Sacramento Capitals advance to WTT Finals

CHARLESTON, S.C. (September 14, 2012) —  There has been a lot of talk about the Washington Kastles historic 30-match win streak leading into the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, but the Sacramento Capitals will have an opportunity to make history of their own after defeating the Orange County Breakers 25-15 to win the WTT Western Conference Championship and a spot in Sunday’s WTT Finals at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, S.C.

The Capitals will be vying for a League-best seventh Championship title on Sunday when they face the winner of Saturday’s New York Sportimes-Washington Kastles Eastern Conference Championship match.

Sacramento jumped out to an early lead with a first set win in men’s singles.  Kevin Anderson overpowered the Breakers’ John-Patrick Smith 5-3.  Anderson started mixed doubles and won the first game on the South African’s big serve before Caps coach Wayne Bryan brought in doubles great Mark Knowles to join Coco Vandeweghe.  Knowles was spectacular, hitting winners and leading the Caps to a 5-4 set win with Yasmin Schnack,  who replaced Vandeweghe at 2-2.

Sacramento took a commanding 15-8 halftime lead after Anderson and Knowles overpowered Smith and Travis Parrott in men’s doubles, 5-1.  Coco Vandeweghe edged the Breakers’ Jana Juricova 5-4 in women’s singles to give the Caps an eight-game lead going into the final set.

Schnack and Asia Muhammad closed out the victory for Sacramento with a 5-3 win over Groenefeld and Juricova in women’s doubles.

WTT action continues at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. when Venus Williams  leads the Washington Kastles against the New York Sportimes with John McEnroe.  The Kastles are riding a 30-match win streak that started with their unbeaten 2011 season, giving them the second longest U.S. pro sports team win streak in history.

The roster for the Kastles includes Williams, Leander Paes, 2012 WTT Male MVP Bobby Reynolds, Anastasia Rodionova and Arina Rodionova.  McEnroe will be joined by Jesse Witten, Robert Kendrick, Kveta Peschke and Ashley Harkleroad for the Sportimes.

Ticket specials for the WTT Finals Weekend are available through the Family Circle Tennis Center box office, which opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday.  For tickets, travel packages or more information, please contact the Box Office at 1-800-677-2293 or visit www.familycirclecup.com.

Final results from the WTT Western Conference Championship presented by GEICO:

(Home team in capital letters)

Sacramento Capitals def. ORANGE COUNTY BREAKERS, 25-15

Men’s Singles – Kevin Anderson (Capitals) def. John-Patrick Smith (Breakers) 5-3

Mixed Doubles – Mark Knowles\Yasmin Schnack (Capitals) def. John-Patrick Smith\Anna-Lena Groenefeld (Breakers) 5-4

Men’s Doubles – Kevin Anderson\Mark Knowles (Capitals) def. John-Patrick Smith\Travis Parrott (Breakers) 5-1

Women’s Singles – Coco Vandeweghe (Capitals) def. Jana Juricova (Breakers) 5-4

Women’s Doubles – Asia Muhammad\Yasmin Schnack (Capitals) def. Anna-Lena Groenefeld\Jana Juricova (Breakers) 5-3

Next Matches:

9/15/2012

WTT Eastern Conference Championship presented by GEICO:  New York Sportimes vs. WASHINGTON KASTLES, 6:30 PM (ET)

9/16/2012

WTT Finals:  Sacramento Capitals vs. EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION, 3:30 PM (ET)

For live scoring and complete player / match statistics, please visit www.WTT.com

Media contacts:

Rosie Crews – rcrews@wtt.com; C: 817.691.5424

Fish Learns On The Job

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Abe Vigoda’s character Sargent Phil Fish from Barney Miller is getting more respect than Mardy Fish these days.

As the top ranked American you would figure he should get a chance to be on Arthur Ashe Stadium one of these days, but alas the No. 8 seed still is getting showcased on the old center court Luis Armstrong stadium.

The Californian, though, doesn’t seem to mind.

“It’s definitely been like that in the past,” he said. “You know, there’s an American playing, put him on Grandstand or Louis court, and hopefully he’ll win.

“I hope it’s the beginning of that. That’s what you work towards, to have people come and appreciate what you do. You know, maybe I get the feeling, at least in the beginning of that match, that there were quite a few people there that maybe wouldn’t have been there in years past.”

Fish won his match today against South African Kevin Anderson with a straight sets victory, 6-4 7-6 7-6 to advance to the fourth round.

And if he wants to continue on his trek to greatness, he knows he need to continue disposing of opponents like the 12th Precinct captures bad guys. Straight set matches are key for the 39 year-old if he move deep into this tournament and beat one of the Big Four.

“It’s huge,” Fish said. “Mentally, physically, everything. Obviously it’s what we train for. I’ll be physically fine in two days. But, you know, I’m 29. I don’t wake up in the morning feeling like I’m 20. I don’t feel like Donald felt this morning. I’m sure he felt fine, you know. I won’t feel like that tomorrow morning.

“But we’ll do a lot of work on my body tonight, tomorrow. It’s big, you know, to get off. Last year was a prime example. I mean, I played two fivesetters in the first three rounds. I was just mentally and physically kind of drained to play someone like Novak in that next match.

