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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Swapping shrieks along with their shots, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka made rallies sound like a car alarm.
Sharapova was the soprano, Azarenka the alto, and their alternating arias could be heard on the beach across the street from the Sony Ericsson Open.
But Sharapova was flat and her opponent sharp. Azarenka swept nine consecutive games to take charge Saturday and won the tournament for the second time, beati ng Sharapova, 6-1, 6-4.
The final matched two of the most notorious grunters in tennis, and while both were noisy, Azarenka’s shots had more bang. Sharapova committed 43 unforced errors, held serve only once and came up short with a late comeback bid.
“I played real well the first set,” the No. 8-seeded Azarenka said. “Maria is such a great fighter, I knew she was going to fight to the end. She came up with great tennis at the end, and I had to hang in there. That’s what paid off.”
And who had the better shriek?
“I think mine is quieter,” Azarenka said.
Sharapova committed eight errors in the first game alone. She lined one especially unsightly serve into the concrete in front of the net. By the time she found her range, Azarenka led 4-love in the second set.
“It’s a little bit too late to pick up the pace when you’re down a set and 4-love,” Sharapova said. “I wish I picked it up earlier, obviously. She did many things better than I did today.”
While the women’s tournament was full of surprises, the men’s draw is down to the game’s top-ranked players. No. 1 Rafael Nadal will play for the championship today against No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who is 23-0 this year.
Sharapova lost in a final for the fourth time since her most recent title, at Strasbourg in May 2010. She’s 0-3 in finals at Key Biscayne, where she was also the runner-up in 2005 and 2006.
But the three-time Grand Slam champion is healthy again after battling a series of injuries, as the results are starting to show. She’s projected to climb next week to No. 9, the highest she has been ranked since early 2009.
“It means that I’m winning matches, and winning more of them,” she said. “It has been a long road to get here. It’s not over yet.”
Azarenka’s also on the rise, and projected to be ranked No. 6 next week, matching a career-best.
Alas, the 21-year-old Belarussian can’t play Key Biscayne every week. She also won the tournament in 2009, stopping Serena Williams in the final. The two titles are the biggest of her career, and she joked she’s planning to move to Miami from Minsk.
Serena and Venus Williams, who between them have won eight Key Biscayne titles, missed the tournament for health reasons. But Azarenka still faced a tough path to the final, beating No. 2 Kim Clijsters and No. 3 Vera Zvonareva in straight sets.
Through six rounds, Azarenka avoided the sort of emotional outbursts that derailed her in the past. She said that after losing in the third round at Dubai in February, she went home and reflected on the state of her game.
“I changed my mentality a little bit,” she said. “I’m enjoying myself so much on the court that there’s no room for me for frustration. I just don’t care if I lose — what I mean is not to create such a big drama out of it. If you lose the match, it’s not the end of the world.”
Before facing Sharapova, Azarenka suggested fans wear earplugs, and the two finalists went at it like a couple of “Aida” rejects. The screeching on one early exchange had spectators giggling before the point ended, but a grim Sharapova pretended not to notice the strident soundtrack.
“I don’t really think about it when I play,” she said. “It’s about thinking what I have to do.”
She had trouble there, with Azarenka hitting aggressively from the baseline to prevent Sharapova from finding her rhythm.
Sharapova broke serve to reach 1-all, but it was an hour before she won another game. She failed to convert 11 game points on her serve before holding for the only time to trail 4-2, and briefly steadied her strokes.
Pounding winners, she overcame two match points to break for 5-4.
“I didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong,” Azarenka said. “She was just playing really good.”
But Sharapova was too erratic to sustain her rally — or the rallies. When she dumped a forehand into the net on the final point, Azarenka dropped her racket in disbelief and celebrated by spinning and dancing across the court.
And then the only noise came from the cheering crowd.
South Africa’s Kevin Anderson won his first ATP singles title Sunday, beating India’s Somdev Devvarman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in front of home fans at the SA Tennis Open.
The fourth-seeded Anderson became the first South African titlist on the ATP tour since Wesley Moodie capture the championship at Tokyo on October 9, 2005.
“There’s so many emotions running round right now,” Anderson said. “Not only winning a tour title, but winning it here in South Africa, is a great experience and a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
Anderson was appearing in the second final of his career. The Johannesburg native lost to American Sam Querrey in the 2008 Los Vegas title match.
