By tim morris MANALAPAN — Gia Bocra is a late-bloomer in the world of golf. She didn’t start playing until she was 16, and even then, basketball was her sport. At Rutgers Prep, the Monroe native was a 1,000-point scorer and a three-time All-State Prep School selection at point guard. But there was something about golf, that once she was exposed to it (by her father Bill Bocra), it made her stick with it. “It’s definitely habit-forming,” she said. “You’re always thinking. It’s similar to shooting free throws. You have to repeat your routine and keep your focus. You have to stay in the moment.” Despite the late start, Bocra played her way onto the Rutgers Prep golf team her senior year, where she was playing with the boys. And when she discovered there wasn’t a lot of interest in small point guards in women’s college basketball, Bocra turned to golf. She played two years at South Alabama before transferring to Rutgers where she played her final two years. Bocra is a teaching professional now at the Fairview Golf Club in Greenwich, Conn. Despite the enjoyment that it brings her, there is a burning desire to be a professional golfer on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour. That craving brought her to Knob Hill last week for the SBC Futures Golf Tour stop there. The SBC Futures Tour has been the official developmental tour of the LPGA since 1999. The tour provides direct ways for women to qualify for the LPGA. The top three money winners at the completion of this year’s Futures tour will automatically receive exempt status on the 2002 LPGA Tour while those finishing fourth through 10th will be entered into the LPGA’s Final Qualifying Tournament where they will have the chance to play their way onto the tour. All of this is down the road for Bocra, who was making her professional tournament debut at Knob Hill (she had earned her way there by playing in a tour qualifier last year in Florida). “I wanted to get an idea on what it’s like to be on the tour,” she explained. “There is a lot of camaraderie among the players. I’ve had a good time. I like what I’ve seen, and I enjoyed myself.” Bocra chose to make the Knob Hill stop her first one, because it would enable her parents Bill and Lucille, who still live in nearby Monroe, the chance to see her play. Bocra harbors no illusions of instant success. She knows that she is playing catch-up against women who have been playing the sport much longer than she has, women who have been playing since they were old enough to swing a club. It was the reason she looked to the SBC Futures Tour as a measuring stick to judge herself against the pros and better gauge what she needs to do to be a serious contender. She would find out that from fairway to green, she is on par with the pros. The big gap was off the tee, where she conceded too many yards. “I’ve got to hit the ball farther,” she pointed out. “I have to work on gaining more strength, so that I can hit it farther. “My biggest attribute is my accuracy,” she added. “I keep the ball in the fairway and I’m pretty good around the greens.” Bocra learned enough this week to know that she has the potential, if she makes the commitment. “I’m going to put my life aside and put in the time and that is what it takes to get better,” Bocra remarked. “I’m going to work on my game all winter. I’m going to find my niche and work towards it. “I was an average college golfer, but I don’t want to be an average professional,” she added. “It’s my ambition to make the tour.” The SBC Future Tour was made for golfers like Bocra, who plans on joining the tour full time next year. Bocra was playing Knob Hill for the first time last week and liked what she saw. The par-71 course was designed by PGA pro Mark McCumber. “They did a really good job, the course is in great shape and the greens are rolling well,” she noted. “It’s a tough course. The fairways are narrow. And it’s long.” One of Bocra’s first jobs in golf after graduating Rutgers was with Don Brigham at the Rumson Country Club last summer. Corey Brigham, Don’s son, an ex-high school star at Rumson-Fair Haven who is playing golf at the University of Maryland, was Bocra’s caddy at Knob Hill. Staff Writer
