Friday, February 28, 2014

Anger, Kim to enter Men's Collegiate Hall of Fame

   Matt Anger, who was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and former Stanford star Alex Kim will be inducted in the Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame with five others on May 21 in Athens, Ga., the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced Thursday.
   Anger was a three-time All-American at USC, helping the Trojans finish third in the 1983 NCAA Championships. Before his collegiate career, he won the Wimbledon junior boys singles title in 1981 and was ranked as the No. 1 junior in the world by Tennis Magazine. 
   Anger played on the ATP tour for eight years, climbing to a career high of No. 23 in singles and reaching the round of 16 in singles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1986.
   The 50-year-old Anger is in his 20th season as the men's head coach at Washington.
   Kim was a two-time All-American, won the 2000 NCAA singles title as a junior and played on two national championship teams (1998 and 2000).
   Joining Anger and Kim in the Hall of Fame will be coaches Billy Chadwick (Mississippi), Timon Corwin (Kalamazoo) and James Wadley (Oklahoma State), player Juan Farrow (Southern Illinois-Edwardsville) and contributor Doug Conant (Northwestern).
COLLEGE RESULTS
Women
   No. 6 USC def. No. 37 Saint Mary's 6-1 in Los Angeles. No. 1 singles: No. 17 Sabrina Santamaria (USC) def. No. 8 Jenny Jullien 6-1, 6-4. Clinching match: At No. 4, 65th-ranked Giuliana Olmos def. Parminder Kaur 6-0, 6-2. Records: USC 8-2, Saint Mary's 3-5.
Men
   No. 9 Cal vs. UNLV in San Diego, canceled by rain.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blake downs childhood idol McEnroe for title

James Blake, 34, beat John McEnroe, 55, to win the Champions
Shootout in Sacramento. Both grew up in the New York area
and still live there. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- James Blake and John McEnroe both grew up in the New York area and became professional tennis players.
   Otherwise, they have little in common.
   Blake is 34, black and right-handed. A classy gentleman in the mold of his idol, Arthur Ashe, Blake forged an excellent, but not Hall of Fame, career. He reached three Grand Slam singles quarterfinals, peaked at No. 4 in the world and helped the United States win its last Davis Cup championship (2007).   
   McEnroe is 55, white and left-handed. A temperamental genius with the racket, he captured 17 Grand Slam titles (seven in singles, nine in doubles and one in mixed doubles), led the United States to five Davis Cup titles and was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999.
   Despite the age difference, McEnroe strongly influenced Blake when the latter was a junior in Fairfield, Conn.
   "My parents and my coach probably will tell you there may have been a negative inspiration with him at times," Blake said with a laugh after beating McEnroe, who grew up in Queens and lives in Manhattan, 6-3 to win the Champions Shootout on Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena. "I was a bit of a brat when I was 12 years old, and that's when he was (at the end of his career). He was my example when they said, 'You can't act like that and win.' And I said, 'Well, he sure does.' I would use him as my excuse for why I could act out. Eventually, I got out of that.
   "His is more of a show now, and he's having fun with it, but his intensity definitely inspired me. That's why I was such a perfectionist as a kid, and it carried over to the tour. I just hid it better. I was better at making sure the people didn't see how much the fire was burning inside me."
Pete Sampras, playing with a sore shoulder, lost to Blake in the
semifinals. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The Champions Shootout was the eighth of 12 stops, all in the United States in February and March, on the PowerShares Series. Only former Grand Slam singles finalists or top-five players over age 30 are eligible.
   In Wednesday's semifinals, Blake defeated 42-year-old Pete Sampras, playing with a sore shoulder, 6-3 and McEnroe topped 43-year-old Jim Courier -- you guessed it -- 6-3.
   Sampras collected 14 Grand Slam singles titles (second all-time behind Roger Federer's 17) and Courier four. They were inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2007 and 2005, respectively.
   McEnroe clearly was the star of the show in front of an announced crowd of 2,460 with his spectacular shotmaking and his theatrics, not necessarily in that order.
   He displayed his trademark temper in the semifinals and sardonic sense of humor in the final.
   McEnroe's biggest outburst came at 3-3 in the semis when a Courier forehand was called good on the baseline. McEnroe slammed his racket on the court, yelled at the linesman and swore at the chair umpire.
   He stayed calm in the final and, while serving at 3-4, cracked about a persistent hum in the arena, "Is the carpet up there clean yet?"
   The crowd's support for McEnroe occasionally miffed Courier and Blake, who, after all, were playing in their home country, too. 
Jim Courier fell to McEnroe in the semis.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   After Courier slugged a forehand crosscourt passing shot, the U.S. Davis Cup captain (coach) quipped to the audience, "Thank you for your lukewarm applause. I appreciate it."
   During the final, Blake admonished the fans at McEnroe's end of the court, "Am I playing against everyone on that side?"
   Blake, a resident of Westport, Conn., only six months removed from the ATP World Tour, had too much speed and power for McEnroe. Still, the gray-haired McEnroe put on dazzling performance with his corkscrew serve, deft volleys, feathery drop shots and pinpoint passing shots.  
   "It's incredible, the way he can still move, the way he can still serve, and his hands," marveled Blake, who won the last title of his active career a lob away from Sleep Train Arena at the Natomas Racquet Club in the 2012 Sacramento Challenger. "I think his hands will be that way until he's in a wheelchair. It's amazing how good his hands are.
   "I'm amazed by how great a shape he stays in and how well he can move around the court. I pray that I can move and serve like that when I'm 55."
   With his magical hands, McEnroe has a unique hitting style.
   "No one else can get away with it because no one has those gifts with his hands," observed Blake, who was born in Yonkers, N.Y., four months after McEnroe won his first Grand Slam singles title in the 1979 U.S. Open in nearby Flushing Meadows. "He's found a way to make the most out of it and master his craft.
  "It's fun to play something like that because I didn't see that on the tour. There are no true serve-and-volleyers, and there are no guys who use that kind of craftiness as well as he does."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

John McEnroe: 'Tennis needs to think out of the box'

   Love him or loathe him, John McEnroe has always been passionate about tennis.
   The 55-year-old legend remains heavily involved in the sport, serving as an outspoken TV commentator, running a junior academy in his hometown of New York and playing on the senior tour.
   Tennis, however, is struggling to attract casual sports fans in the United States. Serena Williams and Bob and Mike Bryan might be the greatest women's singles and men's doubles players, respectively, in history, but no American man has won a Grand Slam singles title since Andy Roddick in the 2003 U.S. Open, and no U.S. men are ranked in the top 10 in singles.
   It's a far cry from McEnroe's prime in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His rivalries with Sweden's Bjorn Borg, fellow American Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia, as it was known at the time, captivated U.S. fans.
   McEnroe, who's scheduled to play in the Champions Shootout (www.powersharesseries.com) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, encourages innovation to revive interest while he and others try to develop the next superstar.
   "Tennis needs to think out of the box a lot more than it has to, sort of, stay relevant," he said during a recent conference call with reporters. "The foundation is great. It's a great game, but we need to reach out. We've got to try a lot more things, even if some of them fail."
   McEnroe, one of the greatest men's doubles player ever, raised eyebrows in December by suggesting the elimination of doubles and giving that prize money to singles players. 
   "I threw out the idea because there has been a lot of discussion and complaining from the guys ranked 200 to 800 (in singles) that they can't afford to stay on the tour," he said.
   On the conference call, McEnroe also mentioned the possibility of doubles players forming their own tour and nations playing the Davis Cup every Olympic year rather than annually.
   At the grass-roots level, McEnroe opened his academy in 2010.
   "My goal was and continues to be to try to open the game up to people that didn't know about it, can't afford it or both," he said. "Most of them are not going to be tennis professionals, but hopefully a couple of them could make it and it turn inspire some other kids from this area.
   "This sport has given me a lot. I feel I have the energy to give back, and I'd like to see this sport flourish again. It was great times when I was playing in the '70s and '80s with Borg and Connors and Ivan, and it feels like we lost some of that.
   "(Tennis has) some amazing players right now -- arguably two of the best players who ever lived (Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal) -- but at the same time, the state of our sport is not as healthy, and the interest level, to me, is not the same as it was. There is a lot of work to be done."
   Joining McEnroe in the Champions Shootout will be countrymen Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and James Blake. Sampras won 14 Grand Slam singles titles, second to Federer's 17. McEnroe captured seven and Courier four. Blake reached three Grand Slam quarterfinals and peaked at No. 4 in the world.
   In the one-set semifinals, Sampras (42) will face Blake (34), and McEnroe will play Courier (43). The winners then will meet in a one-set final.
   The fiery McEnroe remains intense on the court but tries to have more fun than he did on the regular tour.
   "I think I'll always be intense," he said, "but I realize that I'm pretty fortunate to be out there still, and I try to show the sense of humor that I'm hopefully a little better at showing as a commentator than I used to when I played. It's not as life or death as it used to be for me."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bryans win Delray title; Stanford women blank rivals

