarterfinalist in $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- Career-high No. 108 in doubles (+7, runner-up in $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger), career-high No. 149 in singles (+28, won $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger).
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Capitals (2011-12) -- No. 141 in doubles (+12, won $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger), No. 505 in singles (-50).
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy resident -- No. 492 in singles (-28), No. 1,123 in doubles (-1).
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Capitals (2009, 2012) -- No. 83 in singles (+4), No. 490 in doubles (+5).

Monday, September 24, 2012

Redding notes: Title puts Gullickson back on track

Qualifier Chelsey Gullickson rebounded from recent adversity
to win the $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger
in Redding, Calif. Photos by Paul Bauman
   Leftovers from the recent $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger in Redding, Calif.:
   That's more like it -- Chelsey Gullickson reversed a rough stretch by winning the singles title as a qualifier.
   Gullickson ended her college career on a bad note in May, then sprained her right ankle in practice the week before making her professional debut in Lexington, Ky., in July. She aggravated the injury in the second round of qualifying, lost the match and withdrew from Vancouver the following week. Redding was her first tournament since Lexington.
   Gullickson won the 2010 NCAA singles title on her home courts as a sophomore at Georgia. The tournament returned to Athens, Ga., this year, but Gullickson lost in the first round.
   "I put a bunch of pressure on myself to do the same thing," she said after reaching the Redding quarterfinals. "It was really upsetting. Then I go to Lexington and hurt my ankle. That was upsetting, but I just went back to the practice court. I'm happy to be out here."
Allie Will lost to Gullickson in the final. They were
Southeastern Conference rivals.
   The 5-foot-11Gullickson, 22, went on to beat former Southeastern Conference rival Allie Will 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in the final for her second title in a pro tournament. She won a $25,000 event on clay in Raleigh, N.C., as a high school senior in May 2008.
   The 5-foot-10 Will also turned pro in July, after leading Florida to its second consecutive NCAA team title as a junior.
   Gullickson's mother, Sandy, played tennis at Western Kentucky. She introduced the game to Chelsey's older sister, Carly, and Chelsey tagged along. Carly became a professional player and won the 2009 U.S. Open mixed doubles title with Travis Parrott.
   The sisters' father, Bill, pitched in the major leagues for 14 years (1979-94, including a stint in Japan). Chelsey, who was 4 when he retired, has only faint memories of him as a pitcher.
   "I remember he played for the (Detroit) Tigers, and they had family picture day," she said. "We all dressed in Tigers uniforms. He'd walk out of the house to go to work, and we'd all be hugging his feet not to go."
   So is Chelsey a baseball fan?
   "Actually, no. It's a slow-paced game for me. I'm used to tennis being fast, fast," she said, snapping her fingers.     
   Comeback kid -- Another player happy to be back on the court was 21-year-old Canadian Rebecca Marino, who lost in the second round after returning from a 6 1/2-month sabbatical.
Rebecca Marino, a former top-40 player,
says she "did the right thing" by taking
a 6 1/2-month sabbatical.
   "I was at the point where my body was telling me I needed a break," said the 6-foot Marino, who reached a career-high No. 38 in the world last year. "I could either listen to my body and prolong my career or keep going and struggle more. There were also some personal matters that I'd rather not discuss. I feel I did the right thing."
   Added Marino: "It was not an easy decision. There's a coaching team depending on you, and it's my source of income."
   Marino spent most of her time off at home in Vancouver, British Columbia.
   "I reconnected with a lot of friends and had a lot of family time," she said. "I spent time with my brother (a junior rower at Cal) and learned to snowboard. It went miserably for me. I did a backflip and landed on my face."
   Marino said she watched "bits and pieces" of the U.S. Open women's final, in which Serena Williams defeated Victoria Azarenka, on television.
   Marino played on the same court, Arthur Ashe Stadium, two years ago in the U.S. Open. As a qualifier, she lost to Venus Williams 7-6 (3), 6-3 in a second-round day match televised across the United States and Canada.
   Two things about that encounter stand out to Marino. 
   "Firstly, I felt really comfortable in that situation," she recalled. "It surprised me, because it was new territory for me.
   "And Venus is such a great athlete. She's intimidating in a sense because she's tall with a cut physique. She hit so hard, it was unbelievable. It was a great experience and helped build my game a lot."
   The tennis whisperer -- Mercifully, no players shrieked like Maria Sharapova or Azarenka during matches on Tuesday or Wednesday of the Redding tournament.
   But Angelina Gabueva made a whistling noise while blowing every time she hit the ball.
   The 23-year-old Russian reached the quarterfinals before losing to qualifier Kristie Ahn, a Stanford junior.
   Unlikely partners -- Elizabeth Ferris, who lost to Gabueva in the second round, tells a humorous story about how she hooked up with fellow American Nadia Echeverria Alam in doubles at the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger in the Sacramento area in May.
   Ferris, 26, of Anaheim, had beaten Echeverria Alam, 17, of Miami, in singles one year previously.
   "We didn't have the best on-court relationship," Ferris said in Gold River. "It was rocky. Out of the blue, she asked me to play doubles. It's funny how it worked out."
   Ferris elaborated on the friction between her and Echeverria Alam.
   "She's young and probably felt she should have beaten me. She was making fun of the way I played. I use slice, placement and spin. My game is the opposite of hers. She's a typical young player with a lot of pace," Ferris said. 
   "She was making comments to her parents: 'This is girls 12s, not women's tennis.' I was pretty shocked by her behavior, but I got to know her, and everything's been fine."
   At Echeverria Alam's request, she and Ferris wore multicolored knee socks on their right legs only during their first-round loss in Gold River to second seeds and eventual champions Asia Muhammad and Yasmin Schnack.
   "(Echeverria Alam) has a fun personality, and it loosens her up," Ferris said. "Whatever I can do to loosen her up and make it fun, I'll be glad to do as her doubles partner."
   Echeverria Alam, a Venezuela native, also wore pink war paint -- actually lipstick -- under her eyes.
   "She tried to get me to do it, but I sweat a lot," Ferris said. "I knew it would be all over my face."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