The Hazlet Wave U14 Premier soccer team tied the Ocean Flames 4-4 in their second encounter of the season May 5. The Flames came out quickly with a score, and the Wave countered with goals to keep the game close. The Wave came through with scores from Conrad Symber, Tommy Friscia, and two goals from Jimmy Pineda. The midfielders and forwards, Greg Godzwon, Scott Latham, and Sean Lennon, did an outstanding job of keeping the ball in the possession of the Wave’s offense. The defensive team of Tommy Devlin, Ritchie Gautier, Angel Martinez, Matt Richards, and Mike Sullivan showed their good defensive skills in a very physical game. The Wave also got several saves from Robby Hollywood in goal, ensuring the Wave a tie. Gene Lennon and Randy Richards coach Hazlet. The Hazlet United Soccer Association is having registration for the 2002/2003 season June 1 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the soccer fields on Green Acres Drive, and June 11 from 6-8 p.m. at the Cullen Center in Veterans Memorial Park on Union Avenue. Birth certificates are required for first-time players and you need not be a Hazlet resident to play. Bring a check for registration fees plus a check for the work deposit. Call Fred Liquori for more information at (732) 739-6493. The Middletown Pride U12 boys’ premier travel soccer team will be holding tryouts June 4 from 8-10 p.m. at Lincroft Acres off Route 520. The Pride is looking for experienced travel players born between 8/1/90 and 7/31/91 who are committed to regular season games and tournaments. Contact John DeGenito at email@example.com, or call (732) 663-1005 for more information. St. Mary’s Athletic Association, New Monmouth, will beholding sign-ups for its summer basketball program May 22 from 7-9 p.m. at St. Mary’s Grammar School. The program will begin the week of June 23, and will run approximately seven weeks. It is open to all children entering grades 2-8 in the fall. Cost is $50 for one child, $90 for two, and is free for the third child. To request a registration form or for any questions, call (732) 671-7179. The Central Jersey Hawks girls’ 14-year old AAU basketball team beat the Jersey Shore Lightning 49-46 at Rutgers Prep to capture the New Jersey AAU championship. The Hawks went undefeated in the double-elimination tournament. The team consists of 10 girls — nine freshmen at area high schools, and one eighth-grader. The Hawks had a bye in the first round, then beat the Bergen Jazz 43-37. Katie Kalb of Holmdel was among the leading scorers with eight points. In the semifinals, the Hawks beat the New Jersey Rising Stars 63-32, behind 11 points and four steals from Middletown North’s Laura Depko, five points and six rebounds from Rumson-Fair Haven’s Ali Folker, four points from Colleen Thomas of Howell, and seven points and four rebounds from RBC’s Sara Grimsgaard. Southern Regional’s Katie Brown led all scorers with 14 points. In the finals of the winner’s bracket, the Hawks came from behind to beat the Jersey Shore Lightning 51-46 in overtime. The key to the game was containing the Lightning’s point guard, Shantel Brown of St. John Vianney. The Hawks’ defensive effort was led by Holmdel’s Jackie Klatsky, who also contributed five points, six assists and five rebounds, and Grimsgaard. The Hawks’ point guard, Carly Golden of Rumson-Fair Haven, controlled the offense and chipped in with six points and three steals. The offensive punch came from Depko, who scored 13 points, and Monroe’s Colleen Kilmurray, who scored 13 points in the paint. Kilmurray had nine points and nine rebounds. In the finals of the double elimination tourney, the Hawks again beat the Jersey Shore Lightning 49-46. This is the Hawks’ third state title in the last five years. The Hawks are led by veteran coach John Rivera, who had previously coached the CJ Hawks boys to four state title and two national titles. In preparation for their run to the state title, the Hawks played tournaments against national teams in Baltimore, Md., Richmond, Va., and New York. The Hazlet Wrecking Crew edged the Point Pleasant Thunderbirds 5-4. The half-time score was 3-1 in Hazlet’s favor. First half goals were scored by Danny Della Pietro (2) and Dan Fortier. Goalie Brian Hedges held the Thunderbirds to one goal, making several saves. Forwards James Ricchione and halfbacks Nick Dulin, Dustin Hanos, Matt Rodriguez and Sean Wentz controlled the midfield, while fullbacks David Gonzalez, Corey Hahn and Kevin Hedges played hustling defense to stop several breakaway opportunities. In the second half, the Thunderbirds scored to make the score 3-2, but Wentz responded with a goal for Hazlet, before Della Pietro notched his third goal of the game to build the lead to 5-2. From there, Point Pleasant added two goals, but the Wrecking Crew held strong for the win. The Crew are coached by Bill Wentz. The Hazlet Wrecking Crew is having tryouts for the fall season at the beginning of June. The Crew is currently a U12 team that will be playing U13 in the fall. Player’s birth date must be after 7/31/89 to be eligible. Call Bill Wentz at (732) 888-1550.
