2014/04/23

Mandy Minella Wins Women’s Pro Classic

 

(November 10, 2013) CAPTIVA, FLORIDA In Sunday’s Singles Finals at the Women’s Pro Classic at South Seas Island Resort, No. 2 seed Mandy Minella of Luxembourg defeated Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 to capture the inaugural event of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Event on Captiva.  With professional tennis making its debut on Captiva this week, it was the final opportunity for players to obtain WTA Tour points in the U.S. to qualify for the 2014 Australian Open and exactly what Minella accomplished this week.

 

”This tournament was really important for me to win because now I am going to get directly into the Singles Main Draw of the Australian Open in January,” said Mandy Minella.  “The Women’s Pro Classic at South Seas was a perfect place to play a Pro Circuit event with all of the amenities and activities, I felt like I was on holiday half of the time I was here.”

 

Sunday’s Singles Finalist Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada was also the Doubles Champion in Saturday’s Doubles Finals with partner Allie Will as the top seeds and beat American duo Julia Boserup and Alexandra Mueller 6-1, 6-2 to claim the title.

 

Also making a special appearance at the Women’s Pro Classic Singles Final on Sunday was US Open Tournament Director, Brian Earley, who joined Captiva’s Tournament Director, Nick Blackwood, in the awards presentation ceremony.

 

“I was very excited about how well the Women’s Pro Classic went for our first year and all of the community support and involvement we had, I am already looking forward to next year’s event,” said Tournament Director, Nick Blackwood.  “It was great to see so many of the top ranked WTA Tour players come to a first year event at South Seas Island Resort and also see that our event made a major impact on one of the players who will now get directly into the Australian Open Main Draw in January.”

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Gabriela Dabrowski and Mandy Minella to Meet in Women’s Pro Classic Final

Gabriela Dabrowski photo by Mauricio Paiz

Gabriela Dabrowski photo by Mauricio Paiz

(November 9, 2013) CAPTIVA, FLORIDA – Saturday’s Semifinal Showdown turned out to be a highly entertaining day of tennis at the Women’s Pro Classic on Captiva at the South Seas Island Resort with No. 6 seed American Julia Cohen and Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada getting things started in the morning.  After Cohen won the opening set 6-1, Dabrowski rallied and fought back to take the second set 7-6 (2) and win the final set 6-4 in their semifinal match that lasted over three-and-a-half hours to earn a spot in Sunday’s Singles Final.

 

Following the the second Singles Semifinal match, No. 2 seed Mandy Minella of Luxemburg ddemolished American Allie Kiick in straight sets 6-0, 6-0 in less than hour.

 

“I felt really good out there today and I am really happy that I won because it was an important match for me,” said No. 2 seed Mandy Minella.  “After today, I have now earned enough points to get directly into the Main Draw of the Australian Open, today was a big win.”

 

In the Doubles Finals action at the Women’s Pro Classic on Saturday, top seeds Allie Will and Gabriela Dabrowski topped American duo Julia Boserup and Alexandra Mueller 6-1, 6-2 to claim the first Doubles Title for the Women’s Pro Classic inaugural $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event on Captiva this year.

 

On Sunday, the Singles Final between Gabriela Dabrowski and Mandy Minella is set to get underway at 12:00 p.m. on Stadium Court with the awards presentation to follow immediately after.  Also on-site on Sunday for the Women’s Pro Classic Singles Final will be special guest and local NBC2 News Anchor Sara Miles who will do the player introductions and present the trophies in the awards ceremony.

The Women’s Pro Classic is a $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Event and the final opportunity for players to obtain WTA Tour points in the U.S. to qualify for the 2014 Australian Open.

 

 

 

RESULTS:

Women’s Singles Semifinals:

Gabriela DABROWSKI (CAN) def Julia COHEN (USA) [6] 1-6 7-6(2) 6-4

Mandy MINELLA (LUX) [2] def Allie KIICK (USA) 6-0 6-0

 

Double Finals:

Gabriela DABROWSKI (CAN) / Allie WILL (USA) [1] def Julia BOSERUP (USA) / Alexandra MUELLER 6-2, 6-1

 

SCHEDULE:

Sunday, November 10th

Singles Finals: 12:00 p.m. Start Time

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Two Americans Win in the Quarterfinals at the Women’s Pro Classic

Photo by Mauricio Paiz

Photo by Mauricio Paiz

(November 8, 2013) Back in action on Friday in Captiva at the Women’s Pro Classic $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Event at South Seas Island Resort were six American players in the Singles Quarterfinals including Nicole Gibbs,  No.6 seed Julia Cohen , Jessica Pegula seeded No. 8, Allie Kiick and Julia Boserup. 

Getting underway first was Cohen who defeated fellow American Nicole Gibbs in the All-American Quarterfinals showdown with Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski topping American and #8 seed Jessica Pegula 6-3, 3-0 ret.

 

Following this, Americans Allie Kiick and Julia Boserup both won the first sets of their matches with up-and-coming player Allie Kiick of South Florida defeating Elitsa Kostova 7-5, 4-0 ret. and Julia Boserup eventually falling in a close three set match to #2 seed Mandy Minella 6-7 (1), 6-1, 6-2.

