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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sands Joins Father on Ojai Photo Boards with CIF Title; Top Seeds to Play for Men's and Women's Open Championships; Dolehide Reaches Charlottesville $60K Final; Riffice Advances to Vero Beach Futures Final

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Ojai, CA--

Jake Sands had earned his place on one of The Ojai’s famous photo boards earlier on Saturday, when he reached the final of the CIF singles as a member of the Palisades High School team. Sands defeated defending champion Connor Hance of Peninsula 7-5, 6-2 in the morning’s semifinals, while Stefan Dostanic had beaten Ryan Seggerman of Coronado 7-5, 7-6(2).

Sands with tournament official
Regardless of the outcome of the final, Sands would join his father Howard as a member of The Ojai elite, but down a match point to Dostanic at 6-4, 5-3, it looked like it would be as finalist, not as the champion.

But Dostanic’s backhand went “an inch” wide, according to Sands, who held, broke, held and broke again to take the second set. Facing a third set after having already played four sets in the past five hours is not a pleasant prospect, but Sands was able to find another level to claim a 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 victory.

“I just played more positive and got off to a good start,” said Sands, a 17-year-old junior, who has committed to Penn for 2018. “I fought hard and stayed ahead of him. I got pumped up, an adrenaline rush and I played well.”

Sands shares the reverence most Southern California juniors feel for the tournament.

“It means everything,” said Sands. “Walking into Libbey Park, and seeing all the people on the board, the pictures, I always wanted to be up there, on the winning side up there. It’s one of the most prestigious tournaments, and I just love playing here. When you’re driving around town, everyone’s thinking about tennis, there’s posters up, the whole town comes out to watch and it just feels like the most fun tennis atmosphere.”

Scott Davis (left) and Howard Sands on Ojai Photo Board
Howard Sands, who watched his son’s comeback from the green wooden bleachers, had some trouble recalling the year, but he remembered the Ojai singles final he lost, and to whom.

“I lost in the finals to Scott Davis, who was one of the greatest juniors in history,” said Sands of the 1978 boys 16s final. “I always felt Jake was better than me and that he could win it. This tournament is rated low, but he wanted to play it. It’s a deep tournament, because everybody loves it and wants to play in the environment with the college players, the college coaches watching.”

Jake Sands is not sure what division he will play next year but he expects to be back, attempting close the gap on his father, who is in The Ojai record books two other times, once as 14 doubles champion and once as CIF doubles finalist for Peninsula High School.

The Men’s Open finals are set for Sunday with unseeded Henry Craig facing top seed Philip Bester. Bester defeated No. 5 Haythem Abid 6-3, 7-6(4), while Craig took out an under-the-weather Clay Thompson, the No. 3 seed, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

The Women’s Open final will also feature the top seed, with Megan McCray defeating Gail Brodsky, the No. 3 seed, 6-3, 7-6(4).  McCray will face 16-year-old Salma Ewing, the No. 4 seed, who beat unseeded 17-year-old Hannah Zhao 7-5, 6-4.

The women’s final will be at 9:30 am Sunday at Libbey Park, with the men’s final scheduled for 11 am.

Two 18-year-old Americans have advanced to the finals of USTA Pro Circuit events, with Caroline Dolehide earning her first trip to a final above the $25,000 level at the $60,000 Charlottesville event, and Sam Riffice reaching his first pro final at the $15,000 Vero Beach Futures.

Dolehide defeated wild card Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 7-6(7) to advance to a meeting with top seed Madison Brengle, who beat No. 4 seed Jamie Loeb  6-3, 6-2.

Riffice took out No. 6 seed Julien Cagnina of Belgium 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 in today's semifinals and will face top seed Calvin Hemery of France, who advanced when No. 8 seed Gavin van Peperzeel of Australia retired down 6-3.


Go Hoos! said...

Colette, why do conferences and the NCAAs schedule semifinals at the same time? It seems very fan unfriendly. Many changes including no ad were supposed to make the game more fan friendly and more TV friendly. However, in the ACCs, ESPN televised the Wake Forest 4-0 blowout of GT but not a minute of the dramatic UVA-UNC 4-3 match. As well, college tennis fans that have traveled comsiderable distances can only watch one match instead of both. Yes, I guess it's "fairer" to the teams, but it's unfair for the fans. They used to stagger the NCAA semis so at least you could watch part of both matches. Most college tennis fans want to watch more high level tennis not less. This is a shame and fan unfriendly. Could you imagine the basketball Final Four or even something like soccer scheduling the semis at the exact same time?? Of course not. It's fan unfriendly. So is this type of scheduling. But thank God for no-ad to make things more fan friendly and palatable for TV.

Colette Lewis said...

Interesting that Pac-12 played women's conference semis simultaneously, but the men's semis were back-to-back