Devvarman, meanwhile, became a two-time runner-up. He was beaten by Croat Marin Cilic in the 2009 Chennai title match — his only other singles final.
“It’s disappointing that I lost, but it’s exciting because I see a lot of areas in my game that can improve,” Devvarman said. “So I’m going to go back to the drawing board and try and get better.”
Virtua Tennis Returns With Rare Triple Crown In Motion Gaming
Virtua Tennis 4 will support Kinect when it arrives this spring, making it just the second sports title with versions supporting all three motion gaming flavors: Wii, PlayStation Move and Kinect.
By my reckoning there is only one title with currently available versions supported by all three devices – and that’s Zumba Fitness. Brunswick Pro Bowling has an Xbox 360 version coming Feb. 11 and Michael Jackson: The Experience has yet to release on PS3 and Xbox 360.
Grand Slam Tennis 11, by EA Sports, is expected to support all three devices but its release date has yet to be determined.
Virtua Tennis 4 will beat Grand Slam to the shelves, making it the first tennis game on Kinect, a platform that would seem to be a natural for it. Top Spin 4, 2K Sports’ tennis game, said earlier this week it would support both Move and 3D presentation on the PS3, but not Kinect.
Virtua will include stars like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Caroline Wozniacki, all of whom are also on the Top Spin roster.
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The first major tennis tournament of the 2011 is almost upon us.
The Australian Open kicks the year off in style with Roger Federer defending his men’s title and bidding for his seventeenth ‘grand slam title. Last year’s finalist Andy Murray will have to do it the hard way if he is to reach the showpiece once agin after dropping to fifth in the ATP rankings while Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have both been victorious at Melbourne Park and will be looking to acquire another piece of silverware.
Serena Williams will not be there to defend her crown though world number one Caroline Wozniacki will be in Oz trying to land her first grand slam title.
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Giant killer Arn claims ASB Classic crown STEVE KILGALLON – Stuff 1 of 19 Games cyclists dominate awards Dignitaries line up for Rugby World Cup Canty United gets $60,000 from Fifa for Clapham Kiwis miss out on Heineken Open wildcards Contrasting wins for champion, unlikely challenger ND pair bolster failing Black Caps batting Former rower Waddell claims cycling title Pakistan rue dropped chances All Whites World Cup squad members face off Ipswich sack manager Roy Keane
So the fairytale is complete.
Having beaten the superstar Maria Sharapova and the fourth seed Julia Goerges, world no.88 Greta Arn finished the job with a supremely confident 6-3, 6-3 defeat of defending champion Yanina Wickmayer in today’s ASB Classic tennis final in Auckland.
Arn was an unknown who should have played in qualifying – but for some late withdrawals – who came without her coach, her lost luggage or any reputation and last beat a ‘name’ player back in 2002. But she charmed the Auckland crowd, and visibly improved as the week went on, culminating in a near error-free performance this afternoon.
The 31-year-old Arn, who was forced off the tour for three years by financial woes, was full value for her victory, tirelessly chasing everything and putting plenty of pressure on the visibly fatigued Wickmayer, who had a tough route to the final. The pressure told on the favourite as defeat neared, as she fired a loose ball at a line judge and bounced her racquet.
But Arn would have been a frustrating opponent, playing with absolute consistency and pushing the ball to the width of the court whenever she could.
She wobbled slightly as victory neared, double-faulting twice in the final game – and sank to her knees as she realised she had won just her second tour title of a long career.
Belgrade – Enormous passion and the chance to make tennis history are the twin forces driving hosts Serbia into this weekend’s Davis Cup final. Out to destroy the dream will be nine-time champions France.
One-time tennis minnow Serbia, which rose from the ashes of the former Yugoslavia, stands on the cusp of a first-ever trophy in the worldwide team competition.
Driving the side is world number three Novak Djokovic, pushing himself through a long and tiring season but fully recharged as he tries to carry his nation to new glory. ‘Playing in a Davis Cup final is the biggest success that my country ever had,’ said the 2008 Australian Open champion.
‘It’s a unique opportunity to have Davis Cup final played at home. Maybe we’ll never have this opportunity again and we’re looking forward to it.
