Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Browne, Jacutin-Mariona earn sweet titles in 30 Indoors

No. 3 seed Tyler Browne, left, beat No. 2 Calle Hansen
7-6 (1), 6-4 on Monday for the men's singles title in the
USTA National 30 Indoors. Photo by Paul Bauman
   GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- The way Tyler Browne looks now, it's hard to believe he had a weight problem as a kid.
   A lean 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 155 pounds (70.3 kilograms), Browne darted around the court during his 7-6 (1), 6-4 victory over towering Calle Hansen on Monday in the final of the USTA National Men's, Women's & Mixed 30 Indoor Championships at the Spare Time Indoor Tennis Center.
   After Browne not only reached a low, skidding backhand approach in the second set but ripped a forehand cross-court passing shot, Hansen yelled good-naturedly across the net, "What are you, top 100 in the world?"
   Browne developed his massive forehand, on which he employs an open stance and takes a big windup, by necessity.
   "I was a pretty chubby child," admitted Browne, the 30-year-old associate men's head coach at Cal, his alma mater. "I didn't want to hit more than three shots (during a point). When I was 16, my junior year in high school, a knee injury sidelined me, and one of the factors was weight. Losing weight helped me cure the injury and regain my fire. It was one of those life-changing moments."
   Earlier Monday, 5-foot (1.52-meter) Marisue Jacutin-Mariona of Los Altos in the San Francisco Bay Area overcame soreness, fatigue and an upset stomach to outslug Evgenia (Subbotina) Dockter of Atlanta 6-4, 6-2 for her second straight women's singles title in the tournament.
   Browne said that at 12 years old, he was 5-foot-5 (1.66 meters) and 165 pounds (75.0 kilograms).
   "My mom cooks everything," explained Browne, who lives in Walnut Creek. "She's a baker. The joke is my mom is the 'cookie lady.' When I was a child, I ate a lot of cookies.
   "She's the team mom (for Cal). She makes cookies and lasagna. The key was to stop eating my mom's cooking, even though she didn't like that."
   Browne's mother, Lindya, attended Monday's final. A tiny former player in Indonesia, she was armed with shopping bags full of homemade food, including chocolate chip brownies, butterscotch brownies, chocolate chip cookies, pecan chocolate chip mounds, lemon bars and banana bread.
   After Browne slimmed down in high school, he enrolled at Cal and earned second-team all-Pacific-12 Conference honors as a junior in 2006. On Cal's website, he was described as "an incredibly gifted athlete."
No. 2 seed Marisue Jacutin-Mariona play-
fully displays her gold ball in women's
singles. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   Immediately after Browne graduated from Cal in sociology in 2008, longtime Bears head coach Peter Wright hired him as an assistant.
   "I couldn't pass it up, but the competitive bug never leaves me," Browne said. "It's nice to get a chance to play once in a while."
   Browne became eligible for the 30s last year (his birthday is in August) but played only men's doubles and mixed doubles in the 2015 National Indoors, winning both.
   "I had never won a gold ball," he explained. "I wanted to make sure I was fully healthy for men's doubles and mixed. (Winning them) got the monkey off my back. I wanted to see if I could get one in singles (this year) to complete the trifecta."
   Browne also won titles in men's doubles and mixed doubles this time, making him 5 for 5 lifetime in the tournament.
   Even though Browne hadn't played a tournament since last summer, he was sharp against the 6-foot-5 (1.95-meter) Hansen and his booming serve. It wasn't really surprising -- Browne hits against young, powerful players every day in his job.
   Cal (17-6), ranked 16th nationally, will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division I Championships today.
   "Fortunately, my job requires me to play a lot of tennis," Browne said. "I hit with the Cal guys and play sets with them if there's an odd man. My game has definitely evolved as a coach. I wish I had the brain in college that I have now."
   Hansen, a 36-year-old Swedish native and former Pepperdine All-American, returned to the USTA 30 Indoors for the first time since winning his second straight title in the tournament in 2013.
   "I took a break," said Hansen, the tennis director at the Westlake Athletic Club near Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles area. "I have a 10-month-old baby, and it's harder to travel."
   Browne said the key in the final was his return of serve.
