Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bryans, citing health concerns, pull out of Olympics

Bob Bryan, right, and Mike Bryan, playing at Indian Wells in March, said
that as "husbands and fathers, our family's health is now our top priority."
Photo by Paul Bauman
   If 38-year-old twins Bob and Mike Bryan want a shot at another Olympic medal, they will have to wait until Tokyo in 2020.
   The former Stanford stars announced Saturday on Facebook that they have withdrawn from Rio de Janeiro, saying that as "husbands and fathers, our family's health is now our top priority."
   The Bryans did not mention the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects. Numerous athletes in tennis and other sports have pulled out of the Rio Games, which begin Friday and end Aug. 21.
   Rajeev Ram was added to the U.S. team to play doubles with Brian Baker.
   The Bryans won the men's doubles gold medal in London in 2012 and bronze medal in Beijing in 2008.
   On the regular tour, the Bryans have won a record 16 Grand Slam titles in men's doubles but none since the 2014 U.S. Open. They reached the French Open final in June, losing to Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez (no relation).
   It's hardly out of the question that the Bryans will play in the Tokyo Games. Canadian doubles specialist Daniel Nestor, a gold medalist with Sebastien Lareau in Sydney in 2000, will team with Vasek Pospisil in Rio at age 43.

Kenin, 17, clinches U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge

Sofia Kenin displays her trophy after winning last
week's Sacramento Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Seventeen-year-old Sofia Kenin clinched the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge on Saturday when Jamie Loeb lost in the semifinals of the $50,000 Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships.
   The American with the most singles points in two of the three tournaments participating in the Challenge -- Stockton, Sacramento and Lexington in consecutive weeks -- earns a wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open.
   The year's final Grand Slam tournament is scheduled for Aug. 29-Sept. 11 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Kenin finished with 81 points, 80 for winning last week's $50,000 Sacramento Challenger and one point for losing in the first round in Lexington.
   Grace Min, the runner-up in Sacramento, placed second with 49 points. Loeb, who fell to Arina Rodionova of Australia 7-6 (1), 6-1 on Saturday, was third with 44 points.
   Kenin will play in the main draw of the U.S. Open for the second consecutive year. She earned an automatic wild card by winning last year's USTA Girls 18 National Championships in San Diego and lost to then-No. 96 Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia 6-3, 6-1 in the first round.
   Kenin again is entered in the Girls 18 Nationals, Aug. 6-14 in San Diego. If she repeats and receives that wild card for the U.S. Open, Min will get the other one.    

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Top seed Van Uytvanck quits Kentucky match

Alison Van Uytvanck plays in the semifinals of the $50,000
Stockton Challenger two weeks ago. She went on the win the
title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Jamie Loeb's path to the title in the $50,000 Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships and a wild card into the U.S. Open got easier on Friday.
   Top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium retired from her quarterfinal against Arina Rodionova of Australia with an ankle injury. Rodionova led 4-2 in the first set at the time in Lexington.
   Van Uytvanck, a French Open quarterfinalist last year who underwent ankle surgery this past spring, won the $50,000 Stockton Challenger two weeks ago.
   In today's semifinals, Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands will face Jovana Jaksic of Serbia at 2 p.m. PDT, and Loeb of Ossining, N.Y., will meet Rodionova not before 4 p.m. Both matches will be streamed live at usta.com.
   Loeb must win the title to beat out Sofia Kenin of Boca Raton, Fla., in the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge. Kenin, 17, won last week's $50,000 Sacramento Challenger.
   In the Kentucky doubles semifinals, unseeded Americans Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller knocked off top-seeded An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium and Modesto product Maria Sanchez 6-3, 6-4.

Konta, champion at Stanford, loses to qualifier

Johanna Konta, shown during last week's Bank
of the West Classic at Stanford, lost to qualifier
Kristina Kucova today in the quarterfinals of the
Rogers Cup in Montreal. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Kristina Kucova, a qualifier ranked No. 121, ended Johanna Konta's winning streak and bid to become the first British player in 32 years to reach the top 10.
   Kucova, 26, of Slovakia eliminated the 15th-seeded Konta 6-4, 6-3 today in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
   The 14th-ranked Konta had won seven consecutive matches, including four to win last week's Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   Kucova previously beat Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, eighth-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain and hometown favorite Eugenie Bouchard.
   In today's semifinals, second-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany will play fifth-seeded Simona Halep of Romania at 10 a.m. PDT, and Kucova will meet 10th-seeded Madison Keys of Boca Raton, Fla., at 3 p.m.
   Both matches, in addition to the men's semifinals in Toronto, will be televised by ESPN2.
   Kerber did not defend her Bank of the West Classic title this year.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Venus, runner-up at Stanford, ousted in Montreal

No. 6 seed Venus Williams, shown last week at the Bank
of the West Classic at Stanford, lost to No. 10 Madison
Keys on Thursday in Montreal. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Four days after losing to Johanna Konta of Great Britain in the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, Venus Williams suffered a minor upset in the third round of the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
   In a clash of U.S. generations, No. 10 seed Madison Keys ousted No. 6 Williams 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3 on Thursday. Keys, 21, evened her career record against Williams, 36, at 2-2.
   No. 15 Konta dismissed lucky loser Varvara Lepchenko, a U.S. citizen from Uzbekistan, 6-3, 6-2.
   With one more victory each, Konta and Keys will meet in the semifinals. Konta, 25, will play qualifier Kristina Kucova of Slovakia, and Keys will face No. 16 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.
   Both Kucova and Pavlyuchenkova upset former Wimbledon runners-up. Kucova surprised hometown favorite Eugenie Bouchard 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Pavlyuchenkova, who played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis 10 years ago at age 15, knocked off No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1.

Ex-Stanford star Ahn falls in 50K Lexington

Kristie Ahn, shown in last week's Sacramento
Challenger, lost to qualifier Greet Minnen on
Thursday in the Lexington (Ky.) Challenger.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Qualifier Greet Minnen of Belgium defeated ex-Stanford star Kristie Ahn 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday in the second round of the $50,000 Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships in Lexington.
   Ahn, 24, reached the quarterfinals of last week's $50,000 Sacramento Challenger.
   Minnen will play Jamie Loeb of Ossining, N.Y., in today's quarterfinals. Loeb, the lone remaining American in singles, upset fourth-seeded Lin Zhu of China 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
   Lexington is the last of three tournaments in the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge. The American who earns the most points in two of the three tourneys -- Stockton, Sacramento and Lexington -- will receive a wild card into the main draw at Flushing Meadows, Aug. 20-Sept. 11.
  Seventeen-year-old Sofia Kenin, the Sacramento champion, will receive the wild card unless Loeb wins the Lexington title to pass Kenin in the standings.
   In the doubles quarterfinals, top-seeded An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium and Maria Sanchez of Los Angeles advanced by walkover. Sanchez, 26, was born and raised in Modesto.
   Sanaz Marand and Melanie Oudin of the United States beat CiCi Bellis, 17, of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area and Loeb 7-6 (6), 6-1.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

17-year-olds Bellis, Kenin fall to seeds in 50K Kentucky

CiCi Bellis, shown at last week's Bank of the West Classic,
lost to Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck, a French Open
quarterfinalist last year, for the second time in three weeks.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Two 17-year-old Americans who starred in Northern California pro tournaments last week drew tough opponents in the $50,000 Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships and paid the price today.
   CiCi Bellis, who reached her first WTA tour quarterfinal in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, fell to top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium 4-6, 7-5 6-1 in Lexington, Ky. Bellis lives in Atherton, a five-minute drive from Stanford.
   Van Uytvanck, a French Open quarterfinalist last year who's rebounding from ankle surgery, also defeated Bellis in the semifinals of the $50,000 Stockton Challenger two weeks ago en route to the title.
   Sofia Kenin, who won last week's $50,000 Sacramento Challenger, lost to fifth-seeded Hiroko Kuwata of Japan 5-7, 6-4, 6-0.
   Also falling in the first round in Lexington were sixth-seeded Grace Min of Boca Raton, Fla., and eighth-seeded Anastasia Pivovarova of Russia -- the runners-up in Sacramento and Stockton, respectively -- and Modesto product Maria Sanchez.
   However, former Stanford standout Kristie Ahn beat Stockton semifinalist Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Larcher de Brito reached the third round at Wimbledon as a qualifier in 2013, beating Maria Sharapova, and 2014 and underwent wrist surgery last year.
   In the first round of doubles in Lexington, Bellis and Jamie Loeb of Ossining, N.Y., ousted second-seeded Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey of the United States 6-4, 0-6 [10-7]. Weinhold and Whoriskey won their second straight Sacramento Challenger title on Sunday, beating Loeb and Chanel Simmonds of South Africa.
   Top-seeded An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium and Sanchez beat Freya Christie and Laura Robson of Great Britain 7-6 (3), 6-3. Mestach advanced to the singles final of last year's Stockton and Sacramento Challengers.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kenin, 17, capitalizes on Min meltdown for title

