Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ashe's widow to receive award in San Francisco

   Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the widow of legend Arthur Ashe, will receive an award Nov. 7 in San Francisco.
   The United States Tennis Association Northern California and Northern California Tennis Foundation will present the inaugural Beyond the Baseline Icon Award to Moutoussamy-Ashe for devoting her life to Ashe's legacy.
   A cocktail reception is scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. and the presentation from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Galleria at The San Francisco Design Center, 101 Henry Adams Street.
   The cost is $75 for adults and $15 for youths 12 to 18. Proceeds will benefit the NCTF.
   Those who purchase tickets today at http://ustanorcalbeyondbaseline-es2.eventbrite.com/?utm_source=AA+Arts/Culture+091913&utm_campaign=AAACe+091913&utm_medium=email will receive a USTA welcome gift (limit 300).
   Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will present the award, and NBC announcer Ted Robinson will serve as the master of ceremonies.
   This year marks the 20th anniversary of Ashe's death at age 49. He contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he received during heart bypass surgery.
   Ashe won three Grand Slam singles titles: the first U.S. Open in 1968, the 1970 Australian Open and, in a stunning upset over Jimmy Connors, Wimbledon in 1975. Ashe remains the only black man to win any of those tournaments. The only other to win a Grand Slam singles title is Yannick Noah of France in the 1983 French Open.
   Ashe also compiled a 13-3 record as the United States Davis Cup captain (coach) from 1981 to 1985, winning the title in 1981 and 1982.
   The consummate tennis ambassador with his intelligence and quiet dignity, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985, and the U.S. Open's main stadium, the largest in the world with a capacity of 22,547, is named after him.
   Ashe immersed himself in politics, both tennis and international, and social causes. He helped found the ATP, the men's players union, in 1972, and served as its president. He protested apartheid in South Africa and U.S. policies toward Haitian refugees. He promoted education for needy children and, after announcing his illness in 1992, founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS.
   Ashe wrote not one but three books about his life, as well as a three-volume history of African-American athletes. He also penned columns for Time Magazine and The Washington Post, near his hometown of Richmond, Va.
. Ashe was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton in 1993. Since 2008, the Arthur Ashe Learning Center in New York has showcased young people's achievements in service, academics and citizenship.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New rankings, TV schedule, calendar

PRO RANKINGS
     Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Bob Bryan, 35 years old, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 35 years old, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, 31 years old, Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis (2012-13) -- No. 370 in singles (-3), No. 123 in doubles (+1).
   Bradley Klahn, 23 years old, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 123 in singles (+5), No. 162 in doubles (+4).
   Scott Lipsky, 32 years old, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 34 in doubles (-1), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, 26 years old, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 37 in singles (-3), No. 217 in doubles (-4).
   Ryan Sweeting, 26 years old, Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 540 in singles (+1), No. 876 in doubles (+2).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 30 years old, trains at Gorin Tennis Academy in Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay -- No. 30 in singles (+9), No. 125 in doubles (+20).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, 22 years old, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- No. 137 in singles (-6), No. 531 in doubles (-100).
   Nicole Gibbs, 20 years old, NCAA singles champion in 2012 and 2013 and NCAA doubles champion in 2012 from Stanford -- No. 201 in singles (+3), No. 502 in doubles (+58).
   Macall Harkins, Redding resident -- No. 294 in doubles (-21), No. 807 in singles (-43).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 30 years old, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 23 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Megan Moulton-Levy, 28 years old, Capitals (2013) -- No. 56 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Maria Sanchez, 23 years old, Modesto product -- No. 145 in singles (-5), No. 149 in doubles (-6).
   Taylor Townsend, 17 years old, Capitals (2013) -- No. 214 in doubles (no change), No. 281 in singles (-3).
TV SCHEDULE
(All Times PDT)
Wednesday
   Paris (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 3 a.m.-3 p.m. (live), 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday (repeat). 
Thursday
   Paris (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 3 a.m.-3 p.m. (live), 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday (repeat).
Friday
   Paris (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 6 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (live), 3:30-10:30 p.m. (repeat).
Saturday 
   Paris (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 6:30-11:30 a.m. (live), 3:30-8:30 p.m. (repeat).
   Fed Cup final, Russia at Italy, Tennis Channel, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (delay).
   Sofia (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Sunday (delay).
Sunday
   Paris (men), final, Tennis Channel, 6-8:30 a.m. (live), 2:30-5 p.m. (repeat), 9-11 p.m. (repeat).
   Fed Cup final, Russia at Italy, Tennis Channel, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (delay), 7-9 p.m. (repeat).
   Sofia (women), final, Tennis Channel, 5-7 p.m. (delay). 
CALENDAR
   Saturday-Sunday -- Fed Cup final, Russia at Italy, www.fedcup.com.
   Saturday-Sunday -- Sacramento Clay Court League, semifinals and finals, Ben Combs' house, 8582 Westin Lane, Orangevale, Calif., 95662, www.sacramentoclaycourtleague.com.
   Nov. 4-11 -- ATP World Tour Finals, London, www.barclaysatpworldtourfinals.com. Defending champions: Novak Djokovic, Marcel Granollers-Marc Lopez.
   Nov. 7-10 -- USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, men and women, Flushing Meadows, N.Y. http://www.itatennis.com/Events/USTA-ITA-Championships-Events/NationalIndoors.htm
   Nov. 15-17 -- Davis Cup final, Czech Republic at Serbia, www.daviscup.com.
   Dec. 9-15 -- Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, boys and girls 18s and 16s, Plantation, Fla., www.orangebowltennis.org
   Dec. 17-23 --  Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship, boys and girls 14s and 12s, Coral Gables, Fla., www.juniororangebowl.org.
   Dec. 27-Jan. 1 -- USTA National Winter Championships, boys and girls 14s and 12s, Tucson, Ariz., http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=122724.  
   Dec. 27-Jan. 2 -- USTA National Winter Championships, boys and girls 18s and 16s, Scottsdale, Ariz.,  http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=122192
   Jan. 13-26, 2014 -- AUSTRALIAN OPEN, Melbourne, www.australianopen.com. Defending champions: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Sara Errani-Roberta Vinci, Jarmila Gajdosova-Matthew Ebden.
   Jan. 31-Feb. 2 -- Davis Cup, first round, Great Britain at United States, site to be announced, www.daviscup.com.
   Feb. 8-9 -- Fed Cup, first round, Italy at United States, site to be announced, www.fedcupcom.
   Feb. 26, 2014 -- Champions Shootout (Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake), 7 p.m., Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, Calif.,  www.powersharesseries.com.
   March 3-16, 2014 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. Defending champions: Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Ekaterina Makarova-Elena Vesnina.

Tursunov avoids Nadal match with loss

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal will meet fellow Spaniard
Marcel Granollers in the second round of the BNP
Paribas Masters in Paris. 2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   Well, there's always the bright side for Dmitry Tursunov.
   The 30-year-old Russian, who trains in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, won't have to worry about playing Rafael Nadal.
   Plus, Tursunov can start the offseason. That lasts, what, 36 hours before he has to start training for next year?
   Marcel Granollers beat Tursunov 6-4, 6-4 today in the first round of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris to earn a matchup against his top-ranked fellow Spaniard.
   Nadal received a first-round bye. He is 3-0 against Tursunov and 2-0 against Granollers, winning all 10 sets.
   Tursunov colorfully described Nadal five years ago in an interview with The Sacramento Bee.
   "Nadal is by far the fittest player (in men's tennis)," Tursunov said. "He can run fast, and he's incredibly persistent. He will chase down every ball. He's essentially a pit bull. Once he gets a grip on you, it's difficult to shake him off."
   Tursunov, who has soared from No. 125 in the world at the end of 2012 to No. 30, is one of four nominees for Comeback Player of the Year on the ATP World Tour. Nadal is the heavy favorite, although  he's a virtual lock for Player of the Year. The winner will be announced during next week's ATP World Tour Finals in London.
   Nadal, 27, regained the No. 1 ranking this month after ending last year at No. 4. He suffered a left knee injury in 2012 and missed seven months. After returning in February, he reached nine straight finals, winning seven. In the last tournament of the streak, he won his eighth French Open title.
   Nadal later went on a 26-match hardcourt winning streak over the summer, claiming his second U.S. Open title.