‘I came here on Sunday so I’ve had time to rest a little bit. Now I’m ready to practise and give my best throughout the weekend.’
Joining Djokovic on the side for the first-time finalist are good friends Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki, while Nenad Zimonjic brings confidence from last weekend’s victory in doubles at the ATP World Tour Finals.
‘It’s the biggest achievement that we have as a country, in tennis, which is an individual sport,’ said Zimonjic.
‘We won the World Team Championship last May in Dusseldorf, and without Novak on the team. That shows we have a pretty good team without him.
‘But obviously with him it’s much, much stronger. I bring a lot with the doubles. But then the second player, which is either Viktor or Janko, they’re also doing their part.
‘Davis Cup is difficult to compare, it’s a completely different achievement.’
Captain Bogdan Obradovic is – like counterpart Guy Forget – saving his final lineup choices for the last minute, to be revealed at Thursday’s draw ceremony.
Serbian fans will be out in their numbers at the 16,200-capacity Belgrade stadium, where tickets sold out online in a matter of minutes for the tie starting with Friday’s singles.
Officials have said that despite notorious Serbian football violence, tennis crowds will be well-behaved.
The venue is a lucky charm for the hosts, who have never lost there.
But France brings massive depth of talent to the wintery Serbian capital, and is set to field a strong side even without injured (knee) number 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is on hand for moral support.
Forget can pick from two-time Paris Bercy finalist Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon and dual-threat Michael Llodra, holder of three Grand Slam doubles finals.
A question mark will be veteran Arnaud Clement, with the 32-year- old hoping for a change of luck after being left out of a Davis Cup finals doubles lineup three times at the last minute.
‘I’m ready for doubles,’ said Clement. ‘I don’t know yet if I’m going to play, that’s a question for the captain, but I’m ready to go on court.’
Llodra, a Paris semi-finalist last month, does not believe that his win at Bercy over Djokovic will count for much.
‘Davis Cup is totally different than ATP events.’
Like the Serbs, France remain undefeated this season and have reached a final for the first time since 2002 after last lifting the trophy a year previously 3-2 over Australia in Melbourne.
Tjhe opening singles rubbers are set for Friday, doubles will be played Saturday and the reverse singles on Sunday.
By Staff Report | Peninsula Clarion
Auston Tennis won an individual championship at 145 pounds and five of his teammates took home top-six finishes as the Soldotna High School wrestling team placed sixth at the Glen Vandergaw Invitational at Dimond High School on Friday and Saturday.
Tennis, a junior, went 2-0 in dual competition Friday before sweeping through a 24-man bracket at 145 Saturday.
After a first-round bye, Tennis pinned Nick Bassnett of Colony High School in 1:49. He outlasted Daniel Murakami of Service High School for a 6-4 victory by decision in the semifinals. In the finals, he edged Matt Downing of East High School 14-12.
Tennis entered the invite ranked No. 2 in the state at 145 after placing second at the Class 4A state meet a year ago. Downing, meanwhile, held the No. 1 ranking, meaning Tennis is a favorite to win a state title and could leapfrog into the No. 1 ranking.
Teammates Taylor Hanley and Dakota Elsey earned fourth-place finishes at 130 and 189, respectively, while Cody Warfield took fifth at 171. Cody Carroll, ranked No. 3 at 135, settled for sixth, as did Logan Patrick at 160.
The Stars finished sixth as a team with 72 points. Wasilla High School earned the team title with 169 points, followed by Service (155) and Colony (146).
Skyview High School and Kenai Central High School, meanwhile, didn’t find as much success.
The Panthers, who finished 14th as a team with 45 points, were led by Hannah Hutchison (103) and Sam Janorschke (125). Both earned fifth-place individual finishes. John Alexander notched a six-place effort at 215.
It was a quiet weekend for the Kardinals, who took 16th in the team standings on 19 points. Devin Carter and Hope Steffensen were the team’s top finishers, earning fifth at 135 and sixth at 103.
The Kards fielded just nine wrestlers Friday for dual competition, forfeiting at 112, 119, 125, 130 and 140.
Nikiski High School’s Kaden Spurgeon earned an individual title at 145, leading the Bulldogs to a third-place finish Friday and Saturday at the Bethel Invitational at Bethel High School.
