… Jaguars captain optimistic about young coreGUYANA Jaguars captain Leon Johnson said the 5-time 4-Day champs are eager to get back to doing some team practice, adding that time off from cricket helped to refresh his mind and body.Johnson, who played nine Tests for the West Indies along with six One Day Internationals (ODI), told Chronicle Sport in an interview for the first time since the abrupt end to COVID-19-affected 2020 Regional 4-Dayers that he, along with his colleagues, was revitalised and ready to get back to work.Eyeing their 6th 4-Day title, Jags had a topsy-turvy latter part to the season, suffering defeat, drawn games and then worse; suffering the wrath of the pandemic. When Cricket West Indies (CWI) pulled the plug on the tournament, all sports came to a halt and Johnson and his men like other athletes were forced into indefinite isolation.Guyana Jaguars Captain Leon Johnson“The time off was good for myself as well as the rest of players. It was a chance for us players to get our body and mind refreshed following a long season. We (the Jaguars) are still upbeat, the guys are eager to start back training, and working; we just miss practice and being out there doing things cricket-wise,” said the skipper.The players have been engaging in daily ZOOM sessions with physio Neil Barry Jr and these help to monitor fitness and keep them in shape. Apart from training, Johnson believes that another huge benefit from lockdown was that cricketers can have that rare time home with family.Johnson, a father himself, said spending time with loved ones was invaluable, and a great way to improve one’s mentality. He also believed that it was a great way for players who were injured or carrying niggles to further get themselves back into peak playing shape for whenever action resumes.Recently, CWI hosted their professional players draft for the Colonial Medical Insurance Super50 Cup and the West Indies Four-Day Championship via a ZOOM meeting two days ago.Jamaican overseas all-rounder Ramaal Lewis and pacer Niall Smith were the two added to the Jags 13-man squad, rounding off the 15 members. All-rounder Kevin Sinclair and pacer Niall Smith were the pair along with Akshaya Persaud to earn full-time Grade contracts, thus adding to their Regional 1st Class, List ‘A’ and Windies U-19 cricket experience.Arguably the most decorated Regional 4-Day captain in contemporary times, having won 5 straight 4-Day titles, while experiencing the highest points of International and Regional success over those last 6 seasons; the 32 year-old said it was good to have a few star-quality youngsters in the team heading into the new season; which will be under COVID-19 watch.A former ex-West Indies Under-19 player in his own right, having captained the youth side back in 2005-6 U-19 World Cup, said having those few new faces among the troupers, adds greater value to the imminent preservation of the Region’s most decorated 4-Day franchise.“We have a few newcomers in the squad this year, but they are experienced and will go along nicely with our seasoned bunch of guys; so I predict good things for the Jaguars heading into the future,” Johnson ended.
Wisconsin will count on the help of senior middle blocker Alexis Mitchell, who ranks second on the team in kills this season, against two ranked opponents this weekend.[/media-credit]The Wisconsin volleyball team will gain national attention this weekend as it travels to Ohio State and Penn State, two of the top teams in the conference.The Badgers will take on the No. 15 Buckeyes Friday and will then have a date with third-ranked Penn State Sunday, a match that will be televised nationally on ESPN2.Wisconsin will look to build on last weekend’s range of highs and lows. The Badgers beat Illinois Friday, something they had not done in five years, and then lost a heartbreaking five-set match Sunday to Northwestern.Together, the matches featured some of the best volleyball of the season for Wisconsin and also some of the worst in Sunday’s gut-wrenching loss. UW head coach Pete Waite said moving on from that disappointment will be key in the upcoming weekend.“We don’t dwell on it,” Waite said of the loss. “We won’t dwell on that because we did a lot of good things in the match. From the way we started to the way we finished was actually really good. We need to focus on the things we need to get better at.”Wisconsin will need to improve if it wants to beat an Ohio State team loaded with talent. The Buckeyes took care of Wisconsin 3-1 in Madison earlier this season. Ohio State is coming off a weekend in which it upset fourth-ranked Nebraska on the road and swept Iowa, part of a three-match winning streak.The Buckeyes are paced offensively by senior outside hitter Mari Hole, who leads the team with 4.06 kills per set. Defensively, they are led by junior libero Davionna DiSalvatore, who averages a team-best 3.85 digs per set.The country’s No. 15 squad also features a two-setter system. Wisconsin senior middle blocker Alexis Mitchell said the Ohio State match is the first priority.