Risk taker, shot maker: Dolgopolov wins Citi Open

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Risk taker, shot maker: Dolgopolov wins Citi Open

Alexandr Dogolpolov likes risk, like driving racecars in excess of 200 miles per hour kind of risk. The 23-year-old brings that daring edge with him to his day job. When the rains stopped, the final ball struck on the slick Stadium court, it was the No. 2 seed taking the Citi Open checkered flag.Neither rain nor humidity nor playing into the gloom of night could stop Dogolpolov from the biggest win of his career. He put a stamp on a weeks worth of strong performances by delivering Tommy Haas a rare finals loss on U.S. soil, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-1 triumph in the Citi Open championship on Sunday.Absent throughout the week, cascading rain chose the inopportune time of the mens championship for its first substantial visit at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center. The match started shortly after 4 p.m. with a strong contingent watching on the Stadium Court. By the time play resumed after two first-set delays totaling two hours and 52 minutes, only an intimate crowd of 250 or so remained for the back-and-forth affair that turned one-sided late.With a match like that thats really tight, goes up and down, the rain breaks, I am really happy that I stayed concentrated and was in the match all the three sets, said Dogolpolov after his second career title. Im just happy to win it.Those that stuck around witnessed Haas tough out a first set tiebreaker, but also the start of the 34-year-old wearing down physically and mentally. Haas missed significant time in recent years with hip and shoulder injuries, but has reached three finals this summer including a win over Roger Federer.The tennis diehardsalso saw the continuation of Dolgopolov smacking ever-widening serves, finessing timely drop shots and taking chances with his groundstrokes others might deem unwise. I like risking in life so I do that on the court. I just like playing tennis like that, said Dogolpolov, who made his Washington debut this week. Im just a risky person. I dont think about the percentages, I like to do it my way.After squandering a set point at 6-5 in the first, Haas fired his racket to the ground. When he struggled with his first service game of the second set audible outbursts started becoming part of his routine. Frustration rose when Dogolpolov saved a break point at 2-all with a nifty volley winner. Facing break point at 4-all, 30-40, Haass backhand went long, one of his 43 unforced errors in the match. He lost the set, his first all week. When Haasdropped four straight points on his serve to fall behind 0-2 in the third, it was just a matter of time before he lost his second set.Hes a shot maker, he goes for his stuff, said Haas, who fell to 8-1 in finals played on U.S. soil. I thought I stayed with it until the middle, the end of the second set. Had a break point and he came up with a good shot and sometimes you just have to say it was too well played. When I lost the second set, I think I cracked a little bit mentally.Dolgopolov noticed.He was giving away more free points than he did in the first set and throughout the tournament, the Kiev, Ukraine native said. I think it was a part of him, a part of it being the final, a part of my game. It all helped it to go wrong for him.Dolgopolov jumped back into the top 20 after falling outside last week. His one win and three finals appearances on tour came in lower-tier events, making Washingtons 500 level opportunity the biggest of his career.Before the mens final and the skies opened, Alexandria native Treat Huey and former University of Virginia teammate Dominic Inglot defeated Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson 7-6 (7), 6-7 (9) and 10-5 in a third-set super-tiebreaker.Huey, a St. Stephens and St. Agnes graduate, was a regular whenever the mens tour came to the Rock Creek Park courts. All these years, his first win on tour Huey and Inglot lost a finals appearance earlier this year - comes on the very same grounds.It has been unbelievable to play here in Washington, said the 26-year-old Huey. I always watched this tournament when I was a little kid. Dominic and I had a fun week here. Its always more fun when you win.

Virginia Tech to hold four satellite camps

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USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech to hold four satellite camps

The hot topic around college football this offseason has been satellite camps and now the Hokies are getting into the mix. Head coach Justin Fuente announced on Tuesday that Virginia Tech will have four satellite camps over the summer, two will take place in key regions in Virginia while the other two will be out of state in Atlanta and New Jersey.

Of the two camps in Virginia, one will take place in the "757"—the Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach area—while the other will be in Northern Virginia. The 757 region is an incredibly fertile recruiting area that has caught the attention of southern powerhouses like Florida State. Northern Virginia is also a hotly contested area with competition from the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland, among others.

The ACC previously banned satellite camps and pushed for a ban by the NCAA. The NCAA did ban the practice altogther, briefly, but after a national outcry, the ban was overturned last month.

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For his part, Fuente is not a fan of these camps, but recognizes the necessity of holding them.

“There’s a lot of issues with camps right now that we’re all trying to vet through,” Fuente said via Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “In general, the whole traveling camp (idea) is not particularly good. It just opens up a lot of room for abuse. They’re not regulated at all. But I’m excited about being able to travel in our state.”

Going to Atlanta is an interesting move, but a necessary one if the Hokies hope to return to their former glory. Recruiting in the south opens Virginia Tech to more top-tier recruits. Obviously, it will be difficult to lure southern prospects away from the SEC powers, but being able to build a footprint in the SEC's backyard will greatly help Fuente's task of rebuilding the team into a conference contender.

The move to New Jersey also makes sense. The lack of a power program in the Northeast essentially makes the region up for grabs. Schools like Ohio State and Penn State have taken advantage of Rutgers' move to the Big Ten, but obviously the ACC maintains a presence throughout the east coast.