New TV schedule, calendar, pro rankings

TV SCHEDULE
(All Times PDT)
   Today -- Guangzhou (women), final, Tennis Channel, 10 a.m.-noon (delay), 8-10 p.m. (repeat); St. Petersburg (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, noon-4 p.m. (delay); Metz (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 4-8 p.m. (delay).
   Sunday -- St. Petersburg (men), final, Tennis Channel, 2-4 p.m. (delay), 7-9 p.m. (repeat); Metz (men), final, Tennis Channel, 4-6 p.m. (delay).
CALENDAR
   Today-Sunday -- Esurance Tennis Classic, Club at Harbor Point, Mill Valley, Calif., United States (Mike and Bob Bryan, Justin Gimelstob, Lindsay Davenport, Gigi Fernandez and Corina Morariu) vs. the World (Wayne Ferriera, Mark Knowles, Rennae Stubbs, Conchita Martinez and Liga Dekmeijere), 12:30 p.m. each day, www.tennisclassic.org, (415) 383-3448. 
   Sept. 29-Oct. 7 -- $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger, Natomas Racquet Club, 2450 Natomas Park Drive, Sacramento, Calif., 95833, www.natomaschallenger.com, (916) 649-0909.
   Oct. 6-14 -- First Republic Bank Men's $100,000 Challenger, Tiburon Peninsula Club, 1600 Mar West St., Tiburon, Calif., 94920, www.tiburon challenger.com, (415) 789-7900.
PRO RANKINGS
   Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Kevin Anderson, Sacramento Capitals (2012) of World TeamTennis -- No. 35 in singles (+2), No. 93 in doubles (no change).
   Nick Andrews, Cal All-American in 2012 -- No. 1,425 in singles (-5), No. 1,515 in doubles (+5).  
   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, Capitals (2012) -- No. 22 in singles (no change), No. 730 in doubles (-2).
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- No. 99 in doubles (+1), unranked in singles.
   Artem Ilyushin, Granite Bay resident -- No. 920 in singles (-3), No. 1,229 in doubles (-2).
   Bradley Klahn, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 349 in singles (no change), No. 1,031 in doubles (-2). 
   Mark Knowles, Capitals (2001-07, 2009-12), three-time World TeamTennis Male MVP (2001, 2005 and 2007) -- No. 123 in doubles (+3), unranked in singles.
   Alex Kuznetsov, Capitals (2012) -- No. 198 (+1) in singles, No. 428 in doubles (+4) in doubles.
   Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 27 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012) -- No. 26 in singles (no change), No. 44 in doubles (no change).
   Ryan Sweeting, Capitals (2012) -- No. 134 in singles (-3), No. 837 in doubles (-4).
   Ryan Thacher, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 1,281 in singles (-6), No. 1,433 in doubles (+2).
   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 125 in singles (+22, won Istanbul Challenger), No. 177 in doubles (+4).
   Jimmy Wang, trains part-time in Granite Bay -- No. 153 in singles (+2), No. 344 in doubles (-1).
   Pedro Zerbini, All-Pacific-10 Conference first team at Cal (2009-11) -- No. 625 in singles (-5), No. 706 in doubles (no change).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- Career-high No. 160 in singles (-1), No. 670 in doubles (+11). 
   Jana Juricova, NCAA singles (2011) and doubles (2009) champion from Cal -- No. 927 in singles (+5), unranked in doubles.
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-12) -- No. 13 in doubles (no change), No. 57 in singles (no change).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 20 in doubles (no change), No. 762 in singles (-57).
   Asia Muhammad, Capitals (2012) -- No. 168 in doubles (+15), No. 515 in singles (+37).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- Career-high No. 115 in doubles (+7), career-high No. 177 in singles (+9).
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Capitals (2011-12) -- No. 153 in doubles (-5), No. 455 in singles (+1).
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy resident -- No. 464 in singles (+1), No. 1,122 in doubles (+10).
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Capitals (2009, 2012) -- No. 87 in singles (+1), No. 495 in doubles (+2).