 

In the Doubles semifinals action on Friday, top seed Allie Will and Gabriela Dabrowski defeated Americans Maria Sanchez and Samantha Crawford 7-6 (3), 7-5 with American duo Julia Boserup and Alexandra Mueller beating Ulrikke Eikeri and Elitsa Kostova 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the other Semifinals for a spot in the Doubles Finals on Saturday.

 

For Saturday’s line-up of competitive matches, two Americans are set to play in the Singles Main Draw to start off an exciting weekend of tennis at the South Seas Island Resort. Up first on Stadium Court at 10:00 a.m. will be Cohen vs. Gabriela Dabrowski followed by Allie Kiick vs. No. 2 seed Mandy Minella.  The Doubles Finals will be played following the Singles Semifinals on Stadium Court.

“I am excited to play in the semis tomorrow and about the opportunity to get into my first singles final of the year at this great event on such a beautiful island like Captiva,” said Gabriela Dabrowski, a semifinalist in the Singles Draw.  “I have been doing real well in doubles all year but I am very happy to have had such a good week here at the Women’s Pro Classic since it is the last tournament of the year.”

 

The Women’s Pro Classic is a $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Event and the final opportunity for players to obtain WTA Tour points in the U.S. to qualify for the 2014 Australian Open.

 

For more information on the South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic, visit http://ssirproclassic.com, on facebook at www.facebook.com/ssirproclassic or on twitter @ssir50k along. For more information on USTA Pro Circuits, visit www.usta.com or on twitter @USTAProCirctuit.

 

ALL RESULTS:

Women’s Singles Main Draw Quarterfinals:

Gabriela DABROWSKI (CAN) def. Jessica PEGULA (USA) [8] 6-3 3-0 Ret.

Julia COHEN (USA) [6] def. Nicole GIBBS (USA) 6-2 6-1

Mandy MINELLA (LUX) [2] def. Julia BOSERUP (USA) 6-7(1) 6-1 6-2

Allie KIICK (USA) def. Elitsa KOSTOVA (BUL) 7-5 4-0 Ret.

 

Double Main Draw Semifinals:

Gabriela DABROWSKI (CAN) / Allie WILL (USA) [1] def. Samantha CRAWFORD (USA) / Maria SANCH7E-6Z( (3U) S7A-)5

Julia BOSERUP (USA) / Alexandra MUELLER (USA) def. Ulrikke EIKERI (NOR) / Elitsa KOSTOVA (BU7L)-6(4) 6-1

SCHEDULE:

Saturday, November 9th

Singles Main Draw Semifinals: 10:00 a.m. Start Time

Doubles Main Draw Doubles Finals: 3rd on Stadium Court After 10:00 a.m. Start Time

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American Allie Kiick Stuns Mealnie Oudin at the Women’s Pro Classic

Photo by Mauricio Paiz

Photo by Mauricio Paiz

(November 6, 2013) CAPTIVA, FLORIDA – Wednesday’s matches and line-up of American tennis stars playing at the Women’s Pro Classic turned out to be an exciting day of tennis on Captiva at the South Seas Island Resort with local Lauren Embree, Melanie Oudin, Victoria Duval and Taylor Townsend all in action on Wednesday.

 

Getting things underway this morning was Lauren Embree of the Naples area who battled in a three set marathon match lasted four hours and 27 minutes before falling to qualifier Chiara Scholl 6-7, 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of the Singles Main Draw of the Women’s Pro Classic.

 

Also in action on Wednesday was top American Singles seed No. 3 seed Melanie Oudin against fellow American Allie Kiick of South Florida at high noon on Stadium Court.  After winning the first set, Oudin was defeated by Kiick who came back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-0. Also defeated in the first round of the Singles Main Draw today was rising American player Taylor Townsend who lost to No. 8 seed Jessica Pegula 6-2, 6-2.

 

Prevailing in action on Wednesday at the Women’s Pro Classic was young American tennis star Victoria Duval who cruised past American opponent Jacqueline Cako 6-1, 3-1 ret. to advance to the Round of 16 in the Singles Draw.  Along with this, No. 4 seed Maria Sanchez and No. 6 seed Julia Cohen also won their matches to advance in the Women’s Pro Classic along with #2 seed Mandy Minella. Top seed Michelle Larcher de Brito was defeated by Sanaz Marand when their match resumed play from a rain delay on Tuesday.

 

“With the upset of Melanie Oudin today, it goes to show that the young American players advancing in the draw are part of the next generation of American players who are coming up strong,” said Tournament Director Nick Blackwell.

 

On Thursday, the Round of 16 (second round) Singles Main Draw will hit the courts again starting at 9:30 a.m. when Maria Sanchez, Julia Cohen and Allie Kiick are all back in action for their second round matches.  Other top seeded Americans Victoria Duval and Jessica Puegula will also be on-court at South Seas Island Resort for their Round of 16 matches  For Thursday’s schedule of matches, anyone who comes out to the Women’s Pro Classic wearing the South Seas Island Resort club logo will receive a drink ticket for a complimentary beverage of their choice on-site.

