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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Northern Californians Feel Comfortable at Land Rover Napa Valley Tennis Classic

©Colette Lewis 2011--
St. Helena, CA--

The Napa Valley attracts tourists from all over the world, and the Meadowood resort lures the celebrity variety (English soccer star David Beckham and his family are guests this weekend) but performances by Nick Andrews and Connor Farren demonstrated that those with local roots can also enjoy the special ambience of the Land Rover Napa Valley Tennis Classic.

Andrews, a senior at Cal, is from nearby Folsom, Calif., so his parents and a few other family members and friends had an easy drive to watch him compete. They didn't spend much time watching him compete however, as he took out Ed Jones of Tennessee 6-0, 6-1 in a blaze of forehands and big serves.

"I think it's the environment here," said Andrews, who is now 2-0 in his round robin group and will clinch a spot in the Final Shootout with a win on Sunday morning. "I made a joke with my housing [host] that I've never lost when he's watching."

Andrews, who is playing in the tournament for the third straight year, also attributes his success to seeing the court well this week, but Cal head coach Peter Wright knows that the preparation Andrews has done over the summer has also contributed to his excellent results this fall.

"He worked really hard this summer," Wright said. "He went over to Europe, he played on clay, did some things that were really challenging and played a lot of tournaments. We knew he's engaged in getting himself to the next level, so it's not a surprise."

USTA junior Connor Farren is from Hillsborough, near San Francisco, so he has visited Napa several times, but he had never been to the seven courts at Meadowood's Tennis Club.

"I have a couple of friends down here who live five minutes away, but I've never been to this club," said Farren, 16. "The club here is amazing."

Like Andrews, Farren moved to 2-0 on the weekend with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory over UCLA freshman Dennis Mkrtchian, using the novelty of on-court coaching to his advantage.

"It helps me a lot," said Farren, who is not allowed to be coached on court in USTA or ITF events. "Telling me what to pick on, whether to come to the net or stay back. I like it a lot, having a coach there."

One of the pieces of advice USTA National Coach Andy Brandi gave him was to back up midway through the third set.

"At 2-all he won a really close game and we talked about making an adjustment," said Brandi. "Moving back, so that [Mkrtchian] would see differently when he was serving. And he won that game at love, then he served a good game to make it 5-2."

It was then that Brandi gave Farren some less specific advice that wasn't about court positioning.

"At 5-2 he told me he was going to go to the bathroom, and I'd better be done with the match when he got back," said Farren.

"I told him I wanted to see him picking up his things," said Brandi. "And he did it. He fought and he competed unbelievable."

Farren is not the only member of the USTA junior team to enter Sunday's final match with a 2-0 record. Nikko Madregallejo beat Grant Ive of Tulsa 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 and will also play for a spot in the Wild Card Shootout with Cal's Ahmed Ismail. Ismail was a replacement for Carlos Cueto, who sprained his ankle in practice this week. Alexios Halebian will meet Notre Dame's Greg Andrews for the Group 4 spot in the shootout Sunday after Halebian beat Vanderbilt's Alex DiValerio 6-3, 7-5.

Samuel Keeton of Notre Dame and Clay Thompson of UCLA will play for the Group 7 title, with Ashley Watling of Tulsa and Adrien Puget and Warren Hardie of UCLA also in position to advance to the shootout with wins on Sunday.

Saturday’s singles results:
Nick Andrews (Cal) def. Ed Jones (Tennessee), 6-0, 6-1
JC Aragone (USTA) def. Blake Bazarnik (Vanderbilt), 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-3
Ahmed Ismail (Cal) def. Casey Watt (Notre Dame), 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
Nikko Madregallejo (USTA) def. Grant Ive (Tulsa), 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
Ashley Watling (Tulsa) def. def. Ben McLachlan (Cal), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
Luca Corinteli (USTA) def. Gonzalez Austin (Vanderbilt), 6-3, 6-4
Clifford Marsland ( Tulsa ) def. Brandon Fickey (Tennessee), 7-6 (2), 6-4
Alexios Halebian (USTA) def. Alex DiValerio (Vanderbilt), 6-3, 7-5
Christopher Konigsfeldt (Cal) def. Hunter Reese (Tennessee), walkover
Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. Michael Redlicki (USTA), 6-3, 7-5
Connor Farren (USTA) def. Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Greg Andrews (Notre Dame) def. Japie De Klerk (Tulsa), 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-1
Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. Niall Fitzgerald (Notre Dame), 6-1, 6-4
Sam Keeton (Notre Dame) def. Jarryd Chaplin (Tennessee), 6-4, 6-4
Warren Hardie (UCLA) def. Spencer Papa (USTA), 6-4, 6-2
Charlie Jones (Vanderbilt) def. Mitchell Kreuger (USTA), 1-6, 6-4, 6-3

Saturday’s Doubles Results:
Nick Andrews-Christopher Konigsfeldt (Cal) def. Blake Bazarnik-Alex DiValerio (Vanderbilt), 8-3
Sam Keeton- Casey Watt (Notre Dame) def. Dennis Mkrtchian-Adrien Puget (UCLA), 8-6
Clay Thompson-Warren Hardie (UCLA) def. Jarryd Chaplin-Brandon Fickey (Tennessee), 8-4


USTA Juniors: 10-6
Cal: 6-2
UCLA: 6-2
Tulsa: 4-4
Notre Dame: 4-4
Tennessee: 1-7
Vanderbilt: 1-7