Lowell duo advances to face pros

Michelle Lam and Lana Tsodikova of Lowell High School earned a bid into the San Francisco Tennis Classic, a USTA Pro Circuit event, when they beat Natalie Dillon and Danielle Sabalvaro of St. Ignatius 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 on Friday.

Lam and Tsodikova won the San Francisco Classic Doubles Qualifier, a weeklong invitational organized to field a local youth doubles team for the professional tournament. The event fielded six pairs, many composed of singles players playing doubles for the first time. Lam and Tsodikova will get their shot against the Classic’s top-seeded team next week.

“I had to move in. I was awkward at the net,” Lam said.

Despite having to adjust to doubles play, the teams produced high-level action that stopped some of the players at the Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim club in their tracks.

“How old are those girls?” one onlooker asked, dumbfounded by the speed and hard hits.

Players from six high schools participated in the event, which is not affiliated with the any high school despite many of the pairings coming straight out of Academic Athletic Association play.

“This being an inaugural event, we didn’t know who would come out,” tournament director Phil Sleeper said. “But we were pleasantly surprised. All of our most proficient players accepted the invitation.”

Many of the players were tempted by a chance to play against professionals.

“I think this is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me in my tennis career,” Tsodikova said. “I’m overjoyed and overwhelmed.”

Lam and Tsodikova’s bid was hard-earned. Starting with a tough first match right down to Friday’s test against an energetic Dillon and Sabalvaro, which was no cakewalk, either. In the words of Tsodikova the first game “was intense.”

Despite the high level of play, the tournament emphasized positive thinking. Classic organizer Peanut Louie-Harper wanted the tournament to showcase San Francisco’s talent but still be a good experience for the players.

“It’s so competitive and intense out there these days. I didn’t want them to lose the game and be devastated,” Louie-Harper said before the match. “I just hope they can relax and enjoy the game.”

Organizers hope to expand the field next year and eventually a larger 32-pair format. Though, according to Sleeper, with professional competition as the prize, the level of play must be preserved.

 

Other Sportssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Chelsea Hung, who owns Washington Bakery and Restaurant in Chinatown with her mother, said the restaurant is only making about 30 percent of pre-pandemic revenues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chinatown’s slow recovery has business owners fearing for the future

Lack of outside visitors threatens to push neighborhood into ‘downward spiral’

San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and members of the orchestra were thrilled to be back inside Davies Symphony Hall on May 6 in a program for first responders featuring string works by Jean Sibelius, George Walker, Carl Nielsen, Caroline Shaw and Edward Grieg. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen/San Francisco Symphony)
SF Symphony makes joyful return to Davies Hall

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts program for first responders and community leaders

Students in an after-school community hub move quickly through a social circle as they play a game at the Mission YMCA on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Parents scramble for ‘Summer Together’ spaces

City program offering free camps sees high demand, confusion over enrollment

Jazz pianist and composer Jon Jang is an instructor at Community Music Center in the Mission District. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Jon Jang composes bittersweet symphonies

Musician-activist’s works are steeped in civil rights history

Keith Doran, left, and the author celebrate a short but successful outing on El Capitan. (Courtesy photo)
Climb on: 50 lessons in 50 years, part 3

Series offers tips for adventurers seeking fulfillment outdoors

Most Read