CHRIS KELLY staff Middletown North’s Julez Morgan (l) and Mike Fish get ready for a kickoff return against Manalapan during a home game Friday.
BY GEORGE ALBANOStaff Writer Above, CBA’s Mike Galeotafiore slides safely into home to beat the throw before Camden Catholic catcher Dan Angelo can reel it in during the Colts’ sectional title win on Friday in Middletown. Below, CBAplayers celebrate their championship win, something they hope to do a lot more of this week. With his CBA baseball team scheduled to play five pressure-cooker games in a span of six days, how did head coach Marty Kenney decide to spend his one day off? “I cut the grass,” the veteran coach said Sunday night. “I figured I better cut it before it rains. So I cut grass and trimmed some limbs on trees. I was trying to catch up, to tell you the truth.” Kenney could be excused if his yard was starting to look a little neglected. You see, he’s been pretty busy lately trying to steer the Colts toward not one, not two, but three tournament championships this week. CBA was coming off a four-games-in-five-days stretch last week, all of them wins, including a 5-1 victory over Camden Catholic Friday in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A semifinals in Lincroft. PHOTOS BY JEFFGRANIT staff Then on Saturday, the Colts edged St. John Vianney 2-1 in the Shore Conference tournament semifinals, also in Lincroft. After Sunday’s off day, CBA, 24-4, was scheduled to return to action on Monday against Wall High School in the finals of the Monmouth County Tournament. Then on Tuesday, they were to take on St. Joseph of Metuchen for the South Jersey sectional title at Mercer County Park in West Windsor. And tonight, the Colts face Colts Neck for the Shore Conference crown at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood. Of course, CBA could find itself getting another “off day” because of the weather early this week. But at some point the Colts will have to play those three games. What’s more, if they win the South Jersey title, they would play again on Saturday for the Non-Public A state championship against the winner of the North Jersey final between Seton Hall Prep, the No. 1 team in the country, and Immaculata. Looks like Kenney’s grass could be growing long again. “It’s difficult, no question,” the CBA coach said, now in his 34th season. “Every game is a pressure game. I think it’s more emotionally draining than it is physically draining. That’s what kind of drains on you, the mental part of it. “The kids even wanted to practice today [Sunday], but I said no. We pretty much played every day this past week. We played Tuesday and Wednesday, we were off on Thursday, and then we played Friday and Saturday. And now we have three more games in a row, so I told the kids to get away from it for one day.” While playing in three different tournaments simultaneously has been exciting for the Colts, Kenney admits some games are indeed bigger than others. “It’s tough because they’re still all tournament games. You can’t concentrate on just one,” he explained. “It doesn’t really affect the hitting or the defense, but it can stretch your pitching. “The state tournament takes priority,” Kenney added. “We’ve got it to the point where our No. 1 pitcher, Kyle Slate, is starting the state tournament games. Last week he was splitting games with another pitcher (Dave Laufer), one going four innings and the other three. But now he’s had proper rest so he can just concentrate on the state tournament, and he’ll start Tuesday. “And Dave Laufer can concentrate on the Shore Conference games. He’ll get the start Wednesday. In the county tournament [on Monday], we’ll go with a couple of other guys. If they can give us two, three innings each, that’s fine. That’s what we did against Jackson in the quarterfinals. We had three guys each go two or three innings. A lot depends on the score, too. If we get a big lead, we could pull the starter just to limit the pitch count. That’s what our goal is now.” In the 5-1 sectional semifinal win over Camden Catholic, Slate fired a five-hitter, struck out 10 and walked only two as he ran his record to a perfect 11-0. “And they’re a very good hitting team,” Kenney said of Camden Catholic, which came into the game 20-8. “So Kyle threw well. He limited them to just five singles and gave up one earned run. That’s only the third earned run he’s given up all year and he’s pitched almost 70 innings. So he’s had an outstanding year.” Slate, who’s committed to the University of Maine, also contributed a key RBI single on offense during a three-run second inning as CBA jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Camden Catholic scored its only