Monday, September 17, 2012

Venus, Kastles edge Capitals for WTT title

   Once again, CoCo Vandeweghe was in control against a Williams sister in a final.
   And once again, Vandeweghe lost.
   Venus Williams defeated Vandeweghe in a tiebreaker Sunday to give the Washington Kastles a 20-19 victory in the WTT Finals in Charleston, S.C. Two months ago, Vandeweghe held a set point in the first set against Serena Williams only to fall in straight sets in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. In both cases, the 20-year-old Vandeweghe self-destructed with double faults and unforced errors.
   Washington went 16-0 for the second straight year and won its third WTT title in the last four years. With a victory in their season opener next July, the Kastles can tie the Los Angeles Lakers for the longest winning streak in the history of U.S. team sports at 33.
   Sacramento (8-8) was trying to add to its record six WTT titles. Their last one came on their home court five years ago.
   Venus Williams, a five-time Wimbledon singles champion, was named the Finals MVP after winning all three of her sets (women's doubles, mixed doubles and the decisive women's singles). She continues to cope with a strength-sapping autoimmune disease that sidelined her from September 2011 through last March.
   Although Williams played on championship teams in Philadelphia and Washington, this was the first WTT Finals for the 32-year-old veteran.
   Vandeweghe, the 2008 U.S. Open girls singles champion and niece of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe, was drafted by Washington in 2009 but traded to Sacramento before the season. She played one season for the Capitals and two for the Boston Lobsters before returning to Sacramento part-time this season.
   Sunday's match was tied 15-15 entering the last set between Williams and Vandeweghe, both 6-foot-1. Vandeweghe broke Williams' serve at love to lead 3-2, but the Washington star broke right back with the help of a double fault. Both players then held serve to force a best-of-nine-point tiebreaker.
   Williams committed two errors on her serve to trail 2-0. Washington called a timeout, and Leander Paes of the Kastles jogged onto the court to talk with Williams.
   "I just told her she's one of the greatest of all time," said the 39-year-old Paes, who has won seven Grand Slam men's doubles crowns. " 'Go have fun and hit your shots.' "
   Williams won the next five points for the match and title. In order, Vandeweghe ripped a backhand barely wide, double-faulted, netted a forehand, flailed at a Williams service winner and swatted a forehand way long.
   After the last point, Vandeweghe slammed her racket to the court, and Williams was mobbed by her teammates and coach, Murphy Jensen.
   "CoCo played her heart out," said the Capitals' always-upbeat coach, Wayne Bryan. "I'm very proud of our team, and congratulations to the Kastles."
   See below for full results.
   Women's Challenger in Redding, Calif. -- In a battle of former Southeastern Conference rivals, qualifier Chelsey Gullickson of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., outlasted unseeded Allie Will of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to win the $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Gullickson, 5-foot-11, won the 2010 NCAA singles title on her home courts as a sophomore at Georgia. Her father, Bill, went 162-136 as a pitcher during his 14-year major-league career, and her older sister, Carly, won the 2009 U.S. Open mixed doubles title with Travis Parrott.
   Will, 5-foot-10, turned pro after leading Florida to its second straight NCAA team title in May as a junior.
   In an All-American doubles final, fourth-seeded Jacqueline Cako and Sanaz Marand topped second-seeded Macall Harkins and Chieh-Yu Hsu 7-6 (5), 7-5.
 WASHINGTON 20, CAPITALS 19
   Men's singles -- Kevin Anderson (Capitals) def. Bobby Reynolds (Kastles) 5-3.
   Women's doubles -- Venus Williams-Anastasia Rodionova (Kastles) def. Yasmin Schnack-Asia Muhammad (Capitals) 5-1.
   Men's doubles -- Mark Knowles-Anderson (Capitals) def. Reynolds-Leander Paes (Kastles) 5-2.
   Mixed doubles -- Paes-Williams (Kastles) def. Knowles-Vandeweghe (Capitals) 5-4.
   Women's singles -- Williams (Kastles) def. Vandeweghe (Capitals) 5-4.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Capitals face daunting task in WTT final

   If the Sacramento Capitals win their seventh World TeamTennis title today to extend their record, they will have earned it.
   All Sacramento has to do is beat one of the most dominant teams in U.S. sports history.
   The defending champion Washington Kastles, led by Venus Williams, reached the WTT final with a 19-15 victory over the New York Sportimes on Saturday in Charleston, S.C.
   Washington (15-0) has won 31 consecutive matches, second to the Los Angeles Lakers' 33 straight in 1971-72 among U.S. teams, dating to July 22, 2010.
    Sacramento, meanwhile, barely qualified for the playoffs with a 7-7 record. The Capitals beat the Orange County Breakers 25-15 Friday in the Western Conference final in Charleston.
   Today's title match will be shown live on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. PDT.
   The 32-year-old Williams has won 22 Grand Slam titles (seven in singles, 13 in women's doubles and two in mixed doubles). Joining her on the Kastles are 39-year-old Leander Paes, who has earned 13 Grand Slam crowns (seven in men's doubles and six in mixed doubles) and two WTT Male MVP awards; Bobby Reynolds, this year's WTT Male MVP and the 2010 league Rookie of the Year; and Anastasia Rodionova, a former Capital ranked 22nd in the world in women's doubles.
   Sacramento will counter with Kevin Anderson, a 6-foot-8 South African ranked 37th in the world in men's singles; 40-year-old Mark Knowles, a three-time WTT Male MVP formerly ranked No. 1 in men's doubles; CoCo Vandeweghe, a 6-foot-1 American who's 88th in the world in women's singles at 20 years old; and top-200 women's doubles players Yasmin Schnack and Asia Muhammad.
   In the only meeting between Washington and Sacramento during the regular season, the host Kastles won 21-19 in overtime on its sixth match point. And that was without Williams, a part-time player for Washington.
   Women's Challenger in Redding -- Former Southeastern Conference rivals Chelsey Gullickson and Allie Will reached today's singles final of the $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenge at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   They will meet after the 12:30 p.m. doubles final between second-seeded Macall Harkins and Chieh-Yu Hsu and fourth-seeded Jacqueline Cako and Sanaz Marand.
   Gullickson, the 2010 NCAA singles champion from Georgia and daughter of former major-league pitcher Bill Gullickson, downed fellow qualifier Kristie Ahn 0-6, 6-1, 6-2. Ahn, a Stanford junior, eliminated top-seeded Florencia Molinero of Argentina in the first round.
   Will, who led Florida to the last two NCAA team titles, beat Sachie Ishizu of Japan 6-4, 6-4 in a matchup of unseeded players.
   The 5-foot-11 Gullickson completed her eligibility in May, and the 5-foot-10 Will turned pro in July after her junior year.
   Gullickson went 3-0 against Will in college. In their last meeting, Gullickson won 6-1, 6-4 in March.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Capitals reach WTT final; last seed falls in Redding