Sacramento academy bags another national title

   The JMG Tennis Academy is having a better year than Starbucks.
   A player from JMG in Sacramento won a national title for the third time since August earlier this month. Priya Nelson, 8, routed Susanna Maltby of Glen Ellyn, Ill., 6-2, 6-0 in the girls 8 final at the Little Mo Nationals in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 21.
   Nelson won all of her matches in straight sets.
   "Priya is both highly dedicated and highly talented, which is unique at her age," Joseph Gilbert, the founder and director of JMG, said in a statement. "I've been fortunate enough to coach her from the very beginning, and I just love catching talented young players early like that. It's easy to see Priya's headed for lots of future success, and it will be very exciting to watch her journey."
   On back-to-back days in August, JMG's Collin Altamirano and Jenson Brooksby won titles in the USTA Boys 18 and 12 National Championships, respectively. Altamirano, 17, became the first unseeded player in the 71-year history of the USTA Boys 18s to capture the title.
   Past Little Mo champions include Andy Roddick and Canada's Vasek Pospisil, who reached the semifinals of last week's Swiss Indoors in Basel. Pospisil lost to hometown hero Roger Federer 7-5 in the third set.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tursunov returns to top 30 after long absence

Russian Dmitry Tursunov, who trains
in the Sacramento area, rose nine spots
to No. 30 in the latest rankings.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   It has been a long road back for Dmitry Tursunov.
   And it isn't over yet.
   The 30-year-old Moscow native, who trains in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, returned to the top 30 in the world for the first time in more than four years Sunday.
   By reaching the semifinals of the Valencia Open 500 in Spain last week, the hard-hitting Tursunov rose nine spots to No. 30 in the new rankings. After reaching No. 29 on July 27, 2009, he battled injuries and dropped as low as No. 516 exactly one year later.
   Tursunov, one of four nominees for the 2013 Comeback Player of the Year on the ATP World Tour, has one more tournament this year to approach or surpass his career high of No. 20 in 2006.
   He is scheduled to play No. 39 Marcel Granollers of Spain on Tuesday in the first round of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. The winner will face top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who received a first-round bye, on Wednesday. Tursunov is 0-1 against Granollers and 0-3 against Nadal.
   Meanwhile, Bob and Mike Bryan narrowly were denied their 11th doubles title of the year, which would have tied their career high.
   Second seeds and defending champions Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil saved four match points in a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (1), 13-11 match tiebreaker victory over the top seeds and former Stanford stars in the Valencia final.
   The Bryans, 35-year-old identical twins originally from Camarillo in the Los Angeles area, came within two match victories in the U.S. Open of becoming the second pair to win a calendar-year Grand Slam in men's doubles. Australians Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman accomplished the feat in 1961.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tursunov falls in rare all-Russian semifinal

Moscow natives, left to right, Mischa Zverev, Dmitry Tursunov and Igor Andreev pose
at last year's Comerica Bank Challenger in Aptos, Calif. Zverev moved to Germany
at 4 years old, Tursunov to Northern California at 12 and Andreev to Spain at 15.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   The United States and Australia aren't the only tennis powers that have declined.
   Quietly, Russia also has stumbled.
   The glory days, when Russia won three straight Grand Slam women's singles titles in 2004 and the Davis Cup in 2006, seem like ancient history.
   What happened?
   Former world No. 1 Marat Safin, 2004 French Open champion Anastasia Myskina and two-time Grand Slam runner-up Elena Dementieva retired.
   Former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Vera Zvonareva, and former top-20 players Dmitry Tursunov and Igor Andreev have battled injuries.
   Svetlana Kuznetsova has not advanced past the quarterfinals of a Slam since winning the 2009 French Open for her second major title.
   Nikolay Davydenko, who reached a career-high No. 3 in 2006, has never been the same since being investigated for match fixing even though he was cleared five years ago.
   Mikhail Youzhny, ranked as high as No. 8 in 2008, has slipped with age.
   Russia still has six women in the top 30 and six men in the top 100. But the nation has only one woman, No. 3 Sharapova, in the top 15 and no men in the top 20 (although Youzhny will return on Monday). 
   Youzhny and Tursunov -- 31- and 30-year-old Moscow natives, respectively, and two of the wackiest players on the men's tour -- met Saturday in the first all-Russian semifinal on the ATP World Tour in more than three years.
   Youzhny, ranked 21st, triumphed 6-2, 6-4 in 75 minutes in on a hardcourt in Valencia, Spain, to improve his career record against No. 39 Tursunov, who trains in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, to 3-1.
   The unseeded Youzhny will face top seed and defending champion David Ferrer of Spain in today's final.
   Youzhny has an elaborate, trademark victory celebration somewhat reminiscent of San Francisco Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval's ritual when he steps to the plate. Youzhny spins his racket and then waves to the crowd with his left hand, holds his racket face on top of his head with his left hand while saluting each side of the stands with his right, and finally pumps his right fist.
   Also, after missing an easy shot five years ago in Miami, Youzhny hit himself in the head with the frame of his racket three times, drawing blood.
   Tursunov, meanwhile, is well-known for his self-deprecating, irreverent sense of humor. Here are some highlights from his 2011 "bag check" video for Wilson Sporting Goods:
   --On his tournament accreditation badge depicting a big letter "L": " 'L' for loser, I guess."
   --On a callous on his hand: "I'm single, so ... "
   --While flipping through a few bills in his wallet: "That's all my prize money for this year."
   To watch the video, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhMLG8sIw4U.
   In the doubles final today in Valencia, top seeds and former Stanford All-Americans Bob and Mike Bryan will play second-seeded Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil.
   The 35-year-old Bryan twins seek their 11th doubles crown of the year, which would equal their career high, and 94th overall.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Tursunov nominated for Comeback Player of Year

Dmitry Tursunov, who trains in the Sacramento area, has rebound-
ed from No. 125 in the world at the end of 2012 to No. 39.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Don't make room in that trophy case yet, Dmitry.
   Dmitry Tursunov, a Russian based in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, has been nominated for the 2013 Comeback Player of the Year on the ATP World Tour.
   But he faces stiff competition from Rafael Nadal and others. The winner will be announced during the ATP World Tour Finals, which begin Nov. 4 in London.
   Tursunov missed three months early last year with a left wrist injury and fell from No. 40 in the world in the 2011 year-end rankings to No. 125 one year later. A right-hander with a two-handed backhand, he has rebounded to No. 39 this year.
   ”It’s probably like my fifth time attempting to get the coveted title,” the irreverent Tursunov, who also was up for Comeback Player of the Year in 2003 and 2011, joked on atpworldtour.com. “Always someone gets in my way. This time, I think it’s going to be rough. I’m not losing hope. I’m 30. I think I have a couple more comebacks in me. I’m planning to get this one, and if not, I might retire, and I might come back and try to get it again.”  
   Tursunov today reached his third semifinal of the year, beating France's Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-3 on hardcourt in Valencia to earn a meeting with countryman Mikhail Youzhny. Tursunov, who reached a career-high No. 20 in 2006, seeks his first singles final since winning s-Hertogenbosch on grass in 2011 for his seventh career singles title.
   Nadal is overwhelmingly favored to win the Comeback Player of the Year award, although he's a virtual lock for Player of the Year. The 27-year-old Spaniard regained the No. 1 ranking this month after ending last year at No. 4.
   Nadal suffered a left knee injury last year and missed seven months. After returning in February, he reached nine straight finals, winning seven. In the last tournament of the streak, he won his eighth French Open title. Nadal later went on a 26-match hardcourt winning streak over the summer, claiming his second U.S. Open title.
   Tursunov and Nadal could meet in the second round of next week's BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. Tursunov will face 35th-ranked Marcel Granollers of Spain in the first round while Nadal has a bye. Tursunov is 0-1 against Granollers and 0-3 against Nadal.
   Also on the ballot for Comeback Player of the Year are Spaniard Tommy Robredo and India's Somdev Devvarman.
   Robredo, who underwent leg surgery early last year, has jumped from No. 115 at the end of 2012 to No. 19. Devvarman, a right-hander who had right shoulder surgery in January 2012, has skyrocketed from No. 656 to No. 90.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New rankings, TV schedule, calendar