run in the top of the third, but CBA got that run back in the bottom of the inning to make it 5-1 and close out the scoring. Marc Sansevere and Steve McSherry also had RBI singles for the Colts. McSherry was the star of CBA’s Shore Conference semifinal win over St. John Vianney (19-8). His diving catch in the fifth inning prevented SJV from adding to a 1-0 lead, and then McSherry doubled in the tying run in the top of the sixth and eventually came around to score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. “There was a man on first with one out when he made that catch, so in all likelihood they would have had runners on second and third with one out and a good scoring opportunity,” Kenney said of McSherry’s defensive gem. “The kid on base was pretty quick and he possibly would have scored. “So it was a huge catch, no question. He made as good a catch as an outfielder can make. It turned out to be the defensive play of the game.” Kenney then made the strategic play of the game when he sent sophomore Zach Tanenbaum, just called up from the JV team, to pinch hit leading off the sixth. St. John starter Paul Bacigalupi, who came into the game 11-2, had silenced the CBA bats over the first five innings. “They had a lefty on the mound and normally my two pinch-hitters are lefty,” Kenney pointed out. “Zach hit .475 on JV and I thought he could handle that pitcher. He was not overpowering. He threw fastball, curveball, change-up, and he was a good pitcher, but Zach is a good hitter.” Kenney’s gamble paid off as Tanenbaum singled up the middle. After Sansevere bunted pinch-runner A.J. Szatkowski (who re-entered the game) to second base, McSherry drilled an outside pitch to deep left for a double, his second hit of the game, to knot the score. McSherry then moved to third on a balk and raced home with what proved to be the winning run when Bacigalupi uncorked a wild pitch. Laufer, who gave up a run in the first, made the one-run lead stand as he held SJV in check in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings, finishing with a five-hitter to up his record to 7-2. He also beat St. John Vianney, 4-3, four days earlier in last Tuesday’s sectional quarterfinals. “He beat them twice in a week,” Kenney said. “He threw well in both games. He struggled a little bit with his control, but he gutted it out and managed to go the distance.” Laufer was also the winning pitcher in CBA’s two wins against Colts Neck (21-7) during the regular season and will get a third start against them tonight. “Hopefully, they don’t make too many adjustments,” Kenney laughed. “They’re a good ballclub. They can hit and they’ll throw their No. 1 pitcher against us. So we have our work cut out, no question. Plus we’re the only game they have to worry about so they’ll be well rested. Same thing with Wall High School. “But I’d rather be in our position than not be in the tournament.” Besides, a torrid stretch of games like this is nothing new for Kenney, who recorded his 600th career victory this season and led the Colts to their eighth straight A North Division title in the Shore Conference. His résumé also includes four Shore Conference league championships (the last one in 2002), five Monmouth County crowns (including last year’s), six sectional titles (the last in 2005), and a state championship in 1977. He hopes to add to all those lists this week. “In 2001, we went 29-3 and were ranked 17 in the country,” Kenney said. “We won four championships that year so it can be done. It just depends on the pitching. Pitching and defense carry you right now. Hopefully, we have enough depth to handle each tournament.” BY GEORGE ALBANO Staff Writer
BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer Ron Raymond, Mater Dei High School’s new coach, is looking to get the football program back on its feet after consecutive 0-10 campaigns. Raymond believes he has a talented and athletic group of players, but with only 25 of them, depth is a challenge. The Seraphs opened the season on Friday against Point Pleasant Beach and lost, 35-0. Mater Dei returns to action this Friday in its home opener against Cardinal McCarrick High School, which dropped a 13-12 decision to Keansburg in its opener. “I really think our team can compete if we stay healthy,” said Raymond, who formerly coached at Cardinal McCarrick and led the Eagles to their only winning season. “But we have to also change the mind-set. And I don’t mean just the players. That includes the parents and everyone associated with our program. To turn things around, we need their support and commitment.” Due to its limited roster, most of Mater Dei’s players will be seeing plenty of action on both sides of the