   Sacramento went 1-3 against Orange County during the regular season in World TeamTennis. But the Capitals' 25-15 victory over the rival Breakers in the Western Conference final Friday in Charleston, S.C., came as little surprise.
   Whereas Sacramento (8-7) had its big guns, top-100 players Kevin Anderson and CoCo Vandeweghe, Orange County (8-7) played without Lindsay Davenport. Formerly No. 1 in the world in singles and doubles, she missed the match with an undisclosed injury. The Breakers went 3-0 against the Capitals this season with Davenport and 0-2 against them without her. 
   Davenport, a 36-year-old mother of three and two-time WTT Female MVP, led the league in women's doubles this season with a 48-29 (.623) record in games. A winning percentage over .600 in WTT is outstanding.
   In today's Eastern Conference final, the defending champion Washington Kastles (14-0), led by Venus Williams, will face the New York Sportimes (9-5), featuring 53-year-old John McEnroe. The match will be streamed live at www.wtt.com at 3:30 p.m. PDT and televised on tape delay at 9:30 p.m. on NBCSN.
   Washington has won 30 consecutive matches, second-best in the history of U.S. professional team sports behind the Los Angeles Lakers' 33 straight in 1971-72. 
   The Capitals, meanwhile, have won a record six WTT titles but none since 2007 on their home court. Sunday's WTT final will be televised live on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. PDT.
   Sacramento picked up where it left off in the three-week regular season, which ended July 28. For the second straight match, the Capitals won all five sets. They ended the regular season with a 25-17 home victory over the Boston Lobsters in a match with no playoff implications.
   Anderson, a 6-foot-8 South African ranked 37th in the world, gave Sacramento a 5-3 lead Friday with a victory over John-Patrick Smith, the WTT Male Rookie of the Year. Sacramento increased its lead to 10-7 as Capitals coach Wayne Bryan substituted freely in mixed doubles.
   Then came the backbreaker. Anderson and 41-year-old Mark Knowles, formerly No. 1 in doubles, routed Travis Parrott and Smith 5-1 to give the Capitals a 15-8 lead at intermission.
   The 6-foot-1 Vandeweghe, ranked 88th, edged Jana Juricova, the 2011 NCAA champion from Cal, 5-4 in women's singles. Asia Muhammad and Yasmin Schnack, a Sacramento-area resident, closed out the match with a 5-3 win in women's doubles.
   Women's Challenger in Redding -- Qualifier Chelsey Gullickson eliminated the last remaining seed, No. 7 Nicola Geuer of Germany, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Gullickson, the daughter of former major-league pitcher Bill Gullickson and 2010 NCAA champion from Georgia, will face another qualifier, Kristie Ahn, in today's first semifinal at 12:30 p.m. Ahn, who's about to begin her junior year at Stanford, defeated Angelina Gabueva of Russia 6-3, 3-1, retired after knocking off top-seeded Florencia Molinero of Argentina in the first round.
    Allie Will outlasted fellow American Sanaz Marand 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-4 to reach the semifinals for the second consecutive year. Will, who turned pro in July after leading Florida to two straight NCAA team titles, has needed three sets in all three of her matches. Her semifinal opponent, Sachie Ishizu of Japan, has not lost a set in three matches.
   Ishizu beat qualifier Katie Le of Milpitas in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. Le, who'll return to Santa Clara for her junior year, was coming off a victory over second-seeded Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay.       

Friday, September 14, 2012

'Late bloomer' scores huge upset in Redding

Qualifier Katie Le, a junior at Santa Clara, stunned
second-seeded Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay
6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the $25,000
USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger in Redding.
Photos by Paul Bauman
   REDDING, Calif. -- In an upset-filled tournament, Katie Le pulled off the biggest one Thursday.
   It seemed nothing could top qualifier Kristie Ahn's straight-set victory over top-seeded Florencia Molinero on Wednesday in the first round of the $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger.
   But the 6-2, 6-4 triumph by Le, another qualifier, over second-seeded Veronica Cepede Royg in the second round at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness was even more stunning.
   Both Ahn and Le (pronounced Lee) will begin their junior year at universities in the San Francisco Bay Area this month. But Ahn is a high-profile, albeit injury-prone, player from powerful Stanford who qualified for the U.S. Open in women's singles at 16 years old and has won professional tournaments.
   Le, on the other hand, was lightly recruited out of high school in the Bay Area suburb of Milpitas and settled for a full scholarship at obscure Santa Clara, a few miles down the road from Stanford. She needed a wild card to get into the qualifying event for the Oak River Rehab Challenger, her first pro tournament. As amateurs, Le and Ahn can accept only expense money. 
   "I would have loved to (go to Cal or Stanford), but I wasn't good enough," the 5-foot-6 Le conceded. "You could say I'm a late bloomer."
   Also falling Thursday were No. 4 Chieh-Yu Hsu of San Antonio and No. 6 Rebecca Marino, a Canadian formerly ranked in the top 40 in the world. Only one seed, No. 7 Nicola Geuer of Germany, reached today's quarterfinals. But three qualifiers -- Le, Ahn and 2010 NCAA singles champion Chelsea Gullickson -- remain alive.
Qualifier Chelsey Gullickson, the daughter
of former major-league pitcher Bill Gullickson,
defeated fourth-seeded Chieh-Yu Hsu 6-4, 6-3.
   Last season, Le became the first player in Santa Clara history to earn a berth in the NCAA Division I Singles Championships, losing in the first round, and the second Bronco woman to be named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year in tennis.
   "I've improved a lot in college, maybe because of all the training and match play I got," said Le, who also was named to the WCC All-Academic team with a 3.81 grade-point average in computer engineering.
   Le now owns a victory over a top-200 player. Cepede Royg, a 20-year-old Paraguayan, is No. 188.
   Le was much fresher for the match, despite having played three matches to Cepede Royg's one in the tournament. Le lost only two games in two qualifying matches and dispatched Vojislava Lukic of Serbia 6-4, 6-3 Wednesday in the first round. 
   Cepede Royg, meanwhile, survived a draining 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (2) victory over Cal freshman Klara Fabikova of the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The match, played in 95-degree heat, lasted 3 hours, 7 minutes, but Royg said that wasn't a factor against Le.
   "I played some games OK and some not," said Cepede Royg, whose English is limited.
   The Fabikova match might have taken a mental, if not physical, toll on Cepede Royg.
   "She lost focus on some points, and I was able to take advantage," Le said. "She was still playing really well. She hit a lot of deep balls."
   Cepede Royg, only 5-foot-4, has a blistering forehand, but Le ran down a surprising number of shots.
   "On the first ball (back), she'll make it, but not the third or fourth," Le said.     
Unseeded Sachie Ishizu of Japan beat sixth-seeded Rebecca Marino,
a former top-40 player returning from a 6 1/2-month sabbatical, 6-2, 6-2.
   Gullickson, 5-foot-11, overpowered Hsu, a slightly built left-hander, 6-4, 6-3.
   "These courts fit my game well," said Gullickson, who completed her eligibility at Georgia in May. "They're fast. She hits with more spin, and the courts don't suit her game well.
   "She was getting to most of my balls. It couldn't have gone either way if a few points were changed."
   Gullickson's father, Bill, went 162-136 as a major-league pitcher for 14 years, and her older sister, Carly, won the 2009 U.S. Open mixed doubles title with Travis Parrott.
   "Carly gives me tips on how to handle pressure and how to play these girls," Chelsea said. "My dad didn't play tennis, but he helps me after the tough times he had. It's a good support system."
   Sachie Ishizu of Japan used her pinpoint groundstrokes to defeat the 6-foot Marino 6-2, 6-2.
   "She seemed to be teeing off on everything and not missing anything," said Marino, who was playing in her first tournament after taking 6 1/2 months off because of fatigue and personal matters. "It was hard to get into the rhythm of the match."
   Marino, who reached a career-high No. 38 in the world last year, played her second consecutive Japanese opponent.
   "It definitely wasn't my best match," said Marino, who beat Miki Miyamura 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 Wednesday in the first round. "I think I was a bit tired from yesterday. For sure, I'll improve over the next few weeks."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stanford's Ahn stuns top seed in Redding Challenger