PRO RANKINGS
     Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Bob Bryan, 35 years old, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 35 years old, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, 31 years old, Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis (2012-13) -- No. 367 in singles (-2), No. 124 in doubles (-1).
   Bradley Klahn, 23 years old, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 128 in singles (+2), No. 166 in doubles (-5).
   Scott Lipsky, 32 years old, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 33 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, 26 years old, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 34 in singles (no change), No. 213 in doubles (no change).
   Ryan Sweeting, 26 years old, Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 541 in singles (-6), No. 878 in doubles (-6).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 30 years old, trains at Gorin Tennis Academy in Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay -- No. 39 in singles (no change), No. 145 in doubles (+11).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, 22 years old, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- No. 131 in singles (+1), No. 431 in doubles (-1).
   Nicole Gibbs, 20 years old, NCAA singles champion in 2012 and 2013 and NCAA doubles champion in 2012 from Stanford -- No. 204 in singles (+4), No. 560 in doubles (+5).
   Macall Harkins, Redding resident -- No. 273 in doubles (+1), No. 764 in singles (-6).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 30 years old, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 23 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Megan Moulton-Levy, 28 years old, Capitals (2013) -- No. 56 in doubles (-2), unranked in singles.
   Maria Sanchez, 23 years old, Modesto product -- No. 140 in singles (-1), No. 143 in doubles (-3).
   Taylor Townsend, 17 years old, Capitals (2013) -- No. 278 in singles (-1), No. 214 in doubles (+1).
TV SCHEDULE
(All Times PDT)
Wednesday
   WTA Championships (women), round-robin play, Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (live),  6 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Thursday (repeat).
   Basel (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 1:30-5:30 p.m. (delay).
Thursday
   WTA Championships (women), round-robin play, Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (live),  5:30 p.m.-midnight (repeat).
   Basel (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 1:30-5:30 p.m. (delay).
Friday
   WTA Championships (women), round-robin play, Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (live).
   Basel (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 1:30-5:30 p.m. (delay).  
   Valencia (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 5:30-9:30 p.m. (delay).
Saturday 
   WTA Championships (women), doubles semifinals, Tennis Channel, 3-4:30 a.m. and 9-10:30 a.m. (live).
   WTA Championships (women), singles semifinals, Tennis Channel, 5-9 a.m. (live), 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (repeat).
   Basel (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 2:30-7:30 p.m. (delay).  
   Valencia (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Sunday (delay).
Sunday
   Basel (men), final, Tennis Channel, 6:30-9 a.m. (live), 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (repeat).
   Valencia (men), final, Tennis Channel, 9-11:30 a.m. (delay), 2-4:30 p.m. (repeat).
   WTA Championships (women), singles final, ESPN2, 2-4 p.m. (delay), 7-9 p.m. (repeat).
   WTA Championships (women), doubles final, Tennis Channel, 5:30-7 p.m. (delay). 
CALENDAR
   Through Sunday -- WTA Championships, Istanbul, www.wtachampionships.com. Defending champions: Serena Williams, Maria Kirilenko-Nadia Petrova. 
   Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 2-3 -- Sacramento Clay Court League, Ben Combs' house, 8582 Westin Lane, Orangevale, Calif., 95662, www.sacramentoclaycourtleague.com.
   Nov. 2-3 -- Fed Cup final, Russia at Italy, www.fedcup.com.
   Nov. 4-11 -- ATP World Tour Finals, London, www.barclaysatpworldtourfinals.com. Defending champions: Novak Djokovic, Marcel Granollers-Marc Lopez.
   Nov. 7-10 -- USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, men and women, Flushing Meadows, N.Y. http://www.itatennis.com/Events/USTA-ITA-Championships-Events/NationalIndoors.htm
   Nov. 15-17 -- Davis Cup final, Czech Republic at Serbia, www.daviscup.com.
   Dec. 9-15 -- Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, boys and girls 18s and 16s, Plantation, Fla., www.orangebowltennis.org
   Dec. 17-23 --  Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship, boys and girls 14s and 12s, Coral Gables, Fla., www.juniororangebowl.org.
   Dec. 27-Jan. 1 -- USTA National Winter Championships, boys and girls 14s and 12s, Tucson, Ariz., http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=122724.  
   Dec. 27-Jan. 2 -- USTA National Winter Championships, boys and girls 18s and 16s, Scottsdale, Ariz.,  http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=122192
   Jan. 13-26, 2014 -- AUSTRALIAN OPEN, Melbourne, www.australianopen.com. Defending champions: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Sara Errani-Roberta Vinci, Jarmila Gajdosova-Matthew Ebden.
   Jan. 31-Feb. 2 -- Davis Cup, first round, Great Britain at United States, site to be announced, www.daviscup.com.
   Feb. 8-9 -- Fed Cup, first round, Italy at United States, site to be announced, www.fedcupcom.
   Feb. 26, 2014 -- Champions Shootout (Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake), 7 p.m., Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, Calif.,  www.powersharesseries.com.
   March 3-16, 2014 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. Defending champions: Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Ekaterina Makarova-Elena Vesnina.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New rankings, TV schedule, calendar