ball. Raymond expects to use both A.J. Knusten and sophomore Jesse Meyer, a transfer student from Old Bridge, at quarterback. Bart DiMattina and juniors Mike Eckert and Casey Malloy will be the slotbacks, with Matt Mandile and Mark Sudziarski at fullback. The Seraphs have a pair of sizable targets in wideouts Mick Ault (6-5, 225) and junior Parker Lampe (6-2, 160). Ault and Eckert will also see playing time at tight end. The line includes a trio of 6-footers: tackles Jim Ferber (6-1, 225) and Greg Charbek (6-2, 190) and junior guard Dwight Sheehan (6-2, 205). Kevin Quinn (5-7, 180), a junior, is at center, with sophomore Mike Miles (5-11, 190) at the other guard. Ryan Critti (5-10, 240) provides depth. Sudziarski will handle place-kicking and kickoffs, with Eckert doing the punting. Defensively, Raymond plans to use Ferber and Ault at the ends with Sheehan and Miles at tackle. Charbek and Critti will also man the line. DiMattina, Eckert, Mandile and Quinn are the linebackers, with Knusten, Lampe, Malloy and Sudziarski in the secondary. “A lot of our guys paid their dues over the last few seasons, so we have a lot of varsity experience,” said Raymond, who was the defensive coordinator at Middlesex High School last season. “They’ve taken their lumps, and they know the speed of the game and they know game situations. That will help them quite a bit.” The St. John Vianney High School football team will be looking to make its presence felt this fall in the Shore Conference National Division as it puts a veteran lineup on the field. Eight starters are back under new coach Skip Edwards, whose team will open the season Thursday night at Raritan. Edwards, the former Holmdel coach, returns to the Lancers, where he began his coaching career as an assistant in the late 1970s and early ’80s. “One of my main goals is to put pride back in the program,” he said. “To do that, our players need to function as a team and act as one. It will take everyone pushing in same direction to win again.” The Lancers last posted a winning season in 2006 when they were 6-4. Last year SJV went 3-7 after posting a 4-6 mark in 2007. Edwards is emphasizing defense, where he has several key returnees, including tackle Alec Alspach (6-2, 265) and end Chris Mason (6-0, 185) and junior middle linebacker Nick Dragonetti (6-0, 175). The secondary is experienced as well with cornerback Kevin Mercurio, free safety Ralph Joseph and strong safety Anthony Corona back. Joining Alspach and Mason on the line are ends Matt Brown (5-9, 235) and junior Ryan Gille (6-4, 254) along with sophomore tackle Colton Bigelow (5-11, 212). Juniors Adezji Badru (6-1, 265) and Nick Leonte (6-0, 245) will also see duty up front. Flanking Dragonetti are Gil Keough (6- 0, 205) and junior Sean Tobin (6-2, 180). Nick Falco (5-10, 170), a sophomore, provides depth at linebacker. In addition, Rob Donahue and junior Marco Recchio will play in the secondary. “So far they’re handling everything we’ve given them,” said Edwards. “They’re really flowing to the ball. That’s a huge plus, because defense wins games.” Certainly the Lancers’ big-play offense will have a hand in that as well. Corona and Falco give SJV a pair of speedy halfbacks who can break away. Strong-armed quarterback Joe Carlucci provides another threat, and he has veteran receivers in Mercurio and Joseph, who can catch the ball. Donahue and juniors Marco Recchio and Tommy Tropeano are additional threats. Falco and Joseph will also see time in the backfield, and Keough and Bigelow give the Lancers two good-size fullbacks. Junior Charlie Marchese (5-9, 205) is the center, with Badru and Dragonetti on his left at tackle and guard, respectively. Mason is the right guard and Leonte the right tackle. Brown will play throughout the line, depending on where he is needed, Edwards said. Gille, Alspach and Tobin will alternate at tight end. Edwards is expecting a strong kicking game thanks to the presence of junior Anthony DiPaula, who showed promise as a place-kicker last season. DiPaula will also handle kickoffs and punts. Edwards has previously been a head coach at four other schools: Holmdel, Dunellen, Lakewood and Hightstown. At Holmdel, his team shared the Shore Conference Class C title with Asbury Park in 1988 and went to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II championship game three years later. While at Hightstown, his teams won three Colonial Valley Conference crowns. He was also on the SJV staff when the Lancers won the Non-Public A South championship in 1980. “I’m really glad to be back,” said Edwards, who teaches at Holmdel High School. “There’s a lot of talented kids here, and the school is committed to the program.”