 

The Women’s Pro Classic is a $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Event and the final opportunity for players to obtain WTA Tour points in the U.S. to qualify for the 2014 Australian Open.  Of those in the Singles Main Draw, Melanie Oudin, who has been ranked as high as #31 in the WTA Tour Singles Rankings, is known for her thrilling run at the 2009 US Open where she defeated Maria Sharapova to advance to the Quarterfinals. Just this summer, Victoria Duval captured the hearts of Americans at the 2013 US Open after defeating Grand Slam Singles Champion Sam Stosur in the first round. In addition to this, Taylor Townsend has had breakthrough junior accomplishments on her way to playing the USTA Pro Circuit events winning the Junior Australian Open Singles Championship in 2012 and finishing the year ranked number one in Girls Singles Junior ITF World rankings.

 

The South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic is being held at the award-winning South Seas Island Resort in beautiful Captiva, Florida from November 3rd-10th at the Pavel & Blackwood Tennis Academy.  The Main Draw Singles and Doubles play will begin on Tuesday, November 5th, with the Finals taking place on Sunday, November 10th.  Throughout the week, the Women’s Pro Classic will showcase world class tennis from bringing the game’s emerging and future tennis stars to the area while benefiting three local philanthropic causes – the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Madisen’s Match and Partners for Breast Cancer Care, Inc.

 

This year’s Title Sponsor for the Women’s Pro Classic is the South Seas Island Resort with Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille as the Presenting Sponsor. Additional sponsors include Sofibella, NU Men’s Formal Tennis, Pro Graphx and PSAV.

 

 

 

ALL RESULTS:

Women’s Singles Main Draw Round of 32

Mandy MINELLA (LUX) [2] def. Chieh-Yu HSU (USA) 6-4 6-1

Ulrikke EIKERI (NOR) def. Nikki KALLENBERG (USA) 6-0 6-1

Sanaz MARAND (USA) def. Michelle LARCHER DE BRITO (POR) [1] 6-4 4-6 6-4

Julia BOSERUP (USA) def. Anna TATISHVILI (GEO) [5] 7-6(5) 3-0 Ret.

Heidi EL TABAKH (CAN) def. Maria-Fernanda ALVES (BRA) 2-6 6-3 6-3

Chiara SCHOLL (USA) def. Lauren EMBREE (USA) 6-7(2) 6-3 7-5

Allie KIICK (USA) def. Melanie OUDIN (USA) [3] 3-6 6-3 6-0

Jessica PEGULA (USA) [8] def. Taylor TOWNSEND (USA) 6-2 6-2

Allie WILL (USA) def. Alexandra MUELLER (USA) 7-6(5) 6-3

Victoria DUVAL (USA) [7] def. Jacqueline CAKO (USA) 6-1 3-1 Ret.

Elitsa KOSTOVA (BUL) def. Marta DOMACHOWSKA (POL) 6-1 7-6(7)

 

Double Main Draw Round of 16:

Samantha CRAWFORD (USA) / Maria SANCHEZ (USA) def. Natalie PLUSKOTA (USA) / Caitlin WHORISK6E-Y3 (6U-S4A )

Heidi EL TABAKH (CAN) / Allie KIICK (USA) def. Maria-Fernanda ALVES (BRA) [2] / Catalina 7C-A6S(T5A) N3-O6 ([C1O0-L7)]

Emily J. HARMAN (USA) / Jessica PEGULA (USA) [4] def. Anne-Liz JEUKENG (USA) / Jessica LAWRENC7-E6 (U5)S A6-)2

Gabriela DABROWSKI (CAN) / Allie WILL (USA) [1] def. Lauren EMBREE (USA) / Nikki KALLENBERG 6(U-3S A6-)3

Michelle SAMMONS (RSA) / Chiara SCHOLL (USA) def. Nicole GIBBS (USA) / Chieh-Yu HSU (USA) 4-6 7-5 [10-7]

 

SCHEDULE:

Thursday, November 7th

Singles Main Draw Round of 16: 9:30 a.m. Start Time

Doubles Main Draw Round of 16 & Quarterfinals: Second on after 10:30 a.m. Start Time

 

For more information on the South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic, visit http://ssirproclassic.com, on facebook at www.facebook.com/ssirproclassic or on twitter @ssir50k along. For more information on USTA Pro Circuits, visit www.usta.com or on twitter @USTAProCirctuit.

 

 

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Women’s Pro Tennis Debuts in Captiva at the Women’s Pro Classic

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(November 3, 2013) CAPTIVA, FLORIDA Women’s professional tennis officially made its debut in Captiva, Florida, today when play got underway for the Singles Qualifying Draw of the Women’s Pro Classic at South Seas Island Resort. A $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Event, it is the last one on the USTA Women’s Pro Circuit Calendar for 2013 and the final opportunity for players to obtain WTA Tour points in the U.S. to qualify for the 2014 Australian Open.

 

Advancing through the first round of Singles Qualifying, various Americans won their matches including Jan Abaza (#2 Seed) who defeated Caitlin Woriskey 6-2, 6-1 along with Chalena Scholl (#5 Seed) who topped Emily Harman in three sets 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.  Other American players Chiara Scholl (#6 Seed) and Lauren Embree (#8 seed) also won their first round matches and will be back in action on Monday in the second round of Singles Qualifying play at the Women’s Pro Classic.