Spurgeon was the Bulldogs’ lone champion, pinning Carl Fox of Bethel at the 3:01 mark of the title bout. He got there with a first-round bye, a pin in the quarterfinals and a win by technical fall in the finals.
Joshua Brown earned third at 135, as did Tyler Peek at 140.
Trey Zimmerman (103), Mike Stangel (125), Sawyer Skiba (130) and Corey Green (140) finished second in their respective weight classes for the Bulldogs, who compiled 105 points in the team competition to finish in third behind first-place Bethel (253) and runner-up Nome High School (147).
Top of the World Classic
Homer High School finished 1-2 in dual matches at the Top of the World Classic at Barrow High School on Friday.
The Mariners defeated Barrow 52-33 behind pins from Calvin Johnson (112 pounds), Phil Haunschild (119), DJ Marsengill (125), Harley Wells (130), Mark McGregor (145) and Shlomo Gherman (152). Mick Wells added an 11-2 win at 215 for the Mariners.
Anchorage Christian Schools defeated Homer 47-29, while Sitka High School topped the Mariners 49-29.
Glen Vandergaw Invitational
103 — Kraig Hammond, Sou, dec. Wade Booth, Col, 11-6, 112 — Alex Nanez, Ser, dec. Luke Foster, Sou, 10-8; 119 — Jared Miller, Dil, dec. Johnny Hogenson, Sou, 8-5; 125 — Conrad Lacey, Ser, dec. Talon Sturgill, Bar, 6-4; 130 — Tyler Adams, Was, p. Jacob Lunsford, Ser, 5:58; 135 — Luke Faulker, Col, dec. Dominic Taus, Eag, 4-3; 140 — Mat Malnoske, Eas, tech. Branson Markson, sou, 4:45; 145 — Auston Tennis, Sol, dec. Matt Downing, Eas, 14-12; 152 — Reed Tennyson, Dil, dec. Kyle Boss, Col, 8-5; 160 — Nate Wolfe, Col, dec. Josh Wiggins, Eas, 8-6; 171 — John Dennehy, Sou, p. Aaron Reese, Hou, 1:59; 189 — Stephen Ellis, Ser, p. Quace Wright, Col, 2:56; 215 — Luke Wagner, Hou, p. Garrett Morrison, Chu, 3:02; HWT — Calen Green, Bar, p. Drew Yaeger, Bar, 4:45.
103 — Nick Ottum, Sou, p. Shannon Carpenter, Was, 4:02; 112 — Gabe Larson, Ser, dec. Ryker Steiner, 6-5; 119 — Nate McKimson, Was, p. Doug O’Hara, Kot, 2:27; 125 — John Pounds, Ser, dec. Jed Diederich, Was, 7-6; 130 — Jacob Berrego, Eag, p. Taylor Hanley, Sol, 2:58; 135 — Anthony Sierra, Eas, dec. Christian Lowe, Was, 8-6 (OT); 140 — Jentry Diederich, Was, major dec. Nick Hoffer, Eas, 10-1; 145 — Daniel Murakami, Ser, dec. Chris Dickens, Chu, 3-1 (OT); 152 — Pat Mullett, Chu, dec. Ken Banning, Ser, 8-7; 160 — Rilen Skieens, Ser, dec. Camden MacDowell, Sou, 3-1 (OT); 171 — Skye Wrench, Col, dec. Yuriy Makitrin, Was, 13-11; 189 — Charlie Johnson, Kod, p. Dakota Elsey, Sol, 1:46; 215 — Derek Zoria, Ser, p. Nate Williams, Eag, 1:43; HWT — Wrenn Wright, Col, dec. Ryan Pomrenke, Was, 5-4.
103 — Hannah Hutchison, Sky, won by forfeit; 112 — Zach Luff, Eag, won by forfeit; 119 — Francis Liorente, Kod, dec. Tyler Mockta, Ser, 3-2; 125 — Sam Janorschke, Sky, p. Austin Rochon, Chu, 4:45; 130 — Drew Drake, Hou, dec. Adam Dowling, Eas, 3-1; 135 — Devin Carter, Ken, won by forfeit; 140 — Avery Smith, Col, dec. Kevin Leopla, Kod, 9-8; 145 — Brandon Canete, Kod, major dec. Francisco Gaytan, Ser, 12-1; 152 — Ben Nix, Dim, major dec. Jospeth Fujimoto, Col, 10-2; 160 — Garrett Elder, Hou, p. Logan Patrick, Sol, 4:24; 171 — Cody Warfield, Sol, dec. Tyler Seims, Was, 5-3; 189 — Adam Akelkok, Was, p. Michael Atonio, Bar, 3:34; 215 — Austin Gonzalez, Was, dec. John Alexander, Sky, 7-4; HWT — Jarett Tucker, Sou, won by forfeit.