The Central Jersey Hawks basketball team will be holding tryouts for its third-, fifth- and sixthgrade boys teams, which have two teams, and their fourth-grade team, which may have a second team.The tryout schedule is as follows: Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. — Fifth-grade boys (2010 NJ State Champs, finished top four in the country, 2011 NJ State Finalists, 2011 National Championship Division I Pool Advancers); blue coaches, Fred Klatsky, Brian Klatsky (732-904-0950) and Tahj Holden; yellow coach, Bryce Stanhope. Oct. 16 at 5:45 p.m. — Sixth-grade boys (2011 NJ State Bronze Medalist); blue coaches, Fred Klatsky (732-671-7887) and Nick Dipillo; yellow coach, Rob Hill Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. — Fourth-grade boys (2011 NJ State Champs); coach, Tahj Holden. Oct. 29 at 5:30 p.m. — Third-grade boys; blue coach, Justin Chiera, and yellow coach, Bryce Stanhope. For more information contact Brian Klatsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 732-904-0950.The Central Jersey Hawks basketball organization has won three National AAU Championships and 49 N.J. State Championships and has made 23 National AAU Sweet Sixteen appearances. More than 100 former players have gone on to play NCAA basketball. Rutgers University-Newark will run a two-day basketball clinic for boys and girls from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 10 and 11. (Public schools will be closed). The cost is $65 for both days or $40 for one day. Call Joe Loughran at 973-353-1483 for details.
Greek and Turkish Cypriot officials will meet at FIFA next month to discuss the future of soccer on the divided island, the two sides said on Friday.The two sides issued simultaneous statements saying they had been invited by FIFA president Sepp Blatter to discuss and finalise a “provisional arrangement for football in Cyprus” which would be based on the FIFA and UEFA statutes.“It is expected that at the end of the deliberations the two delegations will sign a document outlining the steps for the progress of football in the whole of Cyprus, with the approval of FIFA and UEFA,” the statements said.“The arrangement will need to be ratified by the general assemblies of both the Cyprus FA and the Cyprus Turkish FA.”The meeting will take place on November 5. The statements gave no further details on what the agreement might contain.Turkish Cypriot teams withdrew from the CFA in 1955, following the beginning of the armed EOKA struggle for union with Greece.The last match to take place was between Larnaca side Pezoporikos and Cetinkaya in the semi-final of the Cyprus Cup.Cetinkaya, the most successful Turkish Cypriot side, had been crowned champions four years earlier in 1951.They won the cup three times.In 1955, the Turkish Cypriot association was formed, and the unified league disbanded as Cetinkaya left to join the inaugural league for Turkish Cypriots.The CFA and the Cypriot first division were founded in 1934 by eight clubs whose supporter base reflected the ethnic composition of the island.They played together for over 20 years and at the time selection of the national team was commonly arranged to ensure proportionate representation from the Greek, Turkish and small Armenian community.