Sofia Kenin, left, upset second-seeded Grace Min 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday
night to win the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger in the
Sacramento area. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- Evonne Goolagong Cawley famously called them "walkabouts."
   The International Tennis Hall of Famer from Australia was referring to her lapses of concentration during matches.
   Grace Min had a mysterious walkabout for the ages on Sunday night, and it likely cost her the title in the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger.
   Seventeen-year-old Sofia Kenin capitalized on Min's meltdown for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory in an all-American final at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento area.
   Min packs a punch at only 5-foot-4 (1.63 meters) and 140 pounds (64 kilograms). She outslugged Kenin -- no easy feat -- to lead 6-4, 1-1 in a baseline battle that began in 99-degree (37.2 Celsius) heat. Min, seeded second, was focused and pounding her groundstrokes into the corners.
   Then suddenly, the 22-year-old Min was listless and could hardly hit a ball in the court. The unseeded Kenin reeled off eight consecutive games to take the second set and lead 3-0 (two service breaks) in the third set.
   "I lost a bit of energy, pretty much a little of everything -- a little objective and purpose with what I was trying to accomplish in the point," said Min, who saved two match points in the second round against former top-30 player Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands. "Yeah, I lost my way."
   When asked why, Min mused, "I'm not sure."
   Fatigue? Unlikely. Both Min and Kenin train in the heat and humidity of Florida, Min's two previous matches were one-sided, and she regained her form after falling behind 3-0 in the third set.
   "I did everything I could to prepare (for the tournament)," Min said, "so I had that peace of mind, but conditioning is always something you can improve."
   Perhaps Min got nervous as she tries to earn her third main-draw berth in the U.S. Open, Aug. 29-Sept. 11 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Min broke Kenin at love for 1-3 in the final set and fought hard the rest of the match, but it was too late. Both players held serve from there, with Kenin converting her third championship point when a Min forehand sailed long.
    "I was just trying to ... control myself, move her and adjust to her game," Kenin said before rushing to the airport for a flight to Lexington, Ky., for the $50,000 Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships. "She was playing really well in the first set, but I was able to regroup well."
   Whereas Min inexplicably took the middle of the 2-hour, 8-minute match off, Kenin fought for every point in each set like her idol, Russia's Maria Sharapova. Kenin, a Moscow native who moved to Florida as a baby with her family, even walks to the wall behind the baseline between points and faces it while collecting her thoughts like Sharapova.
   Kenin, who has long legs but stands only 5-foot-6 (1.68 meters), became the second 17-year-old in the five-year history of the Gold River Challenger to win the singles title. She hopes to fare better than the first one.
   Mayo Hibi, a longtime resident of Irvine in the Los Angeles area who plays for her native Japan, defeated an ill Madison Brengle in the 2013 final. Hibi, only 5-foot-5 (1.65 meters) and 121 pounds (55 kilograms), then skipped college and turned pro. She is ranked No. 205.
   Kenin, a home-schooled high school junior, remains an amateur for now. Splitting her time between professional and junior tournaments, she was ranked No. 332 in the world entering the Gold River Challenger. Kenin will jump to about No. 252 when the new rankings are released on Monday. She is ranked 10th among juniors (18 and under).
    Min said Kenin has "a great deal" of potential.
   "She's very young, and obviously she's got a great tennis mind, so I think the world is hers," Min added.
   Does Kenin have top-10 potential?
   "I think anyone can reach the top 10 if they work hard enough," said Min, a former top-100 player who will improve from No. 158 to about No. 144.
   Kenin, who won her second and biggest ITF (minor-league) singles title, could play in the main draw of the U.S. Open for the second consecutive year. By winning the Gold River title, she took the lead in the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge. The American who earns the most points in two of the three participating tournaments -- Stockton two weeks ago, Sacramento and Lexington -- will receive a wild card into the U.S. Open.
(Left to right) doubles runners-up Jamie Loeb and Chanel Simmonds,
Freight Solution Providers CEO Lielani Steers and doubles champions
Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey pose after the trophy presenta-
tion. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Kenin won the USTA Girls 18 National Championships last August in San Diego to earn an automatic wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open. She lost to then-No. 96 Marina Duque-Marino of Colombia 6-3, 6-1 in the first round but reached the junior girls final.
   Min has played in the main draw of five Grand Slam tournaments but is still looking for her first victory in one. She won junior titles in U.S. Open singles and Wimbledon doubles (with Eugenie Bouchard) in 2011.
   Kenin and Min met in an official match for the first time, but they've played practice matches against each other at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla., where both are based.
   This was the second all-American final in the Gold River Challenger. Maria Sanchez defeated Jessica Pegula in the inaugural tournament in 2012. Sanchez was born and raised in nearby Modesto. Pegula's parents, Terry and Kim, own the NFL's Buffalo Bills and NHL's Buffalo Sabres,
   Min, who played in the tournament for the first time this year, has an appropriate first name. During the awards ceremony, she warmly thanked the fans for attending and the club staff for making her feel at home. She then was cooperative in an interview with a reporter, to whom she had said "Nice to meet you" on Saturday.
   As for Min's walkabout, at least she's in good company.
   Second-seeded Ashley Weinhold of Spicewood, Texas, and Caitlin Whoriskey of East Sandwich, Mass., won the doubles title for the second consecutive year, beating third-seeded Jamie Loeb of Ossining, N.Y., and Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 6-4, 6-4.
   Loeb and Simmonds played together for the first time in the tournament. Loeb turned pro last year after winning the NCAA singles title as a North Carolina sophomore.
   Here are the complete Gold River Challenger singles and doubles draws.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Konta tops Venus for Bank of the West title

Third-seeded Johanna Konta, shown on Wednesday, beat
top-seeded Venus Williams 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 today for her first
WTA tour title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The final of the Bank of the West Classic produced a milestone, but not for Venus Williams.
   Johanna Konta, seeded third, won her first WTA tour title with a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 victory over the top-seeded Williams today at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   Williams, 36, was seeking her 50th tour-level title in the tournament where she began her career 22 years ago. She ranks 11th in the Open Era, which began in 1968, behind 10th-place Monica Seles with 53 titles.
   Konta, 25, of Great Britain recovered after squandering a 4-1 lead (two service breaks) in the second set. She converted her third championship point on a service winner down the middle.
   The Sydney, Australia, native will improve from No. 18 in the world to a career-high No. 14 when the new rankings are released on Monday.
   Konta played in the Bank of the West Classic for the first time this year. She reached her first Grand Slam semifinal in the Australian Open in January, stunning Williams in the first round.
   Williams won the last of her seven Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon in 2008. She was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, a chronic energy-sapping disease, in 2011.
   In today's doubles final, No. 2 seeds Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) of nearby San Jose and Abigail Spears of Colorado Springs, Colo., beat No. 3 Darija Jurak of Croatia and Anastasia Rodionova of Australia 6-3, 6-4.
   Atawo and Spears also won the title in 2013.
   Here are the complete singles and doubles draws.

Brooksby routed in boys 16 final at USTA Clay Courts

No. 14 seed Jenson Brooksby, above, lost to No. 7
Lukas Greif 6-1, 6-1. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   On Saturday, Jenson Brooksby routed his opponent to reach the boys 16 final in the USTA National Clay Court Championships.
   Today, though, the 15-year-old resident of Carmichael in the Sacramento area suffered the opposite fate.
   No. 7 seed Lukas Greif of Evansville, Ind., dominated No. 14 Brooksby 6-1, 6-1 in Delray Beach, Fla.
   In the semifinals, Brooksby demolished JanMagnus Johnson of Naples, Fla., 6-1, 6-0.
   Brooksby also was the runner-up in the 14s last year, falling to William Grant of Santa Barbara.
   Brooksby won the 12s in the 2013 USTA National Championships in Little Rock, Ark.
   In boys 16 doubles this week, Brooksby and Stevie Gould of Corte Madera in the San Francisco Bay Area reached the round of 16 before losing to Axel Nefve of Hinsdale, Ill., and William Woodall of Washington, D.C., 6-2, 6-3.