1. Wasilla, 169; 2. Service, 155; 3. Colony, 146; 4. South Anchorage, 138.5; 5. East, 101; 6. Soldotna, 72; 7. Houston, 68; 8. Eagle River, 62.5; 9 (t). Kodiak, 56; 9 (t). Chugiak, 56; 11. Service JV, 52; 12. Bartlett, 51; 13. Dillingham, 49.5; 14. Skyview, 45; 15. Bartlett JV, 20; 16. Kenai Central, 19; 17. South JV, 18; 18. Colony JV, 15; 19 (t). Dimond, 14; 19(t). East JV, 14; 21. Kotzebue, 11; 22. Wasilla JV, 9; 23. Kotzebue JV, 4; 24. Eagle River JV, 1.
Colony 56, Soldotna 16
103 — Wade Booth, Col, p. Taran Edmondson, 1:03; 112 — Zack Vera, Col, won by forfeit; 119 — Tim Price, Sol, p. Napolean, 5:12; 125 — Brooks Simmons, Col, won by forfeit; 130 — Taylor Hanley, Sol, p. Taylor Mulkins, 2:14; 135 — Luke Faulkner, Col, dec. Cody Carroll, 3-0; 140 — Avery Smith, Col, p. Dusty Poole, 1:43; 145 — Auston Tennis, Sol, tech. Nick Bassnett, 4:15; 152 — Kyle Boss, Col, p. Troy Streiff, 2:54; 160 — Nate Wolf, Col, dec. Logan Patrick, 7-2; 171 — Kyle Wrench, Col, dec. Cody Warfield, 12-5; 189 — Quace Wright, Col, major dec. Dakota Elsey, 14-4; Ian MacKenzie, Col, p. AJ Briggs, 1:07; HWT — Renn Wright, Col, won by forfeit.
Dimond 30, Kenai Central 24
103 — Hope Steffensen, Ken, won by forfeit; 112 — double forfeit; 119 — Masa Hu, Dim, won by forfeit; 125 — Kyle Christians, Dim, won by forfeit; 130 — double forfeit; 135 — Devin Carter, Ken, p. Curtis Loewen, 3:24; 140 — double forfeit; 145 — Dylan Sterling, Ken, dec. John Walther, 6-3; 152 — Ben Nix, Dim, p. Matt Aho, 3:21; 160 — Tyler Brown, Ken, dec. Andy Robinson, 6-3; 171 — Camerson Hull, Dim, p. EJ Ismael, :50; 189 — Aaron Simeonoff, Dim, p. Coltyn Pribbenow, 1:19; 215 — Jake Dragseth, Ken, p. Brandon Bowers, 5:14; HWT — Kevin Hunter, Ken, dec. Nick Black, 11-3.
Wasilla 54, Soldotna 21
103 — Shannon Carpenter, Was, p. Taran Edmondson, :55; 112 — Alina Minnick, Was, won by forfeit; 119 — Nate McKimson, Was, p. Tim Price, 1:16; 125 — Jed Diederich, Was, won by forfeit; 130 — Tyler Adams, Was, p. Taylor Hanley, 3:59; 135 — Cody Carroll, Sol, dec. Christian Lowe, 7-0; 140 — Dusty Poole, Sol, dec. Jentry Diederich, 4-0; 145 — Tyler Powell, Sol, won by forfet; 152 — Auston Tennis, Sol, tech. Daniel Wiggins, 17-2; 160 — Logan Patrick, Sol, major dec. Devon Jacobsen, 13-4; 171 — Yuriy Makitrin, Was, p. Cody Warfield, 1:37; 189 — Adam Akelkok, Was, p. Dakota Elsey, 2:57; Austine Gonzalez, Was, p. AJ Briggs, 1:14; HWT — Ryan Pomrenke, Was, won by forfeit.
