January 26, 2007


Gonzalez sprints into men’s final


Associated Press/Rob Griffith
Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez (right) watches as Germany’s Tommy Haas runs to make a return during their semifinal match at the Australian Open in Melbourne today. Gonzalez won in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — They call him “Speedy” Gonzalez, and he showed why.
Tenth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez put on another brilliant display of tennis today, sprinting all over the court to rip winners at will as he dominated Germany’s Tommy Haas 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the Australian Open final.
It was a performance reminiscent of top-ranked Roger Federer’s rout of Andy Roddick in the other semifinal a night earlier. Gonzalez was nearly flawless, leaving the capacity crowd gasping and the 12th-seeded Haas stunned and frustrated.
“It was a really good day for me,” Gonzalez said. “I have been playing great tennis. I am enjoying it a lot.”
Gonzalez had zero unforced errors in the first and third sets and only three for the match — “One was really stupid,” he said — to go along with 42 winners that accounted for more than half of his 82 points.
For Haas, it was overwhelming.
“I played actually pretty good tennis,” Haas said. “Every time I tried to do something differently, he came up with the answer. That’s quite frustrating. I just have to hand it to him, tip the hat, say that’s too good. Nothing I could have done.”
Gonzalez, who had never reached a Grand Slam semifinal before, will face Federer on Sunday evening in the championship match.
“Roger is No. 1 one by far,” Gonzalez said. “But there is only one match left. I have lost many times to him, but I know that I am playing much better than the last time that we played. I’m going to try to do the same thing that I’ve been doing.
“I’m playing the most important match in my life. He has to lose sometime.”
The third-seeded pair of Zimbabwe’s Cara Black and South Africa’s Liezel Huber ended the run of Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan and Chuang Chia-jung to win the women’s doubles title 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1. The Taiwanese team had gotten into the tournament on a wild-card entry.
Huber missed a shot at a second championship when she and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe lost in the mixed doubles semifinals 6-2, 7-5 to Daniel Nestor of Canada and Elena Likhovtseva. In the other semifinal, Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus ousted Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-2, 6-3.
The women’s final on Saturday pits top-seeded Maria Sharapova, the reigning U.S. Open champion, against two-time champion Serena Williams, unseeded while coming back from a bad knee that limited her to four tournaments last year.
Music from a nearby concert drifted into packed Rod Laver Arena on a brisk Australia Day evening. Fireworks followed the match, but Gonzalez provided plenty before then.
Once known for a weak backhand and a fragile psyche, Gonzalez has improved both significantly in recent months and has won over thousands of fans here with his powerful serve and forehand.
He was excited about the match statistics.
“I have been playing many years with 45 unforced errors and three winners!” he said, adding that he had never made so few mistakes in a match.
The Chilean ran off 11 points to start the first set, and Haas ended_up with only 12 points in the seven games.
Gonzalez slipped only slightly in the second set with 12 winners and three unforced errors as Haas, his confidence shattered, spiked his racket once and came close to slamming it into the court on two other occasions.
Haas tried to pick on Gonzalez’s backhand, but the Chilean just kept getting back slice after slice until_he got a chance to wind up on a_forehand and send zingers into_the corners.
A group of vocal German fans included five young men with “Tommy Haas” spelled out on their bare chests and “Bye Bye Gonzalez” on their backs, cheered for Haas between points, but their support hardly helped.
Gonzalez, who never faced a break point, finished it off with a backhand crosscourt winner for his seventh service break to end it in 1 hour, 31 minutes — eight minutes longer than Federer’s win over Roddick.
“I’m obviously trying to think what I could have done differently after the match like this. It’s really hard,” said Haas, who added that Gonzalez made him understand how Roddick felt.
“Pretty much everything he touched tonight seemed to go his way. He’s playing some good tennis, that’s for sure.”


