Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ovrootsky, 12, wins girls 18s in Rio del Oro tourney

Vivian Ovrootsky has an "unbelievable" backhand, runner-up Shirley Hall
said. Photo by Paul Bauman
 SACRAMENTO, Calif.
-- It was hard to tell who was the 12-year-old and who was the 17-year-old in the girls 18 singles final of the Rio del Oro Junior Championships.
   Vivian Ovrootsky, 12, of San Jose is a compact 5-foot-5 3/4 (1.67 meters) and 125 pounds (56.7 kilograms). Shirley Hall, a 17-year-old Chico resident, is a slight 5-3 (1.6 meters) and 115 pounds (52.2 kilograms).
   The number that really matters, though, is two. That's Ovrootsky's national ranking in the 12s. She's also No. 8 in the 14s.
   Playing in the 18s of a tournament for the first time, the unseeded Ovrootsky wore down the fifth-seeded Hall 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Saturday at the Rio del Oro Racquet Club.
   "It was an easy decision," Ovrootsky said of playing the 18s. "I've been playing a lot of national tournaments, so I said, I'll play the 18s in my section."
   Ovrootsky has won two gold balls and one silver ball, all in the 12s. She swept the singles and doubles titles in the USTA Winter Nationals in Tucson, Ariz., in January and was the runner-up in the USTA Hardcourt Nationals last August in Alpharetta, Ga.
   Ovrootsky, who will turn 13 in July, put her Rio del Oro title in perspective.
   "It's really nice to win the 18s, but I still have a long way to go," she said. "I'll have plenty more chances to win the 18s in tournaments down the road."
Hall will be a guaranteed walk-on at UC Davis in the fall. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Both players survived long semifinals on Saturday morning, but Hall's was longer. Ovrootsky topped third-seeded Zlata Uzdenova of Granite Bay 6-4, 7-5. Hall overcame Margherita Andreassi of Santa Rosa 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2.
   Ovrootsky had about 90 minutes between matches and Hall about an hour. Fortunately for them, the weather was unseasonably cool. Still, both players said fatigue was a factor.
   "Even though I didn't have my 'A' game, I fought through it and didn't let my emotions get me down," Ovrootsky said.
   Hall wasn't at her best, either, but it might not have made a difference.
   "Her backhand is unbelievable," conceded Hall, who will be a guaranteed walk-on at UC Davis in the fall. "Anywhere on the court, she can counterpunch and do a winner.
   "We had a close first set, and I got a little tired. Then I got more tired, she played better, and I started making a lot more unforced errors."  
   Ovrootsky was born in Los Gatos (near San Jose), but her father, Val, is from Ukraine, and her mother, Lea, is from Estonia. They work for a credit union and financial company, respectively.
   Ovrootsky said power is her biggest strength.
   "At age 12, a lot of girls don't have as much power as I do. I would say I'm consistent with it as well," she offered.
   The other singles finals in the boys and girls 18s, 16s and 14s tournament are scheduled for today at 9 a.m.
Priya Nelson, 11, reached the girls 16 final. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   In the boys 18s, third-seeded Stevie Gould of Corte Madera will face fourth-seeded Andre Xiao of Saratoga.
   Gould, a 16-year-old left-hander, beat top-seeded Issa Yoshida of Campbell 6-3, 6-4.
   "We started off holding serve," noted Gould, who's ranked No. 2 in the 16s and No. 13 in the 18s in NorCal, "and it was tough to get a break. Then I got a lead in the first set. In the second set, he started serve-and-volleying -- he's probably got the best hands in Northern California -- and it was all I could do to hold on and weather the storm."
   Gould, who's not related to legendary Stanford coach Dick Gould, and Yoshida are close friends and frequent doubles partners.
   "He's a really good player," said Yoshida, 17. "You have to be on your 'A' game to have a chance to win. My first serve didn't really work for me today. My first-service percentage was pretty low. He kept me behind the baseline. He hits a heavy ball, and it was tough for me to come in, which is what I like to do."
   Xiao downed second-seeded Nitzan Ricklis of Sunnyvale 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
   In the girls 16 final, top-seeded Gabriela Tevez of San Jose will face unseeded Priya Nelson of Sacramento.
   Tevez defeated unseeded Canela Luna of Rocklin 1-6, 6-3, 5-2, default. Luna accidentally drilled Tevez in the head with the ball while intending to hit it into the net in frustration.
   Nelson, 11, beat unseeded Tiffany Boudagian of South San Francisco 6-1, 6-0 after losing to her 6-0, 6-1 in their only previous meeting two years ago in Fremont.
   "I knew what to do this time, and I wasn't intimidated," said Nelson, wearing her trademark Roger Federer cap autographed by Stan Wawrinka. "I wanted to move her and try to hit deep. She tried to hit winners, so I just tried to be patient. ... "
   Nelson's 15-year-old brother, Ravi, will take on top-seeded Milad Shafaie of San Carlos in the 16s final. Ravi Nelson, seeded fifth, outlasted unseeded Herrick Legaspi of Sacramento 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.

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