PRO RANKINGS
     Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Bob Bryan, 35 years old, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 35 years old, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, 31 years old, Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis (2012-13) -- No. 365 in singles (-2), No. 123 in doubles (+1).
   Bradley Klahn, 23 years old, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 130 in singles (+1), career-high No. 161 in doubles (+25).
   Scott Lipsky, 32 years old, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 33 in doubles (-2), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, 26 years old, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 34 in singles (-3), No. 213 in doubles (-47).
   Ryan Sweeting, 26 years old, Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 535 in singles (-3), No. 872 in doubles (no change).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 30 years old, trains at Gorin Tennis Academy in Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay -- No. 39 in singles (+1), No. 156 in doubles (+1).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, 22 years old, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- No. 132 in singles (-6), No. 430 in doubles (+1).
   Nicole Gibbs, 20 years old, NCAA singles champion in 2012 and 2013 and NCAA doubles champion in 2012 from Stanford -- No. 208 in singles (-1), No. 565 in doubles (+1).
   Macall Harkins, Redding resident -- No. 274 in doubles (+3), No. 758 in singles (+5).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 30 years old, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 23 in doubles (-1), unranked in singles.
   Megan Moulton-Levy, 28 years old, Capitals (2013) -- No. 54 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Maria Sanchez, 23 years old, Modesto product -- No. 139 in singles (+1), No. 140 in doubles (no change).
   Taylor Townsend, 17 years old, Capitals (2013) -- No. 277 in singles (no change), No. 215 in doubles (no change).
TV SCHEDULE
(All Times PDT)
Thursday
   Stockholm (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (repeat), 1-7 p.m. (delay). 
   Luxembourg (women), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 7-11 p.m. (delay).
Friday
   Stockholm (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 4-10 a.m. (repeat). 
Saturday
   Moscow (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 2-6 a.m. (live), 6-10 a.m. (repeat), 3-7 p.m. (repeat).
   Stockholm (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (delay).
   Luxembourg (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 7-11 p.m. (delay). 
Sunday
   Moscow (women), final, Tennis Channel, 2-4 a.m. (live), 4-6 a.m. (repeat), 8-10 a.m. (repeat), 2-4 p.m. (repeat).
   Stockholm (men), final, Tennis Channel, noon-2 p.m. (delay), 7-9 p.m. (repeat).
   Moscow (men), final, Tennis Channel, 5-7 p.m. (delay). 
   Luxembourg (women), final, Tennis Channel, 7-9 p.m. (delay).
CALENDAR
   Through Nov. 3 -- Sacramento Clay Court League, Ben Combs' house, 8582 Westin Lane, Orangevale, Calif., 95662, www.sacramentoclaycourtleague.com.
   Tuesday-Oct. 27 -- WTA Championships, Istanbul, www.wtachampionships.com. Defending champions: Serena Williams, Maria Kirilenko-Nadia Petrova.
   Nov. 2-3 -- Fed Cup final, Russia at Italy, www.fedcup.com.
   Nov. 4-11 -- ATP World Tour Finals, London, www.barclaysatpworldtourfinals.com. Defending champions: Novak Djokovic, Marcel Granollers-Marc Lopez.
   Nov. 15-17 -- Davis Cup final, Czech Republic at Serbia, www.daviscup.com.
   Jan. 13-26, 2014 -- AUSTRALIAN OPEN, Melbourne, www.australianopen.com. Defending champions: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Sara Errani-Roberta Vinci, Jarmila Gajdosova-Matthew Ebden.
   Jan. 31-Feb. 2 -- Davis Cup, first round, Great Britain at United States, site to be announced, www.daviscup.com.
   Feb. 8-9 -- Fed Cup, first round, Italy at United States, site to be announced, www.fedcupcom.
   Feb. 26, 2014 -- Champions Shootout (Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake), 7 p.m., Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, Calif.,  www.powersharesseries.com.
   March 3-16, 2014 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. Defending champions: Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Ekaterina Makarova-Elena Vesnina.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hall of Famers, Blake to play in Sacramento

Pete Sampras rips a backhand in an exhibition
against Michael Chang during last year's
Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
Photos by Paul Bauman
   They combined for 25 Grand Slam singles titles.
   Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Jim Courier will play in Sacramento during the 2014 PowerShares Series, organizers announced today.
   The International Tennis Hall of Famers and fellow American James Blake will compete in two one-set semifinals, followed by a one-set final, on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena. The matchups have not been set.
   The 12-city U.S. circuit will begin Feb. 5 in Kansas City, Mo., and end March 21 in Surprise, Ariz. Other part-time competitors will be Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Michael Chang, Todd Martin, Mark Philippoussis and Andy Roddick. 
   Roddick and Blake -- who retired from the ATP World Tour after the U.S. Open in 2012 and this year, respectively -- will debut in the PowerShares Series.
   Sampras, 42, used his devastating serve-and-volley game to win 14 Grand Slam singles titles, second behind Roger Federer with 17, and held the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record six consecutive years.
   McEnroe, a 54-year-old left-hander, won 17 Grand Slam titles (seven in singles, nine in doubles and one in mixed doubles) with his tremendous touch. His volatile temper, however, often overshadowed his sublime play.
Commentator Jim Courier interviews Roger Federer
during last year's Australian Open.
   Courier, an exceptionally hard worker, won four Grand Slam singles crowns (two at the Australian Open and two in the French Open) and reached the final of all four majors. Now 43, he has served as the captain (coach) of the United States Davis Cup team since 2010.
   McEnroe and Courier, like Sampras, ascended to No. 1 in the world.
   Blake, 33, climbed to a career-high No. 4 in 2006 with his speed and power but never advanced past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament. He came close in 2005, losing a fifth-set tiebreaker to Agassi in one of the greatest matches in U.S. Open history.
   McEnroe holds U.S. Davis Cup records for total victories (59) and singles wins (41). He played on five Davis Cup championship teams, Sampras and Courier two each and Blake one.   
   Sampras and McEnroe have played World TeamTennis in Sacramento on visiting teams. Blake advanced to the final of the $100,000 Sacramento Challenger in 2011 and won the title in 2012. It is believed that Courier will play in Sacramento for the first time.
   Tickets for the Feb. 26 event went on sale today for USTA members at a 15 percent discount. Tickets starting at $25 and VIP fan experience packages will be available to the general public beginning next Tuesday. For more information, visit www.powersharesseries.com.         

Monday, October 14, 2013

Whoa, Canada -- unseeded Polansky wins Tiburon title

   What in the name of Wayne Gretzky is going on in Canada?
   Almost synonymous with hockey, the cold-weather nation suddenly is becoming a power in tennis, of all sports. Canada is known for slap shots, not passing shots.
   Led by rising stars Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil, though, Canada reached the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time this year. Raonic, 22, of Thornhill in the Toronto area and Pospisil, a 23-year-old native of Vernon, British Columbia, have climbed to No. 11 and No. 40 in the world, respectively.
   In men's doubles, 41-year-old Toronto product Daniel Nestor has won eight Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal.
   Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, a Montreal suburb, last year became the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam title when she took the girls singles crown at Wimbledon. The next day, Filip Peliwo of Vancouver, British Columbia, became the second by capturing the boys singles title at the All England Club.
   Bouchard, the highest-ranked teenager in the world at No. 32, played in her first WTA final on Sunday. The 19-year-old fell to 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur in Osaka, Japan.
   And Peter Polansky of Thornhill won his first career Challenger singles title Sunday. The unseeded Polansky, 25, surprised third-seeded Matthew Ebden of Australia 7-5, 6-3 in the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   It doesn't end with tennis, either. Anthony Bennett of Toronto and UNLV was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in this year's NBA draft, and Andrew Wiggins of Thornhill -- is this suddenly the sports capital of the world? -- and Kansas likely will be the top pick next year. Even Justin Bieber is Canadian.
   Polansky, who also downed second-seeded Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., in the Tiburon semifinals, did not lose a set in five matches in the tournament. He fell in the second round of the Napa and Sacramento Challengers in the previous two weeks.
   By winning the Tiburon title, the 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Polansky jumped 54 places to No. 168. He reached his career high of No. 149 in September last year.
   Ebden, 25, lost in a Northern California Challenger for the second time in three weeks. The former top-70 player fell to Donald Young in Napa after leading by a set and a service break.
   In an all-American doubles final in Tiburon, third-seeded Austin Krajicek and Rhyne Williams topped second-seeded Bradley Klahn and Rajeev Ram 6-4, 6-1. Klahn played 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Stanford, where he starred from 2009 to 2012.
   Following are the complete Tiburon Challenger singles and doubles draws:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw293.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/doubles_draw294.PDF

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Top two seeds ousted in Tiburon semifinals