   It was a good day for Stanford.
   Former Cardinal stars Bob and Mike Bryan won their first doubles title of the year on Sunday, and the No. 3 Stanford women crushed No. 5 Florida 7-0 on the Farm. The No. 39 Cardinal men were idle.
   The top-ranked Bryan twins outclassed unseeded Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Mikhail Elgin of Russia 6-2, 6-3 to win their third Delray Beach (Fla.) crown.
   Jack Nicklaus watched the Bryans win their 94th career title.
   "We never thought we'd get this high," Mike Bryan told reporters.
   The Bryans never lost more than three games in a set in four matches, including one walkover, in Delray Beach.
   "We're very happy to kick-start the year here in Delray," Bob Bryan said. "We're starting to hit our stride."
   Meanwhile, sophomore Krista Hardebeck clinched the victory for defending NCAA champion Stanford (7-0) over Florida (8-2) with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over 29th-ranked Alexandra Cercone at No. 2 singles. Either the Cardinal or the Gators have won the last four NCAA titles.
   Hardebeck also beat Cercone at No. 3 singles last May to give Stanford a 4-3 win over two-time defending national champion Florida in the NCAA semifinals.
   At No. 1 singles on Sunday, fifth-ranked Kristie Ahn topped No. 11 Olivia Janowicz 6-2, 7-5.
OTHER COLLEGE RESULTS
Men
   No. 74 Santa Clara def. No. 69 New Mexico 4-1 in Santa Clara. No. 1 singles: John Lamble (SC) vs. No. 89 Samir Iftikhar, unfinished. Clinching match: At No. 3, Ahot Khacharyan def. Rodolfo Jauregui 6-2, 6-7 (tiebreaker score unavailable), 6-2. Records: Santa Clara 7-1, New Mexico 6-4. Note: Khacharyan is from Sochi, Russia.
   Pacific def. Sacramento State 7-0 in Stockton. No. 1 singles: Sem Verbeek def. Marek Marksoo 7-5, 6-2 (clinching match). Records: Pacific 3-5, Sac State 2-6.
   USF def. Lamar 6-1 in Fort Worth, Texas. No. 1 singles: Bernardo Saraiva (USF) def. Michael Feucht 4-6, 6-3 [10-3]. Clinching match: At No. 6, Timothy Tan def. Trey Crysel 6-4, 6-2.
Women
   UC Davis def. Sacramento State 4-3 in Davis. No. 1 singles: Megan Heneghan (UCD) def. Jennifer Nguyen 6-2, 6-1. Clinching match: At No. 4, Melissa Kobayakawa def. Katharina Knoebl 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. Records: UC Davis 4-5, Sac State 1-5.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Owner of former Capitals team charged, jailed

Ex-Capitals owner Deepal Wannakuwatte and his wife, Betsy,
pose with Mike, left, and Bob Bryan of the visiting Texas Wild
after a match last July. The Capitals announced on Feb. 4 that
they are moving to Las Vegas after 28 years in Sacramento.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Welcome to World TeamTennis, Las Vegas.
   Less than three weeks after the Sacramento Capitals announced they were moving to Las Vegas and becoming the Neon, team owner Deepal Wannakuwatte was accused in federal court in Sacramento of defrauding investors in one of his companies.
   Wannakuwatte was arrested Thursday and charged with conspiracy and mail, wire and bank fraud, The Sacramento Bee reported. The 63-year-old native of Sri Lanka will remain in jail pending a bail hearing next Thursday.
   According to an FBI affidavit filed in court Friday, documents seized from Wannakuwatte's residence in Sacramento "appear to indicate a larger fraud and Ponzi scheme than the agents were previously aware of."
   The alleged fraud involves Wannakuwatte's medical supply business, International Manufacturing Group in West Sacramento. He is the third consecutive Capitals owner, all in the last four years, to encounter legal troubles. 
   Lonnie Nielson pleaded guilty to grand theft related to his real estate business in the fall of 2010 and was released from prison last summer. Bob Cook, a Sacramento real estate developer, declared bankruptcy after the 2011 season.
   The Capitals were the longest-running franchise in WTT at 28 years and won a record six league titles, including four straight (1997-2000).
COLLEGE RESULTS
Men
   No. 9 Cal def. No. 39 Stanford 7-0 at Stanford. No. 1 singles: Ben McLachlan, ranked 62nd, def. John Morrissey 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4) [10-8]. Clinching match: At No. 5, Mads Engsted def. Yale Goldberg 6-2, 6-3. Records: Cal 7-2, Stanford 3-2. Note: The match does not count in the Pacific-12 Conference standings.
   No. 35 Texas Christian def. USF 6-1 in Fort Worth, Texas. No. 1 singles: Bernardo Saraiva (USF) def. No. 60 Facundo Lugones 7-6 (tiebreaker score unavailable), 3-6 [10-3]. Clinching match: At No. 4, Trey Daniel def. Germain Bahri 6-1, 6-4. Records: TCU 5-2, USF 3-4.
   USF def. South Carolina-Upstate 5-1 in Fort Worth, Texas. No. 1 singles: Ramon Simonetti (SCU) def. Bernardo Saraiva 6-4, 2-0, retired. Clinching match: At No. 6, Timothy Tan def. Pedro Carvalho 6-1, 7-5. Records: USF 4-4, South Carolina-Upstate 3-7.
   Saint Mary's def. Sacramento State 6-1 in Moraga. No. 1 singles: Joakim Norstrom (SM) def. Marek Marksoo 6-7 (7), 6-2, 4-3 (3). Clinching match: At No. 4, Nathan Lewis def. Tom Miller 5-7, 6-1, 6-4. Records: Saint Mary's 5-2, Sac State 2-5. Note: Sac State continued to play without first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection Sean Kolar (knee).
Women
   No. 9 USC def. No. 4 Cal 6-1 in Los Angeles. No. 1 singles: No. 26 Sabrina Santamaria (USC) def. No. 37 Anett Schutting 6-2, 6-1. Clinching match: At No. 5, Zoe Katz def. Klara Fabikova 6-0, 6-4. Records: USC 7-2, Cal 5-3. Note: Cal's point came from No. 16 Zsofi Susanyi at No. 2 singles.
   No. 5 Florida def. Saint Mary's 4-0 at Stanford. No. 1 singles: No. 11 Olivia Janowicz led No. 13 Jenny Jullien 7-6 (tiebreaker score unavailable), 1-2, unfinished. Clinching match: At No. 5, 34th-ranked Kourtney Keegan def. Jade Frampton 6-0, 6-2. Records: Florida 8-1, Saint Mary's 3-4.
   No. 63 Santa Clara def. Boise State 4-1 in Fresno. No. 1 singles: Sandy Vo (BS) led No. 28 Katie Le 1-6, 7-5, 5-1, unfinished. Clinching match: At No. 6, Nicolette Wolny def. Megan LaLone 0-6, 6-3, 6-4. Records: Santa Clara 3-3, Boise State 4-3.
   San Jose State def. Pacific 5-2 in San Jose. No. 1 singles: Marie Klocker (SJS) def. Hana Ritterova 6-4, 6-4. Clinching match: At No. 6, Tipper Truong def. Gergana Bonocheva 6-3, 6-1. Records: San Jose State 4-8, Pacific 4-3.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Altamirano, 18, wins first title in pro tourney

Collin Altamirano teamed with Deiton
Baughman to win the doubles title
in a Futures tournament in Florida.
2013 photo by Paul Bauman
   Collin Altamirano, an 18-year-old amateur from the Sacramento area, won his first title in a professional tournament on Friday.
   The wild-card team of Altamirano and 17-year-old Deiton Baughman of Carson toppled No. 1 seeds Daniel Garza of Mexico and Darian King of Barbados 6-4, 6-4 in the $10,000 Vespan Tennis Futures in Boynton Beach, Fla.
   Altamirano, who trains under Joseph Gilbert at Arden Hills in Sacramento and lives in Elk Grove, also earned his first ATP ranking point in singles by reaching the second round as a qualifier.
   Last August, Altamirano became the first unseeded player in the 71-year history of the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., to win the singles title. Past winners include International Tennis Hall of Famers Michael Chang, Stan Smith and Dennis Ralston.
   Altamirano was unseeded in the nationals because he had played primarily men's professional and open tournaments, limiting his opportunities to earn junior ranking points.
COLLEGE RESULTS
Women
   No. 2 UCLA def. No. 4 Cal 4-3 in Los Angeles. No. 1 singles: Anett Schutting (C), ranked 28th, def. Robin Anderson, ranked second, 6-2, 3-6 [10-6]. Clinching match: At No. 2, ninth-ranked Chanelle Van Nguyen def. 15th-ranked Denise Starr 7-6 (6), 6-1 to give the Bruins a 4-2 lead. Records: UCLA 10-1, Cal 5-2.
   Fresno State def. No. 63 Santa Clara 4-3 in Fresno. No. 1 singles: Katie Le, ranked 28th, def. Sophie Watts, ranked 41st, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3). Clinching match: At No. 6, Claire Yang def. Nicolette Wolny 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3. Records: Fresno State 3-7, Santa Clara 2-3.
Men
   No. 2 USC def. UC Davis 7-0 in Los Angeles. No. 1 singles: Roberto Quiroz def. Kyle Miller 6-1, 6-2. Clinching match: At No. 5, Rob Bellamy def. Parker Kelley 6-2, 6-2. Records: USC 8-1, UC Davis 4-5. Notes: Connor Farren, a freshman from Foster City in the San Francisco Bay Area, won at No. 2 singles for USC. He and Quiroz led 7-5 at No. 1 doubles when the match was stopped. ... The Trojans ended the Aggies' winning streak at four matches in the first meeting between the schools.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Blake Q&A: Retirement, Shootout, U.S. men, today's stars