Qualifier Kristie Ahn, a Stanford junior, knocked off No. 1 seed
Florencia Molinero of Argentina in the first round of the $25,000
USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger in Redding, Calif. Photos by
Paul Bauman
   REDDING, Calif. -- Kristie Ahn showed Wednesday what she can do when she's healthy and relaxed.
   The 20-year-old qualifier, who's about to begin her junior year at Stanford, dismissed top-seeded Florencia Molinero of Argentina 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   The injury-prone Ahn is ranked No. 1,153 in the world and Molinero No. 191. But Ahn has flashed her potential before. At 16 years old, she qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open in women's singles before losing to Dinara Safina 6-3, 6-4 in the first round. Safina was ranked seventh at the time and reached No. 1 the following year. Ahn also has won two $10,000 tournaments in singles and a $50,000 event in doubles with Stanford teammate Nicole Gibbs.
   Ahn said "words cannot describe" the frustration over her injuries.
Molinero called Ahn "a great player."
   "I guess the toughest part was expecting so much of myself," she continued. "I was really playing well before it all went downhill. I expected to jump right back in, but the (fundamentals) you take for granted -- focusing, moving your feet, getting low -- weren't there."
  Second-seeded Veronica Cepede Royg almost joined her doubles partner, Molinero, on the sideline. Cepede Royg, a 20-year-old Paraguayan, held off Klara Fabikova, an 18-year-old Cal freshman from the Czech Republic, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (2).
   Sixth-seeded Rebecca Marino, a Canadian formerly ranked among the top 40 in the world, outlasted Miki Miyamura of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Marino was playing in her first match since taking a 6 1/2-month break because of fatigue and personal matters.  
   Ahn's physical problems began when she had surgery on her right (playing) wrist during her senior year of high school in Upper Saddle River, N.J. As a Stanford freshman, she was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Rookie of the Year in 2011 despite playing only one match after May 1 because of an ankle injury.
Second-seeded Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay almost
joined her doubles partner, Molinero, on the sideline.
   Ahn missed almost all of her sophomore season with a stress fracture in her left foot and shoulder soreness, then tore a quadriceps muscle earlier this summer.
   Finally feeling 100 percent physically this week, Ahn decided to take the pressure off of herself against Molinero.
   "One of the most important things was staying loose," Ahn said. "I haven't been playing much in the last year, and my last few tournaments were awful because I was so nervous. I just wanted to play a good, solid match and not freak out. I did a pretty good job of that."
   Playing the top seed actually helped Ahn.
   "It was a win-win situation," she explained. "I'm excited to go back to school. If I lose, I get to go back to school. If I win, I get to play more."
   The Farm will have to wait, thanks largely to Ahn's serve and forehand. Ahn blasted four aces, not exactly Serena Williams-like but not bad for a short player (5-foot-5) and match.
   "I think that's the most aces I've hit in my entire life," Ahn marveled.
Sixth-seeded Rebecca Marino, a Canadian
formerly ranked among the top 40 in the world,
won her first match after a long layoff.
   Ahn has beaten other top-200 players but called the victory over Molinero her biggest in the last year or two.
   "She's a great player," Molinero said. "She had a good day, and I lost. She has a great forehand and serve. For me, it was not a perfect day. I didn't play my best tennis."
   When asked why not, Molinero simply shrugged her shoulders. 
   Ahn will face Jacqueline Cako (pronounced CAY-ko), a junior from Pacific-12 Conference rival Arizona State, on Thursday in the second round after a 10 a.m. match. Ahn and Cako have never met in college.
   The 5-foot-4, 143-pound Royg and the 5-11, 190-pound Fabikova traded laser groundstrokes but struggled with their serves in a 3-hour, 7-minute battle in 95-degree heat. Royg committed 17 doubles faults and Fabikova, whose toss could draw rain, nine.
   The 10th game of the third set was a marathon within a marathon. Royg, ranked No. 188, double-faulted on match point at 5-4 and finally sprayed a backhand on Fabikova's eighth break point of the game. Royg double-faulted six times in the game and three consecutive times to lose her serve at 5-5 in the first set.
   "I was a little nervous with my serve," she said.
   Fabikova was playing her first match in six weeks because of a lower-back injury and an illness requiring antibiotics.
   "It will take a few more matches for me to play my best," she said.  
   Royg will take on Katie Le, a junior at Santa Clara from Milpitas in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the second round. Le, the West Coast Conference Player of the Year last season, defeated Vojislava Lukic of Serbia 6-4, 6-3.
   The 6-foot Marino described her comeback match as "difficult. My opponent didn't gve me much pace, and my game depends on pace. ... It's a bit of a relief to win my first match back. I was quite nervous at the beginning."
   Ahn, meanwhile, could face a dilemma Saturday, when the 25th-ranked Stanford football team hosts No. 2 USC at 4:30 p.m.
   "I really want to go to that game," she said. "If I'm still in the tournament, do I go down and come back? I don't know."
   It would be a nice problem to have.

