WUHAN, China (AP):Venus Williams did what her sister Serena couldn’t do, beating Roberta Vinci yesterday after saving a match point in the semi-finals of the Wuhan Open.The unseeded Williams won 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (4) after Vinci came from 4-1 down in the final set but failed to serve out the match when leading 6-5, 40-30.”Roberta played so well today – she had match point – so it was lucky for me to win this match,” Williams said.The No.15-seeded Italian sliced a backhand into the net on her match point and Williams pounced, hitting a pair of huge groundstrokes in the next two points to break back.Williams ripped a forehand volley to go up 6-4 in the tiebreaker and clinched the victory when Vinci missed a forehand wide.Before yesterday’s match, Williams, who earned her 700th career victory to reach the quarter-finals, had never dropped a set against the Italian veteran – who ended little sister Serena’s chances of a calendar-year Grand Slam in the US Open semifinals.”Definitely watching the match at the US Open, I learned a lot from Serena,” Williams said. “If I could, I’d give my win to Serena at the US Open. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.”The former top-ranked American will face fifth-seeded Garbine Muguruza in today’s final. Muguruza beat sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber 6-4, 7-6 (5).”It was a really tough match and I had to struggle today,” Muguruza said. “Venus is a legend. I’ll have to go out there and do my best to win against her, and I think it’s going to be a great final.”
But Cal Poly Pomona freshman basketball player Randi Hicks is actively participating in that exact combination of sports, though she’s a relative newcomer to the sport of boxing. Hicks, recruited to Cal Poly as a forward, averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds as a senior last season at Oxnard Rio Mesa High School. When you talk about multi-sport athletes there are many different sport combinations that come to mind. Boxing, basketball and track and field are not usually one of those, especially among women. She was also a pretty fair shot-putter for the school’s track team, making it to CIF-Southern Section prelims last year. When the basketball season is done, she plans on competing for Cal Poly’s track team and hopes to get a chance in the javelin and hammer throw. Although she loved other sports, Hicks’ love for boxing was constantly in the background. Her father, Kevin Hicks, who played football at the University of Oregon and was in camp as a punter with the Dallas Cowboys in 1984, used boxing training with his daughter, including hitting the heavy bag. This training helped cultivate her love for the sport. “My grandparents (whom she grew up with) wouldn’t let me box until I was 18,” said Hicks. When she reached that age last summer she put her training to use. “I was just hoping she would learn to protect herself,” Kevin Hicks said. She’s done more than protect herself, winning all five of her bouts last summer in her 157-pound weight class while training out of the Oxnard Police Athletic League. “I trained for two weeks, and I (first) fought a woman who was 26 years old and had a lot more experience,” she said. Not only did Hicks win, but she found out she liked the hitting and didn’t mind being hit. “I have a lot of aggression, and this gives me a chance to deal with it,” Hicks said. She quickly gained the respect of Rocky Garza, the boxing coordinator for the city of Oxnard and a boxing trainer out of the Oxnard PAL. “When I first saw her, I thought, `this girl looks like a worker. She’s totally fit.’ … I thought she was going to ask about other activities,” Garza said. Garza found out she was interested in boxing and even had a knack for it. “She’s got a real passion for the sport,” he said. “I could tell she loves the contact.” Garza discovered he could push her in training like few others. She was already a student of the sweet science, and in two or three days, Garza was teaching Hicks things that most boxers wait a year to learn. “I’ve been around women’s boxing about the last 10 years or so,” Garza said. “She could be one of the best we’ve ever had in amateur boxing.” For now, boxing will have to take a backseat. Hicks did some two-a-day workouts with Garza when she was home around Christmas but her boxing will be largely limited to summers when she will continue to pursue amateur titles. That kind of work ethic is evident in her basketball, too. Hicks has played in only 14 of the Broncos’ first 25 basketball games this season, though she may miss the final two games of the season this week for a medical ailment that requires antibiotics. She’s averaging only 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds but has made an impression on interim coach Michelle Fortier. “She’s the hardest worker,” Fortier said. “She’s improved a great deal and eventually there will be a payoff.” The boxing intrigues Hicks’ teammates and coaches. “I’d really like to see her box,” Fortier said. “She likes to lift weights a lot. Maybe with the two sports, her footwork will improve, since she has to jump rope (in boxing).” Fortier said she has more frequently seen soccer used to help basketball footwork, but doesn’t see why boxing can’t be helpful. But Hicks isn’t boxing just to help her basketball career; she loves it too. She is studying sociology and criminology at Cal Poly and wants to pursue a career in law enforcement. She’s already talking about going pro in boxing while working in law enforcement. “I like being strong,” she said. “I like things that require a lot of strength and I’m also interested in being a body builder.” Kevin Hicks isn’t overly worried about his daughter potentially going into an athletic career in a very physical sport. “I think I’d be scared more if she wasn’t in such good shape,” he said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!