By Sam HoldenThe women’s semi-finals at Wimbledon later on today will provide a glimpse into the future of the women’s game and a nod to its recent past.Rising stars Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard will meet in one semi-final after they impressed in quarter-final victories on Wednesday, while Czech pair Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova complete the contrasting semi-final line-up.With only one grand slam title between the quartet, there might be some raised eyebrows on Centre Court, yet it is the presence of veterans Safarova and Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, that is perhaps most surprising.Romanian Halep and Canada’s Bouchard have been in sparkling form and are the only players to have reached at least the last eight of all three grand slams so far in 2014.They are also the only women from Romania and Canada to make it this far at Wimbledon.However, sixth-seeded Kvitova has not been in a grand slam semi-final since the 2012 French Open, and 23rd seed Safarova will be making her first ever grand slam semi-final appearance at the 37th attempt.Halep, the third seed, came back from losing the first three games of the match to trounce last year’s runner-up Sabine Lisicki 6-4 6-0 and continue the great championship form that has seen her record career-best results in consecutive grand slams.Not to be outdone, 13th seed Bouchard overcame her ninth-seeded opponent Angelique Kerber – who shocked Centre Court with a victory over Maria Sharapova on Tuesday – 6-3 6-4.The 20-year-old’s victory meant she became the only woman on the tour to make the last four at all three grand slam events so far this year.“I am excited (but) she is a very good player so I am definitely ready for another tough match,” Bouchard told the BBC of her challenge against Halep, who is the highest seed left in the draw.“I am so pleased to reach the semi-finals again but I want to go one step further this time around.”While considered bright talents, not many would have predicted the rapid rise of both Halep and Bouchard this year.World No.6 Kvitova is trying to get back to the top of the game after winning Wimbledon as a 21-year-old.She beat another Czech opponent, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 6-1 7-5 in the quarter-finals on Tuesday. Safarova, 27, beat Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-3 6-1.Kvitova and Safarova met at Eastbourne, the Wimbledon warm-up tournament, last month, with Kvitova edging a three-setter.“It’s going to be my third match against a Czech girl during Wimbledon, which is unusual,” Kvitova said.“We played last time in Eastbourne. It was a big fight until the end. I’m expecting a tough battle again.”
By Justin Palmer and Martyn HermanIn-form striker Diego Costa will start for Chelsea, despite a troublesome hamstring, in the Champions League Group G clash against Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday, manager Jose Mourinho said.“There is a risk, but he plays,” Mourinho told a news conference.“We assume the risk. Hopefully everything goes well and hopefully from Tuesday to Sunday he has enough period of time to be back on track and to play against Arsenal.”Costa, with eight goals in six games for the Premier League leaders, was part of a 20-player party that travelled to the Portuguese capital on Monday.Missing from the squad were striker Didier Drogba, who has been left at home after aggravating an ankle problem, and midfielder Ramires.‘Drogba is going to be out for a couple of weeks,’ continued Mourinho, with the subject now turning to the Ivorian striker who has not travelled to Lisbon with the squad.Mourinho said Drogba would be out for a fortnight.“He had a problem in the training session with his ankle, so it was not possible for him to travel and I think it will not be possible for him to recover for Sunday (when Chelsea host Arsenal).”Ramires sustained a muscular injury in the Premier League draw with Manchester City on Sept. 21 and missed the weekend win over Aston Villa.Chelsea were pegged back by Schalke in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge to open their Champions League campaign and Mourinho predicted a difficult test against a Sporting side unbeaten at home in 16 European games.“I don’t know the meaning of favourite in a football match. A good result is to win. We will try to win but to desire and to achieve are two different things.“Sporting has its weapons. A point could be considered a good result for them,” he said.“Will the team mount its strategy based on the goal of achieving one point? On Friday we saw a team that is not going for a draw. If they stick to themselves and assume their identity then it will be a great match and a great return for Sporting to the Champions League.”England goalkeeper Joe Hart meanwhile will return for Manchester City in their Champions League match at home to AS Roma on Tuesday after being replaced by Willy Caballero for the last two games.Hart sat on the bench for his team’s 4-2 win at Hull City in the Premier League and Argentine Caballero, signed from Malaga this year, produced a solid display.He was also rested for last week’s League Cup thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday and while he is clearly still manager Manuel Pellegrini’s first choice for the big games, he is not a fan of watching from the sidelines.