Monday, January 15, 2018

S.F. native Querrey dominates Lopez in Aussie Open

Sam Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, beat
Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 today in the first round
of the Australian Open. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Sam Querrey, coming off the best year of his career, got off to a strong start in the Australian Open today.   The 30-year-old San Francisco native, ranked and seeded 13th, dismissed Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in Melbourne. Lopez, ranked No. 38 at age 36, had been 6-3 against Querrey.
   Querrey, 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), blasted 28 aces against four double faults. He won 84 percent of the points on his first serve (39 of 46) and 65 percent on his second delivery (21 of 32).
   A semifinalist at Wimbledon and quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open last year, Querrey is scheduled to play 80th-ranked Marton Fucsovics of Hungary on Wednesday (PST). Fucsovics, the 2010 Wimbledon boys champion, defeated Radu Albot of Moldova 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.
   Querrey, who now lives in Santa Monica in the Los Angeles area, has a good chance to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in his 12th attempt. If he does, he could meet second seed and defending champion Roger Federer.
   No. 22 seed Milos Raonic loomed in the third round, but the 2016 Wimbledon runner-up lost to Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-7 (7), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7). Raonic, who was hampered by injuries last year, fell to 0-2 in 2018.
   On the women's side, 20th-seeded Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic beat wild card and former Stanford star Kristie Ahn 6-1, 7-5.
   It was the second Grand Slam main-draw match for Ahn, who has a long history of injuries, and first in almost 10 years. She qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open at 16 and lost to Dinara Safina of Russia in the first round. Safina was ranked seventh at the time and climbed to No. 1 the following year.
   Strycova reached the fourth round at Melbourne last year, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams 7-5, 6-4.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stephens, Bellis fall in Australian Open

   Sloane Stephens remained winless since her stunning U.S. Open title on a terrible day for Americans in the Australian Open.
   The 13th-seeded Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, lost to Zhang Shuai of China 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-2 today in the first round in Melbourne.
   Stephens, who served for the match, fell to 0-8 since beating friend and countrywoman Madison Keys for her first Grand Slam title.
   Other U.S. seeds who lost today were No. 5 and 2017 runner-up Venus Williams, No. 10 CoCo Vandeweghe, No. 8 Jack Sock and No. 16 John Isner.
   No. 30 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands avenged a second-round loss to CiCi Bellis in last year's French Open, eliminating the 18-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2.
   Bellis, last year's WTA Newcomer of the Year, made her Australian Open debut after missing last year's tournament with a leg injury.
   Bertens will play former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs, who thrashed lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria 6-1, 6-1 in 48 minutes. Gibbs was the only winner of 10 American women in action.
   In a late men's match, Bay Area product Mackenzie McDonald beat fellow qualifier Elias Ymer of Sweden 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 for his first Grand Slam main-draw victory.
   Next for McDonald, 22, is third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov. Gulp.

Altamirano captures first Futures singles title

Collin Altamirano beat qualifier Emilio Gomez 6-1, 7-5 to win the $25,000
Long Beach (Calif.) Pro Futures Tournament. Photo courtesy of Steve Pratt
   Collin Altamirano of Sacramento won his first ITF Futures singles title today, defeating qualifier Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-1, 7-5 in a $25,000 tournament in Long Beach, Calif.
   The unseeded Altamirano, who turned pro last June after winning NCAA team titles in all three of his years at Virginia, triumphed despite converting only 46.3 percent of his first serves (37 of 80). He had eight aces and two double faults.
   The first-set score was deceptive, Altamirano told publicist Steve Pratt.
   "I wasn't feeling that good at all," said Altamirano, the runner-up to Marcos Giron last year. "I was nervous and tight. I was just so fortunate to pull it out so easily, and the score doesn't indicate how tough it was."
   Altamirano trailed 2-4 in the second set.
   "I was just getting so frustrated and finally let my anger out a little bit," said Altamirano, who became the first unseeded player to win the USTA boys 18 title in 2013. "That loosened me up a little bit, and I started playing better."
   Altamirano will soar from No. 791 in the world to a career high of about No. 675.
   Gomez, the 26-year-old son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, will improve from No. 514 to about No. 458. He attained a career high of No. 215 in 2014.
   Altamirano also played in the doubles final as an alternate with Alexander Lebedev, a Notre Dame junior from Island Park, N.Y. They fell to top-seeded Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Hans Hach of Mexico 6-3, 6-2.
   Altamirano was seeking his second Futures doubles title. He won a $10,000 clay-court tournament in Boynton Beach, Fla., with Deiton Baughman of Carson in the Los Angeles area in 2014.