James Blake poses with emcee Brad Gilbert after winning the
2012 Sacramento Challenger. It was the last title of Blake's
career, in which he reached No. 4 in the world and played
on a Davis Cup championship team. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Only six months removed from the ATP World Tour, James Blake is scheduled to play in the Champions Shootout on Wednesday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
   Blake, 34, will be the youngster in a quartet that also includes John McEnroe (55), Jim Courier (43) and Pete Sampras (42).
   Blake -- a former top-five player and thoughtful gentleman in the mold of his idol, Arthur Ashe -- has perhaps the most unusual background in the sport. 
   A native of Yonkers, N.Y., who grew up in Fairfield, Conn., Blake was diagnosed with severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine) at 13 and wore a full-length back brace for 18 hours a day for five years.
   He played two seasons (1998 and 1999) at Harvard, finishing No. 1 in the country and falling to Florida's Jeff Morrison in the NCAA final.
   Within two months in 2004, Blake broke his neck during practice, lost his father to stomach cancer and developed zoster (shingles).
   Blake was injured when he slipped on a wet clay court in Rome while racing to return a drop shot and struck the net post. Had he not turned his head at the last moment, doctors said he could have been paralyzed. Instead, Blake missed only two months.
   Zoster, a viral disease often caused by stress, temporarily paralyzed the left side of his face and affected his balance.
   Blake rebounded from the horrific sequence of events to have the best years of his career. His 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (6) loss to Andre Agassi in the 2005 U.S. Open quarterfinals is considered perhaps the greatest match in the tournament's history. Almost all of the 20,000 fans in attendance stayed until the pulsating match ended at 1:09 a.m.
   It was the closest the 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) Blake, who combined powerful groundstrokes and blazing speed, ever got to a Grand Slam semifinal.
   Blake was named the Comeback Player of the Year in 2005, reached a career-high No. 4 in 2006 and helped the United States end its longest Davis Cup title drought in history, 12 years, in 2007.
   His 2007 book, "Breaking Back: How I lost Everything and Won Back My Life," reached No. 15 on the New York Times' bestseller list. The following year, he was named the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year for his fundraising efforts on behalf of cancer research. 
   Blake has played in Sacramento twice, both times in the $100,000 Challenger at the Natomas Racquet Club toward the end of his career. He lost to 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the 2011 final and beat Mischa Zverev of Germany for the 2012 crown.
   It was the last title of Blake's career. He collected 10 singles and seven doubles championships on the elite ATP World Tour.
   Blake lives in Westport, Conn., with his wife, Emily, and their 1-year-old daughter, Riley. In an exclusive interview, he recently discussed retirement, the Champions Shootout (www.powersharesseries.com), U.S. men's tennis and today's top players.
   Q: Are you enjoying retirement, or do you miss playing?
   A: A little of both. I absolutely love retirement. It was the right time for me to stop, but if I see some tennis on TV and have memories of a certain tournament, I think about how much fun it was playing there. But I'm quite content with the effort I put in, and now I'm into a different part of my life. That includes fatherhood, being a husband and doing other things that I love just as much.
   Q: How do you spend your time?
   A: For a few months, it's been pretty much just spending time with my family, and I've loved every aspect of it. But I'm now getting to the point where I may start thinking about other things to do with my time, possibly getting back into tennis as a commentator or helping some young players out. I've thought about other careers, taking a completely different path and maybe getting into finance, doing something in New York. I'm really not sure, but I'm at a point where I'm having those kinds of meetings to figure out what exactly is next in life.
   Q: Are you interested in becoming the Davis Cup captain someday?
   A: Absolutely that interests me. I would love to do it. I don't think it would be appropriate for me to do it quite yet because I feel there needs to be a separation from when you leave the tour until you take on a role like that. It's important for the players to see you in a different light as opposed to a player. Jim has been off the tour for long enough that the kids -- I'm calling them kids now, which is sad, because that means I'm old -- the guys on the team look up to him. They respect him, they listen to what he has to say with a bit of reverence, and I think that's important. ...  
   I've always said since I first played on the Davis Cup team I would love to one day be the Davis Cup captain, and I still would love that opportunity.
   Q: Did you watch much of the Australian Open?
   A: I did not watch much of it. I watched a little bit. I've been home, and I have a young daughter who gets up pretty early in the morning, so watching matches at 3 a.m. wasn't going to be a good schedule for me this year. I'm sure I'll watch when (the matches) are at more reasonable times at the U.S. Open and maybe the French Open and Wimbledon.
   I'm happy for Stan (Wawrinka). I played him a few times on the tour. It's too bad about Rafa (Rafael Nadal) getting injured in the final, but I heard it was pretty amazing tennis by Stan.
   Q: Did you stay home over the holidays?
   A: Yes, I was home doing the normal family stuff. That was one of the times it hit me and became clear that life was a little different when you get to be home for the holidays and really enjoy them.
   Pretty much every year of my career, I would be at Christmas dinner happy to be with my family, but I was also in the back of my mind realizing that in a couple days -- or in just one day a lot of times -- I would be leaving for Australia and would need to be in great shape. I needed to be prepared for the trip; I needed to be prepared for dealing with that heat and humidity.
   This year, it was amazing because I was able to relax, able to eat maybe an extra dessert or two and not think that it's going to be a problem when I'm playing a fifth set in Australia. It was great to be home doing that.
   Q: Did you play in the recent Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament?
   A: Yeah, I did. It was a lot of fun. I got to play with Chris Kirk, who was a ton of fun. He's another tremendous athlete. We played in the same foursome with Andy (Roddick) and John Mallinger. I had never played there, and the courses are beautiful. I hope I get the chance to play them again, but if I only get the chance to play them once, it was an experience I'll never forget.
   Q: Do you play much golf?
   A: I used to play a decent amount when I lived in Tampa (Fla.). I'd finish practice, and we could go right out to the course and play. I'd play with my brother. But I haven't gotten as much of a chance to play lately being busy with my daughter, and living up in Connecticut, there are really only four or five months out of the year where it's really good weather to play. But when I get those opportunities, I jump at them.
   Q: What's your handicap?
   A: I played (at Pebble Beach) as a 9. I'm always around an 8 or a 9.
   Q: Have you been playing much tennis?
   A: I have not been playing a ton of tennis compared to what I was throughout my career. I've hit with some of the juniors in town here. I have a few friends who are teaching pros, so I'll help out and go to their clinics once in a while. I think I'll continue doing that. I love seeing the kids get better, but I haven't exactly been training the way I used to. I'm sure I'll ramp it up a little more before some of these (senior tour matches) I'm playing with Andy, Pete and Andre and all those guys because I'll need to be better than normal. I still work out, so I should be all right.
Blake combined powerful groundstrokes with
blazing speed. 2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   Q: How will it feel to be the young guy instead of the old guy?
   A: (Laughs) It'll be interesting. I still remember being the young guy on tour and how quickly it transitioned to being the veteran or the older guy, the guy kids look up to or the one who can impart wisdom on the young guys. Now to be back to being the young guy again will be a little weird because it seems like it's been a while since I was that young guy on tour. It'll be fun, although I don't think I'm even the youngest with the fact that Andy's (on the senior tour). Even though he retired a year before me, he's younger than me.
   Q: Do you consider yourself the favorite in Sacramento?
   A: Um, I don't know. There are such great players, and it's one set, so absolutely anything can happen. We're going to have a good time, we're going to do our best, and hopefully no one will get hurt, but I don't know if there's a real favorite. I hope I make it out of there on top, but I'm not as concerned as I used to be about that.
  Q: Did the guys on the regular tour tease you about your age toward the end of your career?
  A: Oh, sure. The guys definitely made fun of me for being old. I fully expected that, because when I was a kid, I teased Todd Martin and Pete Sampras about their age. I deserved to get it right back when I got to that age.
   Q: What did they call you?
   A: Gramps. ... I had been dating my now wife for quite a few years. I wasn't going out after matches like the young guys were, and they let me know that I was old and married even though I wasn't married. That was my lifestyle, and I was OK with being grandpa for a while there.
   Q: Why have U.S. men struggled for the past decade, other than your Davis Cup title in 2007?
   A: It's tough to live up to the standards that were set by the Agassi, Sampras, (Michael) Chang, Courier generation. Andy and I did our best. I feel like we had some pretty good success. Andy was inside the top 10 for about 10 straight years, I was inside the top 10 for about four or five years, and the Bryans were the best doubles team in the world. It got us a Davis Cup title, which hadn't been done for (a long time).
   We were really happy with how we did, and nowadays it's becoming even tougher. The competition is tougher, the game is more physical, and the game has become more globalized. There's a top player from Serbia who never would have been seen 20 years ago. When I was on tour, there was a top player from Thailand (Paradorn Srichaphan) who never would have been seen 20 or 30 years ago. (Tennis) has just become more accessible to the rest of the world, and it's tougher (for Americans) to dominate.
   (John) Isner and (Sam) Querrey are doing their best. They're great players, but it's just really tough these days. If there's a little bit of a lull in American tennis, it's going to come back hopefully with a vengeance.
   I know Isner has it in him. His goal is to win a Slam, and I really think he has that ability. It's not easy with him being 6-10. Injuries creep up on you pretty quickly when you're that big. Sam has a lot of talent. He's a little bit searching for his game right now, but once it does click in, I think he'll be in the top 10.
   Q: No U.S. man has won a Grand Slam singles title since Roddick in 2003. Do you think the drought has been blown out of proportion?
   A: I do, because outside of Juan Martin del Potro and now Stan Wawrinka, there really haven't been many Grand Slam champions outside of Rafa, Roger (Federer) and Novak (Djokovic). Lleyton (Hewitt) won a few back then, but otherwise, it's been dominated by a few guys.
   That has changed a ton about our sport. There's been a real domination that didn't used to happen because the surfaces used to be much more varied. Nowadays, the surfaces have become much closer together. That lends itself to one player dominating.
   Back in the days of Sampras and Agassi, there were clay-court specialists, there were guys who specialized on faster courts, and nowadays the best player in the world is the one who can play on that one very similar court that we've all been playing on for the last few years.
   Q: Will Federer win any more Slams?
   A: I like to think so. He's a great guy, a great champion, the best of all time, in my opinion. A lot of things have to go right. He's getting up there in years, so it would be tough for him to win one if he has two or three really physical matches in a row. But if a lot of things fall into place and he doesn't meet Rafa at any point -- because Rafa really seems to have a game plan that works well against Roger -- then I think he has a chance to win one more, especially at Wimbledon, where he's had so much success and has a ton of confidence. I'd like to see him win one more, because I know that would be a big deal to him.
   Q: Do you see Wawrinka winning any more Slams?
   A: I don't know. It'll be interesting to see how Stan reacts now to being a Grand Slam champion. It's pretty tough because of how good Rafa, Roger, Novak, del Potro, (David) Ferrer, all those guys really are. (Wawrinka) won a couple of very, very close matches there, so for him to do that again might be difficult with all the strain on his time and the pressure that will be added. I have a feeling he'll either win a few more or no more.
   Q: Do you see anyone else outside of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray winning a Slam in the next year or two?
   A: I really think (Tomas) Berdych has a chance. Berdych is a great player. I think people have questioned sometimes whether he can beat Rafa because Rafa's really had his number lately, but he's had most of these guys' numbers.
   Berdych just needs to break through with his confidence. He's confident most times, but when it gets late in Slams, he might not have that same confidence. If he can finally get over that hump, he has a ton of talent and is so professional in the way he prepares that he'll have a chance. He's beaten all the top players. He just needs to put it together in a Slam.
   Q: Have players gotten taller since you came on the tour, and if so, why?
   A: I definitely think players have gotten taller. When I came on tour, I felt like I was above average in height, and by the time I left the tour, I felt like I was one of the shorter guys.
   The game has become more physical, so it's created more and more real athletes, and the athletes are getting bigger, stronger, faster, as they are in every sport. You see football players benching more, you see them being taller, you see them being faster. And basketball, same thing.
   That's the nature of sports. Guys' training gets better, guys' nutrition gets better, and they become better and better physically.
   Q: Do you still get comments about your match against Agassi in the U.S. Open?
   A: Yeah, I still do every once in a while. A lot of times, fans will say, "I was there" or "I still remember being up late and watching that match; that was great tennis." That's nice for me to hear.
    I wish obviously I had won that match, but it's nice to hear that it was a part of tennis history, or at least recent tennis history. People will remember where they were, remember when they were watching that and remember it for what it was. It was an excellent match (between) two competitors beating each other up as much as they could but still having the respect that we had for each other's games and each other's personalities.