   "Serving as well as he does, I had to make a lot of returns and put pressure on his second serve. When we got into a rally, I had to set up early and get him on the move," said the third-seeded Browne, who wore a Cal outfit in the title match.
   Hansen served for the first set at 5-3 but was broken on a wide cross-court backhand. Browne ran away with the tiebreaker, hitting three well-placed aces.
   Both players traded early breaks in the second set and held serve until the last game of the match. Hansen fell behind 0-30 on two forehand winners by Browne and couldn't recover.
Jacutin-Mariona, center, poses with singles runner-up Evgenia Dockter,
left, and third-place finisher Francesca LaO. Photo by Paul Bauman
 "He was just solid from the baseline," Hansen, seeded second, said of the match. "He moved the ball around a lot and got me running around. I like to move forward, but I didn't have much opportunity. I played pretty well: the first set was really good, the second up and down.
   "I don't play a lot of tournaments. I try to use a slice and slow the (pace) down, but it didn't bother him. I felt if I slowed it down, I had to run even more."
   Like Browne, Jacutin (pronounced Ja-COO-tin)-Mariona confesses to a sweet tooth but doesn't show it. When she indulges, she balloons from 110 pounds (49.9 kilograms) all the way up to 112 (50.8 kilograms).
   On Sunday, the second-seeded Jacutin-Mariona needed three hours to subdue Francesca LaO of San Francisco 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 in the semifinals.
   "I had sushi (Sunday) night, my body was hurting, and I didn't know how I was going to get out here (for the final)," said Jacutin-Mariona, a former No. 1 junior and woman in the Philippines who will turn 37 on May 14. "Waking up, everything seemed wrong. Moving around, I thought I'd feel better, and that's exactly what happened."
   Using her devastating two-handed forehand, Jacutin-Mariona bolted to a 5-1 lead in both sets. The top-seeded Dockter, a 32-year-old Belarus native making her tournament debut, put up a fight in the first set but tired in the second.
   "She was a little more consistent than I was and able to place the ball better," lamented Dockter, who was named second-team all-Southeastern Conference as a senior at Georgia in 2006. "She was able to hit the right shots when she needed them."
   Both Jacutin-Mariona and Dockter have two children and coach or teach tennis part-time.
   Better keep those kids away from cookies.
USTA NATIONAL 30 INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
In Gold River, Calif.
Men's singles
Final
   Tyler Browne (3), Walnut Creek, def. Calle Hansen (2), Newbury Park, 7-6 (1), 6-4.
Third place
   Jan Tiilikainen (1), Reno, def. Vittorio Fratta, Walnut Creek, 6-2, 6-1.
Men's doubles
Final
   Tyler Browne, Walnut Creek, and Nicholas Brunner (1), San Francisco, def. Justin Garcia and Whit Livingston, Sacramento, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Third place
   Derek Acker, South Wales, N.Y., and Calle Hansen, Newbury Park, def. Dave Kuhn, Elk Grove, and Seth Spector, Fair Oaks, 6-4, 6-3.
Women's singles
Final
   Marisue B. Jacutin-Mariona (2), Los Altos, def. Evgenia Dockter (1), Atlanta, 6-4, 6-2.
Third place
   Francesca LaO, San Francisco, def. Brooke Biddle, Dallas, 6-0, 6-2.
Women's doubles
Final
   Isabella Kling, Orangevale, and Laura McGaffigan (2), Folsom, def. Marisue B. Jacutin-Mariona, Los Altos, and Francesca LaO (1), San Francisco, 6-3, 6-3.
Third place
   Evgenia Dockter, Atlanta, and Erika Takeuchi, Seattle, def. Camille Benvenuti, Sacramento, and Stacey Griggs, Carmichael, walkover.
Mixed doubles
Final
   Tyler Browne, Walnut Creek, and Francesca LaO (1), San Francisco, def. Evgenia Dockter, Atlanta, and Vittorio Fratta, Walnut Creek, walkover.
Third place
   Lawrence Chan and Erika Takeuchi, Seattle, def. Michelle Chapple, Rancho Murieta, and Jeff Shin, Sacramento, 6-1, 6-2.

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