Third-seeded Matthew Ebden of Aus-
tralia will meet unseeded Peter Polan-
sky of Canada in the final of the Tibur-
on Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The top two seeds played in the semifinals of the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger.
   Neither reached the final.
   Third-seeded Matthew Ebden of Australia eliminated No. 1 Denis Kudla of Boca Raton, Fla., 7-5, 6-3 on Saturday at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. Unseeded Peter Polansky of Canada took out No. 2 Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., 6-4, 7-6 (4).
   It was the second career meeting between Ebden and Kudla. The first came two weeks ago in the quarterfinals of the Napa Challenger, with Ebden winning by the almost identical score of 6-3, 7-5. He went on to reach the final, losing to Donald Young after leading by a set and a service break.
   Ebden is 1-0 against Polansky, prevailing 0-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the first round at Toronto last year on the ATP World Tour.
   Ebden is ranked No. 116 in the world after climbing to a career-high No. 61 last October. Polansky is No. 222, down from a career-high No. 149 in September 2012. Both players are 25.
   Ebden has played in three Challenger singles finals, winning one. 
   Polansky advanced to his second career Challenger singles final after losing in the second round at Napa and last week in Sacramento. He fell to Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil on clay in Panama City final last year.
   The top seeds in doubles also lost Saturday. Australians Samuel Groth and Chris Guccione fell to third-seeded Austin Krajicek of Tampa, Fla., and Rhyne Williams of Knoxville, Tenn., 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals.
   Guccione, a 6-foot-7 (2.01-meter) left-hander, won the 2012 Tiburon title with Rik de Voest of South Africa and the 2011 crown with longtime former partner Carsten Ball of Australia.
   Krajicek and Williams will meet second-seeded Bradley Klahn, a former Stanford All-American, and Rajeev Ram in an all-American final. 
   Following are links to the Tiburon singles and doubles draws and today's schedule:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw293.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/doubles_draw294.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule294.PDF

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Smyczek ends Young's bid for NorCal sweep

Tim Smyczek, shown in last week's Sacramento Challeng-
er, ended Donald Young's winning streak at 12 matches.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Donald Young's bid for a Northern California Challenger sweep ended Friday at the hands of a familiar face.
   Second-seeded Tim Smyczek subdued the seventh-seeded Young, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Young, a 24-year-old left-hander from Atlanta, had beaten Smyczek, 25, of Tampa, Fla., in the semifinals of the Napa Challenger and the final of the Sacramento Challenger in the past two weeks.
   The 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Smyczek stopped Young's winning streak at 12 matches, but Young leads the series 8-5. That includes Smyczek's victory in a 2011 USTA playoff for a wild card into the French Open.
   Smyczek, ranked a career-high No. 91 in the world, will play unseeded Peter Polansky of Canada in the semifinals. Polansky, ranked No. 222, dispatched unseeded Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., 6-4, 6-3.
   Smyczek defeated Polansky 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the 2010 Rimouski (Quebec) Challenger in their only meeting.
   In today's other semifinal, top-seeded Denis Kudla of Boca Raton, Fla, will meet third-seeded Matthew Ebden of Australia.
   Kudla, ranked No. 97, held off Australian left-hander John-Patrick Smith 6-4, 7-5 after trailing 3-0 in the first set. Ebden, ranked No. 116 after reaching a career-high No. 61 last October, topped 20-year-old countryman Benjamin Mitchell 6-4, 7-6 (3).
   Ebden is 1-0 against Kudla, winning 6-3, 7-5 two weeks ago in the Napa quarterfinals.
   Following are links to the Tiburon singles and doubles draws and today's schedule:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw293.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/doubles_draw294.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule294.PDF  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Young, Smyczek to meet for third straight week

Donald Young has won 12 consecutive matches, all in Northern
California Challengers since losing in the second round of the
U.S. Open as a qualifier. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Here we go again.
   Americans Donald Young and Tim Smyczek will meet for the third consecutive week and 12th time overall today in the quarterfinals of the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger.
   Young, seeded seventh, defeated Peter Gojowczyk of Germany for the second straight week 6-3, 6-1 at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. It was Young's 12th straight victory, all in Northern California Challengers, since he lost in the second round of the U.S. Open as a qualifier.
   Young, a 24-year-old left-hander from Atlanta, seeks a NorCal sweep after winning the Napa and Sacramento Challengers in the past two weeks.
   Smyczek, the second seed, held off Denys Molchanov of Ukraine 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to improve to 9-2 since becoming the last American man left in the U.S. Open. The 25-year-old Milwaukee native lost 7-5 in the fifth set to Marcel Granollers of Spain in the third round at Flushing Meadows.
   Young leads Smyczek 8-3 in their series, winning 6-3, 6-2 in the Napa semifinals and 7-5, 6-3 in the Sacramento final.
Tim Smyczek improved to 9-2, all in NorCal
Challengers, since falling in the third round
of the U.S. Open as the last American man
remaining. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Smyczek is ranked a career-high No. 91 after cracking the top 100 for the first time last week. Young is No. 103 after climbing to a career-high No. 38 in February last year and plummeting to No. 202 this past February.     
   Both players are undersized. Smyczek is listed at 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters) and Young at 6 feet (1.83 meters), but both appear two or three inches (5.1 or 7.6 centimeters) shorter.
   Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., joined them in the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 7-6 (7) victory over eighth-seeded Bradley Klahn, a former Stanford star from Poway in the San Diego area. Klahn had won their three previous meetings, all in three sets.
   Sandgren will face Canada's Peter Polansky, a 6-4, 7-5 winner over Jarmere Jenkins of College Park, Md. Sandgren and Polansky, both unseeded, have split their two meetings.
   The other quarterfinals were set on Wednesday. Top-seeded Denis Kudla of Boca Raton, Fla., will take on Australian left-hander John-Patrick Smith, and third-seeded Matthew Ebden will play fellow Aussie Benjamin Mitchell, 20.
   Kudla is 1-0 against Smith, prevailing 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5 in the first round of qualifying in Brisbane on the elite ATP World Tour in January.
   Ebden and Mitchell also have met once, but that was four years ago. Ebden, who's five years older, coasted 6-1, 6-3 in an Australian Futures tournament.
   Following are the Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Friday's schedule:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw293.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/doubles_draw294.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule294.PDF

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Despite U.S. men's worst year ever, Kudla optimistic