Stanford women avenge home loss to Saint Mary's

Krista Hardebeck clinched Stanford's
victory over Saint Mary's at No. 2 singles.
2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   The No. 5 Stanford women avenged a rare home loss with a 5-2 victory over No. 38 Saint Mary's on Thursday at Stanford.
   Krista Hardebeck clinched the victory for the defending NCAA champion Cardinal (6-0), beating 46th-ranked Jaime Pawid 6-3, 7-6 (3) at No. 2 singles.
   At No. 1 singles, 13th-ranked Jenny Jullien of Saint Mary's (3-3) upended No. 5 Kristie Ahn 6-4, 7-6 (7).
   Last February, the Gaels became only the third school to beat the Cardinal at home since 1999.
WEDNESDAY'S COLLEGE RESULT
Men
   Fresno State def. Pacific 6-1 in Fresno. No. 1 singles: Sem Verbeek (P), ranked 95th, def. Sam MacNeil 6-4, 6-4. Records: Fresno State 3-6, Pacific 2-4.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sampras on U.S. men: 'Rest of world has gotten better'

Pete Sampras is scheduled to play in the Champions Shootout next Wednesday
at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. 2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   The reason for the United States' decline in men's tennis lies outside of the country.
   American legend Pete Sampras expressed that view in a recent interview on KHTK radio in Sacramento, where he's scheduled to play in the Champions Shootout next Wednesday.
   "I don't know if it is really us," Sampras mused, "but I think the rest of the world has gotten a little bit better. Through television and the Internet, it seems like there are just more people playing tennis.
   "You look at the top players in the world, you've got Rafa (Rafael Nadal) from Mallorca (Spain), Novak (Djokovic) from Serbia and Roger (Federer) from Switzerland. Twenty years ago, maybe tennis wasn't popular in those countries. Now it is, and the best athletes from these countries are playing tennis and not just soccer."
   By any measure, the U.S. men are struggling in singles. No Grand Slam champions since Andy Roddick in the 2003 U.S. Open. No one in the top 10. Recent first-round loss at home in the Davis Cup. At least Bob and Mike Bryan are ranked No. 1 in doubles with a record 15 major titles.
   The Champions Shootout, meanwhile, features three Americans with a combined 25 Grand Slam singles crowns plus former top-five player James Blake of the United States. Sampras ranks second all-time with 14 (behind Federer's 17), John McEnroe collected seven, and Jim Courier won four.
   In the one-set semifinals beginning at 7 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena, Sampras will face the recently retired Blake, and McEnroe will play Courier. The winners then will meet in a one-set final.
   "I still enjoy playing," said Sampras, 42. "I love hitting the ball and just getting a good workout in and going out and competing against some of these old friends of mine. It's fun, and I get to catch up with some friends, some old stories.
   "And for whatever reason, these people still want to see us play, so I'm excited. It keeps me busy, keeps me involved in the sport, and the sport has been good to me. I'm looking forward to hitting a few balls, getting in tennis shape and having some fun."
   It's easy to be cynical about sports these days, but Sampras remains a believer.
   "In life, in a lot of ways, you see a lot of people get breaks when they don't deserve them," he said. "I just feel that with sports, nothing is given to you. You have to go out there and earn it. There are a lot of good life lessons that you can learn from sports, and it's something I am trying to instill in my kids."
   Sampras enjoys sports in general, not just tennis.  
   "I love watching anything from the NFL to golf to college football," he said. "I think sports is the real deal. There are great stories. There are emotional stories. It's very real.
   "I love tennis because it is the ultimate one-on-one sport. It's one will against another will. You put it all out there. If you don't play well, you are going to lose. That's the way I kind of like it."
   Tickets for the Champions Shootout start at $25. For more information, visit www.powersharesseries.com.   

Rankings mover of the week: Maria Sanchez

Maria Sanchez cracked the top 100 in the world
in doubles. 2013 photo by Paul Bauman
   Less than three years after turning professional, Maria Sanchez cracked the top 100 in the world in doubles for the first time this week.
   The 24-year-old Modesto product improved 13 places in the rankings to No. 98 after reaching the final of last week's $100,000 Midland (Mich.) Challenger with Sharon Fichman of Canada.
   Fichman and Sanchez, seeded second after winning their first WTA title last month in Auckland, lost to fourth-seeded Anna Tatishvili of Georgia and Heather Watson of Great Britain 7-5, 5-7 [10-6].
   Sanchez is ranked No. 209 in singles after climbing to a career-high No. 107 last July. Chris Evert mentors her at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla.
   Sanchez won the singles title and reached the doubles final in the inaugural FSP Gold River Women's Challenger in the Sacramento area in 2012.
   She was named the 2011 Pacific-10 Conference Women's Player of the Year as a senior at USC.
PRO RANKINGS
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.
   Bradley Klahn, 23 years old, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 66 in singles (+1), No. 145 in doubles (-1).
   Scott Lipsky, 32 years old, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 35 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, 26 years old, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 57 in singles (-1), No. 189 in doubles (+28).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 31 years old, trains at Gorin Tennis Academy in Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay -- No. 28 in singles (no change), No. 108 in doubles (+2).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, 23 years old, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- No. 164 in singles (+1), No. 1,140 in doubles (+2).
   Nicole Gibbs, 20 years old, NCAA singles champion in 2012 and 2013 and NCAA doubles champion in 2012 from Stanford -- No. 189 in singles (-4), No. 408 in doubles (-1).
   Macall Harkins, 28 years old, Redding resident -- No. 279 in doubles (+3), No. 685 in singles (+4).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 31 years old, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 19 in doubles (-1), No. 1,085 in singles (+2).
   Maria Sanchez, 24 years old, born and raised in Modesto -- Career-high No. 98 in doubles (+13), No. 209 in singles (+1).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TV schedule, calendar