Kenin, 17, hopes to rocket to vicinity of Venus

Sofia Kenin, above, will face Grace Min in
an all-American final in the FSP Gold River
Women's Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- Sofia Kenin is unlikely to reach the heights of Venus Williams -- literally and figuratively.
   Kenin could, however, succeed Williams as a U.S. tennis star. They will play a 2 1/2-hour drive apart today in Northern California finals.
   The 36-year-old Williams will seek her 50th career singles title at the top level of women's tennis in the Bank of the West Classic, where she made her WTA tour debut 22 years ago, this afternoon at Stanford in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   In the evening, the 17-year-old Kenin will try to win her second ITF (minor-league) singles crown in the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento region.  
   The top three Americans in the world rankings are No. 1 Serena Williams, who will turn 35 in September; No. 7 Venus Williams; and No. 11 Madison Keys, who's 21.
   "There's such good players, and I have so much respect for them," said the unseeded Kenin, who will meet second-seeded Grace Min for the first time in an all-American final after today's 5 p.m. doubles title match (live streaming at usta.com). "It would be really good for the U.S. to have another player. My friends and I are trying to battle and get to the top. I look up to a lot of those Americans, and I really want to be in a position like them."
   Kenin's idol, though, is Maria Sharapova.
   "She's such a great fighter; she fights for every ball," explained Kenin, who won the USTA Girls 18 National Championships last summer to earn an automatic berth in the main draw of the U.S. Open (losing to Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia in the first round). "I really like her game. She's got the big serve, she's aggressive, and that's how I want to play -- aggressive. I feel like her game matches well with mine."
   Like Sharapova, Kenin was born in Russia and moved to Florida. Kenin, however, came as a baby with her family and plays for the United States. Sharapova arrived at age 9 to train at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and competes for Russia.
   The big difference between Sharapova, who is serving a two-year suspension for using meldonium after it was banned as of Jan. 1, is height. The 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) Sharapova, who owns a career Grand Slam in singles and five major singles titles overall, is eight inches (20.3 centimeters) taller than Kenin.
   Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, is 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters).
   Still, Kenin has pop on her serve and laser groundstrokes on both sides. She also has a strong return of serve and good form at the net. In short, the Pembroke Pines, Fla., resident is supremely gifted.
Second-seeded Grace Min, shown Saturday,
saved two match points in the second round
in Gold River. Photo by Paul Bauman
   But Kenin, an amateur ranked No. 332 in the world among women (up from No. 620 at the end of last year) and No. 10 in the juniors, said her biggest strength is "just the fact that I'm fighting on court, and I see the game really well. When I'm playing well, I feel like I'm attacking."
   Kenin's competitiveness was evident in her 6-4, 6-4 semifinal victory over qualifier Valeria Solovyeva of Russia in 100-degree (37.8 Celsius) heat. Serving for the match for the second time, Kenin overcame a 0-40 deficit and saved a fourth break point with a service winner. Solovyeva then slugged two consecutive backhands long to end the match.
   "I have to give her credit," said Solovyeva, a semifinalist in the inaugural 2012 Gold River Challenger at 19 who returned in May from knee surgery. "She played a really good, solid match. She was tough today out there. Definitely, she was fresher, but it's part of the game. I had to play through qualies, so that's how it is."          
   Min, a compact 5-foot-4 (1.63 meters), led eighth-seeded Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan 6-0, 3-0 in the first semifinal when the 21-year-old Sharipova retired with nausea.
   Sharipova, on the verge of tears, later said she began feeling sick after her 6-4, 6-4 victory over Elizaveta Ianchuk of Ukraine on Friday afternoon in 95-degree (35.0 Celsius) heat.
   Min, 22, of Boca Raton, Fla., saved two match points in her second-round victory over Dutch veteran Michaella Krajicek, a former top-30 player. Min then routed her doubles partner, former Stanford star Kristie Ahn, 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
   "With each match, I've been getting better, and that's been the most positive for this week," said Min, who's ranked No. 158 after cracking the top 100 in March 2015.
   Both Min and Kenin have extra incentive in the final. The winner will take the lead in the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge. The American who earns the most points in two of the three participating tournaments -- Stockton, Sacramento and Lexington, Ky., in consecutive weeks -- will receive a wild card into the U.S. Open, Aug. 29-Sept. 11 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Kenin will attempt to become the second 17-year-old in the five-year history of the Sacramento Challenger to win the title. Mayo Hibi, a longtime resident of Irvine, Calif., who plays for her native Japan, defeated an ill Madison Brengle in the 2013 final.
   Hibi, 5-foot-5 (1.65 meters) and 121 pounds (55 kilograms), then skipped college and turned pro. She is now ranked No. 205.
   This will be the second all-American final in the Sacramento Challenger. Maria Sanchez, who was born and raised in nearby Modesto, defeated Jessica Pegula, whose parents own the NFL's Buffalo Bills and NHL's Buffalo Sabres, in the inaugural tournament in 2012.
   Here are links to the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Venus, Konta to meet in Bank of the West final

   Venus Williams will seek her 50th career tour-level title today in the tournament where she began her career 22 years ago.
   Johanna Konta, meanwhile, will play in her first such final.
   But the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford is no mismatch. Konta stunned the eighth-seeded Williams 6-4, 6-2 in their last meeting in the first round of the Australian Open in January en route to her first Grand Slam semifinal.
   Williams, seeded No. 1 in the Bank of the West Classic, held off unseeded Alison Riske 6-1, 7-6 (2) in an all-American semifinal on Saturday night.
   Earlier, No. 3 Konta of Great Britain defeated No. 2 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-2. Cibulkova, the 2013 champion, played in her first tournament since getting married on July 9 in Bratislava.
   Williams, 36, is 1-1 against Konta, 25. They will meet at 2 p.m. PDT in a match televised by ESPN2.
   Afterward, No. 2 seeds Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) of San Jose and Abigail Spears of Colorado Springs, Colo., will try to win their second Bank of the West title. The 2013 champions will face No. 3 seeds Darija Jurak of Croatia and Anastasia Rodionova of Australia.
   Jurak and Rodionova topped unseeded Konta and Maria Sanchez, who was born and raised in Modesto, 6-4, 6-2.
   Here are links to the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Brooksby reaches boys 16 final in USTA Clay Courts

   No. 14 seed Jenson Brooksby of Carmichael in the Sacramento area demolished unseeded JanMagnus Johnson of Naples, Fla., 6-1, 6-0 today to reach the boys 16 final in the USTA National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla.
   Brooksby, 15, will face seventh-seeded Lukas Greif of Evansville, Ind., on Sunday at 7:45 a.m. PDT. Greif beat fifth-seeded Jared Pratt of Daniel Island, S.C., 6-4, 6-2.
   Brooksby reached the 14s final in last year's USTA National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, losing to William Grant of Santa Barbara, and won the 12s title in the 2013 USTA National Championships in Little Rock, Ark.

Bellis, 17, eclipsed by Venus in Bank of the West

CiCi Bellis, shown Tuesday after upsetting No. 6 seed
Jelena Ostapenko, said she "can take so many positives
away from this week." Photo by Paul Bauman
   CiCi Bellis fared better against a Williams sister this time.
   Not well enough to win, but, hey, one step at a time.
   Bellis, a 17-year-old wild card playing five minutes from home, battled Venus Williams in the first set before falling 6-4, 6-1 in one hour in the quarterfinals of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   "I learned a lot; it was a lot better than when I played Serena," Bellis, referring to her 6-1, 6-1 loss in 41 minutes in the third round at Miami last year, told reporters. "I just have to focus on the key points; there were a couple in the first set that, had I played more aggressively, I might have won them. But she's the No. 1 seed here and No. 7 in the world, so it's unbelievable getting to play someone like her.
   "Playing a tournament like this is such a great opportunity for me ... I can take so many positives away from this week. I won two matches and reached my first quarterfinal of a Premier. I'm really happy about that."
   Bellis, a home-schooled high school senior from Atherton, said she verbally committed to Stanford on Thursday. She can sign a letter-of-intent in November, but that only means she couldn't play for another school. 
   Bellis still could turn pro, which she has said she will if she cracks the top 100 in the world by the fall of 2017. By reaching the Bank of the West quarters, she will jump from No. 203 to about No. 156. Bellis also could attend Stanford for one year and then turn pro.
   "I think she has a good head on her shoulders for her age," said Venus Williams, 36. "She has a weapon, tries to control the point with her forehand. She only has room to grow; you can imagine that she's going to get a lot better."
   Williams will play American Alison Riske in today's second semifinal at 7 p.m. (ESPN2). Riske, ranked 79th, led No. 4 seed CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 0-1 when Vandeweghe, the 2012 Bank of the West runner-up to Serena Williams, retired with an ankle injury and left the court in a wheelchair.
   Williams defeated Riske 6-4, 6-2 on clay in the second round at Charleston in April in their only previous meeting.   
   In today's first semifinal at 2 p.m. (ESPN2), No. 2 seed and 2013 champion Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia will face No. 3 Johanna Konta of Great Britain.
   Cibulkova defeated No. 5 Misaki Doi of Japan 7-5, 6-0, winning the last 11 games after trailing 5-2 in the first set. Cibulkova, who got married on July 9 in Bratislava, will return to the top 10 for the first time in more than 18 months on Monday.
   Konta, playing in the Bank of the West Classic for the first time this year, beat Zheng Saisai of China 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
   Cibulkova is 1-0 against Konta, winning 7-6 (6), 7-5 in the first round at Hobart in January.  
   In the women's doubles quarterfinals, No. 2 seeds and 2013 champions Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) of San Jose, Calif., and Abigail Spears of Colorado Springs, Colo., edged Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and Arina Rodionova of Australia 2-6, 7-5 [10-7]. 