Virginia Tech's rather remote location makes holding these camps within the state important. The state was previously dominated by the Hokies in the glory days of the Frank Beamer era, but in-state recruiting has slipped in recent years. Holding Virginia camps will help Virginia Tech maintain its presence in the state.

“I think it’s certainly necessary in our state,” Fuente said. “We’re just going to dip our toe in the water of the other ones and see how that goes. I’m genuinely excited to do the ones here.”

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MacLellan hints at increased roles for Wilson, Orlov

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MacLellan hints at increased roles for Wilson, Orlov

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan went on a little radio blitz on Tuesday, appearing on the Grant and Danny Show on 106.7 The Fan and again on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

Much of the discussion centered around the Capitals’ intention to improve their speed and quickness on the third line, along with the continued development of 22-year-old right wing  Tom Wilson and 24-year-old defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

Since entering the NHL as a 19-year-old in 2013-14 under Capitals head coach Adam Oates, Wilson’s offensive numbers have modestly increased, from three goals and seven assists (151 penalty minutes) as a rookie to four goals and 13 assists (172 PIM) in Year 2 and seven goals and 16 assists (163 PIM) this season. His ice time has also increased, from 7:56 as a rookie, to 10:56 last year and 12:54 this season.

MacLellan says he thinks the Caps’ decision to promote Wilson to the NHL instead of letting him play one more season with the WHL Plymouth Whalers was a mistake.

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“I’m optimistic with him,” MacLellan told NHL Network Radio. “I think, in hindsight, we probably started him in the NHL a year early.

“I think sometimes guys are physically mature and they can handle the physical part of it, but you know, big guys would be well-served playing a power play or playing a top-six role in a lower level versus a fourth-line role at the NHL level.

“I think maybe that first year didn’t do him any good. This year, I thought he made a lot of progress. He’s turned himself into a really good penalty killer. We played him in a third-line role most of the year, and he did a real good job killing penalties

“It would be nice to get him a little more offensive, you know maybe get on the second power play. But I think he’s coming. I think it’s just harder for him to get touches with the puck when you’re playing in a bottom-six role, and we anticipate putting him in more of an offensive role going forward.”

MacLellan told 106.7 The Fan that Orlov could find himself in the top four defensive rotation next season, with veteran Brooks Orpik possibly taking a reduced role as a third-pair defender with Nate Schmidt.

That could mean Orlov is paired with Matt Niskanen next season, with John Carlson and Karl Alzner being reunited.

“There’s an offensive upside to Orlov and there’s ability for him to move up in our lineup, and we’ve got to be careful that we don’t limit him in his ability to move there,” MacLellan said.

Orlov recorded a career-high eight goals and 21 assists in 82 regular season games while averaging 16:01 of ice time. That ice time decreased to 13:18 in 11 playoff games, where Orlov posted one assist and was pulled out of Game 2 against the Penguins.

“I would count on him developing and getting to that next level,” MacLellan said. “The idea would be, Brooks Orpik plays a little less minutes and Orlov plays a little bit more, maybe he moves into the top four for part of the time. That would be ideal situation, but we’ll have to see how he comes into camp.”

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Orioles struck out late and often against Astros

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Orioles struck out late and often against Astros

Everyone knows the Orioles are going to strike out. I could say they’ll strike out early and often, but in Tuesday night’s game, they fanned 19 times in 13 innings, and most of those strikeouts were late in the game,

How bad was it? 

According to Elias, Houston Astros relievers set a team record by striking out 16 Orioles in 7 1/3 innings. 

Nine of the 12 Orioles’ outs in extra innings came on strikeouts.

At least it wasn’t an Orioles team record. On Sept. 12, 1962, Washington’s Tom Cheney struck out 21 Orioles in 16 innings. In a 1996 Division Series game, they struck an amazing 23 times in 10 innings, and still won. 

When the season began, there was hope that the Orioles weren’t going to strike out as often as in 2015, but even in their season opening seven game winning streak, they were fanned 10 or more times twice. 

In their more recent seven-game run earlier this month, they didn’t strike out in double figures at all. 

Over their last five games, they’ve struck out 54 times. In their 3-1 win on Saturday night, they struck out 13 times. 

As Adam Jones told reporters in Houston after Tuesday night’s game, it’s in the Orioles DNA to strike out.

Overall, the Orioles are only eighth in the American League in strikeouts. In their 43 games, they’re averaging 8.23 strikeouts a game, but they’re 11th in walking, getting an average of three bases on balls per game. 

Their on-base percentage has fallen since their torrid offensive start, but it’s still .322, which ranks fourth in the league, and well above recent years. 

But, they have players who strike out a lot. Chris Davis is on pace for his second straight 200 strikeout season. Mark Trumbo could strike out more than 180 times. Manny Machado, Joey Rickard and Jonathan Schoop are all on pace to strike out more than 100 times this season.

No one will complain about the strikeouts if they hit home runs and win. Their 65 home runs are tied with the New York Mets for the most in baseball, and until last night, they’d been at the top of the division for the bulk of the season. The Orioles are now in second place, and for the first time, they trail Boston by a full game. 

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