TV SCHEDULE
(All times in California)
Wednesday
    Delray Beach (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 3:30-7:30 p.m. (live).
   Marseille (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 7:30-11:30 p.m. (delay).
Thursday
   Delray Beach (men), round of 16, Tennis Channel, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (live).
   Rio de Janeiro (men), round of 16, Tennis Channel, 2-6 p.m. (live).
   Dubai (women), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 6-10 p.m. (delay).
   Marseille (men), round of 16, Tennis Channel, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday (delay).
Friday 
   Delray Beach (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 3:30-7:30 p.m. (live).
   Rio de Janeiro (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 7:30-11:30 p.m. (delay).
Saturday
   Delray Beach (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 5:30-7:30 p.m. (live).
   Delray Beach (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 7:30-9:30 p.m. (delay).
   Rio de Janeiro (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 9:30-11:30 p.m. (delay).
Sunday
   Dubai (women), final, Tennis Channel, 6:30-8:30 a.m. (delay).
   Delray Beach (men), final, Tennis Channel, noon-2 p.m. (live).
   Delray Beach (men), doubles final, Tennis Channel, 4:30-6 p.m. (delay).
   Rio de Janeiro (men), final, Tennis Channel, 6-8:30 p.m. (delay).
   Marseilles (men), final, Tennis Channel, 8:30-10:30 p.m. (delay).  
CALENDAR
   Feb. 26 -- Champions Shootout (Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake), 7 p.m., Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, Calif., www.powersharesseries.com.
   March 3-16 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. 2013 champions: Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Ekaterina Makarova-Elena Vesnina.
   April 4-6 -- Davis Cup quarterfinals, www.daviscup.com.
   April 5-13 -- Easter Bowl, Indian Wells, Calif. www.easterbowl.com
   April 19-20 -- Fed Cup semifinals, World Group playoffs (France at United States), www.fedcup.com.
   April 23-26 -- West Coast Conference Men's and Women's Championships, San Diego, www.wccsports.com.
   April 23-27 -- Pacific-12 Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Ojai, Calif., www.pac-12.com.
   April 23-27 -- Mountain West Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Fresno, Calif., www.themw.com.
   April 24-27 -- Big West Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bigwest.org.
   April 25-27 -- Big Sky Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Gold River Racquet Club, Gold River, Calif., www.bigskyconf.com.
   May 2-5 -- USTA National Men's, Women's and Mixed 30 Indoor Championships, Spare Time Indoor Tennis Center, Gold River, Calif. http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=140381.
   May 9-11 -- Maze Cup (Northern California juniors vs. Southern California), Berkeley Tennis Center, http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=151685.
   May 15-26 -- NCAA Men's and Women's Championships, Athens, Ga., www.ncaasports.com.   
   MAY 25-JUNE 8 -- FRENCH OPEN, Paris. 2013 champions: Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Ekaterina Makarova-Elena Vesnina, Lucie Hradecka-Frantisek Cermak. www.rolandgarros.com.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bryans lose in Memphis final; No. 11 Cal men fall

  Bob and Mike Bryan, who tied their career high of 11 men's doubles titles last year, are still looking for their first one of 2014.
   The top seeds and former Stanford All-Americans lost to No. 2 seeds Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen 6-4, 6-4 Sunday in the final of the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships in Memphis.
   Butorac, a 32-year-old left-hander living in Cambridge, Mass., and Klaasen, 31, of South Africa also defeated the 35-year-old Bryan twins in the third round of last month's Australian Open.
   It was the Bryans' earliest exit from the Australian Open in 11 years and their quickest departure from a Grand Slam tournament since losing in the first round of the 2011 U.S. Open to 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Ivo Karlovic of Croatia and 6-5 (1.96-meter) Frank Moser of Germany.
   Butorac and Klaasen went on to reach their first Grand Slam final, losing to Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Robert Lindstedt of Sweden.
   The Bryans have won a record 15 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, including three last year. They were bidding for their fourth Memphis crown (2001, 2004 and last year) and 94th overall title.
COLLEGE RESULTS
Men
   No. 10 Texas def. No. 11 Cal 4-2, consolation bracket, ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships in Houston. No. 1 singles: No. 53 Soren Hess-Oleson (T) def. No. 62 Ben McLachlan 6-2, 6-3. Clinching match: At No. 5, Nick Naumann def. Gregory Bayane 6-5 (3), 6-4. Records: Texas 9-2, Cal 6-2. Note: The Bears led 2-0.
   No. 74 Santa Clara def. Fresno State 4-0 in Santa Clara. No. 1 singles: John Lamble def. Sai Kartik Nakireddi, unfinished. Records: Santa Clara 5-1, Fresno State 2-6. Note: The Broncos won for the first time in the series after 18 losses.
   UC Davis def. Sacramento State 6-1 in Sacramento. No. 1 singles: Kyle Miller (UCD) def. Roy Brandys 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. Clinching match: At No. 6, Adam Levie def. Ayman Abdulwahab 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Records: UC Davis 4-4, Sac State 2-4. Note: The Aggies ended a seven-match losing streak to the Hornets, earning their first win in the series since 2006.
Women
   No. 41 Washington def. No. 35 Saint Mary's 4-3 in Seattle. No. 1 singles: Thirteenth-ranked Jenny Jullien (SM) def. Grace Ysidora 6-1, 6-3. Clinching match: At No. 3, Julija Lukac def. Danielle Flores 6-4, 6-1. Records: Washington 7-1, Saint Mary's 3-2.
   No. 56 Santa Clara def. Cal Poly 4-3 in Santa Clara. No. 1 singles: No. 28 Katie Le (SC) def. Jennifer Cornea 6-3, 6-2. Clinching match: At No. 4, Delphine Rouvillois def. Kathryn Webb 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Records: Santa Clara 2-2, Cal Poly 2-4.
   UC Davis def. UC Riverside 7-0 in Riverside. No. 1 singles: Megan Heneghan def. Jasmine Almaguer 6-3, 6-2. Clinching match: At No. 3, Melissa Kobayakawa def. Kate Bergeson 6-3, 6-0. Records: UC Davis 3-4 overall, 1-1 Big West Conference; UC Riverside 0-8, 0-2.
   Pacific def. UC Santa Barbara 6-1 in Santa Barbara. No. 1 singles: Iveta Masarova (P) def. Kaiulani Boyer 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4) [10-8]. Records: Pacific 4-2, UCSB 1-6.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Farewell, SAP Open -- thanks for the memories

Milos Raonic won the last three SAP Open titles, never
losing in the tournament. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Serious tennis fans in Northern California have been suffering withdrawal symptoms for the past week.
   The first ATP World Tour event of the year in North America traditionally has been held at this time in San Jose. But NorCal lost its tournament after 125 years, Memphis moved up one week to take its place, and Rio de Janeiro will debut next week.
   You don't have to be Nick Bollettieri to figure out the reason for the SAP Open's demise: no big gate attraction, especially an American. Andy Roddick was the closest thing it had to one, but he won only one Grand Slam title, and it came 11 years ago.
   Sure, Southern California natives Bob and Mike Bryan played in the SAP Open many times after starring up the road at Stanford. But doubles receives little television exposure, so even though the Bryans have won a record 15 Grand Slam men's titles together and are highly entertaining, they're not big draws.  
   The last five singles champions of the SAP Open were Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic (2009), Fernando Verdasco of Spain (2010) and Milos Raonic of Canada the last three years. All are fine players but not exactly household names.
   The SAP Open did not offer enough money or computer ranking points to induce any of the Big Four -- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray (in his prime) -- to make the trek from Europe. Murray did play the SAP Open twice, winning it at 18 in 2006 and repeating the next year, but never returned.
   Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Federer for the 2009 U.S. Open title, reached the semifinals of the 2011 SAP Open in his only San Jose appearance but barely moved the attendance needle. The Argentine underwent surgery on his right (playing) wrist in 2010. 
   I covered the last nine SAP Opens (2005-11 for The Sacramento Bee and 2012-13 for this web site). Drama, controversy, color ... the tournament had it all. Except a lot of big names. Here is a fond look back:
Andy Roddick won the SAP Open in
2004, 2005 and 2008. File photo
by Paul Bauman
   Most dominant players -- The indoor conditions at HP Pavilion (now the SAP Center at San Jose) aided the pulverizing serves of the 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Raonic and of Roddick, the champion in 2004, 2005 and 2008. They did not have to contend with the sun or wind. Raonic went 13-0 in the SAP Open.
   Best finals -- Showing unusual mental toughness as a teenager, Murray edged Lleyton Hewitt 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3) in 2006 and 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Ivo Karlovic 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (2) in 2007.
   Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon champion, was asked if Murray could threaten to win there someday.
   "Maybe someday," Hewitt replied. "It's hard to say at the moment. Wimbledon is a tad different from San Jose. He's definitely a great prospect for Great Britain. You see the expectations put on (Tim) Henman every June, and I'm sure Andy will see a lot of that, too."
   Murray, of course, ended Great Britain's drought at Wimbledon at 77 years by winning the title last summer.
   Worst final -- The top-seeded Roddick crushed unseeded Cyril Saulnier of France 6-0, 6-4 in 49 minutes in 2005. When asked if anything went wrong that day, Roddick quipped, "I wasn't getting cell-phone service in the arena this morning."
   Biggest upset -- Murray, unknown at the time, stunned top seed and two-time defending champion  Roddick 7-5, 7-5 in the 2006 semifinals. It was Murray's first victory over a top-10 player in four tries.
   "I have so much respect for somebody like Andy Roddick," Murray said afterward. "He's won a Grand Slam. He's been No. 1 in the world. He's achieved so much. It's just great for me to be on the same court as somebody like him. To actually win against him is amazing."
   Oldest doubles champ -- John McEnroe, 47, won the title with Jonas Bjorkman in 2006.
   Biggest disappointment -- The Bryan brothers, who have won just about every doubles title in tennis, never hoisted the trophy in San Jose.
   Most anticipated debut -- Donald Young was going to be the next American superstar when he played his first ATP World Tour match at 15 years old in San Jose in 2005 (losing to U.S. veteran Robby Ginepri 6-2, 6-2). It hasn't worked out that way.
   Best PR move -- Stepanek came onto the court for the 2008 and 2009 finals wearing a Joe Thornton San Jose Sharks jersey over his tennis outfit. The SAP Center is the home of the NHL Sharks.
   Worst dancer -- After beating Stepanek in the 2008 final, Roddick tried to top his opponent's trademark worm dance, in which Stepanek flops on the court and gyrates on his stomach. Roddick kicked his right leg high across his other leg and gave an awkward fist pump.
   "All I'm asked about, all I hear is the worm," Roddick said. "I had to find seomthing as cheesy or cheesier. It's tough."
   Most candid player -- Mardy Fish ripped Stepanek after losing 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the 2009 final. With Fish leading 6-3, 2-3 (on serve), Stepanek received treatment on his left leg.
   "I didn't think he was injured at all," Fish later conceded. "If you took a tally of how many times he has called for the trainer (in his career), it would be pretty high.
   "He looked fine. I'd be shocked if he didn't call a timeout when I was up a set. It's par for the course and viewed as unsportsmanlike by everybody on the tour."
   And, yes, Stepanek did the worm dance after winning.   
   Worst fan -- Raonic's serve is difficult enough to return without some nitwit in the crowd yelling at the same time. On match point. That's what happened to Verdasco in the 2011 final. Distracted, he  netted a forehand return to seal Raonic's 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) victory. 
   Most injury-prone -- Gael Monfils of France played in the SAP Open twice and defaulted or withdrew both times. Seeded second in 2011, the right-hander (with a two-handed backhand) defaulted his semifinal against Raonic with an inflamed left wrist. Seeded first the following year, Monfils received a first-round bye. The night before he was scheduled to play his second-round match, he pulled out with knee inflammation. 
   Best first name -- For five straight years (2004-08), a player named Andy (Roddick or Murray) won the singles title. Make it six straight if you count Andre Agassi in 2003.
   Nicest guy -- Tournament director Bill Rapp was first class all the way. Not only did he make everyone feel important, he seemed sincere.  