Good as Gould: Stanford legend set to retire at 80

Dick Gould will retire Monday after 57 years at Stanford as a student, the men's
tennis coach and the director of tennis. Photo courtesy of Stanford Sports Information
   I hadn't seen Dick Gould in 27 years.
   After covering his team in 1976 for the Stanford Daily and graduating the following year, I worked at various newspapers around the country and in Japan before joining my hometown Sacramento Bee in 2000. 
   Four years later, I called him to request an interview for a Bee story on his upcoming retirement after 38 years as the Stanford men's coach and a record 17 NCAA team titles. 
   Surely he had forgotten me. 
   Not Dick Gould.
   Once you play for Gould or cover his team, you are forever part of the Stanford family, as far as he is concerned.
   In the Bee story, UC Davis women's coach and former Stanford All-American Bill Maze recalled a dinner celebrating Gould's retirement from coaching. Many of Gould's former players addressed the 800 guests.
   "To the guy, they said, 'Anytime something important happens in my life, the first note I get is from coach Gould,' " Maze said.
   Gould, still robust at 80, will retire a final time Monday after 57 years at Stanford as a student, the men's coach and the director of tennis.
   Beginning in 2009, I saw Gould every summer during the Bank of the West Classic on the WTA tour at Stanford. His office was next to the media work room. And every year, he would make me feel as if I was the greatest journalist since Woodward and Bernstein.
   "He's incredibly optimistic and positive," Maze, John McEnroe's doubles partner in the legend's one year at Stanford (1978), told the Bee. "He's always looking on the bright side. I was a somewhat tortured, morose person (at Stanford) ... life was tough. One day, Dick pulled me aside and said, 'Hey, Billy, people are going to treat you the way you come off. Give 'em a smile.' I didn't listen to much back then, but I listened to that."
   In 2012, I had the pleasure of traveling to the Australian Open with Gould and his charming wife, former Stanford women's coach Anne (Hill), on a group tour organized by Tennis Ventures.
   One day, television commentators and former touring pros Patrick McEnroe and Justin Gimelstob visited our suite at Rod Laver Arena. McEnroe played for Gould and Gimelstob for rival UCLA.
   McEnroe popped in for only a few minutes to shake some hands before returning to his ESPN duties. But Gimelstob had time to field questions from Gould and talk some tennis.
   Recalling UCLA's matches against Stanford, Gimelstob quipped about Gould: "He'd say, 'It's such an honor to compete against you.' Meanwhile, he's got 42 All-Americans, and our guys are throwing up in the bathroom." 
John McEnroe, shown with Dick Gould, won the 1978 NCAA singles title
in his only season at Stanford. McEnroe had arrived on campus as a Wim-
bledon semifinalist. Photo courtesy of Stanford Sports Information 
   The 17 NCAA team titles are just the beginning of Gould's accomplishments.
   For 35 years, every four-year player coached by Gould earned at least one NCAA championship ring.
   Gould has coached:
   --Ten NCAA champions in singles and seven in doubles.
   --Fifty All-Americans.
   --Thirteen different Grand Slam champions in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
   --Nine players who reached the top 15 in the world in singles, including No. 1 John McEnroe.
   --Fourteen players who cracked the top 10 in doubles.
   --Seven players who climbed to No. 1 in doubles, including twins Bob and Mike Bryan.
   --Sixteen Davis Cup players.
   --Eight Olympians.
   --Eight players who reached at least the round of 32 at Wimbledon in 1982.
   --Four players who advanced to at least the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 1983.
   Wait, there's more. Gould:
   --Raised $18 million to build the Taube Family Tennis Center.
   --Initiated major college indoor matches in 1974 that later drew the biggest college crowds in history (15,000 fans for two-day events).
   --Acquired one of the nation's first electronic scoreboards in 1983.
   --Established the first personal seat licensing program in 1986.
   --Wrote a best-selling tennis instructional book ("Tennis, Anyone?").
   --Has been heavily involved in charity and the East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring Program, which provides one-on-one academic tutoring and group tennis instruction to underprivileged children.
   Gould was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2006, and a strong case can be made for his enshrinement in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
   For all of Gould's success, though, winning wasn't paramount.
   "Dick was always talking about (playing with) class," Maze told The Bee. " 'We have a big match today. Win or lose, let's play with class.' I coach the same way. It's about the process, not the results. No one is more competitive than Dick, but he made it clear we were not going to be jerks out there. He would go up to (opposing players) and shake their hand."
   Now it's time to shake Gould's hand.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Mackie in Aussie main draw; Altamirano in 25K finals