“We need to focus on Ohio State first, definitely,” Mitchell said. “It’s a match that we know that we can win and our teams are very similar. We have to come back and beat Ohio State this weekend.”The Badgers will then take on perennial powerhouse Penn State after the match with Ohio State. The Nittany Lions made quick work of Wisconsin earlier this season in Madison, dominating the match to earn a three-set sweep.However, the Nittany Lions showed their vulnerability this past weekend, losing their first Big Ten match of the season to Nebraska by a score of 3-2, breaking a 15-match winning streak for Penn State.On the offensive end, Penn State is led by junior outside hitter Ariel Scott, who leads the team with 3.63 kills per set. Junior Deja McClendon adds 3.33 kills per set.Penn State is led defensively by junior middle blocker Katie Slay (1.41 blocks per set) and sophomore libero Dominique Gonzalez (3.59 digs per set). Sophomore setter Micha Hancock averages 11.61 assists per set and boasts one of the best serves in the Big Ten (41 service aces).Wisconsin junior defensive specialist Annemarie Hickey said despite their stellar r?sum?, the Nittany Lions are beatable.“I think on any given day and on how we’re playing, we can beat any team in the Big Ten,” Hickey said. “We need to have that confidence and know that we are a good team to beat these teams. It doesn’t matter if they’re ranked or how good they are. It’s just another team on the other side. We need to worry about our side and what we can do best to win that game.”The Penn State match will mark the first time since 2008 the Badgers will be featured on ESPN. The 2008 match was a loss to then-top ranked Penn State. Wisconsin is 11-7 all-time on ESPN network appearances, five of which have been against Penn State, in which the Badgers are 2-3. Waite said it will still just be another match.“Any match you go to, there are a lot of cameras and a lot of things going on,” Waite said. “For the most part, I just think they’re focused on the match and their opponent. It would be great if we play a great match and get the win on national television, but the biggest thing is us competing well and not being distracted by too many things.”
Swiss tennis player beats Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas to scoop his 85th ATP World Tour titleWorld number two tennis star Roger Federer has won theIstanbul Open for men – his 85th ATP World Tour title.The Swiss athlete beat Uruguayan world number 23 Pablo Cuevas 6-3 and 7-6 in the final on Sunday, winning the first Turkish ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) World Tour.The Istanbul Open, also known as TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open, begun on April 27, ended with the final being played at the Garanti Koza Arena, Istanbul.Champion Federer won €80,000 ($90,000) while Cuevas won €42,100.The Swiss athlete has played in 128 ATP World Tour title finals, winning 85 of them. With the Istanbul Open, the number of countries where Federer has won a championship rises to 19.
Maria Sharapova’s return to grand slam action will begin with a high-profile clash against Romanian second seed Simona Halep while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal could meet in the U.S. Open semi-finals, according to Friday’s draw.For Sharapova, a former world number one and five-times grand slam champion who returned from a 15-month doping ban in April and was awarded a wild-card invitation to the U.S. Open, it will mark her first match since pulling out of the Stanford Classic three weeks ago with an arm injury.The 30-year-old Russian, who was banned after testing positive for heart drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, has had mixed results since re-joining the WTA Tour and will need to be at her best early to keep alive any hope of her first title at Flushing Meadows since 2006.Defending women’s champion Angelique Kerber has a tricky test as she takes on Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the opening round and could face red-hot Elina Svitolina, who won a tune-up event at Toronto, in the quarters.Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who is one of the favourites and fresh from her triumph at the Cincinnati Open, could face former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the quarters.Czech world number one Karolina Pliskova, runner-up at last year’s tournament, will play her first round against Poland’s Magda Linette and is projected to play 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last eight.Swiss third seed Federer, who is seeking his third grand-slam title of the year after wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, will open his quest for a sixth U.S. Open triumph against American Frances Tiafoe.advertisementFederer, who has been enjoying a remarkable campaign after missing the last six months of 2016 to heal his knee, would face two-times champion and long-time rival Nadal in the semi-finals should the top half of the draw go according to seed.The pair have never met at the U.S. Open, and while Nadal leads 23-14 in head-to-head meetings, Federer has won their past four clashes, including three hardcourt meetings in 2017 at the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami.Australian Nick Kyrgios, the 14th seed and recent Cincinnati runner-up, or American 17th seed Sam Querrey, who is enjoying a career-best year, would pose a threat to Federer in the fourth round.British second seed Andy Murray, who is returning from a hip injury that forced him to miss all the U.S. Open tune-up events, will play American Tennys Sandgren in the opening round while resurgent 21st seed David Ferrer of Spain is a potential fourth-round opponent.German fourth seed Alexander Zverev, who has five titles this year and is one of the favourites to win the year’s final grand slam, opens against a qualifier and could face Croatian fifth seed Marin Cilic in the quarters.The U.S. Open will be played Aug. 28-Sept. 10 in New York.