Kenai Central 33, Eagle River 26
103 — Hope Steffensen, Ken, won by forfeit; 112 — double forfeit; 119 — double forfeit; 125 — double forfeit; 130 — James Grubb, Eag, won by forfeit; 135 — Jake Borrego, Eag, dec. Devin Carter, 15-8; 140 — Dominic Taus, Eag, won by forfeit; 145 — Dylan Sterling, Ken, won by forfeit; 152 — Matt Aho, Ken, won by forfeit; 160 — Logan Sheets, Eag, p. Tyler Brown, 3:17; 171 — Ed Hall, Eag, p. EJ Ismael, 1:48; 189 — Coltyn Pribbenow, Ken, won by forfeit; 215 — Nate Williams, Eag, p. Jake Dragseth, 2:35; HWT — Kevin Hunter, Ken, dec. Austin Thompson, 6-2.
The 5-foot-3 right-hander was the only senior in the Clovis North lineup a year after it was eliminated 5-4 by Tehachapi in the D-III semifinals.
And, in June, she’s on track to walk with a 4.2 grade point average in the first graduating class for a school that has already won five section titles.
They’ve all been delivered by girls as the tennis team won a week after Clovis North did so in D-II golf.
Other Broncos section champions came in D-III — soccer (2010), cross country (2009) and track and field (2009).
The tennis title, coming on an unseasonably warm mid-80s degree day, was all but secured after Clovis North emerged from singles with a 4-2 lead.
“No question, I felt pretty good at that point,” Fernandsen said. “We spend a lot of time on doubles, and we had to win just one. I’m thinking, ‘We’ll get the job done at least somewhere.’ “
Predictably, it was produced by Austin and junior Archie, who had partnered in doubles for two seasons.
“We got our communication down,” said Austin, who overpowered the Warriors with her ground strokes while Archie ran down many balls and also played well at the net.
Fernandsen’s lineup counted four sophomores and two freshmen, including Jackie Vasquez, who dominated 6-2, 6-1 in No. 3 singles.
The Broncos also received singles wins from Archie and sophomore Kayla Hosoda, and a doubles victory from sophomore Ashley Winslow and freshman Eva Julian.
Clovis North matched its youth against a Tehachapi team charged by four seniors among its top six. But the Broncos’ learning curve accelerated during the regular season against strong competition in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.
“No question that helped prepare us,” said Fernandsen, whose team finished fourth in the TRAC behind D-I finalists Clovis West and Buchanan, and Clovis East. “Even though we took a couple thumpings, it was definitely good for the long term.”
By Zach Ewing, The Bakersfield Californian
Nov. 04–For Tehachapi girls tennis, Division II has meant drama.
Their backs firmly against the wall, the Warriors staged an improbable rally to win 5-4 against Porterville-Monache in the Central Section D-II semifinals Tuesday.
“It was unbelievable,” Tehachapi coach Amy Lang said. “We were 3-3 after singles and lost the first set of all three doubles matches. There was no hope for us, but my girls never gave up.”
Tehachapi’s No. 2 doubles team lost its second set, and the team fell behind 4-3. But the Warriors’ No. 1 player, Hannah Trott, teamed with Abby Croy for a comeback victory at No. 1 doubles, 10-6 in the third-set tiebreaker.
“They thought we had lost when they heard the (Monache) fans clapping after the No. 2 doubles,” Lang said. “So they just played to have fun.”
So all eyes fixated on No. 3 doubles, where Daelyn Valencia and Lexi Zimmerman didn’t have the luxury of ignorance: Lang told them the match was up to them.
They rallied for a 6-3 victory in the second set and won a nail-biting tiebreaker, 10-8, to clinch victory.
Now the Warriors — moved up to D-II by the section in the offseason — travel to top-seeded Clovis North at 4 p.m. today for the championship.
“We appealed when (the section) moved us to D-II,” Lang said, “and we were kind of annoyed that they ignored our appeal. We can barely get 12 girls for varsity and JV, and these other teams have 40 girls to choose from. But the girls don’t even think about that. They’re just out there playing.”
Now the Warriors have a chance to prove that Division II is no big jump.
“This is huge,” Lang said.