“Of course, I want to play every game, that is my nature, my professionalism,” Hart told a news conference ahead of the vital game against the Italians in Group E.“I am not the manager, just a player. I live by the decisions of the manager.“It is hard for me to see (the positives of being rested). I am sure when I retire from football I will see them but right now I am not going to see them.”Hart was in superb form in the 1-0 defeat against Bayern Munich in City’s opening game, keeping the Bavarians out almost single-handedly until a deflected winner in the dying seconds.With Roma also winning their first match, he knows that anything short of victory will leave City with an uphill battle to reach the last 16.“It is obviously a big game after the disappointing start we had in Munich,” he said. “Roma have been doing very well. We have focused a lot more on them since they were drawn in our group. They got a great result in their opening game.”While the emphasis in Munich was very much on defence, Pellegrini believes his side have now clicked as an attacking force after a tricky start to the season.They scored seven against Wednesday and four at the weekend and the Chilean thinks they are hitting their stride.“I think we are playing well,” he said. “Maybe at the beginning of the season we didn’t score so many goals here at home, especially against Chelsea and Stoke. We scored only one goal in those two games.“But after that the team returned to its normal performance and at this moment I have a lot of trust in the team because I think we are in a good moment.”
By Iain RogersReal Madrid have blamed Manchester United for their failure to sign Spain goalkeeper David De Gea before Monday’s midnight transfer deadline and said they did everything needed to complete the transaction.De Gea faces an uncertain future after the deal to join Real, which included Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas moving to the English club, was scuppered when the paperwork did not arrive at the Spanish league in time and the data was not entered into FIFA’s Transfer Matching System (TMS) as required.Real said in a statement on their website (www.realmadrid.com) on Tuesday the bureaucratic snafu, which prompted widespread ridicule on social media, was not their fault and detailed exhaustively how and why the necessary documents were not ready until it was too late.United had not initiated talks on a possible De Gea transfer until Monday morning, the statement said.After initial agreement was reached, Real said they sent the contracts to United at 1:39 p.m. Spanish time (11:39 GMT).Eight hours later they were sent back with “small modifications”, which Real said they immediately accepted.Real then sent the contracts signed by De Gea and Navas back to United for their signature at 21:32 GMT, 28 minutes before the deadline.United entered the details of De Gea’s transfer into TMS at exactly midnight Spanish time but did not register the Navas deal and by then it was too late for Real to access the system.TMS gave them a last chance to register the deal around half an hour later and Real also sent the documents to the Spanish league even though they knew the deadline had passed.“Real Madrid did everything necessary, and at all times, to complete these two transfers,” Real’s statement concluded.The Spanish league did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for United said they had no immediate response to Real’s statement.FIFA rules state that players can be registered only during one of two annual transfer periods – the other is in January – with the exception being if their contract has expired before the end of a registration period.For a player to transfer to another country, their new club and his previous club have to submit certain information and documentation to the TMS.The system then generates an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) which allows the player’s registration to be switched from one country to another.Asked on Tuesday about the failed transfer, a FIFA spokesperson said: “Up until now, we do not appear to have been contacted by either of the parties in this matter.“Please understand that as a result we cannot comment on a hypothetical scenario.”As things stand, De Gea, whose deal with United expires at the end of the season when he can leave for free, could find himself out in the cold, at least until the end of the year when the market opens again.As the transfer saga rumbled on, United coach Louis van Gaal left the 24-year-old former Atletico Madrid keeper out of the squad for the Premier League club’s opening games of the season, with Argentina international Sergio Romero playing instead.Real want De Gea as a long-term replacement for his Spain team-mate Iker Casillas, the former club captain who joined Porto in July.De Gea was selected last week for Spain’s forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Slovakia and Macedonia although coach Vicente del Bosque hinted that he could lose his place in the squad if his club situation remained unresolved.