 

Getting underway on Tuesday, November 5th, will be the Singles Main Draw with top rising American tennis stars headlining the event including Melanie Oudin, Maria Sanchez, Julia Cohen, Victoria Duval, Jessica Pegula, Nicole Gibbs, Allie Kiick, Taylor Townsend and Chieh-Yu Hsu.

 

Main Draw Singles Wild Card recipients for the Women’s Pro Classic include Wild Card Tournament winner Nikki Kallenberg with the three wild cards awarded by the USTA to Julia Boserup, Ellie Halbauer and Alexandra Mueller.  Receiving the Doubles Main Draw Wild Card is local Southwest Florida residents and doubles duo Kerry Kendricks and Angie Guillette. Additional Singles Qualifying Draw Wild Cards were also awarded to six players.

 

Of those in the Main Draw, Melanie Oudin, who has been ranked as high as #31 in the WTA Tour Singles Rankings, is known for her thrilling run at the 2009 US Open where she defeated Maria Sharapova to advance to the Quarterfinals. Just this summer, Victoria Duval captured the hearts of Americans at the 2013 US Open after defeating Grand Slam Singles Champion Sam Stosur in the first round. In addition to this, Taylor Townsend has had breakthrough junior accomplishments on her way to playing the USTA Pro Circuit events winning the Junior Australian Open Singles Championship in 2012 and finishing the year ranked number one in Girls Singles Junior ITF World rankings.

 

The South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic is being held at the award-winning South Seas Island Resort in beautiful Captiva, Florida from November 3rd-10th at the Pavel & Blackwood Tennis Academy.  The Main Draw Singles and Doubles play will begin on Tuesday, November 5th, with the Finals taking place on Sunday, November 10th.  Throughout the week, the Women’s Pro Classic will showcase world class tennis from bringing the game’s emerging and future tennis stars to the area while benefiting three local philanthropic causes – the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Madisen’s Match and Partners for Breast Cancer Care, Inc.

 

This year’s Title Sponsor for the Women’s Pro Classic is the South Seas Island Resort with Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille as the Presenting Sponsor. Additional sponsors include Sofibella, NU Men’s Formal Tennis, Pro Graphx and PSAV.

 

For more information on the South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic, visit http://ssirproclassic.com, on facebook at www.facebook.com/ssirproclassic or on twitter @ssir50k along with the USTA Pro Circuit (@USTAProCirctuit).

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ALL RESULTS:

Women’s Singles Qualifying – Round One:

Anastasiya KOMARDINA (RUS) def. Lisanne VAN RIET (NED) [1] 6-3 6-3

Marie NORRIS (USA) def. Michaela GORDON (USA) 6-4 6-3

Jan ABAZA (USA) [2] def. Caitlin WHORISKEY (USA) 6-2 6-1

Tori KINARD (USA) def. Alaina EWING (USA) 6-0 6-0

Jacqueline CAKO (USA) def. Naomi OSAKA (JPN) [3] 6-4 3-6 7-5

Usue Maitane ARCONADA (USA) def. Alina KUZMENKOVA (RUS) 6-2 6-4

Denise MURESAN (USA) def. Johnnise RENAUD (USA) 7-5 6-2

Savannah EWING (USA) def. Nicole ROTTMANN (AUT) [4] 0-3 Ret.

Lauren EMBREE (USA) [8] def. Jessica LAWRENCE (USA) 6-2 6-3

Natalie PLUSKOTA (USA) def. Mercedes HAMMOND (USA) 6-3 7-5

Mari OSAKA (JPN) def. Lisa PONOMAR (GER) 7-6(4) 6-2

Chiara SCHOLL (USA) [6] def. Danielle MILLS (USA) 6-1 3-2 Ret.

Chalena SCHOLL (USA) [5] def. Emily J. HARMAN (USA) 6-1 3-6 6-1

Maria-Fernanda ALVES (BRA) def, [7] Michelle SAMMONS (RSA) 6-1 3-6 6-1

Anne-Liz JEUKENG (USA) def. Meghan LYALL (USA) 6-4 6-2

Brooke AUSTIN (USA) def. Jaqueline Adina CRISTIAN (ROU) 6-1 6-3

 

SCHEDULE:

Monday, November 4th

Singles Qualifying Round Two: 10:00 a.m. Start Time

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Serena and Venus Williams Win to Wrap Up Fed Cup World Group Spot for the U.S.

 

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

By Nathalie Narcisse

(April 21, 2013) DELRAY BEACH, Florida – On a day where tennis legend Chris Evert was lauded for Federation Cup accomplishments, it was fitting that dynamic duo, Serena and Venus Williams carried their matches to prevent the U.S. from slipping out of the world group.

In the first match at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, Serena crushed Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1 while Venus hung tough against Johanna Larsson 6-3,7-5 to permit the Americans to compete for the Federation Cup title in 2014.

After Serena’s victory Saturday evening placed the U.S. on even terms with Sweden, captain Mary Joe Fernandez was hoping to maintain the momentum. The world number one did not disappoint.

In the early stages of the opening set, the sun seemed to be Serena’s biggest nemesis. She fought off three break points before finally putting a period on a long third game.

Subsequently, Serena manufactured triple break point and capitalized for 3-1. Then, with an ace, the world number one consolidated for 4-1. Serena went on to break Arvidsson a second time to bed the initial set.