Fast start lifts Purple Tigers

The Cortland High volleyball team got off to a fast start Thursday against visiting Chittenango and kept the momentum going in scoring a 25-13, 25-16, 24-26, 25-19 OHSL Freedom Division victory.
The Purple Tigers, now 5-9 in the league and overall, scored 14 of the first 18 points in the first game and never looked back. “Kaitlyn Glover (two block kills and two kills) had the magic hand in the first game off some great Amanda Cheetham sets,” said CHS coach Mary Lou Bordwell. “The passing and serve reception were there, and we made no mental errors.
“The second game was much the same. Glover served points eight through 17 with three aces and kills from Kim Natoli and Katelyn Anderson. Rachel Pisa, defensive specialist, had a save kill for the 18th point and Katie Owens an ace for 20, while Glover finished off the game with a kill.”
After a back-and-forth third game that saw the Bears (6-7 league, 6-8 overall) come up with a kill and block kill out of a 24-24 tie to win, the fourth game saw CHS close things out. “It was a bit tighter than the first two games, but we did push through,” Bordwell said. “The big push came with them leading 18-16 as Natoli served 16 and 17 with a kill by Katelyn Anderson, who wad been in the match mentally from the start and carried us at the finish.
“She had a kill for 18 and served an ace for 19, while Glover had a kill for 20, Anderson a great save for 21, an ace for 22, Glover a kill for 23 and Anderson aces for 24 and 25.”
Lisa Frare and Pisa led the winners’ serve reception, Frare at 16-for-19 and Pisa 15-for-18 along with three aces and three assists. Cheetham went 18-for-20 passing, 6-for-6 attack and 68-for-74 setting with 22 assists. Natoli was 21-for-22 passing with four saves, 10 kills and an assist and Brittany Babcock had two aces, a kill and an assist.
Glover had what Bordwell called “one of her best matches,” going 18-for-20 serving including five saves, 23-for-25 hitting with nine kills, two block kills, an assist and 12-for-18 passing with seven saves. Anderson was 18-for-19 serving with five aces, 20-for-24 attack with 10 kills and 21-for-26 passing. “But more than that, (Katelyn) kept her serve strong to close out the match.”
The Cortland JVs imrpoved to 5-9 in a three-game win, 23-25, 28-26, 25-19, as Casey Marks had 10 kills and Alexa Barber, Keri Brownrigg and Taylor Warren three digs apiece.
Homer visits Cortland Monday, the JV match getting things started at 5:30 p.m.          


Mexico deals Homer second straight loss

The Homer Central volleyball team is on a two-match losing streak after visiting Mexico handed the Trojans a 23-25, 25-21, 25-13, 25-18 OHSL Freedom Division setback Thursday night. The Trojans fall to 8-5 in division play and 9-5 overall while the Tigers improve to 9-3 in league and overall play.
Mary Phelps hustled for 15 digs and two aces to aid the balanced Homer effort. McKenna Riley dished out 17 assists and six digs while Katie Wick delivered eight kills, six digs and three service aces. Additional support also came from Jen Warren (seven digs, two kills), Shannan Keefe (six kills, two aces), Ashley Cavellier (five digs) and Rachel Perry (four kills). The Trojans lost Jessica Brown in the first game of the night when she rolled her ankle.
Brittany Hains led Mexico with 14 assists, four aces and two blocks while Brittany Buskey delivered 12 kills and two assists. Other Tiger contributors included Courtney Ross (10 assists), Caitlin Santore (nine kills) and Rachel Grant_(six kills).
Homer will return to Freedom Division action Monday when the Trojans travel to Cortland High to face the Purple Tigers. JV action will begin at 5:30 p.m.
HOMER JVs lost to Mexico by scores of 25-23 and 25-17.
Alexis Johnson led the Trojans (4-9, 4-10 overall) with 11 digs while Danielle Reygers added five assists, three digs and two kills. Alexis Brown had two aces, Cady Spencer had two kills, Victoria Lewis had two digs and Cayla Hartnett added two kills.