Monday, July 31, 2017

Rare walkover gives Anisimova, 15, her first pro title

Amanda Anisimova, a potential superstar from Hallandale Beach, Fla., won her
first professional title when Ajla Tomljanovic withdrew from the final of the
$60,000 Sacramento Challenger with a shoulder injury. Photo by Rob Vomund
   GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- Yes, it was anticlimactic.
   Still, it could be historic.
   Fifteen-year-old Amanda Anisimova, a potential superstar from Hallandale Beach, Fla., won her first professional title on Sunday when Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic (pronounced Eye-la Tom-lee-on-o-vich) withdrew from the final of the $60,000 FSP Gold River Women's Challenger with a right shoulder injury.
   Anisimova had been 0-3 in finals, all on clay this year. She said the title at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento area "means a lot. I was in two different (U.S.) finals before, $80,000 and $60,000. I was pretty unhappy that I lost both of those, but I came in here wanting to get my first title. I'm just really happy I finally got it. Maybe this will give me some more confidence and I can win next week, too."
   Anisimova, who will head to Lexington, Ky., for the $60,000 Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships, admitted that the walkover made the title less satisfying.
   "Yeah, I guess a little bit because I didn't earn it and we didn't have the match," she said. "At the same time, I had a couple tough matches. I played some really good players, so it feels pretty good that I got past that."
   Anisimova won three-setters against qualifier Chanel Simmonds, a left-hander from South Africa, in the quarterfinals and second-seeded Kristie Ahn, a former Stanford star based in Orlando, Fla., in the semifinals.
   Anisimova turned pro last September shortly after turning 15 and made her Grand Slam main-draw debut in May at the French Open. She became the youngest player to compete at Roland Garros since France's Alize Cornet also was 15 in 2005. Anisimova, who was profiled in The New York Times before the tournament, lost in the opening round to Kurumi Nara of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
   The right-handed Tomljanovic, a former top-50 player, underwent surgery on her right shoulder in February 2016 and missed the rest of the year. She had treatment on the shoulder twice during her 6-4, 6-0 victory over eighth seed and defending champion Sofia Kenin, 18, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., in the semifinals on Saturday night. Kenin took a medical timeout for a left calf injury after Tomljanovic held serve for 2-0 in the second set.
   The final was going to be an enticing first-time meeting between tall power players. The 24-year-old Tomljanovic is 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters), one inch (2.54 centimeters) taller than Anisimova. Both were unseeded.
   Missy Malool said the walkover is only the second she has experienced in a final in her 21 years as a USTA on-site supervisor. Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia pulled out against Laura Granville, another ex-Stanford star, in a $50,000 clay-court tournament in Charlottesville, Va., in 2006 with a leg injury.
    "Right before the singles final, she came to me in tears and said she couldn't play," Malool recalled. "She walked out and spoke to the crowd, and everybody understood."
   Cibulkova, now 28, is ranked No. 11 after reaching a career-high No. 4 in March.
    Anisimova learned of Tomljanovic's withdrawal at about noon but stayed at the club until after the 5 p.m. doubles final to receive her trophy. Helping her celebrate were her Russian parents, Konstantin Anisimov and Olga, and her new coach, Henner Nehles, a German-born former UNLV star.
   Anisimova, a native of Freehold Township, N.J., speaks Russian at home but has never been to her parents' homeland.
   She soared from No. 250 in the world to No. 188 to become the youngest woman by far in the top 200. Next are three 17-year-olds: No. 129 Kayla Day of Santa Barbara, Calif., No. 147 Sofya Zhuk of Russia, No. 153 Destanee Aiava of Australia and No. 167 Bianca Andreescu of Canada.
   Anisimova beat Day 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of the Gold River Challenger.
   Grace Kim remains the youngest player to win a tournament on the USTA Pro Circuit. She was 13 years, 8 months and 16 days when she triumphed in Flemington, N.J., in 1982.
   Tomljanovic jumped from No. 270 to No. 228. She left the Gold River Racquet Club early to begin treatment at Stanford, the site of this week's Bank of the West Classic in the major leagues of women's tennis.
   A quarterfinalist at Stanford two years ago, Tomljanovic is scheduled to play 2012 runner-up CoCo Vandeweghe, seeded sixth and ranked 24th, in the first round on Tuesday or Wednesday.
   Anisimova took home $9,119, but that's likely pocket change for her. When asked if she has endorsement contracts, Anisimova said, "Um, I'm sponsored by Nike and Babolat, but I'd rather not say ... for personal reasons."
   Tomljanovic collected $4,863.
Giuliana Olmos, left, from Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Desirae
Krawczyk won the doubles title. Photo by Rob Vomund
   In the doubles final, second-seeded Desirae Krawczyk from Palm Desert, Calif., and Giuliana Olmos from Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area routed top-seeded Jovana Jaksic of Serbia and Vera Lapko of Belarus 6-1, 6-2.
   It was the fifth and biggest ITF (minor-league) title for Krawczyk and Olmos together, all this year. Olmos, a 24-year-old former USC All-American, plays for Mexico. Krawczyk, a 23-year-old left-hander, starred at Arizona State.
   Serbian Vlade Divac, the general manager of the NBA's Sacramento Kings, attended the doubles final.
   Here are the complete Sacramento singles and doubles draws.

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