Solovyeva returns to 50K Gold River semis

Valeria Solovyeva, playing Monday in the final round of
qualifying, beat third-seeded An-Sophie Mestach to reach
the semifinals of the Gold River Challenger.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Four years ago, Valeria Solovyeva reached the semifinals of the inaugural FSP Gold River Challenger at 19 years old.
   The Russian qualifier, playing in the $50,000 tournament for the first time since then, returned to the semis on Friday with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over third-seeded An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento, Calif., area.
   Solovyeva took last year off to earn a master's degree in sports and health science, graduating with honors. Mestach, the world's top junior in 2011, was the runner-up in last year's back-to-back Stockton and Sacramento Challengers.
   Solovyeva, ranked No. 287, will play 17-year-old American Sofia Kenin, a Moscow native living in Pembroke Pines, Fla., for the first time in tonight's second semifinal at about 7:30 (live streaming at usta.com).
   Kenin ended the run of lucky loser Caroline Romeo of France, prevailing 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. The 434th-ranked Romeo stunned top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck, last week's Stockton Challenger and a French Open quarterfinalist in 2015, in the first round.
   Romeo had lost in the final round of qualifying but advanced to the main draw when Melanie Oudin, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist in 2009, pulled out with an undisclosed illness.
   Kenin, won the USTA Girls 18 National Hardcourt Championships in San Diego last August to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open. She then lost to Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia in the opening round.
   In the first semifinal at about 5:30 p.m., second-seeded Grace Min of Boca Raton, Fla., will meet eighth-seeded Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan for the first time.
   Min trounced her doubles partner, ex-Stanford star Kristie Ahn, 6-1, 6-2. Sharipova beat Elizaveta Ianchuk of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4.
   Here are links to the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bellis, 17, to face Venus in Bank of the West

   CiCi Bellis, a 17-year-old wild card playing five minutes from home, defeated Sachia Vickery today for the second consecutive week to reach her first WTA tour quarterfinal.
    Bellis, who lives in Atherton, beat Vickery, a 21-year-old qualifier, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the Bank of the West Classic at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium at Stanford University.
   Bellis will meet top seed and two-time champion Venus Williams in tonight's featured match at 7 (ESPN3).
   "It's not going to be easy, but I don't think anything is impossible," Bellis told reporters. "Obviously, it'll be such an honor playing one of the best players of all time, and she's done so much in her career and still doing amazing things. It's going to be fun, and I'm very excited."
   Bellis has never played Venus Williams but lost to Serena Williams 6-1, 6-1 in the third round at Miami last year in their only meeting.
   All quarterfinalists in the top half of the Bank of the West draw are American, and all remaining players in the bottom half are from other countries.
   In the other all-American quarterfinal, fourth-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe will face Alison Risk. Vandeweghe, the 2012 runner-up to Serena Williams, defeated ex-Stanford star Nicole Gibbs 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the featured night match.
   Also, No. 2 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia will play No. 5 Misaki Doi of Japan, and No. 3 Johanna Konta of Great Britain will face unseeded Zheng Saisai of China.
   Cibulkova, the 2013 Bank of the West champion, got married on July 9 in Bratislava.
   In the doubles quarterfinals, Konta and Modesto product Maria Sanchez knocked off top seeds and defending champions Xu Yifan of China and Zheng 6-4, 6-4.
   No. 2 seeds and 2013 champions Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) of San Jose and Abigail Spears of Colorado Springs, Colo., beat Julia Glushko of Israel and Magda Linette of Poland 6-3, 6-4 in the first round.
   Here are links to the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

No. 2 seed Min barely survives in 50K Gold River

   Second-seeded Grace Min of Boca Raton, Fla., saved two match points in a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory over Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands on Thursday in the second round of the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger in the Sacramento, Calif., area.
   The 5-foot-4 (1.63-meter) Min, 22, escaped the match points to hold her serve for 5-5 in the third set. She broke for 6-5 on a perfectly executed backhand drop shot and held serve for the match on a service winner down the middle.
   Krajicek, the 27-year-old sister of 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, was coming off a 3-hour, 22-minute victory over U.S. wild card Sabrina Santamaria on Wednesday.
   Michaella Krajicek has been ranked as high as No. 30 in singles (2008) and No. 23 in doubles (2015). She is now No. 223 and No. 94, respectively.
   Min, ranked No. 158, will play her doubles partner, former Stanford star Kristie Ahn, not before 1:30 p.m. in today's quarterfinals (live streaming at usta.com).
   The 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) Ahn, who clinched Stanford's 2013 NCAA championship at No. 2 singles, routed sixth-seeded Tara Moore of Great Britain 6-2, 6-1.
   Also, qualifier Valeria Solovyeva of Russia ousted seventh-seeded Mayo Hibi of Japan 6-2, 6-2.
   Solovyeva reached the semifinals of the inaugural Gold River Challenger in 2012 at 19 years old and took last year off to earn a master's degree in sports and health science, graduating with honors.
   Hibi won the Gold River title in 2013 at 17.
   Solovyeva will face third-seeded An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium in tonight's featured match at 6:30. Mestach, the world's top junior in 2011, reached the final of last year's Stockton and Gold River Challengers. She did not play in last week's Stockton Challenger.
   In today's other quarterfinals, lucky loser Caroline Romeo of France will meet 17-year-old Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., and eighth-seeded Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan will play Elizaveta Ianchuk of Ukraine.
   The 434th-ranked Romeo stunned top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck, who won the Stockton title last week, on Wednesday in the first round.
   Here are links to the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lucky loser stuns top seed in Gold River Challenger