Mackenzie McDonald, a 22-year-old San Francisco Bay
Area product, will make his Australian Open main-draw
debut on Sunday. File photo by Paul Bauman 
   It was a good day for a pair of Northern California 22-year-olds.   Mackenzie McDonald, who was born and raised in Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, earned his first berth in the main draw of the Australian Open.
   And Collin Altamirano of Sacramento reached the singles final of the $25,000 Long Beach (Calif.) Pro Futures Tournament for the second consecutive year.
   McDonald outlasted 37-year-old Frenchman Stephane Robert 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 6-4 today in the final round of qualifying in Melbourne. McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 145 pounds (66 kilograms), had nine aces and only one double fault.
   McDonald will play qualifier Elias Ymer of Sweden on Sunday. It will be McDonald's second appearance in the singles main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. After winning the NCAA singles (and doubles) title as a UCLA junior, he received an automatic wild card in the 2016 U.S. Open and lost in the opening round to Jan Satral of the Czech Republic in five sets.
   Altamirano, who upset second-seeded Marcos Giron in the first round in Long Beach, dispatched third-seeded Kaichi Uchida of Japan 6-3, 6-2 in 59 minutes. In last year's tournament, Altamirano dominated McDonald 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals and lost to Giron in the final.
   Altamirano will face qualifier Emilio Gomez of Ecuador. Gomez, a 26-year-old former USC standout and the son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, eliminated sixth-seeded J.C. Aragone of Yorba Linda in the Los Angeles area 6-4, 6-3.
   Aragone, who played on three NCAA championship teams with Altamirano at Virginia, qualified for last year's U.S. Open and lost in the first round to eventual runner-up Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
   Gomez, ranked No. 508, missed time last year with a shoulder injury. He originally entered the Chandler (Ariz.) Challenger this week, but it was canceled. Gomez had to "beg" the USTA for a wild card into Long Beach qualifying, he told publicist Steve Pratt.
   "And I almost lost in the second round of qualifying, and now I'm in the final," marveled Gomez, referring to his 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 1,429 Laurens Verboven, 20, of Belgium. "This is a crazy sport, for sure."
   Altamirano also advanced to the doubles final as an alternate with Alexander Lebedev, a Notre Dame junior from Island Park, N.Y. They registered a 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over second-seeded Ante Pavic of Croatia and Satral.
   Altamirano and Lebedev will face top-seeded Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Hans Hach of Mexico. They topped third-seeded Deiton Baughman of Carson in the L.A. region and Uchida 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Altamirano reaches 25K singles, doubles semis

Sacramento's Collin Altamirano had a chance
to go down in collegiate tennis history but chose
to turn pro. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Collin Altamirano turned down a chance to become the fourth man to win four NCAA team titles.
   Instead, the Sacramentan turned pro last summer out of Virginia.
   Altamirano conceivably could have joined Stanford's Paul Goldstein and USC's Steve Johnson and Daniel Nguyen as the only men to accomplish the feat. Henrik Wiersholm was in the same position as Altamirano but chose to redshirt after three seasons at Virginia.
   "I didn't go to college to win titles," Altamirano, 22, admitted to press aide Steve Pratt today after reaching the singles and doubles semifinals at the $25,000 Long Beach (Calif.) Pro Futures Tournament. "Luckily I got to experience that, and I'll always be thankful for that. But to win four titles wasn't always on the goal list, to be honest."
   Altamirano, in fact, told coach Brian Boland last January that he would forgo his senior year.
  "Tennis has been my focus for my entire life, and I was just so eager to get out here and start doing this for a living," said Altamirano, the USTA boys 18 champion in 2013. "I just wanted to. At the end of the day, I wanted to just do what I loved.
   "I loved it at Virginia; I love that program. But this is what I really want to do. I want to take school seriously when I'm ready."
   As it turned out, the 2017 season also was Boland's last at Virginia. After four NCAA team titles, all in the last five years, in 16 seasons as the Cavaliers' coach, Boland announced last March that he was leaving to become the USTA's head of men's player development.
   Altamirano, the singles runner-up in Long Beach last year, defeated Alex Rybakov, a junior All-American at Texas Christian, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2.
   The unseeded Altamirano will meet third-seeded Kaichi Uchida of Japan. Uchida, who has trained at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for the past five years, dismissed Israeli qualifier Daniel Cukierman, a USC freshman, 6-0, 6-2.
   In the other semifinal, sixth-seeded J.C. Aragone, Altamirano's former teammate at Virginia from  Yorba Linda in the Los Angeles area, will play qualifier Emilio Gomez, a former USC star from Ecuador.
   Gomez ousted top-seeded Austin Krajicek of Bryan, Texas, 6-3, 7-6 (8). Krajicek reached the final of the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in 2015, losing to Australian John Millman.
   Alternates Altamirano and Alexander Lebedev, a Notre Dame junior from Island Park, N.Y., held off unseeded Krajicek and Jack Pulliam, a high school senior from Manhattan Beach in the Los Angeles region, 6-1, 3-6 [10-7).
   Pulliam will play at Texas A&M, Krajicek's alma mater. Krajicek won the 2011 NCAA doubles title at Stanford with Jeff Dadamo.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Querrey has brutal draw; Altamirano continues run

