UCLA and USC Meet for Pac-12 Men's Title, Stanford and Cal in Women's Championship Match; Semifinals Set for Men's and Women's Opens; US Junior Teams Continue to Roll in ITF North and Central American Qualifying
©Colette Lewis 2017--
Friday was another busy day at the 117th edition of The Ojai, with the Pac-12 men's semifinals taking place at Libbey Park, the women's semifinals at the Weil Academy and Ojai Athletic Club and a steady stream of Men's and Women's Open matches filling the courts at the Ojai Valley Inn.
The men have now been playing a Pac-12 conference tournament for six years and after today's results, five of the finals will have been between UCLA and USC. UCLA, who had a bye into the semifinals, was the first to earn its place in the final, beating Stanford 4-0 in a match devoid of suspense. USC and Cal then took the courts, and although Cal was the team that had gotten a bye into the semifinals, the Trojans won a close doubles point and went on to post a 4-1 win. The three singles points came from Riley Smith at line 6, Jack Jaede at line 4 and Nick Crystal at line 2. UCLA has won two of the three previous meetings between the crosstown rivals this year, with the last meeting a 4-1 decision for the Bruins just last week.
This is the first year for the Pac-12 women's team event, and close matches have been the theme, although Stanford has managed to avoid that trend. The Cardinal defeated Oregon 4-0 today, but had to wait to see who they would play in the final, with USC and Cal going down to the wire, before the Bears posted a 4-3 victory. Maya Jansen clinched for Cal, beating Angela Kulikov 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 at line 5 to secure the victory.
Both finals will be held at Libbey Park on Saturday and will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. The women's final begins at 3 p.m., with the men's final at 6 p.m. For more on the Pac-12 tournament, see the conference website.
The other finals to be played on Saturday at Libbey Park are the CIF (Southern California High School) boys singles and doubles, with the semifinals in the morning and the finals around noon. Defending champion Connor Hance will face Jake Sands in the top half semifinal, with Stefan Dostanic playing Ryan Seggerman in the bottom half semifinal.
The Men’s Open semifinals are set for Saturday at Libbey Park, with top seed Philip Bester taking on No. 5 seed Haythem Abid and No. 3 seed Clay Thompson facing unseeded Henry Craig.
Bester’s win over Ojai regular Cecil Mamiit was not easy, with the 28-year-old Canadian taking early leads in both sets before USC's 1996 NCAA singles champion fought back. Bester, with a current ATP ranking of 341, was too strong on the forehand however, and he closed out the match 6-4, 6-3.
Abid’s 7-6(4), 7-5 win over No. 4 seed Keegan Smith was the longest of the quarterfinals, while Craig was looking to be first off the court against Cal recruit Jacob Brumm after taking a 6-2, 5-1 lead. But Craig was unable to serve it out in either of his opportunities, and he needed to break Brumm at 4-5 to post the 6-2, 6-4 victory.
“He started playing a lot better,” said Craig, a December 2016 graduate of the University of Denver, who lives in the San Diego area. “He was hitting really short for pretty much the whole match and I think his legs were a little tired from yesterday and he was struggling a little bit. But then at 5-1, he really stepped it up, started hitting deep and I was kind of surprised, but I ended up closing it out.”
The Women’s Open, with a 16-player draw, started early in the morning, with two matches on their schedule Friday.
For No. 3 seed Gail Brodsky, who now lives in the Seattle area, returning to Ojai is something of a homecoming, after training for years at Ojai's Weil Academy.
“It feels like family,” said the 25-year-old, who now has a two-year-old boy and a nine-month-old girl. “I think I’ve played this tournament six times.”
Brodsky had begun a comeback after her son was born and won a $10,000 event in Canada in 2015, but that had to be put on hold when she became pregnant again, “a good reason,” she said, for another break from tennis. She and her husband, Mark Hanson are coaches at Northwest High Performance Tennis in Kirkland Washington, and Brodsky is playing doubles with NWPT student Paiton Wagner, an Oregon recruit.
Brodsky defeated Holly Verner 6-0, 6-1 in the first round and reached Saturday's semifinals with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Jwany Sherif.
For links to draws for all events, see the tournament website.
At the North and Central American qualifying for the Junior Davis Cup, Junior Fed Cup and World Junior Tennis events, all four US teams blanked their opponents for the second day in a row. Results are below.
JUNIOR FED CUP
Natasha Subhash defeated Daira Cardenas 6-2,6-0
Caty McNally/Whitney Osuigwe defeated Aida Garcia Mendez/Daira Cardenas 6-3,6-2
USA def. Guatemala 3-0
Tristan Boyer def. Alejandro Solares (GUA) 6-0, 6-0
William Grant def. Sebastian Dominguez (GUA) 6-1, 6-2
Boyer/Nanda def. Padilla/Solares (GUA) 6-1, 6-1
WJT – GIRLS 14s
USA def. Mexico 3-0
Cori Gauff def. Midori Castillo (MEX) 7-5, 6-1
Gabriella Price def. Julia Garcia (MEX) 6-4, 6-1
Owensby/Price def. Castillo/Chavez (MEX) 6-3, 6-2
WJT – BOYS 14s
USA def. Canada 3-0
Martin Damm def. Berk Tunali (CAN) 6-3,6-0
Toby Kodat def. Marko Stakusic (CAN) 6-1,6-0
Bernard/Kodat def. Stakusic/Tunali (CAN) 6-0,6-1