Defending champ withdraws from Redding Challenger

   Third seed and defending champion Julia Boserup on Tuesday withdrew from the $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger in Redding, Calif.  
   Boserup, 21, of Newport Beach, Calif., suffered an undisclosed injury while practicing at the Sun Oaks Racquet Club, tournament supervisor Billie Lipp said.
   Replacing Boserup in the draw is Kristy Frilling, a doubles All-American as a senior at Notre Dame last season. Frilling, from Sidney, Ohio, is scheduled to meet Keren Shlomo of Israel today at 10 a.m. in the opening round.
   Meanwhile, Allie Will continued her Redding success. A semifinalist last year as a University of Florida junior, Will upset fifth-seeded Adriana Perez of Venezuela 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round.
   The 5-foot-10 Will, who has led Florida to the last two NCAA championships, will face qualifier Macall Harkins on Thursday in the second round. Harkins, a 26-year-old former TCU star from Palos Verdes in the Los Angeles area, routed Caroline Doyle, a 16-year-old wild card from San Francisco, 6-2, 6-1.
   Also advancing as a qualifier was Chelsey Gullickson, who won the 2010 NCAA singles title on her home courts as a University of Georgia sophomore. Gullickson, the daughter of former major-league pitcher Bill Gullickson and a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., outlasted Romana Tedjakusuma, a 36-year-old Indonesian living in Tracy, Calif., 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.
  Top-seeded Florencia Molinero, an Argentine ranked No. 199 in the world, is set to play qualifier Kristie Ahn, a Stanford junior, in the opening round today after a 10 a.m. match. Second-seeded Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay is scheduled to face Klara Fabikova in the first round at 10 a.m.
   Grand Slam singles champions Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur played one year each in Redding as teenagers.
   Azarenka, the reigning Australian Open titlist, reached the singles quarterfinals at 15 in 2005 and did not play doubles. Stosur, last year's U.S. Open winner, lost in the first round of singles and advanced to the doubles semifinals at 18 in 2003.
   Admission to the tournament is free.
TV SCHEDULE
(All times PDT)
   Friday -- Davis Cup semifinals, United States at Spain, singles, Tennis Channel, 3-9 a.m. (live), 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (repeat); Davis Cup semifinals, Czech Republic at Argentina, singles, Tennis Channel, 5-11 p.m. (delay).
   Saturday -- Davis Cup semifinals, United States at Spain, doubles, Tennis Channel, 5-8 a.m. (live), 2-5 p.m. (repeat); Davis Cup semifinals, Czech Republic at Argentina, doubles, Tennis Channel, 5-8 p.m. (delay); Tashkent (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-noon (delay), final, noon-2 p.m. (delay). 
   Sunday -- Davis Cup semifinals, United States at Spain, reverse singles, Tennis Channel, 3-9 a.m. (live), 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (repeat); Davis Cup semifinals, Czech Republic at Argentina, reverse singles, Tennis Channel, 5-11 a.m. (delay).
CALENDAR
   Through Sunday -- $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger, Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness, 3452 Argyle Road, Redding, Calif., 96002, www.sunoakschallenger.com, (530) 227-3498.
   Friday -- World TeamTennis, Western Conference finals, Sacramento Capitals vs. Orange County Breakers, 3:30 p.m. PDT (live streaming at www.wtt.com), Charleston, S.C.
   Saturday -- WTT, Eastern Conference finals, Washington Kastles vs. New York Sportimes, 3:30 p.m. PDT (live on NBC Sports Network), Charleston, S.C.
   Sunday -- WTT Finals, Western Conference champion vs. Eastern Conference champion, 12:30 p.m. PDT (live on NBC Sports Network), Charleston, S.C.
   Sept. 29-Oct. 7 -- Natomas Men's $100,000 Challenger, Natomas Racquet Club, 2450 Natomas Park Drive, Sacramento, Calif., 95833, www.natomaschallenger.com, (916) 649-0909.
   Oct. 6-14 -- First Republic Bank Men's $100,000 Challenger, Tiburon Peninsula Club, 1600 Mar West St., Tiburon, Calif., 94920, www.tiburon challenger.com, (415) 789-7900.
PRO RANKINGS
   Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Kevin Anderson, Sacramento Capitals (2012) of World TeamTennis -- No. 37 in singles (-3), No. 93 in doubles (no change).
   Nick Andrews, Cal All-American in 2012 -- No. 1,420 in singles (+1), No. 1,520 in doubles (-5).  
   Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 1 in doubles (+2), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 1 in doubles (+2), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, Capitals (2012) -- No. 22 in singles (+3), No. 728 in doubles (+9).
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- No. 100 in doubles (-4), unranked in singles.
   Artem Ilyushin, Granite Bay resident -- No. 862 in singles (no change), No. 1,227 in doubles (+6).
   Bradley Klahn, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 349 in singles (+140), No. 1,029 in doubles (+9). 
   Mark Knowles, Capitals (2001-07, 2009-12), three-time World TeamTennis Male MVP (2001, 2005 and 2007) -- No. 126 in doubles (-25), unranked in singles.
   Alex Kuznetsov, Capitals (2012) -- No. 199 (+4) in singles, No. 432 in doubles (-9) in doubles.
   Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 27 in doubles (+2), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012) -- No. 26 in singles (+2), No. 44 in doubles (-3).
   Ryan Sweeting, Capitals (2012) -- No. 131 in singles (+1), No. 833 in doubles (+14).
   Ryan Thacher, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1,275 in singles (+2), No. 1,435 in doubles (-2).
   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 147 in singles (-3), No. 181 in doubles (no change).
   Jimmy Wang, trains part-time in Granite Bay -- No. 155 in singles (+27), No. 343 in doubles (+1).
   Pedro Zerbini, All-Pacific-10 Conference first team at Cal (2009-11) -- No. 620 in singles (-1), No. 706 in doubles (+8).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- Career-high No. 159 in singles (+93), No. 681 in doubles (-384). 
   Jana Juricova, NCAA singles (2011) and doubles (2009) champion from Cal -- No. 932 in singles (+5), unranked in doubles.
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-12) -- No. 13 in doubles (-5), No. 57 in singles (-5).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 20 in doubles (no change), No. 705 in singles (+4).
   Asia Muhammad, Capitals (2012) -- No. 183 in doubles (+3), No. 552 in singles (-3).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- Career-high No. 122 in doubles (+29), career-high No. 186 in singles (+25).
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Capitals (2011-12) -- No. 150 in doubles (-2), No. 456 in singles (no change).
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy resident -- No. 465 in singles (+2), No. 1,132 in doubles (-4).
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Capitals (2009, 2012) -- No. 88 in singles (-13), No. 497 in doubles (+2).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Is U.S. tennis really that bad?