   Alison Van Uytvanck ran out of magic today.
   The 22-year-old Belgian played her fourth consecutive three-set singles match after dropping the second set today in the first round of the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger.
   This time, she lost.
   Van Uytvanck, seeded first, fell to lucky loser Caroline Romeo of France 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento area. Van Uytvanck converted only 47.9 percent of her first serves and committed 11 double faults.   
   Van Uytvanck also lost in the first round of doubles at Gold River on Tuesday after sweeping the singles and doubles titles in last week's $50,000 Stockton Challenger in sweltering heat.
   A French Open quarterfinalist last year, Van Uytvanck underwent ankle surgery in the spring and missed two months. She is ranked No. 116 after reaching a career-high No. 41 last October.
   The 434th-ranked Romeo, who turned 22 on Saturday, lost to Chanel Simmonds of South Africa on Monday in the final round of qualifying but advanced to the main draw because Melanie Oudin pulled out with an undisclosed illness.
   Meanwhile, 17-year-old Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., surprised fifth-seeded Jovana Jaksic of Serbia 6-3, 6-3. Kenin won the USTA Girls 18 Hardcourt National Championships in San Diego last August to earn a wild card into the U.S. Open, in which she lost to Mariana Duque-Marino in the first round.
   Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands wore down wild card Sabrina Santamaria, a former USC standout, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 6-2 in 3 hours, 22 minutes.
   Krajicek, 27, has won three singles and five doubles titles on the elite WTA tour. She climbed to career-high rankings of No. 30 in singles in 2008 and No. 23 in doubles last year.
$50,000 FSP GOLD RIVER WOMEN'S CHALLENGER
In Gold River, Calif.
At Gold River Racquet Club
First round
   Sofia Kenin, United States, def. Jovana Jaksic (5), Serbia, 6-3, 6-3.
   Priscilla Hon, Australia, def. Karina Kristina Vyrlan, Sacramento, 6-2, 6-3.
   Greet Minnen, Belgium, def. Freya Christie, Great Britain, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.
   Tara Moore (6), Great Britain, def. Laura Robson, Great Britain, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.
   Michaella Krajicek, Netherlands, def. Sabrina Santamaria, United States, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 6-2.
   Riko Sawayanagi, Japan, def. Alexandra Stevenson, United States,6-4, 6-0.
   Caroline Romeo, France, def. Alison Van Uytvanck (1), Belgium, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
   An-Sophie Mestach (3), Belgium, def. Cristiana Ferrando, Italy, 7-6 (6), 6-3.
   Valeria Solovyeva, Russia, def. Chanel Simmonds, South Africa, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
   Ellie Halbauer, United States, def. Lizette Cabrera, Australia, 6-4, 6-4.
   Elizaveta Ianchuk, Ukraine, def. Shiho Akita, Japan, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5.  
Doubles 
First round
   Shiho Akita, Japan, and Caroline Romeo, France, def. Deimante Bulatovaite, Lithuania, and Alina Soltanici, Moldova, 6-7 (6), 6-0 [10-4].
   Kristie Ahn and Grace Min, United States, def. Lizette Cabrera and Priscilla Hon, Australia, 6-2, 6-3.
   Isabella Kling, Orangevale, and Laura McGaffigan, Folsom, def. Freya Christie and Laura Robson (4), walkover.
Thursday's schedule
(Starting at noon)
Stadium
   An-Sophie Mestach (3), Belgium, vs. Riko Sawayanagi, Japan.
   Mayo Hibi (7), Japan, vs. Valeria Solovyeva, Russia.
   Greet Minnen, Belgium, vs. Sofia Kenin, United States.
   An-Sophie Mestach, Belgium, and Tara Moore (1), Great Britain, vs. Jacqueline Cako, United States, and Jovana Jaksic, Serbia (possible court change).
   Grace Min (2), United States, vs. Michaella Krajicek, Netherlands (not before 6:30 p.m.).
   Shiho Akita, Japan, and Caroline Romeo, France, vs. Isabella Kling, Orangevale, Calif., and Laura McGaffigan, Folsom, Calif.
Court 3
   Sabina Sharipova (8), Uzbekistan, vs. Pricilla Hon, Australia.
   Tara Moore (6), Great Britain, vs. Kristie Ahn, United States.
   Jamie Loeb, United States, and Chanel Simmonds (3), South Africa, vs. Yuki Kristina Chiang, United States, and Elizaveta Ianchuk, Ukraine.
Court 4
   Elizaveta Ianchuk, Ukraine, vs. Eri Hozumi, Japan.
   Caroline Romeo, France, vs. Ellie Halbauer, United States.

Venus survives test in Bank of the West Classic

Top-seeded Venus Williams beat Magda Linette of Poland
in three sets to reach the quarterfinals of the Bank of the
West Classic at Stanford. Photo by Paul Bauman
   STANFORD, Calif. -- Venus Williams appeared to be on her way to another comfortable victory over Magda Linette.
   But Linette had other ideas.
   After leading 6-3, 4-2, the top-seeded Williams battled to a 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-2 victory tonight in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   Williams also led 2-0 in the tiebreaker, but Linette won the next six points. Williams saved four set points to pull even at 6-6, but Linette hit an 84-mph service winner out wide and then converted her fifth set point with a forehand down-the-line winner.
   "She's such a fighter," Williams said of Linette, a 24-year-old Pole, in an on-court interview after the match. "Every time I thought the match was over, it wouldn't end. Credit to her for figuring out how to stay in the match."
   Williams, who won the Bank of the West title in 2000 and 2002, bolted to a 4-0 lead in the third set and held on from there.
   "I tried to get that third gear -- or fifth or sixth or whatever gear it is to get the win," said Venus Williams, who won the last of her seven Grand Slam singles titles in 2008 at Wimbledon.
   Williams had clobbered Linette 6-1, 6-2 in their only previous meeting, which came in the United States' 4-0 Fed Cup victory over Poland in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in February.
   The 36-year-old Williams is coming off a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon, the first time since she has advanced that far in a Grand Slam tournament since the 2010 U.S. Open. She made her WTA debut 22 years ago in the Bank of the West Classic when it was held at the Oakland Coliseum..
   "It's been a wonderful blessing to live my dream -- to chase this ball. And I'm not going to stop anytime soon," said Williams, eliciting a big cheer from the announced crowd of 1,912.
   Among the spectators was Serena Williams, a three-time Bank of the West champion who is not playing in the tournament this year.
   Venus Williams, ranked seventh, will play either CiCi Bellis, a 17-year-old wild card from neighboring Atherton, or qualifier Sachia Vickery from Boca Raton, Fla., on Friday night in the quarterfinals.
   Williams seeks her 50th career title. To win it in the Bank of the West Classic, she said, "would be special. I'd like to just keep advancing. I'm not going to put any pressure on myself to do any of that, but if I could do that, it would make it an even better year."
   During the day session, Zheng Saisai upset No. 7 seed Alize Cornet of France 6-4, 6-1. Zheng won the doubles title at Stanford last year with Chinese countrywoman Xu Yifan.   Zheng, 22, won the last five games and 11 of the last 13 against Cornet, who played in the Bank of the West Classic for the first time this year and joined No. 6 Jelena Ostapenko and No. 8 Varvara Lepchenko on the sideline.
   Cornet, a 26-year-old veteran, sat out February and March with bruised vertebrae but reached the third round at Wimbledon this month. She has beaten Serena Williams in their past three matches, including a third-round decision at Wimbledon in 2014 and most recently a retirement in the second round in Wuhan, China, that year.
   Zheng will play third-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain in the quarterfinals. Konta, an Australian Open semifinalist in January, dispatched Julia Boserup, a 24-year-old wild card from Newport Beach, Calif., 6-3, 6-1 in 61 minutes.
   Konta, ranked 18th, made her tournament debut after receiving a first-round bye.
   In an all-Japanese encounter, fifth-seeded Misaki Doi beat Nao Hibino 6-3, 6-4. Doi, a 5-foot-3 (1.59-meter) left-hander with surprising power, is coming off her career-best run in a Grand Slam tournament. She reached the fourth round at Wimbledon before falling to eventual runner-up Angelique Kerber.
   Doi had a match point against Kerber in the first round of this year's Australian Open, and the 28-year-old German left-hander went on to win her first Grand Slam title. 
   Hibino won the inaugural $50,000 Stockton Challenger last summer at age 20.
   Doi, 25, will meet the winner of Thursday's match between second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia and Poland's Urszula Radwanska, the younger sister of fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska.
   The 5-foot-3 Cibulkova, who got married on July 9 in Bratislava, defeated Agnieszka Radwanska to win the 2013 Bank of the West Classic. Radwanska withdrew from this year's tournament on July 8 with a right hand injury.
   In the first round of doubles, Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and Arina Rodionova of Australia defeated former Stanford stars Nicole Gibbs of Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area and Carol Zhao of Canada 6-4, 6-4. 
BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
At Stanford
Singles
Second round
   Saisai Zheng, China, def. Alize Cornet (7), France, 6-4, 6-1.
   Johanna Konta (3), Great Britain, def. Julia Boserup, United States, 6-3, 6-1.
   Misaki Doi (5), Japan, def. Nao Hibino, Japan, 6-3, 6-4.
   Venus Williams (1), United States, def. Magda Linette, Poland, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-2.
Doubles
First round
   Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia, and Arina Rodionova, Australia, def. Nicole Gibbs, United States, and Carol Zhao, Canada, 6-4, 6-4.
Quarterfinals
   Darija Jurak, Croatia, and Anastasia Rodionova (3), Australia, def. Kateryna Bondarenko and Olga Savchuk, Ukraine, 6-2, 6-4.
Thursday's schedule
Stadium
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Alison Riske, United States, vs. Ana Bogdan, Romania.
   Dominika Cibulkova (2), Slovakia, vs. Urszula Radwanska, Poland (not before 1 p.m.).
   CiCi Bellis, Atherton, vs. Sachia Vickery, United States.
   CoCo Vandeweghe (4), United States, vs. Nicole Gibbs, United States (not before 7 p.m.).
   Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Germany, and Taylor Townsend, United States, vs. Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend, United States.
Court 6
(Starting at 1:30 p.m.)
   Raquel Atawo, San Jose, and Abigail Spears (2), United States, vs. Julia Glushko, Israel, and Magda Linette, Poland.
   Xu Yifan and Zheng Saisai (1), China, vs. Johanna Konta, Great Britain, and Maria Sanchez, United States (not before 3 p.m.).