Denis Kudla, shown in last week's Sacramento
Challenger, was the last American man remaining
in singles at Wimbledon. Photos by Paul Bauman
   TIBURON, Calif. -- Mercifully for American men's tennis, the season will end in 5 1/2 weeks.
   Simply stated, this has been the worst year in U.S. men's history.
   No American reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time, and no U.S. man advanced to the third round at Wimbledon for the first time in 101 years.
   For one week last month, the United States was shut out of the top 20 in the world for the first time since the computerized rankings began 40 years ago.
   In addition, no American man has won a Grand Slam singles title since Andy Roddick 10 years ago at the U.S. Open.
   At least Bob and Mike Bryan came within two match victories of the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men's doubles in 62 years.
   Despite the United States' woes in singles, 21-year-old Denis Kudla of Boca Raton, Fla., is optimistic. 
   "I don't think anyone is in his prime, except for John (Isner) and Sam (Querrey)," the top-seeded Kudla said today after crushing Austin Krajicek of Tampa, Fla., 6-0, 6-1 in 51 minutes in the second round of the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger. "All the guys before were a lot older, at the end of their careers. I think every guy was at least 30, maybe 29. All the other guys are 19, 20, 21, 22, and we're coming up. We're right there -- 100 (in the world), 95.
    "If you look at other big federations -- the French, the Spanish -- they don't have anyone 19, 20, 21. They may have one guy. We have maybe six, seven, even more than that coming up. Maybe in the next three or four years, I think something good is going to happen with American tennis."
Benjamin Mitchell, 20, of Australia edged No. 6 seed Rhyne
Williams 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (1) in 3 hours, 1 minute in the second
round of the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger.
   Two seeds, both Americans, lost to Australians at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. No. 5 Rajeev Ram fell to John-Patrick Smith 7-6 (2), 6-4, and No. 6 Rhyne Williams of Knoxville, Tenn., finally succumbed to 20-year-old Benjamin Mitchell 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (1) in 3 hours, 1 minute. Williams, 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters) with a pulverizing serve and forehand, saved one match point in the second set and five in the third set.
   Maybe the United States won't have to wait three or four years for a Grand Slam champion. Kudla said the 6-foot-10 (2.08-centimeter) Isner, 28, and the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey, 26, are capable of winning a Slam. But they have not advanced past the quarterfinals and fourth round, respectively.
   Isner is ranked No. 13 and Querrey No. 31. Prospects include 21-year-olds Jack Sock (No. 78), Kudla (No. 97) and Ryan Harrison (No. 106); 22-year-old Williams (No. 124); and 23-year-olds Bradley Klahn (No. 131) and Steve Johnson (No. 150).
   Further down the road are potential stars Christian Harrison, Ryan's 19-year-old brother, and Stefan Kozlov, 15.       
   In the meantime, Kudla contends that bad timing has victimized the United States at the highest level. Roger Federer of Switzerland, Rafael Nadal of Spain, Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Andy Murray of Great Britain have combined to win 37 of 40 Grand Slam singles titles since Roddick's triumph.
Williams saved six match points before
succumbing to Mitchell.
   "Tennis has gotten incredibly tough at the top level," said Kudla, the last American man remaining in singles at Wimbledon. "There are four guys setting the bar so high. I don't know if we'd be sitting in the same seat right now if those guys weren't there. I think Roddick would have seven, eight Slams and won a Slam probably in '09, '10, and it would be a (three- or four-year) drought instead of 10."
   Kudla rejects the argument that players from other countries are hungrier than Americans.
   "It's easy to say that, but I think we're pretty hungry," he said. "The toughest thing people sometimes don't look at -- or maybe they do -- is in other countries, tennis is the second sport. Everyone gets into tennis. Here, it's the seventh or eighth sport, so it's hard to get an unbelievable freak athlete into tennis and, even if (one is) into tennis, to like it."
   Kudla has a somewhat different perspective than other Americans. He moved from his native Ukraine to Fairfax, Va., with his family on his first birthday.   
   "I grew up in a European environment," said the 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Kudla, who skipped college to turn pro. "My parents were strict but not crazy strict. I was never spoiled. I wanted tennis. It was always my dream."
   Vladimir Kudla, a successful architect, took his family out of Ukraine shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed.
   "It was dangerous," Denis said. "There were a lot of drugs and corruption everywhere. It was definitely not an easy place to grow up. My dad just said, 'I don't want that lifestyle for my kids. Come to America; we can do whatever we want; it's a lot safer.'
   "I definitely wouldn't have been a tennis player if I had stayed in Ukraine. Yeah, there are (pro) players, but even those guys now, they're all playing somewhere else. They're in France or Germany or Spain. None of them stay in Ukraine.
The road from the upscale town of Tiburon to the tournament
site offers a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
   "The only reason we started in tennis is because we came to America. My dad had friends here, and they were like, 'Let's go play tennis.' Tennis wasn't even an idea at all (in Ukraine)."
   Kudla's parents "came here not speaking a word of English and picked it all up in a year or two," he said. "It's pretty amazing what they did."
  Kudla reminisced in an otherwise empty locker room at the Tiburon Peninsula Club, tucked away in the hills across the bay from San Francisco. The road from the upscale town of Tiburon to the club offers a spectacular view of the city to the left and the Golden Gate Bridge to the right.
   Kudla has lost only two games in two matches after losing in the first round as the top seed in the Sacramento Challenger to alternate Daniel Cox 7-5, 6-0.
   "Last week was a disaster," moaned Kudla, who will face Smith in Friday's quarterfinals. "I played awful. I was getting frustrated with everything for no reason and just wasn't able to control it. I was just kind of weak-minded a little bit.
   "You can't do that with these guys, because they'll jump all over you. Give them an inch to breathe, and they're going to take it and beat you. That's exactly what happened last week. Definitely, I learned from that quick."
   Overall, Kudla has enjoyed a breakthough year. He cracked the top 100 for the first time after Wimbledon, also reached the second round of the U.S. Open and advanced to the semifinals at Queen's Club in London on the elite ATP World Tour.
   "I'm really happy with my year, but I want more," said Kudla, who is close to ensuring a spot in the main draw of the Australian Open in January. "There are bigger goals -- top 50 now, hopefully top 20, top 10 -- just keep pushing, keep working from now to the end of the year."
   It can't come soon enough for U.S. men's tennis in general.
   Following are the Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw293.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/doubles_draw294.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule294.PDF

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jenkins stays hot, upsets fourth seed in Tiburon

Jarmere Jenkins, shown in last week's Sacramento Challenger,
surprised fourth-seeded Alex Kuznetsov in the first round
at Tiburon. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Jarmere Jenkins continued his hot streak today in the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger.
   After reaching the semifinals of the $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger as a wild card last week, the recent University of Virginia graduate upset fourth-seeded Alex Kuznetsov of Tampa, Fla., 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3 in the first round at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   By reaching his first Challenger semifinal, Jenkins soared 156 places in the world rankings to No. 386. At the NCAA Championships in May, he led the Cavaliers to their first team title in the tournament, advanced to the singles final and won the doubles crown with then-freshman Mac Styslinger.
   Jenkins, 22, of College Park, Ga., will play Peter Polansky of Canada on Thursday in the second round. Polansky defeated wild card Campbell Johnson, a senior at the nearby University of California at Berkeley, 6-4, 7-5.
   Seventh-seeded Donald Young, coming off singles titles in the Napa and Sacramento Challengers in the past two weeks, defeated qualifier and fellow American Greg Ouellette 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 for his 11th straight victory.
   Second-seeded Tim Smyczek, the Sacramento runner-up from Tampa, demolished Matt Reid of Australia 6-1, 6-1. Smyczek, 25, of Tampa avenged a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5), 7-5 loss to Reid in the final round of Wimbledon qualifying in June.
   Young, 24, and Smyczek, 25, could meet for the third straight week and 12th time overall in Friday's quarterfinals.
   Australian left-hander John-Patrick Smith, a former All-American in singles and doubles at the University of Tennessee, eliminated American Steve Johnson, a Tiburon semifinalist last year, 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-4.
   Following are links to the singles and doubles draws and Wednesday's schedule:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw293.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/doubles_draw294.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule294.PDF

Aussie prospect Kyrgios withdraws from Tiburon

Nick Kyrgios, 18, rose to No. 177 in the world by reach-
ing the semifinals of the Sacramento Challenger.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Australian sensation Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger on Monday with a sore (right) playing arm.
   Kyrgios (pronounced KEER-ee-ose), 18, was replaced in the draw by Marcelo Arevalo, a former University of Tulsa star from El Salvador who will turn 23 on Oct. 17.
   Kyrgios, the youngest player in the top 200 in the world by 20 months, rose 14 places to No. 177 by reaching the semifinals of last week's $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger at the Natomas Racquet Club.
   The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Kyrgios played two three-set matches with a sore arm in Sacramento before losing to second-seeded Tim Smyczek 6-3, 6-1.
   Arevalo is scheduled to face fifth-seeded Rhyne Williams of Knoxville, Tenn., today in the first round in the fourth match on Court 1. Play begins at 10 a.m.
   Other new rankings -- Sacramento champion Donald Young soared 22 places to No. 103 in this week's rankings. That would barely put Young directly in the main draw of the Australian Open in January.
   Including Young's title in the $50,000 Napa Valley Challenger, the 24-year-old Atlanta resident has improved 42 spots in two weeks. He climbed to a career-high No. 38 in February 2012.
   Tim Smyczek, the Sacramento runner-up from Tampa, Fla., rose nine notches to a career-high No. 91.
   American Jarmere Jenkins, a semifinalist last week, skyrocketed 156 places to No. 386 four months after graduating fom the University of Virginia in anthropology. In May at Urbana, Ill., Jenkins led the Cavaliers to their first NCAA team title, reached the singles final and won the doubles crown with then-freshman Mac Styslinger.
   Following are the singles and doubles draws, complete singles qualifying draw and today's schedule in the Tiburon Challenger:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw293.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/doubles_draw294.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/qualifying_draw291.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule294.PDF   