Serena captured seven consecutive games before Arvidsson ultimately held in the sixth game of the second set to avoid posting a bagel. However, it was only a temporary reprieve. Soon, with her tenth ace, Serena arrived at triple match point. The world number one finished the proceedings with an unreturnable serve.

Overall a good performance by Serena considering the match lasted only 57 minutes, with 35 winners and 22 unforced errors. The third game in the first set was critical. Serena stated “if she had won that game, it would have been a tougher score or a different match. It was important for me to stay focused and fight for every point”.

While Serena does not use on court coaching with her WTA matches, she appreciates the support when it comes to team competition “it feels good, it’s different when you do call your coach on court. . .I take everything in, I just try to be like a sponge and listen”.

Since the sun was bothersome for both players, Arvidsson emphasized it was not a factor in her defeat “[Serena] was just too good. She showed why she’s number one”.

Serena was glad to see big sister in the position to seal the tie for the U.S. “Venus is a veteran and a great player. I hope she does really well”.

According to Fernandez, Venus was a “last minute decision . . after the warm-up today”, the gamble paid off.

Subsequent to a double fault to donate the opening game to Larsson, Venus regained her footing by promptly breaking herself. Later on, the American struck a forehand down the line winner up triple break point to capture he third successive game for 3-1. Despite being challenged, Venus consolidated for 4-1 and maintained the one break edge to finish off the first set.

Larsson warded off 0-40 to ultimately guard serve for 3-2 in the second set. Yet, with Larsson’s forehand pass landing long, Venus had her fifth break chance of the set. She converted when the Swede flubbed a backhand.

Soon with a hold at love, Venus raced to a 5-3 lead. However, with a love game of her own, the Swede forced Venus to serve out the match.

With a third double fault in the tenth game at 0-40, Venus opened the door for Larsson as the second set was now at 5 all.

Still, the American plugged away to regain the advantage. Serving for the tie the second time around, Venus went to nine deuces, had four double faults, salvaged three break points before striking gold on her eighth match point.

This was the maiden meeting between Venus and Larsson. The Swede was not surprised by the substitution “Sofia played a really good match yesterday. . .I was prepared mentally to play Venus. . .I was struggling the whole match to find a good rhythm. . I really tried to keep fighting”.

Despite the outcome, the Swedish coach felt “it’s the best experience you can ever have. [Johanna and Sofia] can keep [their] head up and be very proud. . .go back home with a lot of experience to use the rest of the year”.

After seeing a myriad of match points evaporate, Venus expressed “I was trying to stay focused. . .the game was very competitive, we were both going for the lines and missing them closely”.

Venus had not played Fed Cup singles since 2007. Ironically, the last time was also in South Florida. Moreover, Venus had never previously clinched the tie for her nation. The American cited “it’s a different kind of pressure being on a team, you just want to do more. I wanted to be out there”.

Venus felt a sense of relief wrapping thing up in straight sets “I needed it to be over in two. Mary Joe needed it to be over in two. She was having a heart attack on the sidelines”.

Now, the Americans will wait until next season to work together again in this format. Fernandez acknowledged “that’s the hardest thing about Fed Cup, the scheduling and how long it takes between the ties. You start building a chemistry with the team, a lot of bonding and you push each other. It’s fun. . .we’re still going to be watching each other, supporting each other. . .and we’ll regroup February of next year”.

With so many niggling physical issues, Fernandez withdrew her team from the doubles match. So, USA win over Sweden by a mark of 3-2.

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Serena Williams Squares World Group Play-Off Tie versus Sweden

SerenaWilliamsWilsonPhoto

By Nathalie Narcisse

 

(April 20, 2013) DELRAY BEACH. Florida – After a three-hour setback due to showers at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, Serena Williams sauntered on court to face Swede Johanna Larsson. The world No. 1 dusted off her opponent 6-2, 6-2 to knot the tie between the two nations.

This was the first meeting between these two players. With Sofia Arvidsson vanquishing Sloane Stephens in the opening rubber, it was Williams’ job to prevent the U.S. team from going into a 2-0 hole.

Although, this was Williams’ seventh tie compared to Larsson’s thirty third, the difference though was that Williams was undefeated in Fed Cup play 11-0 and not to mention double digit majors titles.

Subsequent to Larsson’s double fault, Williams had double break point. With a crosscourt backhand winner, the American converted and swiftly consolidated for 3-0.

Despite a grueling game, Larsson guarded serve to stay one break behind at 3-1. Quickly, Williams coasted on serve to arrive at 5-2.

By provoking miscues from Larsson, Williams had double set point. With a backhand down the line winner, Williams bedded the first set.

The second set was not a cakewalk for Williams. In the opening game, the American’s mistakes on serve found her staring at 15-40. As usual, Williams selected the right serves to bail herself out of trouble. Her second time serving, Williams fended off another break point to keep her nose in front, 2-1.

While Larsson competed better, the unforced errors by Williams also began to mount. But, in the fourth game, two double faults by the Swede helped Williams to eventually get to deuce. Soon, with a forehand winner, the American had break point and later Williams pocketed the game for 3-1.

After comfortably getting to 5-2, the American captured another break to close out the match.