No. 4 seed Anderson retires from Gold River match

   Fourth-seeded Robin Anderson, who graduated from UCLA last year after a storied career, retired from her first-round match on Tuesday in the $50,0000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger.
   Anderson, only 5-foot-3 (1.61 meters), quit with a shoulder injury after leading Eri Hozumi of Japan 3-2 in the first set at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento area.
   Hozumi's countrywoman Mayo Hibi, seeded seventh, dismissed Jamie Loeb of Ossining, N.Y., 6-2, 6-3.
   Hibi, who was born in Japan but grew up in Irvine, Calif., won the 2013 Gold River Challenger at age 17. Loeb, a product of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York, turned pro after winning the NCAA singles title last year as a North Carolina sophomore.
   Kristie Ahn, who played No. 2 singles on Stanford's 2013 NCAA championship team, topped Renata Zarazua of Mexico 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
   Second-seeded Grace Min of Boca Raton, Fla., beat Claire Liu, a 16-year-old wild card from Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles area, 6-4, 6-4.
   At Wimbledon this month, Liu reached the girls singles quarterfinals and won the girls doubles title with countrywoman Usue Maitane Arconada.   
$50,000 FSP GOLD RIVER WOMEN'S CHALLENGER
In Gold River, Calif.
At Gold River Racquet Club
Singles
Final-round qualifying
   Chanel Simmonds (3), South Africa, def. Caroline Romeo (5), France, 6-4, 6-0.
   Alexandra Stevenson, United States, def. Alexandra Sanford, United States, 6-4, 6-4.
   Lizette Cabrera, Australia, def. Maegan Manasse, United States, 6-4, 7-6 (7).
   Valeria Solovyeva (1), Russia, def. Tori Kinard (8), United States,4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
First round
   Eri Hozumi, Japan, def. Robin Anderson (4), United States, 2-3, retired.
   Mayo Hibi (7), Japan, def. Jamie Loeb, United States, 6-2, 6-3.
   Sabina Sharipova (8), Uzbekistan, def. Storm Sanders, Australia, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
   Grace Min (2), United States,def. Claire Liu, United States,6-4, 6-4.
Doubles
First round
   An-Sophie Mestach, Belgium, and Tara Moore (1), Great Britain, def. Alexandra Facey and Kat Facey, Cameron Park, Calif.,  6-1, 6-4.
   Jacqueline Cako, United States, and Jovana Jaksic, Serbia, def. Ashley Mackey, United States, and Karina Kristina Vyrlan, Sacramento, 6-1, 6-3.
   Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey (2), United States, def. Greet Minnen and Alison Van Uytvanck, Belgium, 6-4, 6-1.
   Jamie Loeb, United States, and Chanel Simmonds (3), South Africa, def. Caroline Dolehide and Sofia Kenin, United States, 6-4, 6-3.
   Yuki Kristina Chiang, United States, and Elizaveta Ianchuk, Ukraine, def. Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria, United States, 6-2, 6-7 (3) [10-5].
Wednesday's schedule
(Starting at 10 a.m.)
Stadium
    Jovana Jaksic (5), Serbia, vs. Sofia Kenin, United States.
   Alison Van Uytvanck (1), Belgium, vs. Caroline Romeo, France (not before 11:30 a.m.).
   An-Sophie Mestach (3), Belgium, vs. Cristiana Ferrando, Italy (not before 1 p.m.).
    Robin Anderson and Maegan Manasse, United States, vs. Shiho Akita, Japan, and Caroline Romeo, France (not before 2:30 p.m., possible court change).
   Isabella Kling, Orangevale, and Laura McGaffigan, Folsom, vs. Freya Christie and Laura Robson (4), Great Britain (not before 4:30 p.m.).
Court 3
   Priscilla Hon, Australia, vs. Karina Kristina Vyrlan, Sacramento.
   Tara Moore (6), Great Britain, vs. Laura Robson, Great Britain (not before 11:30 a.m.).
   Michaella Krajicek, Netherlands, vs. Sabrina Santamaria, United States (not before 1 p.m.).
   Kristie Ahn and Grace Min, United States, vs. Lizette Cabrera and Priscilla Hon, Australia (not before 2:30 p.m.).
Court 4
   Greet Minnen, Belgium, vs. Freya Christie, Great Britain.
   Alexandra Stevenson, United States, vs. Riko Sawayanagi, Japan (not before 11:30 a.m.).
   Chanel Simmonds, South Africa, vs. Valeria Solovyeva, Russia (not before 1 p.m.).
Court 5
   Lizette Cabrera, Australia, vs. Ellie Halbauer, United States.
   Elizaveta Ianchuk, Ukraine, vs. Shiho Akita, Japan (not before 11:30 a.m.).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bellis, 17, overcomes scary injury to upset seed

Playing in her home  tournament, CiCi Bellis upset No. 6
seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia one day after getting
  struck in the left eye with an overhead in doubles.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   STANFORD, Calif. -- After suffering a frightening injury in doubles on Monday, CiCi Bellis didn't know if she could play in tonight's featured match in her home tournament.
   The teenager not only played, she pulled off one of her biggest victories in a professional tournament.
   Bellis, a 17-year-old wild card from neighboring Atherton, shocked sixth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   Bellis, who lives a five-minute drive from Stanford, won the last four games of the first set and the last five games of the second set. After Ostapenko slugged a forehand way long on Bellis' second match point, Bellis looked stunned, as if to say, "What have I done?" and pointed to her head to indicate mental toughness. 
   The hard-hitting Ostapenko -- the runner-up in Doha, a WTA premier-level tournament like the Bank of the West Classic, in February -- is ranked No. 38 in the world at 19 years old.
   Bellis, an amateur ranked No. 203, recorded her third win over a top-40 player. She defeated No. 13 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the 2014 U.S. Open and No. 32 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in Miami last year.
   It was also Bellis' first victory in her home tournament. She debuted in the Bank of the West Classic last year and lost to Misaki Doi of Japan in the opening round.
   In a first-round doubles loss on Monday, Bellis was clocked in the left eye by an overhead from Olga Savchuk of Ukraine.
   "I think it was actually one of the scariest moments of my life," Bellis, who cried during her post-match on-court interview when discussing the injury, calmly told reporters later. "She was on top of the net, and she went right at my face. It hit me right in the eye. I have this huge cut over my eye.
   "Last night, it was so swollen. When she hit me, I could not see out of my eye for probably 10 seconds. I thought I was blind. So just to be able to come out and play today was unbelievable. (I'm) so lucky."
   Bellis did not need stitches and said her vision was fine in the match. She has a good chance to reach the quarterfinals, in which she could meet top seed and two-time champion Venus Williams.
   Bellis will play qualifier Sachia Vickery, a 21-year-old American, in the second round for the second consecutive week on Thursday. Bellis won 6-4, 6-0 in the $50,000 Stockton Challenger en route to the semifinals.
   Bellis attended the Bank of the West Classic annually as a child.
   "This is by far the closest tournament to me," she said. "It's my home tournament. I live literally five minutes away, so to sleep in my own bed during the tournament and go home every single night is the best feeling of all time. I love this tournament so much."
   Asked how many family members and friends she had in the announced crowd of 1,483, Bellis cracked, "Probably half."           
   The home-schooled Bellis, who will be a high school senior, said she will receive her SAT results in a couple of days and hopes to commit to Stanford next week. She said last week during the Stockton Challenger, however, that she will turn pro instead if she reaches the top 100 by the fall of 2017.
Jelena Ostapenko complained about the conditions, the
balls and her preparation, and she was unimpressed
with Bellis' game. Photo by Paul Bauman
 Bellis, the world's top junior in 2014, evened her career record against Ostapenko, the 2014 Wimbledon girls champion, at 1-1. Ostapenko coasted 6-3, 6-2 in the final round of qualifying at last year's U.S. Open. 
   The 5-foot-10 (1.77-meter) Ostapenko has much more power than the 5-foot-7 (1.68-meter) Bellis, but Bellis was more consistent than Ostapenko on a cool night at Stanford.
   "It's such a great match for me coming back in both sets, especially the second. I just thought to myself, 'You have to stay with her on every single point and try as hard as you can.'
   "I knew I had to serve well today because she was attacking my serve last time. I was just trying to attack her serve as much as I could and get the point started in my favor." 
   Ostapenko committed nine double faults, including seven in the second set. She later complained about the conditions, the balls and her preparation, and she was unimpressed with Bellis' game.
   On the conditions: "Everything is so weird here. It's my first time here. The balls are Penn, which are never played anywhere, maybe only the American series. Not amazing conditions."
   On the balls: "They are so hard, and they are totally different from other balls, so I don't like them."
   On her preparation: "I just came like a couple of days ago. Jet lag is still on, so it's difficult to get used to this time (zone). During the night, I wake up like five times, so I cannot sleep, really. You have to (arrive sooner) because two days are not enough. But I didn't have a chance because I played semis in mixed doubles in Wimbledon."
   On Bellis' game: "Nothing special. I think she's more of a defensive player. I just played one of my worst matches this year, so that's the difference."
   Earlier today, Pittsburgh native Alison Riske upset eighth-seeded Varvara Lepchenko, an American citizen from Uzbekistan, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
   Lepchenko, a 30-year-old left-hander ranked No. 52, had reached the Bank of the West semifinals the past two years and the quarterfinals in 2013.
   Riske, 26, advanced to the Bank of the West quarterfinals last year in her tournament main-draw debut. She defeated Carla Suarez Navarro, ranked 10th at the time, in the second round for her second career top-10 win. The other was against No. 10 Petra Kvitova in the 2013 U.S. Open. Riske, ranked No. 78, is 2-13 overall against top-10 players.
   Julia Boserup, a 24-year-old wild card from Newport Beach, Calif., making her tournament main-draw debut, continued her strong play with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 18-year-old Naomi Osaka of Japan. Both are hard hitters at 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters).
   Boserup was coming off her breakthrough tournament, a third-round appearance at Wimbledon. A dual citizen of the United States and Denmark, she won the $25,000 Redding Challenger in 2011 and was the runner-up to Olivia Rogowska of Australia in the $50,000 Sacramento Challenger in 2014.
   Osaka reached the third round of this year's Australian Open, as a qualifier in her Grand Slam main-draw debut, and the French Open, in which she stunned No. 6 seed and 2014 runner-up Simona Halep. Osaka skipped Wimbledon with a right knee injury.
   Osaka, who has a Haitian father and Japanese mother, qualified for the 2014 Bank of the West Classic and shocked 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur in the first round before losing to eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany in the second round.
   Maria Sanchez, who was born and raised in Modesto, and Johanna Konta of Great Britain beat Xinyun Han and Chen Liang of China 7-5, 7-6 (4) in the first round of doubles.
BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
At Stanford
Singles
First round
   Urszula Radwanska, Poland, def. Kateryna Bondarenko, Ukraine, 6-4, 7-5.
   Julia Boserup, United States, def. Naomi Osaka, Japan, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
   Magda Linette, Poland, def. Kristyna Pliskova, Czech Republic, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.
   Alison Riske, United States, def. Varvara Lepchenko (8), United States, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
   CiCi Bellis, Atherton, Calif., def. Jelena Ostapenko (6), Latvia, 6-4, 6-4.
   Sachia Vickery, United States, def. Elitsa Kostova, Bulgaria, 6-1, 6-2.
Doubles
First round
   Johanna Konta, Great Britain, and Maria Sanchez, United States, def. Xinyun Han and Chen Liang, China, 7-5, 7-6 (4).
   Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend, United States, def. Misaki Doi and Nao Hibino, Japan, 6-2, 2-6 [12-10].
   Yifan Xu and Saisai Zheng (1), China, def. Yuliya Beygelzimer, Ukraine, and Kristyna Pliskova, Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-1.
Wednesday's schedule
Stadium
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Alize Cornet (7), France, vs. Saisai Zheng, China.
   Johanna Konta (3), Great Britain, vs. Julia Boserup, United States (not before 1 p.m.).
   Misaki Doi (5), Japan, vs. Nao Hibino, Japan.
   Venus Williams (1), United States, vs. Magda Linette, Poland (not before 7 p.m.)
   Darija Jurak, Croatia, and Anastasia Rodionova (3), Australia, vs. Kateryna Bondarenko and Olga Savchuk, Ukraine.
Court 6
(Starting at 3:30 p.m.)
   Nicole Gibbs, United States, and Carol Zhao, Canada, vs. Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia, and Arina Rodionova, Australia.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cardinal rules as Gibbs tops Zhao in Bank of the West