No. 1 Virginia blanks Cal in National Indoors

   Top-ranked Virginia overwhelmed No. 11 Cal 4-0 on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships in Houston.
   Ryan Shane  won the clinching match for the Cavaliers (6-0), the defending NCAA champions, at No. 3 singles. He routed Filip Bergevi 6-0, 6-2.
   At No. 1 singles, third-ranked Mitchell Frank of Virginia led No. 62 Ben McLachlan 6-3, 5-1 (unfinished).
   Cal (6-1) will face No. 10 Texas (8-2) today in the consolation bracket.
OTHER COLLEGE RESULTS
Men
   USF def. Fresno State 4-3 in San Francisco. No. 1 singles: Bernardo Saraiva (USF) def. Sai Kartik Nakireddi 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 (clinching match). Records: USF 3-3, Fresno State 2-5.
   UC Davis def. Holy Names 6-1 in Davis. No. 1 singles: Kyle Miller (UCD) def. Tracy Beblie 6-2, 6-1. Records: UC Davis 2-4, Holy Names 0-2.
   UC Davis def. Saint Mary's 4-2 in Davis. No. 1 singles: Joakim Norstrom (SM) def. Kyle Miller 6-3, 6-4. Records: UC Davis 3-4, Saint Mary's 4-2.
Women
   No. 35 Saint Mary's def. No. 54 San Diego State 4-3 in Seattle. No. 1 singles: Thirteenth-ranked Jenny Jullien (SM) def. No. 35 Laura Antonana 6-1, 6-3. Clinching match: At No. 5, Catherine Leduc def. Dora Somoracz 6-2, 6-3. Records: Saint Mary's 3-1, San Diego State 4-5.
   No. 46 Long Beach State def. UC Davis 5-2 in Long Beach. No. 1 singles: Megan Heneghan (UCD) def. Ebba Unden 6-2, 6-4. Clinching match: At No. 4, Karolina Rozenberg def. Melissa Kobayakawa 6-2, 6-2. Records: Long Beach State 6-1 overall, 3-0 Big West Conference; UC Davis 2-4, 0-1.
   San Jose State def. Cal Poly 4-3 in San Jose. No. 1 singles: Marie Klocker (SJS) def. Jennifer Cornea 7-6 (tiebreaker score not available), 3-6, 6-0. Clinching match: At No. 4 Sabastiani Leon Chao def. Hannah Stone 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. Records: San Jose State 3-8, Cal Poly 2-3.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cal men edge Mississippi St. in National Indoors

   Gregory Bayane lifted 11th-ranked Cal to a 4-3 victory over No. 9 Mississippi State on Friday in the first round of the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships in Houston.
   Bayane, a junior from France, defeated freshman Rishab Agarwal 5-6 (6), 6-2, 6-3 at No. 5 singles in the deciding match. Division I teams are experimenting with a shorter format, including sets up to five games.
   At No. 1 singles, 52nd-ranked Florian Lakat of Mississippi State (8-1) topped No. 62 Ben McLachlan 0-6, 6-5 (4), 6-3.
   Cal (6-0) will meet top-ranked Virginia (5-0) today in the quarterfinals. The defending NCAA champion Cavaliers eliminated No. 16 Notre Dame 4-2 for their 35th consecutive victory, the longest active streak in that nation.  
OTHER COLLEGE RESULTS
Women
   No. 2 Stanford def. No. 56 Santa Clara 7-0 at Stanford. No. 1 singles: Fifth-ranked Kristie Ahn def. No. 28 Katie Le 6-1, 6-1. Clinching match: At No. 5, 32nd-ranked Ellen Tsay def. Stephanie Skaras 6-1, 6-0. Records: Stanford 5-0, Santa Clara 1-2.
   USF def. San Jose State 4-3 in San Francisco. No. 1 singles: Thyra Taune (USF) def. Marie Klocker 6-1, 6-1. Records: USF 6-2, San Jose State 2-8.
   Pacific def. Westmont 6-1 in Santa Barbara. No. 1 singles: Lauren Stratman (W) def. Hana Ritterova 6-2, 6-3. Records: Pacific 3-2, Westmont 2-3.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rankings mover of the week: Bradley Klahn

Bradley Klahn, a 2012 Stanford graduate, already ranks
third among U.S. men at No. 67 in the world. 2012 photo
by Paul Bauman
   Bradley Klahn is tearing up the Challenger circuit.
   The 2012 Stanford graduate won last week's $50,000 Adelaide (Australia) International for his second straight Challenger title and third in his last four tournaments at that level. He is 18-1 in Challenger singles matches dating to last November.
   With the Adelaide crown, Klahn improved 13 places in the world rankings to a career-high No. 67. The 23-year-old left-hander from Poway in the San Diego area now ranks third among Americans behind No. 13 John Isner and No. 56 Sam Querrey.
   Another 23-year-old former Stanford star, Mallory Burdette, had a rough week. The Jackson, Ga., resident fell 25 notches to No. 165 in women's singles and 448 spots to No. 1,142 in doubles.
PRO RANKINGS
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.
   Bradley Klahn, 23 years old, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 67 in singles (+13), No. 144 in doubles (-3).
   Scott Lipsky, 32 years old, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 35 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, 26 years old, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 56 in singles (-1), No. 217 in doubles (-1).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 31 years old, trains at Gorin Tennis Academy in Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay -- No. 28 in singles (no change), No. 110 in doubles (+2).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, 23 years old, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- No. 165 in singles (-25), No. 1,142 in doubles (-448).
   Nicole Gibbs, 20 years old, NCAA singles champion in 2012 and 2013 and NCAA doubles champion in 2012 from Stanford -- No. 185 in singles (no change), No. 407 in doubles (+2).
   Macall Harkins, 28 years old, Redding resident -- No. 282 in doubles (+1), No. 689 in singles (+1).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 31 years old, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 18 in doubles (no change), No. 1,087 in singles (no change).
   Maria Sanchez, 24 years old, born and raised in Modesto -- No. 111 in doubles (no change), No. 210 in singles (-24).

TV schedule, calendar

TV SCHEDULE
(All times in California)
Thursday
   Rotterdam (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 2 a.m.-2 p.m. (live), 2 p.m.-midnight (repeat).
Friday
   Rotterdam (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 3:30-7:30 a.m. (live), 2 p.m.-midnight repeat).
   Rotterdam (men), Doha (women), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (live).
   Memphis (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 5-9 p.m. (live).
Saturday
   Rotterdam (men), Doha (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 5 a.m.-1 p.m. (live).
   Memphis (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 3-5 p.m. (live), 5-7 p.m. (delay).
   Doha (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 7-9 p.m. (repeat).
Sunday
   Rotterdam (men), Doha (women), Buenos Aires (men), finals, Tennis Channel, 5:30-11 a.m. (live).
   Doha (women), final, Tennis Channel, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., 5:30-7:30 p.m. (repeat).
   Memphis (men), final, Tennis Channel, 1-3 p.m. (live).
   Rotterdam (men), final, Tennis Channel, 3-5:30 p.m. (repeat).
   Buenos Aires (men), final, Tennis Channel, 7:30-9:30 p.m. (repeat).
CALENDAR
   Friday-Monday -- Cal at ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships in Houston, www.itatennis.com.
   Feb. 26 -- Champions Shootout (Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake), 7 p.m., Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, Calif., www.powersharesseries.com.
   March 3-16 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. 2013 champions: Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Ekaterina Makarova-Elena Vesnina.
   April 4-6 -- Davis Cup quarterfinals, www.daviscup.com.
   April 5-13 -- Easter Bowl, Indian Wells, Calif. www.easterbowl.com
   April 19-20 -- Fed Cup semifinals, World Group playoffs (France at United States), www.fedcup.com.
   April 23-26 -- West Coast Conference Men's and Women's Championships, San Diego, www.wccsports.com.
   April 23-27 -- Pacific-12 Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Ojai, Calif., www.pac-12.com.
   April 23-27 -- Mountain West Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Fresno, Calif., www.themw.com.
   April 24-27 -- Big West Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bigwest.org.
   April 25-27 -- Big Sky Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Gold River Racquet Club, Gold River, Calif., www.bigskyconf.com.
   May 2-5 -- USTA National Men's, Women's and Mixed 30 Indoor Championships, Spare Time Indoor Tennis Center, Gold River, Calif. http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=140381.
   May 9-11 -- Maze Cup (Northern California juniors vs. Southern California), Berkeley Tennis Center, http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=151685.
   May 15-26 -- NCAA Men's and Women's Championships, Athens, Ga., www.ncaasports.com.   
   MAY 25-JUNE 8 -- FRENCH OPEN, Paris. 2013 champions: Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Ekaterina Makarova-Elena Vesnina, Lucie Hradecka-Frantisek Cermak. www.rolandgarros.com.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Follow me on Twitter for breaking news, etc.