Serena Williams defeated CoCo Vandeweghe in an
All-American final at the Bank of the West Classic
at Stanford in July. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Seemingly for an eternity, the tennis media have moaned about the woeful state of U.S. tennis.
   The refrain goes something like this: No U.S. man has won a Grand Slam singles since Andy Roddick in 2003, and No. 4 Serena Williams is the only American-born woman ranked among the top 25 in the world.
   Judging by the media's hysteria, you'd think that the nation were on the verge of collapse. Well, it is, but that's unrelated to tennis.
   In reality, the state of U.S. tennis is not nearly as dire as it's portrayed. How bad can it be when arguably the greatest women's singles player, the greatest men's doubles team and the greatest women's doubles team in history are active and a future men's International Tennis Hall of Famer just retired?
   The United States is still cranking out Grand Slam champions, following in the tradition of players such as Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Lindsay Davenport, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Michael Chang.
   Serena Williams won her 15th Grand Slam singles title, sixth all time, on Sunday. Sports Illustrated's L. Jon Wertheim -- the best tennis writer, if not best sportswriter, period, in the country -- proclaimed her the greatest female player in history in 2010.
   Venus Williams has captured a mere seven Grand Slam singles titles, tied for 12th all time, and the Williams sisters rank fourth in history with 13 major women's doubles crowns.
   As for men's singles, the United States has endured droughts before. After McEnroe won the last Grand Slam singles title of his career in the 1984 U.S. Open, no American man prevailed in a major from 1985 through 1988. That was the era of Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg of Sweden, Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia, Boris Becker of Germany and Pat Cash of Australia.
   Everyone wondered what was wrong with U.S. tennis. Then Sampras, Agassi, Courier and Chang combined for 27 Grand Slam singles crowns from 1989 to 2003.
   Roddick retired at 30 after losing to Juan Martin del Potro on Thursday in the fourth round of the U.S. Open. Although he won only one Grand Slam title, he reached four more major finals, losing to Roger Federer every time. On Tennis Channel in March, Federer was ranked the greatest player ever by an international panel of experts.
   Arguably, if not for one shot, the conversation about U.S. tennis would be much different. Roddick had four set points in the second-set tiebreaker of his 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14 loss in the 2009 Wimbledon final. On the last set point, Roddick missed a relatively easy high backhand volley. Had Roddick made that shot, he probably would have won the match, which he almost did anyway.
   In men's doubles, Bob and Mike Bryan captured their 12th Grand Slam crown Friday. That broke the Open Era record they had shared with Australians Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde and tied Aussies John Newcombe and Tony Roche for the most ever.
   So why all the hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing? One wonders if racism is involved, as if the Williams sisters' achievements don't count. And doubles is so far off the radar that you need a telescope to find it. Doubles doesn't get nearly the respect that it deserves -- including the ridiculous abbreviated scoring format -- from the top players, the media and the fans.
   True, the United States does not have the singles depth it once enjoyed. As in every other field, the rest of the world has caught up. It's called globalization. The days when the United States and Australia dominated tennis are long gone, and that's not such a bad thing. The game is far more competitive now.
   Nevertheless, the United States has plenty of prospects.
   On the men's side, 6-foot-10 John Isner (27) is a Grand Slam threat. Ryan Harrison, ranked No. 55 at 20 years old, is the second-youngest player in the top 100 behind 19-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia at No. 42. Harrison and his younger brother, 18-year-old Christian, reached the quarterfinals in men's doubles
at this year's U.S. Open. Ryan has said Christian is better than he is.
   Jack Sock, 19, has made a splash at the U.S. Open for the past three years, winning the boys singles title in 2010, taking the mixed doubles title with Melanie Oudin last year and teaming with Steve Johnson to knock off top-seeded Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor in the first round of men's doubles this year.
   Meanwhile, the United States has three women 20 or younger in the top 100: Christina McHale (20 years old) at No. 30, Sloane Stephens (19) at No. 38 and CoCo Vandeweghe (20) at No. 88.
   During the U.S. Open, Tennis Channel analyst and former No. 1 doubles player Rennae Stubbs called Stephens "definitely a star in the making."
   Mallory Burdette recently reached the third round of the U.S. Open, then decided to forgo her senior year at Stanford and turn pro. Madison Keys is ranked No. 167 at 17 years old, Samantha Crawford (17) just won the U.S. Open girls singles title, and Taylor Townsend (16) is the top-ranked junior in the world.
   Not to worry, American fans. The United States will produce more Grand Slam champions. It always does.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Vandeweghe to rejoin Capitals for WTT playoffs