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Young rallies for second NorCal title in two weeks

Donald Young, left, overcame a slow start to beat Tim Smyczek, right, 7-5, 6-3
for his second Sacramento Challenger title. Also shown is tournament director
Brian Martinez. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- For a while today, Donald Young's winning streak was in jeopardy.
   With the physical grind of surviving nine matches over two weeks taking a toll, the 24-year-old left-hander got off to a terrible start against fellow American Tim Smyczek in the final of the $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger.
   Young was broken at love in the opening game, lost eight of the first nine points and trailed 5-3 in the first set. Then he found his legs.
   And then some.
   Young, seeded eighth, reeled off the next seven games en route to a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Smyczek, seeded second, at the Natomas Racquet Club.
   After improving to 8-3 lifetime against Smyczek (pronounced SMEE-chek), Young said of his slow start: "It's disappointing. He was playing well, and I was missing a lot of shots I hadn't been missing the last two weeks. When you get to the end, it's a little tiring, but you've got to push through it. I'm happy I was able to step up and play better later."
   Young, coming off the title in the inaugural $50,000 Napa Valley Challenger, won tournaments in back-to-back weeks as a professional for the first time. He'll try for a Northern California Triple Crown in the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger, which begins Monday at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   "It would be awesome," said Young, who did not lose a set in the Sacramento Challenger. "Next week is going to be tough. I have more miles on my legs right now than anyone else, but I also have a lot more confidence."
   Young fell just short of a Sacramento sweep. Second-seeded Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith of Australia edged wild cards Jarmere Jenkins of College Park, Ga., and Young 7-6 (1), 4-6, 14-12 match tiebreaker in the doubles final.
   Of Young's eight career Challenger singles titles, six have come in California. The Atlanta resident also won the Sacramento Challenger in 2008, the last year it was held at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club before moving to Natomas. He is the first two-time singles champion of the 9-year-old tournament.
   "I'm a lot better player (now), a lot more mature, stronger, a little faster, more experienced," said Young, who indeed seems less volatile. "I was good then, I'm pretty good now, so I'm just happy I'm improving."
   The future of the Sacramento Challenger, which began in 2005, is uncertain after Deepal Wannakuwatte withdrew as the title sponsor in August. The United States Tennis Association provided the full purse for one year only, according to Challenger tournament director Brian Martinez.
   Wannakuwatte, who owns a medical supply company based in West Sacramento, said he's focusing on rebuilding the Sacramento Capitals. The co-owner of the World TeamTennis franchise with Ramey Osborne added that he might return as the Challenger title sponsor next year. Martinez said other parties are interested but would not identify them.
   Young, who's listed at 6 feet (1.83 meters) but appears three inches (7.6 centimeters) shorter in an era of power, has failed to achieve the stardom forecast for him as a junior. When John McEnroe, another American left-hander, saw Young play at 10 years old, the legend said, "He's the first player I've seen who has hands like me."
   But Young has mostly struggled since turning pro at the almost unheard-of age -- for a boy -- of 14. He finally reached a career-high No. 38 in the world in February 2012 but then went into a tailspin. Playing at the top level of the sport, he lost in the first round of 16 consecutive tournaments and went 5-24 for the year.
   Playing mostly Challengers, equivalent to Triple A in baseball, this year, Young rebounded from No. 202 in February to No. 125 entering the Sacramento Challenger. He will jump to approximately No. 100 when the new weekly rankings are released Monday.
   "It's big," Young said of winning the Sacramento title, which was worth $14,400. "I think I'm closer to the top 100. That's my goal. I want to make the Australian Open main draw (in January) and not have to go through qualies Down Under. That's pretty much what this is, to get me to that level. It's a steppingstone."
   Smyczek, who reached the third round of the recent U.S. Open as the last American man standing, will improve from No. 100 to a career high of about No. 90.
   The 25-year-old resident of Tampa, Fla., lamented that he "went away from my game plan a little bit" against Young after leading 5-3 in the first set.
   "I had chances in the 5-3 game and felt I could have broken him there and didn't capitalize," said Smyczek, who had lost to Young 6-3, 6-2 in the Napa semifinals. "Then (serving in) the 5-4 game, I just let a little of the pressure get to me and abandoned what I was doing. But he played a great match after that, and I just had a little trouble keeping up with him."
   Smyczek, generously listed at 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters), elaborated on his game plan.
   "It just seemed like the more I did with the ball, the better he handled it, so I was trying to slow-ball him a little bit," he said. "I'll just have to go back to the drawing board and the next time I play him try something else."
   Following are links to the complete Sacramento Challenger singles and doubles draws:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw291.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/doubles_draw292.PDF
   Here are links to the qualifying draw, singles and doubles main draws and Monday's schedule in the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/qualifying_draw291.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw293.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/doubles_draw294.PDF

Here's the scoop: Smyczek, Young to renew rivalry

Second-seeded Tim Smyczek drubbed ailing
Nick Kyrgios in the semifinals of the Sacra-
mento Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Tim Smyczek and Donald Young know each other better than Ben and Jerry.
   Smyczek (pronounced SMEE-chek) and Young will meet for the 11th time in the final of the $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger after easy victories Saturday.
   Smyczek, seeded second, drubbed ailing Nick Kyrgios, a potential star from Australia, 6-3, 6-1 in 1 hour, 10 minutes at the Natomas Racquet Club as glorious weather returned after two days of wind.
   Young, seeded eighth, needed only 58 minutes to dispatch his doubles partner and fellow Atlanta-area resident, wild card Jarmere Jenkins, 6-2, 6-2.
   Young is 7-3 against Smyczek, including two meetings this year. Smyczek prevailed 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the last round of qualifying in Atlanta in July on the elite ATP World Tour. Young won 6-3, 6-2 last week in the semifinals of the $50,000 Napa Valley Challenger en route to the title.
   "I was just lucky to get through (the Napa match) like that," said Young, the 2008 Sacramento Challenger champion in its last year at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club. "It wasn't as easy as the score said. I played well on some big points, and he maybe wasn't playing his best.
   "It happens like that. He's beaten me pretty good a couple of times, and I've gotten him. (The matches) are normally close, and I expect a close one (today)."
   Smyczek said Young "played me a little differently (in Napa) that he has before, so I'll have to make some adjustments. He constructed points well. He played a lot of good one-two punches where he would go high to my backhand and then hard to my forehand. He was hitting a lot of winners."
   The rivals have several similarities.
   Most significantly in terms of their careers, both are small. Young is listed at 6 feet (1.83 meters) and Smyczek at 5-foot-9 (1.75), but both appear to be two or three inches (5.1 or 7.6 centimeters) shorter.
Eighth-seeded Donald Young needed only 58 minutes
to dispatch wild card Jarmere Jenkins.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Smyczek is 25, Young 24. Not only are both American, they were born 90 miles (145 kilometers) apart in the Midwest, Smyczek in Milwaukee and Young in Chicago, and moved to the Southeast to train. Smyczek is based in Tampa, Fla.
   Both skipped college to turn pro, Young at only 14 and Smyczek at 18.
   Both are excellent athletes.
   Smyczek on Young: "He has a lot of facets to his game. He has a lot of talent and a lot of shotmaking ability. He can win points a lot of different ways. That makes him difficult to play because even if your 'A' game is working, he's able to adjust a lot of times and change things around."
   Young on Smyczek: "He's quick. He hits pretty flat through the court. He's solid. He doesn't give you a lot. He's in good shape. He's just an all-around tough player."
   Smyczek cracked the top 100 in the world for the first time this week at No. 100. Young, once projected as the next great American, is ranked No. 125 after climbing to a career-high No. 38 in February 2012.
   Both have had success at the U.S. Open, Young reaching the round of 16 in 2011 and Smyczek advancing to the third round this year as the last American standing.
    Of course, they're also opposites in some ways. Young is black, left-handed and animated on the court. Smyczek is white, right-handed and stoical.
    Smyczek outsteadied the unseeded Kyrgios (pronounted KEER-ee-ose), a hard hitter at 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) who had played two straight three-set matches with a sore right (playing) arm. After Kyrgios, already ranked No. 191 at 18 years old, held serve for 3-3 in the first set, Smyczek won nine of the last 10 games.
   Afterward, a reporter found Kyrgios, his right forearm wrapped in ice, in an almost deserted fitness room.
   "Not today," snapped Kyrgios, the youngest player in the top 200 by 20 months.
   When the reporter persisted and asked how much of a factor his injury was against Smyczek, Kyrgios burst out laughing at the apparently needless question.
   "A pretty big one," he allowed.      
   Young improved to 2-0 against Jenkins, who graduated from the University of Virginia in anthropology in May, in a rare matchup of African-Americans. Young won by the same score in the second round of the $50,000 Winnetka (Ill.) Challenger in July.
   During Virginia's commencement, Jenkins led the Cavaliers to the NCAA team title, reached the singles final and won the doubles crown with then-freshman Mac Styslinger.
   Young will play for two titles today. After the 1 p.m. singles final, he and Jenkins will face second-seeded Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith of Australia.
   Reid and Smith defeated wild cards Robert Kendrick and Brian Martinez, the tournament director of the Sacramento Challenger and director of tennis at the Natomas Racquet Club. 7-6 (6), 7-5.
   Kendrick, a 33-year-old Fresno native, retired from the tour last year. He reached the Sacramento Challenger singles final in 2008 and 2010 and won the doubles title with Brian Wilson in 2007. In the second round at Wimbledon in 2006, Kendrick came within a tiebreaker of beating Rafael Nadal in straight sets before losing.
   Following are links to the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw291.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/doubles_draw292.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule292.PDF
   Here are links to the qualifying and singles main draws in the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club and today's schedule:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/qualifying_draw291.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw293.PDF
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule294.PDF
   The Tiburon doubles draw will be held today.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Potential star Kyrgios upsets Klahn despite sore arm