Considering the firepower on the American side, Swedish captain Lars-Anders Wahlgren is ecstatic with the performance of his players so far “it’s a little bit of a surprise for the Swedish team, it’s 1-1. I always believe in my girls. I was hoping for even 2-0”.

Despite the outcome, Larsson felt it was a great experience to battle a player of Williams’ caliber “it’s definitely an experience for me today. I had a lot of fun. . .I had a few chances. . When you play those players who are extremely aggressive, you really need to take your chances. . .I did my best and I was fighting the whole match”.

While for other competitors being down 0-1 in team play may cause some angst, Williams stated “I don’t feel pressure. Not this time around. . .I feel even though we didn’t win our first match, we have a really good team”.

Williams agreed that the second set was much tougher “I think she played a lot better. I think I also made more errors. She’s a really good player. She’s a professional. You can’t get on this level without being solid”.

Certainly, a different atmosphere and sensation representing yourself versus one’s country. Williams commented “I just try to fight and do the best I can. I’m here for my team. I’m here to give 100 percent”.

With Williams’ win, captain Mary Joe Fernandez was finally able to breathe “it was big for Serena to get a quick start. I thought the first match could have gone either way. Sloane had opportunities and wasn’t able to capitalize. . .conditions were tough and the rain delay sort of slowed her down because she had the momentum”.

A lot on the line tomorrow. Does Fernandez believe that Stephens will require tactical, mental support or both? Fernandez replied “every time you step on the court it’s a chance to get better and improve. When you have a few ups and down, you have to mentally get a little bit stronger. It helps when you are tactically sound and clear on what you need to do. So, I try to support and give as clear advice as I can on what I see out there and hope that works”.

The first match on Sunday afternoon will feature Williams against Arvidsson, followed by Stephens versus Larsson and will culminate with doubles play. The U.S. pair of Venus Williams and Vavara Lepchenko will collide with Larsson and Arvidsson.

Nathalie Narcisse is in Delray Beach covering the Fed Cup tie for Tennis Panorama News as media. Follow her twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Arvidsson Stops Stephens to Give Sweden 1-0 Lead in World Group Play-Offs

Sofia Arvidsson

Sofia Arvidsson

By Nathalie Narcisse

(April 20, 1013) DELRAY BEACH, Florida – The U.S. took on Sweden on hardcourt at the Delray Beach Tennis Center in the World Group Play-Offs.  In the initial match on Saturday, Swedish veteran Sofia Arvidsson, playing her 48th tie, recorded her 34th singles victory.  Arvidsson prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 over twenty-year-old Sloane Stephens who was contesting her maiden live rubber.

Florida has been the United States’ Federation Cup lucky charm.  In three prior visits to the Sunshine State, 1995 versus Austria, 2005 and 2007 against Belgium, the Americans never relinquished a match.  With Floridians, Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams on hand, the Stars and Stripes were viewed as runway favorites.

Stephens seemed overwhelmed from the get-go.  As a result of a slew of miscues, the American surrendered her serve in the opening game.  Arvidsson went on to consolidate for 2-0.

Later on, the Swede dropped serve at love to permit Stephens to knot the first set at 2.  Soon with a hold, Stephens had a 3-2 lead.

However, a consistent opponent and 21 unforced errors turned out to be Stephens’ undoing.  Arvidsson broke for the third time for 5-4, then went on to easily serve out the opening set.

Stephens managed to reverse the tide in the second set.  Despite permitting a 3-0 advantage to melt away, Stephens cleaned up the stats sheet with a positive ratio of winners to unforced errors.  The American broke her rival at 5-4 to push the match into a final set.

The hot and humid conditions permitted both players to invoke the heat rule.  During that respite, a light drizzle came down which further postponed the deciding set.

The interlude appeared to squash Stephens’ momentum.  By committing a double fault, the American gifted Arvidsson double break point to start the set.  With Stephens dumping a forehand into the net, Arvidsson captured the break.  The Swede secured the four consecutive games as Stephens littered the court with mistakes.

In the sixth game, as Stephens’ forehand volley landed on her side of the net,  Arvidsson sealed her third break of the set to convert on her fourth match point opportunity.

Head-to-head, Arvidsson and Stephens split their two previous matches.  Unlike Brisbane earlier this year where Stephens “was dictating the points”, Arvidsson stated. “I tried to be aggressive.  That’s when I won my points”.

The rain was welcomed by Arvidsson “first set was really hard, I was kind of tired in the second.  I think the break was good for me.  It was a little cooler when we came out”.

For Arvidsson the opening match was crucial “first match is always important.  You want to win and put a lot of pressure on the other team.  [Particularly] with Serena a very big favorite in the second match”.

Stephens was disappointed with the result “she played really good tennis.  It was definitely tough conditions.  I thought I played pretty well.  It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get my first Fed Cup live rubber win at this home tie”.

Stephens admitted the pressure was not being the “lead off match.  I think it was playing my first live rubber at home. . .this is the most pressure and anxiety I’ve had since Australia. . .I didn’t want to let my team down”.

Still Stephens is trying to be positive “I’m going to go out for my team, hope Serena wins her match and we can start up with a bang tomorrow again. . . A lot to learn. . .my next tie I’ll definitely know what to expect”.