   I recently expanded my use of Twitter.
   Please follow me at @norcaltenczar for breaking news on Northern California pros, colleges and juniors, as well as quips, links to my blog posts, etc.
   Thank you.

10-under tournament set for Sacramento

   The inaugural 10 Tennis Arden Hills Championships, for 5- to 10-year-olds, are scheduled for Feb. 22-23 at Arden Hills in Sacramento.
   The entry deadline for the tournament is Thursday. To enter, go to www.10tennis.org.
   Arden Hills is the home of junior national champions Collin Altamirano, Jenson Brooksby and Priya Nelson, as well as junior standout Jessi Muljat.
   On back-to-back days last August, Altamirano and Brooksby of the JMG Tennis Academy at Arden Hills won singles titles in the USTA national boys 18s in Kalamazoo, Mich., and the boys 12s in Little Rock, Ark., respectively.
   Altamirano, then 17, became the first unseeded player in the 71-year history of the boys 18s to win the crown.
   In October, Nelson captured the girls 8 title at the Little Mo Nationals in Austin, Texas.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cal women fall to Duke in National Indoor semis

   Cal's Maegan Manasse faced heavy pressure for the second straight day.
   This time, the freshman from Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area barely came up short.
   Duke senior Marianne Jodoin edged Manasse 1-6, 6-3 [11-9] at No. 6 singles on Sunday, clinching the No. 10 Blue Devils' 4-2 victory over the No. 8 Bears in the semifinals of the ITA National Women's Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va.

   Manasse, ranked 31st, saved a match point at 8-9 in the match tiebreaker. She had won the deciding contest at No. 6 singles in Cal's 4-3 win over No. 4 Georgia in the quarterfinals.
   At No. 1 singles on Sunday, third-ranked Beatrice Capra of Duke dominated No. 15 Denise Starr, a freshman from Brooklyn, N.Y., 6-2, 6-2. Capra reached the third round of the 2010 U.S. Open at 18 years old.
   Duke will face No. 5 UCLA, which beat No. 16 Northwestern 4-0, today for the title.      
OTHER COLLEGE RESULTS
Women
   No. 59 Utah def. San Jose State 6-1 in San Diego. No. 1 singles: Tereza Bekerova (U) def. Marie Klocker 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Records: Utah 2-1, San Jose State 2-7.
   Sacramento State def. Texas-El Paso 5-2 in Tucson, Ariz. No. 1 singles: Rebeca Calvillo (UTEP) def. Jennifer Nguyen 6-4, 0-6 [10-5]. Clinching match: At No. 3, Daria Savchenko def. Marie LeBlond 7-6 (tiebreaker score not available), 6-2. Team records: Sac State 1-4, Texas-El Paso 1-5.
   Pacific def. New Mexico State 4-3 in Las Vegas. No. 1 singles: Iveta Masarova (P) def. Ros-Polly Nguyen 6-3, 6-2. Records: Pacific 2-2, New Mexico State 1-4.
Men
   No. 2 UCLA tied No. 38 Stanford 1-1 (unfinished, rain) at Stanford. No. 1 singles: Top-ranked Clay Thompson led John Morrissey 6-4, 4-3 (unfinished). Note: UCLA freshman Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont, near Oakland, won at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles. Records: UCLA 5-0, Stanford 3-1.
   UC Riverside vs. Saint Mary's in Moraga, rained out. Records: Saint Mary's 4-1, UC Riverside 0-10.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cal women upset Georgia in National Indoors

   Eighth-ranked Cal edged No. 4 Georgia 4-3 Saturday in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va.
   Freshman Maegan Manasse, ranked 31st, beat Mia King 7-6 (5), 6-3 at No. 6 singles to give Cal the victory.
   “As a freshman, that was Maegan’s first time to be in a three-all situation with the entire match coming down to her, and she just thrived,” Cal coach Amanda Augustus said on calbears.com. “That’s why she’s good fit on the team – she’s a competitor and loves representing Cal."
   Cal (5-0) avenged a 4-1 loss to Georgia in last year's ITA Indoor quarterfinals. But at No. 1 singles, fourth-ranked Lauren Herring of Georgia topped No. 26 Anett Schutting 7-6 (3), 6-1.
   The Bears will play No. 10 Duke (10-0) in today's semifinals. No. 5 UCLA will face No. 16 Northwestern, which upset second-ranked Florida 4-2, in the other semifinal.
OTHER COLLEGE RESULTS
Saturday
Men
   Oregon def. Pacific 4-0 in Albuquerque, N.M. No. 1 singles: Robin Cambier def. Sem Verbeek 7-5, 6-0. Team records: Oregon 7-1, Pacific 2-3.
   UC Davis def. UC Riverside 6-1 in Gold River, Calif. No. 1 singles: Kyle Miller (UCD) def. Luis Gastao 7-5, 6-1. Team records: UC Davis 1-4, UC Riverside 0-10. Note: This was the Big West Conference opener for both teams.
   No. 2 UCLA at Saint Mary's, canceled by rain. Team records: UCLA 5-0, Saint Mary's 4-1.
   UC Irvine at Sacramento State, postponed by rain. Team records: Sac State 2-3, UC Irvine 2-7.
Women
   Arizona def. Sacramento State 7-0 in Tucson, Ariz. No. 1 singles: No. 114 Lacey Smyth def. Jennifer Nguyen 6-1, 4-6 [10-6]. Clinching match: No. 1 singles. Team records: Arizona 7-0, Sac State 0-4.
   No. 46 Long Beach State def. San Jose State 5-2 in Long Beach. No. 1 singles: Marie Klocker (SJS) def. Ebba Unden 6-7 (4), 6-3 [10-8]. Team records: Long Beach State 5-1, San Jose State 2-6.
   No. 58 UNLV def. Pacific 4-3 in Las Vegas. No. 1 singles: No. 29 Lucia Batta (UNLV) def. Iveta Masarova 6-3, 6-4. Team records: UNLV 2-2, Pacific 1-2.
   No. 37 Saint Mary's at No. 1 Stanford, postponed by rain. Team records: Stanford 4-0, Saint Mary's 2-1.
   USF at UC Davis, postponed by rain. Team records: USF 5-2, UC Davis 2-2.
Friday
Men
   No. 44 Washington def. USF 6-1 in Seattle. No. 1 singles: Max Manthou (W) def. Bernardo Saraiva 6-3, 6-2.
   Sacramento State def. UC Riverside 5-0 in Gold River, Calif. No. 1 singles: Roy Brandys (SS) def. Luis Gastao 6-3, 6-4. Clinching match: At No. 4, Tom Miller def. Cooper Bridge 6-3, 6-4. Team records: Sac State 2-3, UC Riverside 0-9.
   New Mexico def. Pacific 4-2 in Albuquerque, N.M. No. 1 singles: Sem Verbeek (P) def. Samir Iftikhar 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Team records: New Mexico 8-2, Pacific 2-2.
   No. 3 USC at No. 38 Stanford, canceled by rain. Team records: USC 4-0, Stanford 3-1.
Women
   No. 8 Cal def. No. 13 Clemson 4-2, first round, ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va. No. 1 singles: No. 74 Yana Koroleva (CL) def. No. 26 Anett Schutting 6-2, 6-7 (2) [10-7]. Clinching match: At No. 4, 16th-ranked Zsofi Susanyi def. Ani Miao 6-2, 6-4. Team records: Cal 4-0, Clemson 4-2.
   Pacific def. UC Riverside 7-0 in Las Vegas. No. 1 singles: Hana Ritterova (P) def. Jasmine Almaguer 6-4, 6-4. Team records: Pacific 1-1, UC Riverside 0-4.
   Nevada at UC Davis, postponed by rain. Team records: UC Davis 2-2, Nevada 3-1.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rankings mover of the week: Nicole Gibbs

Nicole Gibbs, a former Stanford star, reached the
doubles semifinals in Daytona Beach, Fla., with-
out hitting a ball. 2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   Nicole Gibbs and Maria Sanchez reached the doubles semifinals of the Daytona Beach (Fla.) $25,000 Women's Tennis Tournament last month without hitting a ball.
   Gibbs, a former Stanford star, and Sanchez, a Modesto native, received walkovers in the first round and quarterfinals before losing to third-seeded Nicole Melichar of Stuart, Fla., and Teodora Mircic of Serbia 6-1, 5-7 [11-9]. Melichar and Mircic went on to win the title.
   Gibbs, who won the 2012 NCAA doubles title with Mallory Burdette, improved 30 places to No. 409 in the world rankings.
   The two-time NCAA singles champion is ranked No. 185 in that category.
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.
   Bradley Klahn, 23 years old, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 80 in singles (+2), career-high No. 141 in doubles (+1).
   Scott Lipsky, 32 years old, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 35 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, 26 years old, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 55 in singles (-6), No. 216 in doubles (-5).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 31 years old, trains at Gorin Tennis Academy in Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay -- No. 28 in singles (no change), No. 112 in doubles (no change).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, 23 years old, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- No. 140 in singles (-2), No. 694 in doubles (-2).
   Nicole Gibbs, 20 years old, NCAA singles champion in 2012 and 2013 and NCAA doubles champion in 2012 from Stanford -- No. 185 in singles (+1), No. 409 in doubles (+30).
   Macall Harkins, 28 years old, Redding resident -- No. 283 in doubles (+2), No. 690 in singles (+1).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 31 years old, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 18 in doubles (-1), No. 1,087 in singles (-2).
   Maria Sanchez, 24 years old, born and raised in Modesto -- No. 111 in doubles (-4), No. 186 in singles (+1).