Nicole Gibbs follows through on a forehand during last
week's Stockton Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Nicole Gibbs and Carol Zhao met for the first time tonight in an appropriate setting.
   Playing on their former home court at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium. Gibbs, 23, of Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area defeated Zhao, a 21-year-old wild card from Canada, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic.
   "Disappointed but not discouraged," Zhao tweeted. "This will always be one of my favourite courts to play on. I'll be back!"
   Both Gibbs and Zhao are undersized, played No. 1 for Stanford, led the Cardinal to an NCAA team title and turned pro after their junior year.
   The 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) Gibbs, however, had the more celebrated collegiate career. She won the NCAA singles title in 2012 and 2013 and the doubles crown in 2012 with Mallory Burdette.
   The 5-foot-5 (1.55-meter) Zhao reached the NCAA singles final as a sophomore last year, losing to Jamie Loeb of North Carolina.
   Gibbs, ranked No. 71, will face No. 4 seed CoCo Vandeweghe of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego region, on Thursday at 7 p.m. Vandeweghe, the 2012 runner-up to Serena Williams as a lucky loser, received a first-round bye.
   CiCi Bellis, a 17-year-old wild card from nearby Atherton, will take on No. 6 seed Jelena Ostapenko, a 19-year-old Latvian, on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
   Ostapenko, ranked No. 38, and Bellis, No. 203, have met once. Ostapenko won 6-3, 6-2 in the final round of qualifying for last year's U.S. Open.
   In 2014, Ostapenko won the Wimbledon girls title and Bellis shocked No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the women's main draw in the U.S. Open. Also, Bellis ended the year as the top junior in the world.
BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
At Stanford
Singles
First round
   Saisai Zheng, China, def. Maria Mateas, United States, 7-5, 6-1.
   Nao Hibino, Japan, def. Veronica Cepede Royg, Paraguay, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
   Alize Cornet (7), France, def. Jennifer Brady, United States, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
   Ana Bogdan, Romania, def. Asia Muhammad, United States, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.
   Nicole Gibbs, United States, def. Carol Zhao, Canada, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
   Misaki Doi (5), Japan, def. Xinyun Han, China, 6-0, 2-6, 6-2.
Doubles
First round
   Darija Jurak, Croatia, and Anastasia Rodionova (3), Australia, def. Julia Boserup, United States, and Elitsa Kostova, Bulgaria, 6-2, 6-2.
   Kveta Peschke, Czech Republic, and Anna-Lena Groenefeld (4), Germany, def. Veronica Cepede Royg, Pagaguay, and Maria Irigoyen, Argentina, 6-4, 3-6 [11-9].
   Kateryna Bondarenko and Olga Savchuk, Ukraine, def. CiCi Bellis, Atherton, Calif., and Jennifer Brady, United States, 6-2, 6-3.
Tuesday's schedule
(Beginning at 11 a.m.)
Stadium 
   Julia Boserup, United States, vs. Naomi Osaka, Japan.
   Kristyna Pliskova, Czech Republic, vs. Magda Linette, Poland (not before 1 p.m.).
   Alison Riske, United States, vs. Varvara Lepchenko (8), United States.
   CiCi Bellis, Atherton, Calif., vs. Jelena Ostapenko (6), Latvia (not before 7 p.m.).
   Sachia Vickery, United States, vs. Elitsa Kostova, Bulgaria.
Court 6
   Urszula Radwanska, Poland, vs. Kateryna Bondarenko, Ukraine.
   Xinyun Han and Chen Liang, China, vs. Johanna Konta, Great Britain, and Maria Sanchez, United States.
   Misaki Doi and Nao Hibino, Japan, vs. Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend, United States.
   Yifan Xu and Saisai Zheng (1), China, vs. Yuliya Beygelzimer, Ukraine, and Kristyna Pliskova, Czech Republic.