After the final team titles are decided today — Clovis West and Clovis-Buchanan play for the D-I title while it’s Reedley-Immanuel and Porterville in D-III — the focus will shift to In Shape Sport-Laurel Glen, where the section’s singles and doubles tournament concludes this weekend.
The top 15 singles seeds all survived last week’s opening rounds, including No. 1 Chelby Cooke of Bakersfield Christian, No. 2 Gracie Jacobs of Garces, No. 4 Nancy Ramirez of East, No. 9 Leah Stewart of Stockdale and No. 14 Isabella Busacca of Liberty. They will play two rounds Friday, beginning at 9 a.m., with the semifinals and championship slated for Saturday morning.
Fifteen of the 16 seeded doubles teams also advanced to this weekend, including No. 2 Lily Schuler-Carolyn Stevens of BCHS.
Garces water polo boys shine
The end of a terrific regular season for Garces’ boys water polo team comes today, when the Rams can clinch an outright East Yosemite League title against Exeter today at McMurtrey Aquatic Center.
Garces is 13-0 in the league, and Exeter is 12-1 with an 18-13 loss in the teams’ first meeting.
Win, and the Rams will have dominated the league they just joined.
“Maybe they won’t want us in the league next year,” coach Greg Aakhus said.
Using a deep team that trained with the Bakersfield Water Polo Club all summer, Aakhus has guided Garces to dominance. Should the Rams win today, they’ll likely earn the No. 1 seed in the Central Section Division III playoffs when pairings are announced Friday.
The third-year program earned a big jump in credibility at the Clovis West tournament two weekends ago.
Garces beat Division I contenders Clovis-Buchanan and Fresno-Central and lost narrow matches to Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial and Clovis East.
“We surprised the heck out of them,” Aakhus said. “Every game came down to the last five seconds. One of the refs came up to me afterwards and said that we could play with anyone.”
Golden Valley QB suspended
Golden Valley has appealed the suspension of quarterback Darrik Martin for Friday night’s home game against South.
Martin was ejected from last Friday’s game against Mira Monte for committing two personal fouls. Golden Valley had played that game without three suspended players, including leading wide receiver Chris Brown.
Bulldogs coach Erich Smith said the school submitted an appeal on Martin’s behalf to the Central Section but had not heard back as of Wednesday night.
Centennial’s Trujillo day-to-day
Centennial senior center Alex Trujillo is day-to-day with a sprained ankle, Golden Hawks coach Bryan Nixon said Tuesday.
Trujillo hurt the ankle playing defense in the first half of Centennial’s 28-14 win against Bakersfield High last Friday. Without him, the Hawks passed for only 8 yards in the second half.
Nixon said Trujillo hopes to play Friday at Liberty.
Freedom Bowl ticket sales
Speaking of the Centennial-Liberty game, tickets are on sale in advance for the Freedom Bowl at both schools’ finance offices.
Tickets are on sale during school hours until noon Friday at Centennial and until 3:30 p.m. Friday at Liberty. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday.
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Benicia High School’s Lindsey Smith rallied twice to overcome Bethel’s Julie Ha and capture the singles crown Friday during the Solano County Athletic Conference tennis tournament.
Smith, the league’s co-MVP with Vanden’s Emily Lewis, won 7-5, 7-5 after trailing in both sets.
Bethel’s Sam Dris and Christie Lee fell in the doubles final to Lewis and Dani Ponce of Vanden, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6. Lewis and Ponce eliminated Benicia’s Daisy Hayward and Celine Eyler in the semifinals.
Benicia’s Tara McAninch and Lindsey Klein lost to Vanden’s top doubles team 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.
Ha, Smith, Dris and Lee advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament, which begins Thursday at Johnson Ranch in Roseville.
“Moving on with three girls to the section tournament, winning the SCAC team championship, this has been a great season for the team,” Bethel coach Mike Sariano said. “I’m proud of the girls and their hard work.”
The Panthers’ Hayward and Brittany Wood were all-league picks, while Eyler and American Canyon’s Gennina Bautista were among the honorable mentions.
American Canyon’s fledgling program made its first appearance in the league tournament. Bautista and Katherine Yu both lost in the first round of singles competition. They teamed up to defeat Hogan’s Kresta Tabaranza and Genica Ocampo 7-6 (4), 6-4 in doubles play. The Wolves’ Anne Mancio and Vivian Chow lost in the first round of doubles play.