This is the fifth showdown between these two countries, the U.S. lead Sweden 3-1.  The latter triumphed at their ultimate meeting in 1988.  Sweden is vying to regain world group status for the first time since 2003.

Nathalie Narcisse is in Delray Beach covering the Fed Cup tie for Tennis Panorama News as media. Follow her twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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“Uncle Sam” Saves U.S. – Querrey helps Americans squeak past Brazil and into the Quarterfinals

 

Sam Querrey backhand2

DAVIS CUP: “UNCLE SAM” SAVES U.S.

Querrey helps Americans squeak past Brazil and into the Quarterfinals

 

By Junior Williams

 

(February 3, 2013) JACKSONVILLE – The U.S. Davis Cup team avoided a huge upset when Sam Querrey clinched the First Round tie for the Americans over Brazil, 3-2, in a fifth and decisive rubber on Sunday at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The U.S. now moves on to the Quarterfinals and will host Serbia and world number one Novak Djokovic in Boise, Idaho.

 

Querrey, ranked number 20 in the world, defeated 141-ranked Thiago Alves, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3), becoming the first American to clinch a Davis Cup tie in a fifth and decisive rubber since 2000, when Pete Sampras defeated Slava Dosedel to defeat the Czech Republic in a World Group Quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Querrey’s second live Davis Cup singles victory came two days after he defeated Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci in straight sets.

Querrey stepped up for the U.S. after John Isner, ranked number 16 in the world, fell to the No. 36-ranked Bellucci, 2-6, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-3, in Sunday’s first reverse singles match. That evened the tie at 2-2, before Querrey served up 26 aces to defeat Alves.

 

It looked as if an upset was in the making when Alves took the first set, but Querrey soon found his groove. He began to win the long rallies against Alves, and take a two sets to one lead.

 

In the fourth set, Querrey was serving for the tie at 5-4, but he failed to convert a tie point and got broken after his overhead smash went into the net, giving Alves new life and the Brazilian fans hope. Both players battled into a fourth set tiebreak, in which Alves sent a shot past the baseline to give the U.S. a 5-3 lead Querrey would not relinquish. His victory gave joy and relief to the few hometown fans who hadn’t left the match to watch the Super Bowl.

 

“You know, I was just very happy with the way I battled through it,” said Querrey. “Didn’t strike the ball as well as on Friday, but fought through the tough points, made him play, got breaks in the second, third and fourth sets there.

 

“He broke me back, but then edged him out in a tiebreaker. I was just happy to get through it.”
U.S. Captain Jim Courier said Querrey will benefit from experiencing the Davis Cup pressure cooker. “Sometimes obstacles become opportunities, and that’s what this was today for Sam. John, we thought he was going to get through his match. We thought Bob and Mike (Bryan) were going to get through their match (on Saturday). It came down to Sam, and he stepped up when we needed him to. Sam faced some adversity at the end and played a great tiebreaker to get past not closing it out on serve. Those are learning moments for a player, things you can draw on later on in your career.”

 

“It was a good effort from everybody, particularly the Brazilians,” said Courier. “They deserve a lot of credit for pushing us and making us come up with what we had to at the end.”

 

The Brazilian Alves said he was pleased with his level of play during the tie. “So was a great match. Sam is a great player. The first set I got my chance, so I think he was a little bit tense, nervous. After that he start to

play better tennis. I fight for all the match, all the match.”

 

Brazil’s Captian Joao Zwetsch congratulated the U.S. team on its victory, but also gave praise to his players for almost coming back from down 0-2 in matches to pull off the shocker.

 

“Everybody did all the best all the week trying to win this tie” said Zwetsch. “Everybody was like this. When I get on the court, I can feel this energy. I was feeling today. It’s different. I can say to you it’s really different.”
Top-ranked Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci did his part to push the Americans to the brink with his five-set victory over Isner. It was Bellucci’s spin and kick serves versus Isner’s power service game, which included 22 aces.

But the American also committed 81 unforced errors in the nearly three-and-a-half hour match, and appeared to run out of gas in the fifth set — with this being only his second match since skipping the Australian open with a knee injury.
“In the end, I saw that Isner was a little bit tired and I was trying to put every ball inside the court to keep him playing,” said Bellucci.
“I just couldn’t quite win the big points,” said Isner. “It’s almost like I wanted it too badly. I just felt like I was forcing it, wasn’t going for my shots like I should. Confidence-wise I’m not even close to where I want to be.”

 

Isner also complained about the Brazilian fans, who came ready to root for their favorites with taunts and a number of noisemakers in tow: party horns, kazoos and rubber ducks. “To be honest I don’t appreciate their fans at all. I don’t think they’re too classy at all.” Isner went on to say that the fans are not an excuse for his defeat and that Bellucci deserved to win.
U.S. Captain Courier is now setting his sights on Serbia in the Davis Cup Quarterfinals: “We’re excited. We wanted to face Serbia. We thought that would be a great test for us. They’re one of the great Davis Cup nations right now. Novak is playing again this year after taking last year off. If you want to lift this trophy, you need to beat the best teams, and that certainly is one of them.

“We look forward to the challenge. We know it will be difficult. But Boise should be a very hospitable environment for us. We’ll like the altitude there. That should work well for us. We’ll look forward to playing there.”