Cal star Manasse upsets seed in Gold River qualifying

Cal star Maegan Manasse beat No. 4 seed Jacqueline Cako today
in the second round of qualifying for the $50,000 FSP Gold River
Women's Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- Cal star Maegan Manasse upset No. 4 seed Jacqueline Cako 6-3, 6-4 today in an all-American matchup in the second round of qualifying for the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger.
   Manasse, from Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area, reached the singles round of 16 and the doubles final with Denise Starr in the NCAA Championships in Tulsa, Okla., in May as a junior.
   Manasse will play Lizette Cabrera of Australia on Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento region for a berth in the main draw.
Cabrera ousted No. 7 seed Caroline Dolehide, 17, of Hinsdale, Ill., 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-2.
   Also advancing were No. 1 seed Valeria Solovyeva of Russia and unseeded American Alexandra Stevenson, the 35-year-old daughter of basketball legend Julius Erving.
   Solovyeva, who will play No. 8 Tori Kinard of the United States, advanced to the semifinals of the inaugural Gold River Challenger in 2012 at 19 years old. She took 2015 off to earn a master's degree in sports and health science, graduating with honors.
   In 1999, the 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) Stevenson became the first female qualifier to reach the Wimbledon semifinals. She climbed to a career-high No. 18 in 2002 before shoulder problems derailed her career.
   Stevenson will face 17-year-old Alexandra Sanford of Westerville, Ohio. Sanford, who plans to attend North Carolina in the fall, gained the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, Mich., as a qualifier in February.
$50,000 FSP GOLD RIVER WOMEN'S CHALLENGER
In Gold River, Calif.
At Gold River Racquet Club
Singles
Second-round qualifying
   Chanel Simmonds (3), South Africa, def. Michaela Gordon, Saratoga, Calif., 6-1, 6-3.
   Maegan Manasse, United States, def. Jacqueline Cako (4), 6-3, 6-4.
   Alexandra Sanford, United States, def. Nicole Frenkel (6), United States, 6-3, 7-5.
   Caroline Romeo (5), France, def. Caitlin Whoriskey, United States, 6-7 97), 7-5, 6-3.
   Valeria Solovyeva (1), Russia, def. Ashley Kratzer, United States, 6-2, 6-2.
   Tori Kinard (8), United States, def. Camille Favero, Sacramento, Calif., 6-1, 6-3.
   Alexandra Stevenson, United States, def. Yuki Kristina Chiang, United States, 5-7, 6-1, 6-0.
   Lizette Cabrera, Australia, def. Caroline Dolehide (7), United States, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-2.
Tuesday's schedule
Starting at 10 a.m.
Stadium
   Maegan Manasse, United States, vs. Lizette Cabrera, Australia (final-round qualifying).
   Jamie Loeb, United States, vs. Mayo Hibi (7), Japan (not before 11:30 a.m.).
   Claire Liu, United States, vs. Grace Min (2), United States (not before 1 p.m.).
   Jamie Loeb, United States, and Chanel Simmonds (3), South Africa, vs. Caroline Dolehide and Sofia Kenin, United States (not before 2:30 p.m.).
Court 3
   Chanel Simmonds (3), South Africa, vs. Caroline Romeo (5), France (final-round qualifying).
   Eri Hozumi, Japan, vs. Robin Anderson, United States (not before 11:30 a.m.).
   An-Sophie Mestach, Belgium, and Tara Moore (1), Great Britain, vs. Alexandra Facey and Kat Facey, Cameron Park, Calif. (not before 1 p.m.).
   Greet Minnen and Alison Van Uytvanck, Belgium, vs. Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey (2), United States (not before 2:30 p.m.).
Court 4
   Alexandra Stevenson, United States, vs. Alexandra Sanford, United States (final-round qualifying).
   Sabina Sharipova (8), Uzbekistan, vs. Storm Sanders, Australia (not before 11:30 a.m.).
   Ashley Mackey, United States, and Karina Kristina Vyrlan, Sacramento, Calif., vs. Jacqueline Cako, United States, and Jovana Jaksic, Serbia (not before 1 p.m.).
   Yuki Kristina Chiang, United States, and Elizaveta Ianchuk, Ukraine, vs. Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria, United States (not before 2:30 p.m.).
Court 5
   Valeria Solovyeva (1), Russia, vs. Tori Kinard, United States (final-round qualifying).
   Renata Zarazua, Mexico, vs. Kristie Ahn, United States (not before 11:30 a.m.).

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Belgian waffles again but takes 50K Stockton title

Alison Van Uytvanck, left, defeated Anastasia Pivovarova 6-3, 3-6, 6-2
today to win the $50,000 Stockton Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   STOCKTON, Calif. -- You don't reach the French Open quarterfinals without being mentally tough.
   Alison Van Uytvanck again exhibited that aspect of her game -- in addition to her powerful serve, punishing groundstrokes, strong return of serve and deft drop shot -- today to win the second annual University of the Pacific $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challenger.
   Dropping the second set for the third consecutive match, the third-seeded Van Uytvanck pulled out a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory over unseeded Anastasia Pivovarova at the new $4 million Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center.
   Van Uytvanck, a 22-year-old Belgian redhead, reeled off the last four games of the match. She said her streak of third-set recoveries "was good to test my mental toughness, and I proved that I'm pretty tough. So I need to keep up that direction and try to play as well in Sacramento."
   Van Uytvanck very well could win her second title in two weeks when she debuts in the $50,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger. Second-round qualifying matches in the fifth annual tournament at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento area begin today at 10 a.m., and the main draw starts Tuesday.
   The top three Gold River seeds, in order, are Van Uytvanck, American Grace Min and Belgium's An-Sophie Mestach, last year's runner-up in Stockton and Sacramento. At 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters), Van Uytvanck has much more power than the 5-foot-4 (1.63-meter) Min or the 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Mestach.
   The top two Stockton seeds -- former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs and Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, respectively -- and Stockton semifinalist CiCi Bellis, 17, of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area will play in the $753,000 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford instead of in Sacramento. Pivovarova, meanwhile, will take the week off.
Alison Van Uytvanck, a French Open quarter-
finalist last year, won the last four games
of today's final. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Van Uytvanck's biggest obstacle in Sacramento might be fatigue after a long week in sweltering Stockton. She also won the doubles title with Pliskova, the 24-year-old twin of 16th-ranked Karolina Pliskova, on Saturday to earn $1,393 on top of her $7,600 check for taking the singles crown.
   The Stockton singles title is the 11th of Van Uytvanck's career, her second biggest after a $125,000 tournament in Taipei in November 2013 and her first since then.
   Van Uytvanck rose only nine places in the singles world rankings to No. 116 with the Stockton crown. Pivovarova, a 26-year-old Russian, jumped 29 spots to No. 184 and earned $4,053.
   Both Van Uytvanck and Pivovarova are rebounding from injuries after reaching the top 50 and 100, respectively.
   Van Uytvanck hurt her right ankle in a tournament the week before last year's French Open yet advanced to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, where she pocketed $298,439. Van Uytvanck continued to play, reaching a career-high No. 41 last October, until the injury finally forced her to stop. She underwent surgery this past spring for an impingement and missed two months.
   Pivovarova reached the third round of the 2010 French Open as a qualifier two weeks before turning 20 and climbed to a career-high No. 93 in 2011.
    But the 6-foot (1.82-meter) Pivovarova has a long history of physical problems. She retired from pro tennis in September 2012 because of mononucleosis, took a government job in Moscow renting and selling property, and returned to the circuit in March 2014. Pivovarova also has suffered a torn abdominal muscle, a broken wrist, back trouble and shoulder and elbow injuries.
   The first career meeting between Van Uytvanck and Pivovarova was a ragged, 2-hour, 2-minute affair on a breezy day with temperatures in the 80s. Although both players displayed impressive shot-making, they also committed many errors. Long rallies were rare.
Anastasia Pivovarova, a former top-100 player,
has a long history of physical problems. Photo
by Paul Bauman 
   The players' serving also was erratic. They combined for 13 double faults, eight by Pivovarova. Of the four games Pivovarova lost on her serve in the match, she committed at least one double fault in three of them. Van Uytvanck had five aces and Pivovarova one.
   Pivovarova started slowly for the second straight match, falling behind 5-1. She had two break points with Van Uytvanck serving for the first set at 5-3, but Van Uytvanck saved them with sizzling forehand passing shot down the line and a feathery backhand drop shot.
   Pivovarova survived one set point, but Van Uytvanck closed out the set with a service winner and then an ace down the middle.
   In the second set, Pivovarova registered the only break to lead 5-3. The game went to deuce eight times, and Van Uytvanck escaped four break points before double-faulting on the fifth one.
   With Pivovarova serving for the set, Van Uytvanck had two break points, but Pivovarova saved them with two forehand cross-court winners and took the set when Van Uytvanck's forehand return of a second serve sailed long.
   After the second set, Van Uytvanck took her customary bathroom break.
   "She wasn't giving me any points (in the marathon game), so I had to fight for it and was making too many mistakes," Van Uytvanck lamented. "I was a bit tired after that and was like, yeah, I need to get off the court. I need to relax a bit, and that's what helped me get the third (set)."
   So did making the lanky Pivovarova run.
   "Her movement is weaker (than other parts of her game)," Van Uytvanck said. "She has really good, clean shots when she can hit like right there, but if she has to move, she's making some mistakes."
   Van Uytvanck broke for 4-2 in the third set on a backhand passing shot down the line and at 5-2 when Pivovarova slugged a backhand long.
   "It was a really tough match, and I thought it was a pretty high level," Pivovarova said. "I think it was higher than a (typical) $50,000 final, so I'm happy with my performance, but a little bad luck (with some shots barely out) and Alison played really well at the end, so she deserved to win."