“Maybe I could have come up against him, gamewise, a lot better than the score was. But I was so tired I wasn’t ready for it.”

It has been widely reported Fish has made the remarkable transformation from journeyman to star in a matter of a few years and maybe the reason he’s not getting the respect he deserves is that no one believes he could become a top player at this advanced age.

Yet, here’s Fish and like Phil Fish he is the grizzled veteran who is best at his job.

So what changed?

“Probably a lot,” Fish said. “I mean, probably first and foremost the mental side of it. You know, he seemed pretty jacked up yesterday. Obviously, you feed off the crowd. You’re not going to go away with a crowd like that, that’s for sure.

“But, you know, he lost serve at 54 and came right back, was able to hold to go to a breaker. And I think he said it after his match, that that’s probably a match he would have lost a year ago.

“Mentally he probably would have just been upset and said he had some chances and that’s it. You know, so that’s a huge part of it, as well. Maturing, growing, growing into your game, what makes you feel comfortable out on the court. There are demons out there, for sure. It’s not easy. It’s not going to be a piece of cake three out of five sets, that’s for sure.”

Fish is set to take on the winner of Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round and much like the crew of Precinct 12, he will be ready for the job.

Monfils and Gasquet Will Be A Fair Fight

Careening into the corner with all the speed of a man vaulting onto the court from a fleeing flat-bed truck, Gael Monfils skidded into a sliding split with so much force a piece of his K-Swiss sneaker came flying off into the air. Too engaged in his passionate pursuit of the ball, Monfils had more pressing matters on his mind: avoid French kissing the blue wall that loomed large in his path.

Monfils skidded to a stop before the collision, but even when Monfils loses a point he entertains.

The 17th-seeded Frenchman fought off Janko Tipsarevic, 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 on the Grandstand Court.

Meanwhile, on Court 11, Monfils’ friend and former doubles partner Richard Gasquet downsized towering South African Kevin Anderson, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-5, to set up an appealing French fourth round showdown.

Six Frenchmen — Monfils, Gasquet, Gilles Simon, Michael Llodra, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Arnaud Clement — started this day of play still alive in the men’s draw.

Second-seeded Roger Federer dismissed Mathieu, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, on Ashe Stadium and Fish fought off the 32-year-old Clement in a stirring 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 triumph to advance to a fourth-round meeting with either good friend and frequent golf buddy James Blake or third-seeded Novak Djokovic.

Monfils vs. Gasquet may well be one of the most exciting fourth-round clashes on the men’s side. Certainly Fish’s fourth-rounder will garner the most attention of any round of 16 match and deservedly so. But if you derive pure pleasure from seeing skilled shotmakers paint the court with impressionistic imagination then the first US Open meeting between the pair is the popcorn match of the fourth round.

Both Gasquet and Monfils are capable of producing eye-popping winners from virtually any position on court and both are fascinating to watch because they will drop back so far behind the baseline you might think they’re heading to Hoboken before dashing forward to net.

“I think Richard is more talented than me in couple ways,” Monfils said. “Like he can adapt more about the conditions.  Then I think I’m stronger than him physically, and maybe a bit mentally, also. Sometime he is like too defensive, like me.  So actually it will be a good match, and we will see who’s going to put like more pressure on the opponent.”

The animated Monfils plays with such explosiveness — and exuberant enthusiasm — he should consider enlisting a stunt double to celebrate his winners as the practice has proven to be a health hazard for him in the past. Monfils’ celebratory leap abruptly came to a calamitous crash landing in Madrid in October of 2006 when the festive Frenchman strained ligaments in his right ankle on an awkward landing after a post-point jump of jubilation in the second set of his Madrid match with Dominik Hrbaty. The injury limited him to one match for the rest of the 2006 season.

Avoiding a collision with the wall today, Monfils used his speed to force Tipsarevic, who was bothered by a bad ankle and took treatment for a strained hamstring, into pulling the trigger quickly in points.

Tipsarevic played powerful, passionate and crowd-pleasing tennis in his four-set triumph over Andy Roddick in the second round but poured so much of himself into the match he was physically depleted today.

“That wasn’t the main reason I lost,” Tipsarevic said. “I’m sad to say I am not fit enough to progress in the tournament. I just couldn’t execute. Gael is a big-time player. He’s extremely tough to make shots against because he gets to so many balls. I had 39 aces in the first two matches and just four today. Yes, I was feeling pain and was frightened a bit about my leg, but the leg had almost nothing to do with my loss.”

A former junior World No. 1, Monfils won every junior major except for the US Open.

An NBA fanatic who is a Carmelo Anthony fan, the 6-foot-4, loose-limbed Monfils has an elastic ability to bend his body into positions previously realized only by cartoon characters and contortionists. He thrives off the buzz New York City fans bring to the Open.

“I love the atmosphere.  I love the city, also,” Monfils said. “I mean, actually the States when I was young, and I was like looking for two things:  One, the Orange Bowl, and another thing the US Open junior for sure, and I didn’t (win either). I fail like twice in final in Orange Bowl.  I came here with injury the year when I won the other three (junior Grand Slams). I mean, here is like now I’m in seniors, so I really want to win this one, also.  I love the surface here; I love the crowd; I love the Ashe Stadium.  So I feel very good and comfortable here.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.