Nick Kyrgios will meet second-seeded Tim Smyczek
in the semifinals of the Sacramento Challenger.
Photos by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Imagine what Nick Kyrgios will do with a healthy right arm.
   Despite soreness that affected his serve, the 18-year-old potential star from Australia upset seventh-seeded Bradley Klahn 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-6 (4) on Friday in the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger.
   The unseeded Kyrgios (pronounced KEER-ee-ose), already ranked No. 191 in the world, said the problem began during his three-set victory over 17-year-old countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis on Thursday in the second round.
   "It's something that's probably not going to go away in the next couple of days or in a week's time, but I can play through it," said the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter), 171-pound (78-kilogram) Kyrgios, the youngest player in the top 200 by 20 months. "Today, I had to just do what I could on serve. I could feel it on nearly every serve."
   Kyrgios faced a whopping 19 break points but, showing mental toughness in addition to his considerable physical skills, saved 14 of them during the 2-hour, 10-minute battle on a breezy day at the Natomas Racquet Club.
Bradley Klahn, a 23-year-old
Stanford graduate, said Kyr-
gios "has improved a lot."
   "Mentally, I've gone through a lot of ups and downs in the last three days," conceded Kyrgios, who also knocked off seventh-seeded Rajeev Ram in two tiebreakers in the first round. "I've played some really good tennis, and I've played some pretty average tennis. I'm trying to stay as positive as I can, but it's pretty hard knowing that one of your biggest strengths isn't there anymore -- your serve."       
   Kyrgios will meet second-seeded Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., for the first time in today's first semifinal, which follows an 11 a.m. doubles semifinal involving Natomas director of tennis Brian Martinez.
    The 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Smyczek (pronounced SMEE-chek) outlasted unseeded Samuel Groth of Australia 7-6 (8), 4-6, 6-1. Smyczek, who cracked the top 100 for the first time on Monday at No. 100, saved five set points in the first set.   
   Groth, 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) and 205 pounds (93 kilograms), holds the record for the fastest serve with a 163.4-mph (263-kph) rocket in the Busan (South Korea) Challenger last year.
   In the second semifinal, eighth-seeded Donald Young will face his doubles partner, wild card Jarmere Jenkins, in a rare matchup of African-Americans.
   Young, who won last week's $50,000 Napa Valley Challenger, dismissed unseeded Matt Reid of Australia 6-3, 6-4 for his eighth consecutive victory. Jenkins downed Australia's Matthew Ebden, the third seed and Napa runner-up, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-4 to continue his surprising run only four months after graduating from the University of Virginia in anthropology.
Wild card Jarmere Jenkins, a recent University of
Virginia graduate, surprised No. 3 seed Matthew
Ebden of Australia.
   At the NCAA championships in May, Jenkins led the Cavaliers to the team title, reached the singles final and won the doubles crown with then-freshman Mac Styslinger.
   Young, a nine-year veteran at only 24, dominated Jenkins 6-2, 6-2 in the second round of the $50,000 Winnetka (Ill.) Challenger in July in their only career meeting.
   The Atlanta-area residents will play in Sunday's doubles final in their first tournament together.
   Kyrgios, whose father is Greek-Australian and mother is Malaysian, resembles San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick facially, physically and athletically. The No. 1 junior in the world in January, Kyrgios already has made an impact at the top level of men's tennis this year.
   As a wild card playing in the singles main draw of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, Kyrgios defeated then-No. 52 Radek Stepanek in three tiebreakers in the first round of the French Open. Stepanek reached a career-high No. 8 in 2006.
Eighth-seeded Donald Young will face Jenkins
in a rare matchup of African-Americans.
   Kyrgios also won three qualifying matches to advance to the main draw of the U.S. Open before losing to fourth-ranked David Ferrer of Spain in straight sets.
   Kyrgios made his Davis Cup debut last month, losing 6-4 in the fifth set with Chris Guccione to Poland's Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, the seventh-ranked doubles team in the world, in Warsaw.
   Australian Davis Cup captain Patrick Rafter, an International Tennis Hall of Famer, said afterward of Kyrgios, "We've got one of the great Davis Cup players coming up right now."
   Kyrgios' sore arm didn't seem to affect his groundstrokes against Klahn. Kyrgois rifled forehand and backhand passing shots past the 23-year-old Stanford graduate.
   Krygios could have crumbled when, serving for the match at 5-3 in the third set, he double-faulted twice in a row and was broken. But he shook it off, forced a tiebreaker and prevailed on his second match point with a runaround forehand passing shot.         
   Klahn had beaten Kyrgios 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of Australian Open qualifying in January in their only previous encounter.
   "Everyone gets better with time if they're working, and he's improved a lot," observed the 133rd-ranked Klahn, a left-hander who's listed at 6 feet (1.83 meters) but appears two or three inches shorter. "In Australia, I played really solid, kept the ball deep and waited for him to make mistakes, which he did. He played better at the biggest moments today. He didn't give me as many errors at the key times, especially in the breakers."
   Kyrgios has played five tiebreakers in the tournament and won them all.
   Once his arm heals, watch out.
   Links to the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule were not available.
   Following are links to the qualifying draw for the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club and today's schedule:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/qualifying_draw291.PDF 
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule294.PDF