TV schedule, calendar

TV SCHEDULE
(All times California)
Thursday
   Zagreb (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel 4-8 p.m. (delay).
Friday
   Montpellier (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (delay), 6-10 p.m. (replay).
   Zagreb (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 2-6 p.m. (delay).
Saturday
   Fed Cup, Italy at United States, Tennis Channel, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (live), 6:30-8:30 p.m. (replay).
   Montpellier (men), semifinal, Tennis Channel, 2:30-4:30 p.m. (delay).
   Zagreb (men), semifinal, Tennis Channel, 4:30-6:30 p.m. (delay).
   Fed Cup, Germany at Slovakia, Tennis Channel, 8:30-10:30 p.m. (delay). 
Sunday
   Fed Cup, Italy at United States, Tennis Channel, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (live), 6:30-8:30 p.m. (replay).
   Montpellier (men), final, Tennis Channel, 4:30-6:30 p.m. (delay).
   Fed Cup, Germany at Slovakia, Tennis Channel, 7:30-9:30 p.m. (delay).
   Zagreb (men), final, Tennis Channel, 9:30-11:30 p.m. (delay). 
CALENDAR
   Saturday-Sunday -- Fed Cup, first round, defending champion Italy vs. United States in Cleveland, www.fedcupcom.
   Feb. 26 -- Champions Shootout (Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake), 7 p.m., Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, Calif., www.powersharesseries.com.
   March 3-16 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. 2013 champions: Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Ekaterina Makarova-Elena Vesnina.
   April 4-6 -- Davis Cup quarterfinals (matchups to be determined), www.daviscup.com.
   April 5-13 -- Easter Bowl, Indian Wells, Calif. www.easterbowl.com
   April 19-20 -- Fed Cup semifinals (matchups to be determined), www.fedcup.com.
   April 23-26 -- West Coast Conference Men's and Women's Championships, San Diego, www.wccsports.com.
   April 23-27 -- Pacific-12 Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Ojai, Calif., www.pac-12.com.
   April 23-27 -- Mountain West Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Fresno, Calif., www.themw.com.
   April 24-27 -- Big West Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bigwest.org.
   April 25-27 -- Big Sky Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Gold River Racquet Club, Gold River, Calif., www.bigskyconf.com.
   May 2-5 -- USTA National Men's, Women's and Mixed 30 Indoor Championships, Spare Time Indoor Tennis Center, Gold River, Calif. http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=140381.
   May 9-11 -- Maze Cup (Northern California juniors vs. Southern California), Berkeley Tennis Center, http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=151685.
   May 15-26 -- NCAA Men's and Women's Championships, Athens, Ga., www.ncaasports.com.   
   MAY 25-JUNE 8 -- FRENCH OPEN, Paris. 2013 champions: Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, Ekaterina Makarova-Elena Vesnina, Lucie Hradecka-Frantisek Cermak. www.rolandgarros.com.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Net loss: Sac Caps move to Las Vegas after 28 years

Wayne Bryan announced he is stepping down
after coaching the Sacramento Capitals for
13 years. 2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   For more than a quarter century, July nights in Sacramento have featured world-class coed tennis, generally pleasant weather and a familiar exchange between the public address announcer and the crowd.
   "What time is it?"
   "Break time!"
   Those nights are gone.
   The Capitals, the longest-running and most successful franchise in World TeamTennis, announced today that they are moving to Las Vegas as the Neon after 28 years in Sacramento.
   "It's certainly the end of an era," said Wayne Bryan, who also revealed he is stepping down after 13 years as the team's coach. "The Caps have had a long and proud tradition."
   Sacramento has won a record six WTT championships, including four straight (1997-2000). The Capitals mostly struggled on and off the court since their last title in 2007 but came within three points of beating the Washington Kastles in the 2012 WTT Finals.
   In that match, Sacramento's CoCo Vandeweghe led Venus Williams 2-0 in the decisive tiebreaker before Williams reeled off the last five points to give Washington a 20-19 victory. 
Mark Knowles has played 12 seasons in World TeamTennis,
all with Sacramento. Knowles, 42, plans to return to WTT
this summer. 2013 photo by Paul Bauman
   Capitals players over the years have included Las Vegas resident Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Lindsay Davenport, Mark Knowles and Anna Kournikova.
   Agassi and Chang are members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and Davenport almost certainly will be inducted in July. Knowles and Kournikova reached No. 1 in the world in men's and women's doubles, respectively.
   Among those who have visited Sacramento to oppose the Capitals are Hall of Famers Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin and Martina Hingis and future Hall of Famers Serena and Venus Williams, Andy Roddick and Bob and Mike Bryan (Wayne's identical twin sons).
   "It's obviously a tough day," said the 42-year-old Knowles, a three-time WTT Male MVP who plans to return for his 13th season in the league. "I have such fond memories of Sacramento. It's the only team I've played for. The fans have been incredibly special, and I've been fortunate to be with a lot of great owners. It definitely will be bizarre not playing in Sacramento."
Lindsay Davenport, a former Capital, almost
certainly will be inducted into the International
Tennis Hall of Fame in July. 2012 photo
by Paul Bauman
   The Capitals' exodus represents the latest blow to Northern California in professional tennis. The SAP Open, which would have been held next week in San Jose, was replaced on the ATP World Tour calendar by Rio de Janeiro after 125 years in NorCal.
   Remaining are the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford on the WTA tour and several men's and women's Challenger (minor-league) tournaments. 
   Kolleen McNamee, who will continue to serve as the WTT team's general manager, cited the lack of a permanent tennis facility in the Sacramento area as the reason for the move.
   The Capitals played in a temporary stadium in the parking lot of a shopping mall -- first in Citrus Heights, then in Roseville, then back to Citrus Heights -- for the past 12 seasons. The capacity progressively was reduced from 4,500 to 2,134.
   It cost $125,000 annually to set up and take down the facility, according to former Capitals owner Lonnie Nielson. 
   Sacramento played its inaugural campaign in 1986 in the first home of the NBA's Kings and the following 15 seasons at the Gold River Racquet Club. Prompting the move from Gold River were complaints by neighbors about noise, lights and parking.
   McNamee would not disclose how the team did financially last season as the Capitals slumped to 5-9, the worst record in team history. They averaged 1,357 fans for their seven home matches, she said. 
Mike, left, and Bob Bryan, the identical twin sons of Wayne
Bryan, pose with Capitals owner Deepal Wannakuwatte and
  his wife, Betsy, after a match last July. The Bryan brothers
played for the visiting Texas Wild. 2013 photo by Paul Bauman
   It's no longer feasible to use a temporary stadium, according to McNamee.
   "There have been a number of (Capitals) ownership changes over the last five or six years, and probably those ownership changes have occurred because it's difficult to fund a franchise when you're spending a big amount of money on the stadium each year," she said. "To be fiscally responsible, it makes sense to make this move."
   Perhaps, but the ownership changes have involved far more than stadium issues. 
   Nielson, the Capitals' owner or co-owner from 2000 through 2010, pleaded guilty to grand theft related to his real estate business in the fall of 2010 and was released from prison last summer.
   Bob Cook, the team's owner or co-owner from 2008 through 2011, declared bankruptcy after the 2011 season.
   The team now is owned by Deepal Wannakuwatte, who has a medical supply company based in West Sacramento.
   WTT, meanwhile, has been in flux. Three of the four teams in the Western Conference -- Las Vegas, the San Diego Aviators and the Austin (Texas) Aces -- moved from other cities during the offseason. The other, the Texas Wild, relocated from Kansas City after the 2012 season.   
  The Neon will play at the Amanda & Stacy Darling Memorial Tennis Center, a certified USTA regional training center featuring a permanent 3,000-seat stadium.
   A fringe benefit of moving to Las Vegas is that marquee player Sam Querrey, a part-time Capital for the past two seasons, lives in the tax haven.
   On the negative side, high winds are common in Las Vegas, and it's a very tough sports market. Many residents and tourists are reluctant to pay to attend a sporting event when they might make money by gambling.
   The Tennis Channel Open, a tournament on the ATP World Tour at the Darling Tennis Center, lasted only three years (2006-08). 
   Wayne Bryan led the Capitals to two WTT titles (2002 and 2007) and was named the league's Coach of the Year three times (2004-06). The front man for the Bryan Bros. Band, Wayne composed and performed in "Sac Town Caps Songs" on a 2010 compact disc.
   Bryan, who also travels around the country emceeing tournaments and holding clinics, said the Capitals' move to Las Vegas made his decision to step down easier.
   "I'm trying to shorten up my schedule. I do about 180 days a year, and I promised (wife) Kathy I'd try to knock it down to 120 days," said Bryan, a resident of Camarillo in the Los Angeles area who will turn 67 on Feb. 19.
   "I've got two grandkids that at this stage of my life I'd like to be able to see a little bit. Bob and Mike will only be playing for three or four more years, and I'd like to spend as much time with them as I can.
   "I'm usually on the road about 10 of the 12 weeks of summer, and I'd rather be gone five of the 12 weeks and be able to have a summer barbecue and mow the grass."
   McNamee said the Neon would name Bryan's successor "in the coming weeks."
   WTT will hold its marquee player draft next Tuesday and its roster player draft on March 11. The regular season is scheduled for July 6-23, followed by the conference championships on July 24 and the WTT Finals on July 27.
   But for Sacramento fans, what time is it?
   Time to turn out the lights.
   The party's over.