CoCo Vandeweghe, 20, reached the final of the Bank of the West
Classic at Stanford in July as a lucky loser. Photo by Paul Bauman
   CoCo Vandeweghe, among the United States' top prospects, will rejoin the Sacramento Capitals for the World TeamTennis playoffs Sept. 14-16 in Charleston, S.C.
   WTT made the announcement this week.
   Vandeweghe, the 20-year-old niece of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe, played four matches late in the regular season for the Capitals (7-7). She finished 12-8 (.600) in singles games, 9-15 (.375) in women's doubles and 9-9 in mixed doubles.
   Vandeweghe did not play enough games in any event to qualify for the league leaders, but a winning percentage of .600 or higher in WTT is exceptional.
   On the WTA tour, the 6-foot-1 resident of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area advanced to the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in July as a lucky loser to reach a career-high No. 69 in the world. In the title match, she held a set point in the first set of her 7-5, 6-3 loss to 14-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams.
   Sacramento will face the rival Orange County Breakers (8-6) in the Western Conference final on Sept. 14, and the defending champion Washington Kastles (14-0) will play the New York Sportimes (9-5) in the Eastern Conference final on Sept. 15. The winners will meet for the WTT title on Sept. 16.                
   Washington has won 30 consecutive matches, the second-longest such streak by a U.S. professional team in history after the Los Angeles Lakers reeled off 33 straight victories in the 1971-72 season.
   Joining Vandeweghe on the Capitals will be 34th-ranked Kevin Anderson, a 6-foot-8 South African; 41-year-old Mark Knowles, formerly ranked No. 1 in the world in doubles; Yasmin Schnack, a former UCLA All-American from the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove; and Asia Muhammad, who has won five minor-league doubles titles.
   SATA -- The fall interclub season of the Sacramento Area Tennis Association will begin Saturday.
   SATA, a non-profit organization, was founded more than 60 years ago to promote tennis in the Sacramento area. Its membership includes more than 30 private and public clubs, and about 6,000 players regularly participate in SATA leagues, tournaments and tennis-related events.
   For more information, visit www.sactennis.org.

Monday, September 3, 2012

TV schedule, calendar

U.S. OPEN TV SCHEDULE
(All Times PDT) 
   Today -- Fourth round, CBS, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (live); ESPN2, 4-8 p.m. (live). 
   Tuesday -- Men's fourth round/women's quarterfinals, ESPN2, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (live); men's fourth round/doubles, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (live).
   Wednesday -- Doubles, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (live); quarterfinals, ESPN2, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. (live).
   Thursday -- Doubles/juniors, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (live); men's quarterfinals/mixed doubles final, ESPN2, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (live); men's quarterfinals, ESPN2, 4-8 p.m. (live).
   Friday -- Women's semifinals/men's doubles final, Tennis Channel, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (live);
women's semifinals, Tennis Channel, 4-8 p.m. (repeat).
   Saturday -- Men's semifinals, CBS, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (live); women's final, CBS, 5-7 p.m. (live).
   Sunday --
Women's doubles final, ESPN2, 9:30-11:30 a.m. (live); men's final, CBS, 1-4 p.m. (live). 
CALENDAR
   Through Sunday -- U.S. OPEN, Flushing Meadows, N.Y., www.usopen.org.
   Sunday-Sept. 16 -- $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger, Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness, 3452 Argyle Road, Redding, Calif., 96002, www.sunoakschallenger.com, (530) 227-3498.
   Sept. 14 -- World TeamTennis, Western Conference finals, Sacramento Capitals vs. Orange County Breakers, 3:30 p.m. PDT, Charleston, S.C.
   Sept. 15 -- WTT, Eastern Conference finals, Washington Kastles vs. New York Sportimes, 3:30 p.m. PDT, Charleston, S.C.
   Sept. 16 -- WTT Finals, Western Conference champion vs. Eastern Conference champion, 12:30 p.m. PDT, Charleston, S.C.
   Sept. 29-Oct. 7 -- Natomas Men's $100,000 Challenger, Natomas Racquet Club, 2450 Natomas Park Drive, Sacramento, Calif., 95833, www.natomaschallenger.com, (916) 649-0909.
   Oct. 6-14 -- First Republic Bank Men's $100,000 Challenger, Tiburon Peninsula Club, 1600 Mar West St., Tiburon, Calif., 94920, www.tiburon challenger.com, (415) 789-7900.