Friday, August 21, 2015

Video of amazing Aptos shot; U.S. Open wild cards

Eighth-seeded Yoshihito Nishioka, playing wild card Jared
Donaldson in the first round of last week's $100,000 Comer-
ica Bank Challenger, might have pulled off the shot of the
year later in the match. Photo by Paul Bauman
   It gets chilly at night in Aptos, a California town on the Pacific Ocean.
   But fans who stayed for the first-round match between teenagers Yoshihoto Nishioka of Japan and Jared Donaldson of the United States last week in the $100,000 Comerica Bank Challenger were rewarded with perhaps the shot of the year on the Challenger tour.
   Late in the third set, Donaldson wrong-footed Nishioka with a forehand volley. Nishioka -- a 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter), 141-pound (64-kilogram) left-hander -- responded with a clean behind-the-back passing shot down the line.
   The 19-year-old Nishioka, seeded eighth, immediatedly flipped his racket to the court in disbelief, raised his arms triumphantly, turned to his camp and smiled widely. Even Donaldson, an 18-year-old wild card, applauded with one hand and his racket.
   Nishioka won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 and went on to reach the quarterfinals, attaining a career-high ranking of No. 127.
   U.S. Open wild cards -- The list of U.S. Open wild cards, eight men and eight women, released Tuesday contains some surprises. Austin Krajicek received a wild card, but CiCi Bellis did not.
   The U.S. Open is scheduled for Aug. 31 through Sept. 13 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Krajicek, a 25-year-old left-hander from Bradenton, Fla., fell short of winning the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge by falling to John Millman of Australia in the final of the Comerica Bank Challenger.
   Bjorn Fratangelo won the Wild Card Challenge as the American with the best results in two of three summer Challengers -- $50,000 Binghamton, N.Y., $50,000 Lexington, Ky., and Aptos -- but the USTA also awarded a wild card to Krajicek.
   Joining Fratangelo and Krajicek will be Australia's Lleyton Hewitt; Americans Donaldson, Ryan Harrison, Ryan Shane and Frances Tiafoe; and France's Pierre-Hughes Herbert.
   Hewitt, 34, will make his 15th and final appearance in the U.S. Open. He won the title in 2001 and reached the final in 2004.
   Bellis, a resident of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, made headlines in last year's U.S. Open. As a 15-year-old wild card, she stunned 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the first round to become the youngest player to win a main-draw match in the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996.
   Cibulkova was the runner-up to Li Na in last year's Australian Open.
   Bellis, ranked No. 159, must win three qualifying matches to return to the main draw of the U.S. Open.
   One women's wild card went to American Nicole Gibbs, who turned pro out of Stanford as a junior in 2013 after winning her second straight NCAA singles title. Gibbs reached the third round of last year's U.S. Open as a wild card.
   "Massive thank you to for another opportunity. Humbled. Happy. Thankful. Excited. All words that come to mind," Gibbs tweeted.
   Also awarded wild cards this year were Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Louisa Chirico, Samantha Crawford, Sofia Kenin, Jamie Loeb and Sachia Vickery, and France's Oceane Dodin.
   Crawford, 20, won the women's U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge, which consisted of $50,000 tournaments in Stockton, Sacramento and Lexington. She also captured the U.S. Open girls singles title in 2012.

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