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Brazil Stays Alive As Melo and Soares Upset the Bryans in 5 Sets

 

Bob and Mike Bryan

Bob and Mike Bryan

 

DAVIS CUP: BRAZIL STAYS ALIVE
Melo and Soares upset the Bryans in 5 sets; U.S. up 2-1
By Junior Williams

 

(February 2, 2013) JACKSONVILLE — On Groundhog Day here in the United States, the conventional wisdom was that the world’s top-doubles team would clinch a first round Davis Cup World Group victory and ensure a long winter for Brazil’s team.

 

But as any Brazilian will tell you — it’s actually summer south of the Equator, and it’s not over yet.

 

Serveral hours after the American weather groundhog Punxsutawney Phil failed to see his shadow and predicted an early spring, Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares kept Brazil’s Davis Cup hopes alive by stunning Americans Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, in what was a high-quality and intense match. The U.S. now leads the tie 2-1.

 

For the Bryans — who are coming off their 13th major doubles title by winning the Australian Open — Saturday’s defeat marks only their third loss in 23 career Davis Cup matches.

 

In the first set tiebreak, Brazil rebounded from a 5-1 deficit and saved three set points on the way to winning the set, shocking the hometown faithful at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

 

“It was very important for us ’cause we kept the pressure on them,” said Soares. “You never know, it’s tough to say, but I think if they had won the first set, they would come back really strong, and then it’s really tough to hold them back.”

 

The Bryans returned the favor in the second set tiebreak by saving four set points — including one as part of a challenge resulting in deadlock at 6-6 — to even the match at a set apiece. It was during the changeover at 6-6 during the tiebreak that Bob Bryan had some words with the Brazilian bench, ratcheting up the intensity level of the match.

 

 

“I felt strange Bob’s reaction” said Melo.  “Just running, too close from me, screaming on my ear. I don’t know what’s happened like that, you know. Bob never did this before. We have really good relationship. I have him as a friend. In that moment I got in shock, How Bob did this, is not normal.”

 

Here’s Bob Bryan’s take on the situation: “Yeah, Davis Cup is an emotional atmosphere. They got passionate after they thought they won the set. I got passionate to them. There were some words said. You know, no hard feelings, no grudges.

 

It’s Davis Cup. This sort of stuff happens all the time. It didn’t affect the outcome of the match at all. There’s no hard feelings.”

The Brazilians went on to take the third set, and the Americans battled back to win the fourth, putting the Bryans in uncharted territory: Their first ever five-setter in Davis Cup. The turning point in the fifth set was when Mike Bryan double faulted to give Brazil the break and a 5-3 lead. Brazil held serve in the following game to secure the victory, to the delight of fans wearing the green, gold and blue.

“We came here today to fight,” said Soares. “We know we play well together. We never give up. So I think today was just a perfect example how good me and Marcelo can play together.”

 

Soares said part of Brazil’s game plan was to take away Mike Bryan’s return of serve down the middle. “Mike is one of the best returners in the game. We know we have to mix it up, take chances, serve in a spot that you don’t really feel comfortable, but you got to do it. He can hit any return anywhere. So I think what we tried to do a lot is to play the ‘I’ position and mix it up a lot.”

 

Soares called the win against the American his best ever in doubles competition.

“Beat Bryans on a Davis Cup World Group in their home. Tough to beat that. Maybe later on our career we hope to have some good wins as good as this one. But this one for me, it’s very special. It’s number one, for sure.”

 

“Hats off to the Brazilians, said Bob Bryan. I thought they served well pretty much of the four hours. A lot of high-percentage first serves. They were half-volleying well, keeping the pressure on for a long time. We didn’t get it done, and that’s our fault. We came here from Australia and gave it our best effort to get in shape and win this match, and we came up short.

“All the credit to those guys. They’ve beaten us before. They’re a good team. They’re in the mix in the big tournaments around the world. They knock on the door. They beat some other big teams as well. I’m sure we’re going to see them again for many years.”
In response to a follow-up question about the Bryans having any jet-lag or letdown after traveling from Australia, Mike Bryan said the twins felt great and were not mentally fatigued. “I don’t think we executed our best. We could have played a better match. Could have probably played a little more aggressive. But it wasn’t a factor of just winning a Grand Slam and traveling so far.”

The Americans are hoping John Isner will seal the tie when he takes on Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci in Sunday’s first singles match. A Bellucci victory would force a fifth and deciding match between Sam Querrey of the U.S. and Thiago Alves of Brazil. Querrey is ranked number 20 in the world, while Alves is ranked number 141.

 

U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier says he Isner and Querrey are “well-prepared. They come in with three sets under their belt from yesterday which is good for their

confidence, not damaging to their physical fitness. We feel confident in our chances (Sunday). We don’t underestimate the opposition. They gained a little bit of momentum. It will be our job to quell that tomorrow and snuff it out first ball.”
Courier’s counterpart, Brazilian Davis Cup Captain Joao Zwetsch, said his team is going to “come strong” on Sunday and use the doubles victory as added motivation. “We still respecting a lot the American team, like I said all the time this week,” said Zwetsch. “But I guess we are like stronger mentally now to come (Sunday) and fight as we fight (Saturday).”

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Jacksonville, Florida covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Brazil for Tennis Panorama News.

 

 

 

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