   Sam Querrey's No. 13 seeding, his best in a Grand Slam tournament, didn't help him much in the Australian Open draw.
   The 30-year-old San Francisco native, now based in Santa Monica in the Los Angeles area, will play Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez, whose No. 36 ranking equals his age, in the first round.
   The draw for the year's first Grand Slam tournament was held early today. Play begins Sunday at 4 p.m. PST (ESPN2).
   Lopez, who reached a career-high No. 12 in 2015, is 6-3 against Querrey. Neither player has reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne. Lopez's best result is the fourth round and Querrey's the third round.
   Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, could play 22nd-seeded Milos Raonic in the third round and second-seeded Roger Federer, the defending champion, in the fourth round. Querrey is 2-2 against Raonic and 0-3 (0-8 in sets) against Federer.
   Raonic, the Wimbledon runner-up to Andy Murray in 2016, played only three tournaments after Wimbledon last year. A right-hander with a two-handed backhand, Raonic missed seven weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist and withdrew from his second-round match in Tokyo in October with a calf injury.
   In his first match of 2018, Raonic lost to 18-year-old Australian phenom Alex De Minaur in the second round at Brisbane last week.
   Raonic went undefeated in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, winning the title from 2011 through 2013.
  On the women's side in the Australian Open, San Francisco Bay Area product CiCi Bellis and former Stanford star Kristie Ahn drew seeds in the opening round.
   Bellis, 18, will make her Australian Open debut against 30th-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. CiCi upset Kiki in the second round of the French Open last year.
   The winner of the Bertens-Bellis match will play either Nicole Gibbs or a qualifier to be determined. Gibbs and Ahn led Stanford to the 2013 NCAA title.
   Ahn, a 25-year-old wild card from Upper Saddle River, N.J., will meet 20th-seeded Barbora Strycova, a 31-year-old Czech, for the first time.
   It will be the first Grand Slam main-draw match for Ahn, finally healthy after years of injuries, since she qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open at 16 and lost to Dinara Safina of Russia in the first round. Safina was ranked seventh at the time and climbed to No. 1 the following year.
   Strycova reached the fourth round at Melbourne last year, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams 7-5, 6-4.
   Australian Open qualifying -- Mackenzie McDonald, a 22-year-old product of Piedmont in the Bay Area, is scheduled to play 37-year-old Stephane Robert of France in the final round on Friday (PST).
   McDonald, who has lost only five games in his two qualifying matches, seeks his second main-draw berth in a Grand Slam tournament. After winning the NCAA singles (and doubles) title as a UCLA junior, he received an automatic wild card in the 2016 U.S. Open and lost in the opening round to Jan Satral of the Czech Republic in five sets.
   Futures tour -- Collin Altamirano, a 22-year-old Sacramentan, defeated former North Carolina All-American Ronnie Schneider 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals of a $25,000 tournament in Long Beach, Calif.
   Altamirano, who ousted second-seeded Marcos Giron in the first round to avenge a loss in last year's final, will play Alex Rybakov of Coral Springs, Fla. Rybakov, a junior All-American at Texas Christian, beat Evan Zhu, a sophomore doubles All-American at UCLA from nearby Irvine, 6-1, 6-4.
   Altamirano, the USTA boys 18 champion in 2013, turned pro in June after helping Virginia win the NCAA title in all three of his years there.
   Sam Riffice, an 18-year-old Sacramento native headed to the University of Florida next fall, lost to third-seeded Kaichi Uchida of Japan 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.